Lent: Monday of the Fifth Week

“... Yet it is better for me not to do it and to fall into your power than to sin before the Lord.” (Daniel 13:23)

Saint Augustine of Hippo comments on this verse from the First Reading proclaimed at Mass today:

“t is better for me not to escape your hands than to sin in front of God.” She refused the proposals she heard because she feared him who she could not see and to whose divine gaze, however, she was very visible. Because she did not happen, in fact, to see God does not mean that God did not see her. God saw what he was building up: he inspected his work, inhabited his temple. He was there; he was answering their insidious trap. If the giver of chastity had abandoned her, chastity also would have been extinguished. Therefore she said, “I am trapped on every side.” But she waited for the one who would save her from weakness of spirit and from the fury of the false witnesses who were like stormy winds. Between these winds and that storm, however, chastity did not suffer shipwreck because the Lord guided the route. She screamed. People came. The process began, and the case came up for judgment. The servants of Susanna believed what the imposter elders said against their mistress. It seemed to them that it would be against their religion not to believe the elders, even though the innocent and stainless life Susanna had led up to this point seemed to offer valid testimony of her chastity. No such chatter had been made on her account. There they were, false witnesses, but God noticed. The household believed one thing; God saw another. But what God saw, human beings did not know, and it seemed right to believe the elders. Therefore she had to die, but if her flesh were to die, her chastity still would have triumphed. Instead, the Lord was present to whom she prayed, and he heard because he knew her.” (Sermon 343)

O God,
by Whose wondrous grace
we are enriched with every blessing,
grant us so to pass
from former ways to newness of life,
that we may be made ready
for the glory of the heavenly Kingdom.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen