Daniel 13 (selected verses); Psalm 23; John 8.12-20
This Gospel reading follows directly on from the familiar passage about the woman ‘caught in the act of adultery’ and haled before Jesus. Today’s reading considers the evidentiary usefulness of testimony. Three people give contradictory accounts of the same event; whose testimony should be believed, and whose dismissed?
This is set into context by the haunting story of Susanna, villainously accused by two ‘judges’ whose amorous advances she had resisted. Daniel, a young man chosen from among the Judaean deportees to be trained in the ways of Babylon [Daniel 1.3-7], steps forward, and declares that Susanna has been condemned on perjured testimony. Cleverly he interrogates Susanna’s accusers separately and proves that their account of events is entirely concocted.
These readings, of course, encourage our reflection on the trials of Jesus, first before the religious authorities and then before the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, who had difficulty breaking Jesus’ taciturnity. [John 18.33-38] St Paul describes this as Jesus’ ‘witness for truth’. [I Timothy 6.13] Are we that kind of witnesses? Or are we too easily convinced by the rolling stone of the mob?