It is so easy to apportion blame or accusation on a person. This forms the plot in books and films. Sadly, it regularly happens in a person’s life and can have devastating consequences on mental health. A person blames another in the wrong because perhaps, they are afraid to tell the truth about something. Maybe the person who accuses or blames another wants to take the focus off him/herself from something that happened. One may also act too quickly in blaming the wrong person. Or a person might seek revenge on another for a past hurt.
St Vincent de Paul had such an experience in his life. While a student, Vincent took up residence in Paris. He was too poor to own his own house, so he hired a room and shared it with a man, a minor judge from his own part of the country. Vincent soon discovered that shared accommodation had its drawbacks. One day, Vincent felt sick and had to stay in bed. His companion, the judge, left early to attend business in the city. Vincent sent to a nearby chemist for some medicine. The pharmacist’s assistant was looking in the cupboard for a glass when he discovered the judge’s purse containing 400 écus. The young man was tempted and pocketed the money. As soon as the assistant attended to Vincent, he left the house and ran away. On his return from work, the judge noticed the money was missing. He blamed Vincent, but the latter pleaded his cause. The judge threw Vincent out of the house and told everyone that Vincent stole the money. Vincent’s reaction was exemplary. It did not occur to him to blame the assistant. He contented himself with the meek reply, ‘God knows the truth.’ Six years later, the same assistant was guilty of another crime and sent to prison. He confessed his crime, wrote to Vincent, and begged his pardon. Vincent granted him the pardon he asked. Truth won out.
Today’s reading proclaimed at Mass (Dan 13) tells how Susanna suffered in the wrong and nevertheless showed the depth of her faith in God. Her lustful judges accused and humiliated her for having an affair with a young man. Quietly, she trusted God as she declared herself innocent. Susanna’s prayer to God, ‘Eternal God, you know what is hidden and are aware of all things’ prompted the Holy Spirit to speak the truth through Daniel.
Likewise, in the Gospel proclaimed at Mass (John 8:1-11), Jesus challenged the scribes and Pharisees who condemned the woman, caught committing adultery. He said to the bystanders, ‘If there is one of you who has not sinned, let him be first to throw a stone at her.’ They walked away. Jesus told the woman to ‘go away and don’t sin anymore.’ In saying this to the woman, Jesus told her to go away and not to hurt herself or others. He did not accuse the woman. Jesus’ response is always one of compassion.
These readings provide insight into the value of truth and trust in God. St Vincent de Paul offers a good maxim in his words, ‘God knows the truth.’ Susanna’s prayer ‘Eternal God, you know what is hidden and are aware of all things’ assures us of God’s awareness of everything that happens in life. With faith, hope and trust in God, such words suffice in times of blame and accusation. Do I really believe that God knows the truth about everything?
The response to Psalm 23, ‘If I should walk in the valley of darkness, no evil would I fear’ offers consolation and comfort to the assembly. The words are worth imprinting on minds and hearts. They assure us that ‘The Lord is our shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.’ We pray for a spirit of faith and trust in God.
The themes of trust, hope, and the awareness of God’s presence permeate the Scripture throughout the Grow in Live/I nGrá Dé lessons of the Grow in Love religious education programme. VERITAS publications provide free access to online resources including the Grow in Love/I nGrá Dé e-book.
- From the Bible or the Grow in Love/I nGrá Dé e-book read Psalm 23 and Psalm 37.
- Using the Grow in Love video lyric sing Psalm 37, ‘Trust in the Lord.’
- Chat with your family today about whom you can trust. Who are the people who trust you?
- On this Trócaire Lenten Campaign for 2021 who are the families who trust your family to help them? How will your family help?
- Ár bPaidir Misiúnta/Mission Prayer/ Our Mission Prayer
- Gníomh Dóláis/Act of Faith
- Cré na nAspal/The Apostles’ Creed.
Sr Anne Neylon