“The Gospel of Suzanna”

I am deeply convinced that the story of Susanna is itself a gosple of a sort. It reveals the raw instincts of wealth, sex and power (male chauvinism) in a society where the weakest becomes victim.

The characters in this story speak for themselves. We start with Susanna’s parents who trained their daughter to be a virtuous woman.  Hilkiah her father must have been a devote Jew who carried his religious convictions and cultures to Babylon.

Remembering Zion, this family must have been soaked in the rabbinic lines: “How can we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land.” To be sure, Susanna was well grommed and trained.

In her husband, we find extraordinary courage and patience. Like St. Joseph the husband of Mary, despite the allegation leveled against his wife, he stood by her knowing that he could count on her innocence and purity. He could have done otherwise even before her “conviction.”

On their part, the three elders were part of a syndicate that was skilled in mischief. By saying to the old crooks ” ‘You have grown old in wickedness – this is how you have been behaving with the daughters of Israel and they were too frightened to resist,” Daniel revealed how the daughters of Israel had been held captive by the ravenous venom of these men’s sexual passions.

Since they were elders of Israel who occupied a high postion, they used that in exchange for sexual gratification. Notice what Daniel said to one of the men:  “You have grown old in wickedness – and now the sins of your earlier days have overtaken you, you with your unjust judgements, your condemnation of the innocent, your acquittal of guilty men.”

As for the woman in the eye of the storm, Daniel’s remarks bears eloquent testimony to her life: “Here is a daughter of Judah who could not stomach your wickedness.” She preferred to die that allow these mannerless men violate her precious body.

In Susanna, there is a combination of elegance and piety. Despite her husband’s wealth, she comes across as a humble daughter of Zion who saw her body as God’s Temple and not the “unholy sanctuary” of some shameless elders.

Expectedly, Susanna trusted in Yahweh who never fails. Hear her:  “I am trapped – whatever I do. If I agree, that means my death; if I resist, I cannot get away from you. But I prefer to fall innocent into your power than to sin in the eyes of the Lord.” This entreaty and deep sigh brought in a saviour.

We are told that God “roused the Holy Spirit residing in a young boy named Daniel.” The adage goes: “The age of Methuselah has nothing to do with the wisdom of Solomon.” This means that, even the weakest members of society can contribute to its growth and development.

In our age and time, many people have lost their positions because they were either deceived by beauty or simply infatuated. Worse still, some people (men and women) have fallen prey to various sexual abuses. Here, we need to pray for both victims and perpetrators.

As we prepare for the passion of Christ, “the Gospel of Susanna” reminds us that raw power (male chauvinism), wealth and sex are ephemeral. Those who are getting away with sin at the expense of other people’s sanity and self-worth must have a rethink.

How about those who are smiling to the bank or enjoying media propaganda against innocent victims whom they have blackmailed? Well, even if  a Daniel does not “Soro Soke,” God will. In the end, evil does not truimph. Indeed, it pays to be good, sincere, prayerful and truthful. Have a great week ahead!

 

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