Daily Bible Reading - March 18, 2024

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Psalter: Week 1 / (Violet)

St. Cyril of Jerusalem, bishop & doctor

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 23: 1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6: Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side.

1st Reading: Daniel 13: 1-9, 15-17, 19-30, 33-62 (Daniel 13: 41c-62)

There lived in Babylon a man named Joakim, who was married to a very beautiful, God-fearing woman, Susanna, Hilkiah’s daughter, whose pious parents had trained her in the law of Moses. A very rich man and greatly respected by all the Jews, Joakim was frequently visited by the Jews in his house adjoining a garden.

That year, two elders of the people were appointed judges, in whom this word of the Lord became true, “Wickedness has come forth from Babylon, through the elders appointed judges, who were supposed to govern the people.” These men frequented Joakim’s house, and all who had legal disputes used to come to them.

After the people had left at noon, Susanna would go into her husband’s garden for a walk. The two old men began to lust for her as they watched her enter the garden every day. Forgetting the demands of justice and virtue, their lust grew all the more, as they made no effort to turn their eyes to heaven.

One day, as they were waiting for an opportune time, Susanna entered the garden, as usual, with only two maids. She decided to bathe, for it was a hot day. Nobody else was there, except the two elders watching her, from where they had hidden themselves.

She said to the maids, “Bring me oil and ointments, and shut the garden doors while I bathe.”

When the maids had left, the two elders hurried to her and said, “Look, the garden doors are shut and no one sees us. We desire to possess you. If you refuse to give in, we will testify that you sent your maids away, for there was a young man here with you.”

Susanna moaned, “Whatever I do, I am trapped. If I give in to your desire, it will be death for me; if I refuse, I won’t escape your persecution. I would rather be persecuted than sin in the eyes of the Lord.”

Susanna shrieked, but the old men shouted, putting the blame on her. One of them ran and opened the garden doors. Hearing the noise in the garden, the household servants rushed in by the side entrance, to see what was happening. They were taken aback when they heard the elders’ accusation, for never had anything like this been said of Susanna.

The next day, a meeting was held at Joakim’s house. The two elders arrived, vindictively determined to have Susanna sentenced to death. They ordered, before all the people, “Send for Susanna, Hilkiah’s daughter and Joakim’s wife.” They sent for her, and she came with her parents, children and all her relatives. Her family and friends, and all who saw her, wept.

The two elders stood up and laid their hands upon her head. Completely trusting in the Lord, she raised her tearful eyes to heaven.

The elders started making their accusation, “We were taking a walk in the garden when this woman came in with two maids. She ordered them to shut the garden doors and dismissed them. Then a young man came out of hiding and lay with her. We were in a corner of the garden, and we saw this crime from there. We ran to them, and caught them in the act of embracing. We were unable to take hold of the man. He was too strong for us. He made a dash for the door, opened it and ran off. But we were able to seize this woman. We asked her who the young man was, but she refused to tell us. This is our statement, and we testify to its truth.”

The assembly took their word, since they were elders and judges of the people. Susanna was condemned to death. She cried aloud, “Eternal God, nothing is hidden from you; you know all things before they come to be. You know that these men have testified falsely against me. Would you let me die, though I am not guilty of all their malicious charges?”

The Lord heard her, and as she was being led to her execution, God aroused the holy spirit residing in a young lad named Daniel. He shouted, “I will have no part in the death of this woman!”

Those present turned to him, “What did you say?” they all asked. Standing in their midst, he said to them, “Have you become fools, you Israelites, to condemn a daughter of Israel without due process and in the absence of clear evidence? Return to court, for those men have testified falsely against her.”

Hurriedly they returned, and the elders said to Daniel, “Come and sit with us, for you also possess the gifts bestowed by God upon the elders.”

Daniel said to the people, “Separate these two from one another and I

will examine each of them.” When the two elders were separated from each other, Daniel called one of them and said, “How wicked you have grown with age. Your sins of earlier days have piled up against you, and now is the time of reckoning. Remember how you have passed unjust sentences, condemning the innocent and freeing the guilty, although the Lord has said ‘The innocent and the just should not be put to death.’ Now, if you really witnessed the crime, under what tree did you see them do it?”

The elder answered, “Under a mastic tree.”

Daniel said, “Your lie will cost you your head. You will be cut in two, as soon as the Lord’s angel receives your sentence from God.”

Putting the first one aside, Daniel called the other elder and said to him, “You offspring of Canaan and not of Judah, you have long allowed yourself to be perverted by lust. This is how you have dealt with the daughters of Israel, who, out of fear, have yielded to you. But here is a daughter of Judah who would not tolerate your wickedness. Tell me then, under what tree did you catch them committing the crime?”

The answer came, “Under an oak.”

“Your lie has also cost you your head,” Daniel said. “God’s angel waits to cut you both in two.”

The whole assembly shouted and blessed God, for helping those who hope in him. They turned against the two elders who, through Daniel’s efforts, had been convicted by their own mouths. In accordance with Moses’ law, the penalty the two elders had intended to impose upon their neighbor was inflicted upon them. They were sentenced to death. Thus was the life of an innocent woman spared that day.

Gospel: John 8: 1-11

As for Jesus, he went to the Mount of Olives. At daybreak Jesus appeared in the temple again. All the people came to him, and he sat down and began to teach them.

Then the teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They made her stand in front of everyone. “Master,” they said, “this woman has been caught in the act of adultery.

Now the law of Moses orders that such women be stoned to death; but you, what do you say?” They said this to test Jesus, in order to have some charge against him.

Jesus bent down and started writing on the ground with his finger. And as they continued to ask him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let anyone among you who has no sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” And he bent down, again, writing on the ground.

As a result of these words, they went away, one by one, starting with the elders, and Jesus was left alone, with the woman standing before him. Then Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

She replied, “No one.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go away and don’t sin again.”


“Forgiving ourselves.”

God always forgives us. The question is: can we also forgive ourselves? We know that it is difficult to forgive other people. But there are times when it is even more difficult to forgive ourselves.

To be able to learn the art of forgiveness, the first step is to reach out to one’s own self together with Jesus. Despite our sinfulness, Jesus’ way of reaching out to us is non-condemning. With Jesus, self-forgiveness is possible.

Today’s Gospel narrates the woman who was caught in the act of adultery. When they brought the woman to Jesus, the attitude of the teachers of the law and the Pharisees was condemning. But Jesus’ forgiving attitude exposed the hypocrisy of the woman’s accusers.

When Jesus told them that the one among them who committed no sin might throw the first stone at her, they left one by one.

In the end, only the woman remained with Jesus. It implies that the woman was able to forgive herself too.

No one was left to condemn her, not even her own self.

Today, with Jesus, let us allow ourselves to be the first recipient of the forgiveness we are to give.


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