Step #1: Lectio / Read
Click the link below or open your Bible to the passage and read through the reading at least once, paying attention to what is happening in the text.
Step #2: Meditatio / Meditate
Use the following meditation to help you reflect more deeply on the Scripture (you may want to read the passage again).
How many times have you heard, “It’s what is on the inside that counts” or “Beauty comes from within”? I’m guessing a lot. And rightfully so.
Perhaps hearing this gives us a sigh of relief, taking pressure off from the unrealistic expectations that modern culture and society seem to require to be considered physically beautiful. Or perhaps hearing this adds pressure and/or guilt because we already know beauty comes from the inside… which might be pretty a messy place.
When I read this Gospel passage amid a period of shortcomings or just greater awareness of my sinfulness, I resonate with what Jesus said of the scribes and Pharisees - I feel “full of dead men’s bones and every kind of filth” inside. That’s a pretty lousy way to feel, and feeling lousy can sometimes make it hard to get up and act, so that may lend to more sinning, which in turn adds more weight of sin, making it even harder to get up and act. It’s an ugly cycle.
A beautiful cycle still involves sin, but it isn’t nearly as debilitating
Sometimes when I hear stories about people in the first century having an encounter with Jesus, the lack of detail and follow up on their life makes me think that it was a one and done kind of situation. As if when Jesus would tell them to “Go and sin no more”, they would go and never sin again… meanwhile here I am going to confession with the same sins every week. Likewise, when reading this Gospel passage, I’m tempted to think as if time were frozen; those ugly on the inside will always be ugly and those beautiful on the inside will always be beautiful, but time is not frozen - time is a precious and ongoing gift from God.
I can’t say what happened to those scribes and Pharisees - if some of them converted from their evil ways, or even of those who encountered Jesus - how much or little they sinned after that. What I can say is that with time, awareness, and a whole lot of grace from God, we can jump back into the beautiful cycle at any point.
In the beautiful cycle, after committing a sin, the person repents, seeks reconciliation with God, others, and self, and then strives to do better. Of course there is much beauty when one doesn’t sin in the first place, but when one does sin or finally becomes aware of a particular shortcoming, the beauty of homecoming is breathtaking.
In the ugly cycle, you bear witness against yourself, but in the beautiful cycle, you bear witness of the one who is Beauty.
Step #3: Oratio / Pray
These questions are to be used to talk to God; have a conversation with the Lord about these questions and what is going on in your heart as you pray today.
What kind of cycle am I in right now?
How do my encounters with mercy remind me of beauty?
How can I bear witness to God even in my shortcomings and failures?
Step #4: Contemplatio / Contemplate
In this step, you listen. Stop talking, let God speak to your heart. You may repeat one of these short phrases to focus your mind on the Lord.
"You make beautiful things."
"You are good."
"Have mercy on me."
Step #5: Actio / Act
In light of today's reading and your time spent in prayer with the Lord, what concrete action or actions will you take to let this encounter with the Lord bear fruit in you today?
When you feel like you have failed or fallen short, turn towards Beauty.
Smartphone Lock Screen
The following image is here for you to save and use as a background or lock screen on your smartphone or device to help you carry today's Lectio Divina with you the rest of the day.
Today's prayer was prepared by Katie LoBosco, a music therapist for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Cincinnati.
If you have anything you'd like our team to pray for, please go to the page of our website called "Prayers" and let us know how we can pray for you today.