Today’s readings move me every time I hear them. They stir up a lot of different emotions. The first reading reminds me of how much I abhor injustice and lies. The two elders, whom people revered because of their wisdom, knew that their word would carry more weight than that of the righteous woman, Susanna. They knew that their reputation would serve as a perfect cover for their accusation and lies. Their lust and power could overcome their “conscience” with impunity. Susanna recognized that she was in a “no win” situation. She chose to trust in the Lord, to trust Him with her predicament. I must admit that I would find it difficult to let go of my “rational” brain and to trust God in such a precarious situation. I often find that I rely on my own problem solving capabilities rather than to rely on the power of prayer. I often forget how powerful it can be to share my problems with the Lord. Susanna was saved because she believed that justice would prevail.
John’s Gospel reminds me of how easy it is to judge others and how easy it is to condemn others for some action. As a psychologist, I teach my students about the “fundamental attribution error.” Individuals tend to attribute invariable dispositions or traits to people’s action while underestimating the impact of situational factors. We are quick to judge others. To make us feel better, we tend to judge others as inferior to our own. We see ourselves as “better than average.” This better-than-average effect is helpful in keeping our self-esteem and self-concept intact. However, it also assumes that others are worth somewhat less than us, that they may be acting wickedly while we would refrain from doing the same. Jesus made explicit what we typically do not see: “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” It is so much easier to judge others than to be honest with ourselves. This parable goes to the heart of what it means to be human. We are sinners; we are imperfect and rather than look inwards and ask for forgiveness, we look outward and judge others. I pray that I will not judge others, that I will work toward a just world, and that I will see the light, “even though I walk in the dark valley.” I pray that I will trust the Lord, for He is at my side.
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