“Are you such fools, O children of Israel!
To condemn a woman of Israel without examination.”
The story of Daniel standing with Susanna and saving her from execution abounds with poignant imagery for our Theme, “Communion from the Margins.” Susanna was no doubt the marginalized in this story, but so was the ultimately heroic Daniel: he initiated his action from the margin—he was both in the crowd and a young boy confronting elders. As the story pays witness to, it was the Holy Spirit’s compassion that reached out through Daniel toward Susanna—the falsely accused. And so, one wonders what it was about Daniel’s disposition that allowed him, and only him, to have the courage to speak out from the margin? For, certainly there were others from the crowd equally or more wise to the false accusation, and more capable of pursuing the truth, than he.
But as the Founder said, “God does not have to give an account to anybody of His actions. If His Majesty wants to use an ordinary, simple and uneducated person – yea, a sinner…nobody is entitled to disapprove God’s actions, let alone oppose them.” Ryken, as did Daniel, allowed the Spirit to move him despite his own marginality, his own peculiarity, and despite the gravity of the task. We might say they both had courage. But we might also recognize that when they both grounded themselves in the Truth they were beyond courage —it was God moving them.
So, if we are to take a spiritual message from this story, is it not again, to pursue the non-dichotomized life of contemplation and action? For, if we can continue to open ourselves to the ground and living Spirit that is God, and pursue just action, we will find our true place, and like Daniel from his place on the margin, we will act with compassion.
Take 30-60 minutes for the following exercise.
Find a place where you can focus on today’s First Reading, the story of Daniel and Susanna (Daniel 13:1-9, 15-17, 19-30, 33-62).
Read the story slowly and intentionally.
Enter into the scene yourself. You can be one of the characters named or just someone in the crowd. Maybe you will choose to identify with Susanna or Daniel? Maybe you will jump around in the scene and be many different people.
Take some time with the scene. Return to the text if you’re struggling with your visualization.
See what you discover.
Awesome and powerful God, we ask for the courage to live the radical life of communion on the margins. Make us a home in the desert, so that we may manifest Your care and compassionate love to those who are marginalized among us. We ask this in the name of Jesus, Your Son and our brother. Amen.