This morning’s Scripture Passage at Mass (Daniel 13:1-9, 15-17, 19-30, 33-62) could find its place in any TV Soap plot line. A young and beautiful woman is attacked by two “judges” and when she rejects them and screams for help, they concoct a story that she was with a young man and though they chased him, he was too strong for them and escaped. They then sat in judgement over the young woman and, since she was married, sentenced her to death on the grounds of infidelity. (At this stage the theme tune would play and we’d have to wait another twenty-four hours or, God forbid, a week to see what happens next ….)
Enter Daniel. He is moved by the Spirit as the woman is led away for execution and he shouts that he is innocent of her blood. His cry is noticed and when questioned what he means, he says he has his doubts about the evidence given and the trustworthiness of the “elders”. It took courage to do this but it was courage rewarded and he was given the chance to question the two and explore his assumption.
He divides the two and asks each in turn what tree the young woman was lying under with the man, they each name a different tree in the garden and consequently their story falls flat and their dishonesty is exposed.
No … no theme tune yet ….. they are then sentenced to the same fate to which they had falsely sentenced the young woman. The story concludes: “An innocent woman’s life was saved that day …..”
We have changed very little through the ages. There are still those who seek to manipulate the truth (perhaps all of us, if we’re honest) and sometimes the manipulation brings heavy consequences. We need people, need to be people, of courage like Daniel who call out when we see wrong being done. Chances are that’s as much as we can do but, in the face of injustice, silence can never be an option.
Who knows how many lives – how many reputations – we might save?