spirit residing

Apr 4, 2022

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I’m not sure if children today are told the old tale of the Emperor’s new clothes, but if not let’s make sure that we teach the parable in all schools of higher learning.

We stand no show of living with integrity without understanding that when fear and pride cause us to hide in the crowd we have sold our souls.

Our silence in the face of wrong can lead to tragedy in our families, among friends, in our communities and in our world.

On one level the Emperor’s tale is a story of two tailors who offer the emperor a fine new suit of clothes with a unique quality. It will be visible only to the most intelligent, giving the ruler a way of determining which of his subjects is wise and which is foolish.

Of course all who saw the emperor in his new suit saw him naked, but would not admit this instead praising the skill of the tailors in producing such a fine outfit.

They doubted themselves, knowing they could not see the tailored suit but presuming it must be there because the authority had told them so. They certainly weren’t going to speak the truth and risk ridicule.

Finally it was a young boy who spoke honestly and called out: “the emperor has no clothes.”

At this point everyone realised that the boy spoke the truth, and felt foolish for not speaking up themselves.

In today’s great Old Testament account of the lecherous voyeurs it is the boy Daniel who is brave enough to call out injustice and saves the life of the wrongly accused Susannah.

The adults are silent and side with the crowd of accusers.

The integrity and courage of the boy spotlights the immaturity and cowardice of those in leadership.

There is an adage that all that is required for evil to prosper is that good people do and say nothing.

I’m inspired by the turning point in the Daniel story:

“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 …”

God roused the spirit residing.

The spirit residing.

I like that phrase: the spirit residing. The spirit already residing in Daniel. But Daniel was able to respond to the residing spirit and take action.

I’m challenged by this. God roused the spirit that was already residing in Daniel, but Daniel had the maturity, integrity and courage to stand up and to speak out.

Lord, when the truth needs to be spoken aloud, give me the maturity, the integrity, and the courage of Daniel.

 

 

7 Comments

  1. As Christians, we are called to speak out against injustice. Being part of the “crowd” is not an option. I love the story of the Emperor with no clothes as it illustrates so well the foolishness of humanity. We are fools if we believe we are better than others or if we just follow the latest fad, popular pastime or what everyone else is doing.

    Reply
  2. Amen! And the wisdom to know when to speak up.

    Reply
  3. Standing out in the crowd! Not a comfortable feeling and can be a lonely place also. Grant me the faith and consolation to know that The Holy Spirit is not going to leave me alone once I have spoken!

    Reply
    • If Pope Francis can consider going to Ukraine (yesterday’s online media) then we can write against war crimes to an ambassador here, and we can write supportive emails to the Ukraine’s ambassador. Their addresses are easily found online.

      Reply
      • Standing out in the crowd seems from today’s reflection to be they who imagine themselves to be something they are not. Work in communion with others who feel similarly perhaps? Work quietly to say what is wrong in person as Scripture tells us before, if necessary, taking the next public step. Christians avoid what that the emperor in the story did; we avoid fooling ourselves that we manage without Jesus Christ, whose willingness for Baptism gave him the Holy Spirit.

        Reply
  4. An interesting story that I hadn’t heard before. I was drawn to it because my grandmother was called Susannah. It also reminds me of a saying….beware your sins will find you out.

    Reply
  5. I like the concluding prayer – ‘ Lord, when the truth need to be spoken aloud, give me the maturity, integrity and courage of Daniel’.

    Reply

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