Saint Julie Billiart (1751 —1816)
He was a French religious leader who founded, and was the first Superior General of, the Congregation of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur
Entrance Antiphon: Cf. Ps 55: 2
Have mercy on me, O God, for people assail me; they fight me all day long and oppress me.
O God, by whose wondrous grace we are enriched with every blessing, grant us so to pass from former ways to newness of life, that we may be made ready for the glory of the heavenly Kingdom. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
First reading: Daniel 13:1-9, 15-17, 19-30, 33-62
Susanna was condemned to death. She cried out as loud as she could, ‘Eternal God, you know all secrets and everything before it happens; you know that they have given false evidence against me. And now have I to die, innocent as I am of everything their malice has invented against me?’ The Lord heard her cry and, as she was being led away to die, he roused the holy spirit residing in a young boy named Daniel who began to shout, ‘I am innocent of this woman’s death!’ At which all the people turned to him and asked, ‘What do you mean by these words?’ Standing in the middle of the crowd he replied, ‘Are you so stupid, sons of Israel, as to condemn a daughter of Israel unheard, and without troubling to find out the truth? Go back to the scene of the trial: these men have given false evidence against her.’ All the people hurried back, and the elders said to Daniel, ‘Come and sit with us and tell us what you mean, since God has given you the gifts that elders have.’ Daniel said, ‘Keep the men well apart from each other for I want to question them.’ When the men had been separated, Daniel had one of them brought to him. ‘You have grown old in wickedness,’ he said ‘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, when the Lord has said, “You must not put the innocent and the just to death.” Now then, since you saw her so clearly, tell me what tree you saw them lying under?’ He replied, ‘Under a mastic tree.’ Daniel said, ‘True enough! Your lie recoils on your own head: the angel of God has already received your sentence from him and will slash you in half.’ He dismissed the man, ordered the other to be brought and said to him, ‘Spawn of Canaan, not of Judah, beauty has seduced you, lust has led your heart astray! This is how you have been behaving with the daughters of Israel and they were too frightened to resist; but here is a daughter of Judah who could not stomach your wickedness! Now then, tell me what tree you surprised them under?’ He replied, ‘Under a holm oak.’ Daniel said, ‘True enough! Your lie recoils on your own head: the angel of God is waiting, with a sword to drive home and split you, and destroy the pair of you.’ Then the whole assembly shouted, blessing God, the saviour of those who trust in him. And they turned on the two elders whom Daniel had convicted of false evidence out of their own mouths. As prescribed in the Law of Moses, they sentenced them to the same punishment as they had intended to inflict on their neighbour. They put them to death; the life of an innocent woman was spared that day.
R/ If I should walk in the valley of darkness, no evil would I fear.
1) The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want. Fresh and green are the pastures where he gives me repose. Near restful waters he leads me, to revive my drooping spirit.
2) He guides me along the right path; he is true to his name. If I should walk in the valley of darkness no evil would I fear. You are there with your crook and your staff; with these you give me comfort.
3) You have prepared a banquet for me in the sight of my foes. My head you have anointed with oil; my cup is overflowing.
4)Surely goodness and kindness shall follow me all the days of my life. In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell for ever and ever.
Gospel Acclamation: 2 Co 6:2
Glory to you, O Christ, you are the Word of God! Now is the favourable time: this is the day of salvation. Glory to you, O Christ, you are the Word of God!
Gospel: John 8:12-20
Jesus said to the Pharisees: ‘I am the light of the world; anyone who follows me will not be walking in the dark; he will have the light of life.’ At this the Pharisees said to him, ‘You are testifying on your own behalf; your testimony is not valid.’ Jesus replied: ‘It is true that I am testifying on my own behalf, but my testimony is still valid, because I know where I came from and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. You judge by human standards; I judge no one, but if I judge, my judgement will be sound, because I am not alone: the one who sent me is with me; and in your Law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is valid. I may be testifying on my own behalf, but the Father who sent me is my witness too.’ They asked him, ‘Where is your Father?’ Jesus answered: ‘You do not know me, nor do you know my Father; if you did know me, you would know my Father as well.’ He spoke these words in the Treasury, while teaching in the Temple. No one arrested him, because his time had not yet come.
Prayer over the Offerings
Grant, we pray, O Lord, that, preparing to celebrate the holy mysteries, we may bring before you as the fruit of bodily penance a joyful purity of heart. Through Christ our Lord.
I am the light of the world, says the Lord; whoever follows me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life.
Prayer after Communion
Strengthened by the blessing of your Sacraments, we pray, O Lord, that through them we may constantly be cleansed of our faults and, by following Christ, hasten our steps upward toward you. Through Christ our Lord.
The Lord himself defends the cause of the righteous. Our God is the source of truth, and Daniel relies on this truth to do justice to poor Susanna. It is the same for the adulterous woman whom the Pharisees brought to Jesus in the hope of trapping him. The truth of Jesus’ words save her from their cruelty. Very often, we condemn others while remaining blind on our own sin. We forget that the other is like me and helps me to see my weaknesses, my vulnerability. Jesus alone can give us the light, which will dispel our darkness and blindness and help us follow him. If we seek the truth that comes from his Word and the love his Spirit gives, then we will not be walking in the dark; we will have the light of life.