Lectio Divina: 2022-04-01

Our Lectio Divina for this Friday focussed on the readings for the Fifth Sunday in Lent Year C.

John 8:1-11 If there is one of you who has not sinned, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.

One

“Jesus wrote in the ground”

The Pharisees and law makers had set a trap for Jesus. Reading into the story I wonder why they had brought the woman alone? Had they let the man escape? They had altered the law a little as the manner of execution wasn’t prescribed unless the woman was a betrothed Virgin and both parties would be executed. Also the Romans didn’t allow the Jews to carry out death sentences. Jesus had much to think about and maybe by writing in the ground he gave himself time to think and respond with the right words. The wrong words and actions would have got him in to trouble! I wonder what he wrote?

I think about how I respond in challenging circumstances. In the past there have been occasions when I have responded quickly without thinking things through and have said the wrong words making matters worse. As I have grown older I have learned to stop, think and ponder before I speak out. It is good to step back, ask God and then respond.

The Pharisees left – they had nothing to say. The woman remained and wasn’t condemned by Jesus. I am reminded of the loving, forgiving nature of God. I am forgiven for the things I have done that I am ashamed of but the question I have to ask myself is do I forgive me?

Two

The Scribes and Pharisees come to condemn the woman and are set on vengeance, but Jesus sees into our hearts and knows our thoughts. He knew that the Scribes and Pharisees were also not without sin.

Jesus gives the woman the opportunity to move on. Turning away from sin then forgiveness flows.

It is often said it is easier to give than receive, I wonder are there times when l feel it is easier to forgive than to believe myself forgiven? To be forgiven is a wonderful source of healing. The gentle voice of Jesus tells us to begin again, no matter how many mistakes we make. Jesus’s mercy is never ending.

Three

‘He stood up and faced the crowd ‘ Jesus made the point of straightening up before speaking. It made me realise that I need to stand up and tell people that I am proud to be a Christian. I have no hesitation telling people that I am proud to be a Blackburn Rovers supporter. What stop’s me from saying the same about my faith? Is it because I don’t want to force my beliefs on people? Would I be able to explain my faith in God to people? What would I do the next time I have an opportunity to witness about my faith? All I can do is ask Our Saviour for the grace to recognise and grasp the opportunity when it occurs. I will tell all of our wonderful group what happens.

Four

Neither do I condemn you

How easy it is for me to pick up on the powerful feelings of the people involved in this story. The shame, guilt and fear of the woman, the self righteousness of the Pharisees and the anxiety of the crowd as they wait to see how this interaction would play out. The tension; as Jesus takes His time before responding to the question about how to deal with the woman caught in adultery. Jesus has the last word and I sense that the Pharisees feel their power shifting and so they leave. With tenderness and compassion Jesus lets her know that He doesn’t condemn her. Powerful words. I believe those words now, but for years I didn’t. I no longer feel judged and criticised when I make a mistake, I am able to accept that I am human and can turn to God and ask Him to show me a better way.

Five

‘I do not condemn you neither, go and sin no more’

When I was little I saw in this Gospel a woman who must have done something truly bad; but even then, I couldn’t comprehend this barbaric ‘law’ of stoning her. How could a crowd willingly come together to watch, and worse, to participate in stoning her?

When I grew up, again a rebellious thought surged in me with this Gospel. Adultery, by necessity, is a thing of two people, why then was only the woman identified as sinner and brought to Jesus? Because she was a nobody in her society, not powerful, not rich… the weakest link? That, I thought, is the way to perpetuate the sin.

The accusers, whom so eagerly were ready to stone this woman, first didn’t understand at all the nature of God: all Love and Mercy. They were themselves sunk in the sin of feeling superior to others, of false righteousness, of feeling themselves gods who can not only decide the fate of others, but also by taking the law into their own hands.

Second, in their intention to put Jesus into a trap, which they thought would put Him ‘between the sword and a wall’ or ‘between a rock and a hard place’, (if Jesus agreed with them He would have broken the Roman law and that would allow Jews to condemn him to death; or if Jesus disagreed with them He would have broken the Mosaic Law). The accusers not only showed how mean they were, but inadvertently, allowed Jesus to give one of his most famous statements, ‘I do not condemn you either, go and sin no more’; which gives rise to the Christian saying: ‘We love the sinner, not the sin.’

Yes, Jesus, demonstrates how magnanimous is the Forgiveness of God. The Way of Jesus is not judgemental; He receives us like we are, sinners; but forgives us, loves us. And we, His disciples, are called to do the same.

Please, Holy Spirit give me the grace not to judge and condemn others, but to forgive them and love them like the Father forgives me and loves me.

In Jesus’ Name I pray.

Six

Note: It is common during Lectio that someone is moved by the Holy Spirit to consider another reading. This happened to one of us today.

Luke 15:1-3, 11-32 Your brother here was dead and has come to life.

Friends,

The father said to his elder son “this brother of yours”

But the elder son described him not as “my brother” but as “your son”.

Envy, possessiveness, and jealousy had fractured the fraternal relationship.

The younger brother had come to himself, or had come to his senses; the elder one hadn’t.

I can sometimes feel like the elder brother, but I want to be like the father.

Pax