Today’s readings from the Book of Daniel and the Gospel of John are considered by some to be too embarrassing to read at the Eucharist. Others make the point that the reading from the Book of Daniel is too long. Still others complain that these readings focus too much on the issue of sin.
Oddly enough, I have never heard anyone say that they are embarrassed by the lengths to which Jesus went to save us from our sins. At the same time, who ever said that lengthy Scripture readings were not beneficial in bringing us to conversion of life? Finally, if we were to remove all the parts of the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures which deal with sin, we could carry the whole Bible in a pamphlet.
The fact remains that these stories of extortion and adultery are very much present in our world today. Sins against women (sexual assault, human trafficking, slavery, physical, emotional and psychological abuse) are very much present in our world today just as they were in the days of Daniel and Jesus. Jesus died for these sins just as he died for all kinds of sin. As we continue our Lenten journey, praying about and thinking about such sins are very pertinent and relevant. Our Liturgy must help us confront the various kinds of injustice and abuse that is present in our world. It does no good to try to hide these issues under a cloak of secrecy.
One can know all there is to know about the Scriptures – the history, the cultural background, their composition, etc. However, if they do not lead us to conversion, all the study of the Scriptures is for naught. Even if the sins of which the Scriptures speak today are not an issue in your own personal life, there is no question that we all need to work to eradicate such sins from our world. For that reason, I choose not to substitute other readings on days like today.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator