Frassati Reflection: The Pain of Susanna

The assembly condemned Susanna to death.
But Susanna cried aloud:
“O eternal God, you know what is hidden
and are aware of all things before they come to be:
you know that they have testified falsely against me.
Here I am about to die,
though I have done none of the things
with which these wicked men have charged me.”
—Daniel 13:41–43

But when they continued asking him,
he straightened up and said to them,
“Let the one among you who is without sin
be the first to throw a stone at her.”
Again he bent down and wrote on the ground.
And in response, they went away one by one,
beginning with the elders.
So he was left alone with the woman before him.
Then Jesus straightened up and said to her,
“Woman, where are they?
Has no one condemned you?”
She replied, “No one, sir.”
Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you.
Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”
—John 8:7–11

Christ_and_the_sinnerAt different times in our lives, we may experience the humiliation of Susanna—the anger and sorrow at being punished for something that is not our fault. However, we are not always innocent Susannas, unjustly accused. Sometimes, the accusations waged against us are entirely true. Sometimes, we might feel more like the woman caught in adultery: consumed by guilt and shame, our greatest weaknesses exposed before others.

The truth is that all of us are sinners. However, the only one with any right to throw stones chose instead to lay down His life for us on a Cross. Instead of handing us our just reward, He willingly took on the pain of Susanna, allowing Himself to be scourged and ridiculed and brutally killed for crimes He did not commit. He is so filled with love for us that, rather than see us succumb to sin and death, He endured the deepest pain imaginable. He is the embodiment of innocence and purity, the Lamb of God sent to the slaughter.

Cristo_y_la_mujer_adúltera,_de_Domenico_Morelli_(Museo_del_Prado)So when we are unjustly accused, we can unite our suffering with that of Jesus, taking part in His plan for our salvation. We can be confident in God’s justice, even when it seems that injustice surrounds us. We can offer up the righteous anger that burns within us and trust that it will be used for good.

And when we are justly accused, mired in sin and caught red-handed, we can fall to our knees in gratitude for God’s plan of salvation. His mercy transcends even His perfect justice. The sacrifice of Jesus, His willingness to enter into the human experience with us and bear our sins, sets us free. He does not condemn us. And with His transforming grace, we can go and sin no more.

1. Andrey Mironov, Christ and the sinner / CC BY-SA 4.0
2. Domenico Morelli, Cristo y la mujer adúltera / PD-US

2 thoughts on “Frassati Reflection: The Pain of Susanna

  1. This is a great reflection, especially as we enter Holy Week soon! I was really excited when I read the Mass readings, because the story of Susanna is one of my favorites :)

    Liked by 1 person

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