Lectio Divina – or “Divine Reading” – is one of the great treasures of the Christian tradition of prayer.
Lectio Divina flows out of the Hebrew method of studying the Scriptures which is called haggadah, learning by the heart. Haggadah was an interactive interpretation of the scriptures by means of the free use of the text to explore its inner meaning.
Today, we will not do the traditional Lectio, but a version where we enter into the scripture and engage with open hearts.
During our time together, I would like to share a story first – one that happened mid-week as Jesus and the disciples traveled to Jerusalem. After the story, I will read a passage from Mark 14. Then we will sit in silence while our hearts explore the story.
As I read the story, allow the details to come alive so you can enter the story as fully as possible. Let your heart guide you into the wisdom available to you today.
Let’s see if we can open ourselves to receive what God has in store for us today.
Get comfortable so that your body is relaxed yet alert.
Soften your belly.
Feel your arms as they release down the sides of your body.
Soften your jaw.
Imagine your heart becoming warm as you receive this story:
Jesus – a few days earlier – had raised Lazarus from the dead and people were amazed and talking about what he had done. Jesus and his disciples came to Bethany— to the house of Simon the Leper. Some say that Simon had also been healed by Jesus — and after so many years of isolation and pain as a leper, Simon – now healed – was excited to have a Jesus come to his house for supper. His disciples were there talking with each other and Simon’s friends. They were sort of confused about what was going on but they were there because they were loyal to Jesus. And Jesus was having a good time. He he was laid back, enjoying the evening after teaching all day in the temple. Then, a woman came named Mary. Mary was the sister of Lazarus and the sister of Martha. She, like Simon the leper, was so grateful and so full of joy because she thought her brother had been dead, but Jesus raised him to life. So she brought a gift to the party. She had a jar of very expensive oil — those present knew that this oil cost about as much as one year’s wages for most of them. She broke open this new bottle and poured the extravagant oil over the head of Jesus. As soon as she did this, people in the household got critical of her and this action. They grumbled and said, “Hey—that was a waste! That oil could have been sold and the money given to the poor.” But Jesus received Mary’s gesture of love with love. Jesus said to the grumblers, “She has done a beautiful thing here. I am here now and she is expressing her love in a most loving way. Take in the smell and enjoy with me. You can attend to the poor later — let’s be here in the presence of love right now.”
Explore the scene as I read again from Mark. Be there in the midst of it all. Talk to any of the characters. Talk to Jesus. Notice what part of the story touches you and stop there for a moment and explore. Open to the wisdom within you through exploring the story — and if you prefer, just sit in the scene, taking in the extravagant scent of love all around.
Characters in the story:
- Simon—who had been isolated and sick and now was healed—excited to be around people—welcoming people into his house
- Mary—so joyful that Jesus brought her brother back to life brings an expensive gift—she does not care how much it cost—no price can be placed on what Jesus did for her and her family
- Disciples—confused—asking, “What is going on now?”— Wondering about some of what Jesus is talking about these days
- Jesus—Let’s be here together in this beautiful moment—scented with extravagant love.
3 While Jesus was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman – Mary – came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.
4 Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? 5 It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.
6 “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7 The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. 8 She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. 9 Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
Stay in silence.