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).
Who are you more like in this Gospel? Are you the Pharisee who outwardly lives a faithful life, or the repentant woman who has faith in her heart? Are you a mix of both?
This Gospel used to weird me out, to be honest. I always found it strange that the woman would use her tears and hair to clean Jesus' feet. I also found it odd that Jesus let her. But, when you really think about it, it's really not that odd at all. The sinful woman recognizes her sins and repents of them through her actions of cleaning and anointing Jesus' feet. She also recognizes who she needs to repent to: the Son of God, Jesus Christ. The culturally holy men, the Pharisees, do not recognize their own sins and they do not see that God incarnate is sharing a meal with them. This is a dramatic scene, and that is a good thing.
It can be uncomfortable to be like the woman in this passage. It sure is easier to be like the Pharisee. It's hard to accept that we are sinners and our sins are in need of forgiveness. It takes humility to approach Jesus and ask for His mercy. God knows that this can be difficult and does not ask that we come crying with oil and anoint His feet; He gives us a really easy way to receive mercy when you take a step back and look at it. When we go to a priest in the sacrament of Reconciliation, we are really going to Christ and confessing our sins to Him. It's more than talking to a man in black and easier on our pride than kissing Jesus' feet at a dinner party. However, our hearts should still be in the same place as the woman's. She has true regret for her sins and earnestly desires to be free from them. She wants to be forgiven, to start fresh with God in their relationship. That's what we need too, a loving and repentant heart, and when we do, Jesus wipes us clean of our sins, just like He does in the Gospel.
Back to the Pharisee. This man is open to Jesus but needed help to see how his sins also need to be forgiven. The Pharisee did not understand that God's mercy is endless, even to those who have committed the worst of sins.
Do not hold yourself back. Seek God's mercy with an open and humble heart. You might be like the Pharisee and only externally live the faith, but learn from the woman that God's love and mercy is always available to a repentant heart.
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.
Who are you more like in this story? Why?
If you were in this Gospel and Jesus standing before you, what would you say to Him?
Where is your heart right now? Are you open to love and mercy?
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.
"Have mercy on me."
"You take away the sins of the world."
"I need You."
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?
During the month of September, we ask that each day, for the Action step of our lectio divina, everyone prays a Divine Mercy Chaplet together for the healing of all victims of clerical abuse of any kind as well as for the healing and guidance of our Church.
For more information on why we are doing this or how to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet, click here.
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 Mary Griffin, a graduate student of theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville.
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.