Today’s ✠Challoner Meditation: July 22nd

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by



Consider first, the sudden and wonderful change God was pleased to work in the heart of this glorious penitent. ‘Behold, a woman in the city, that was a sinner,’ (says St. Luke) ‘when she knew that Jesus was at meat in the house of the Pharisee, brought an alabaster box of ointment; and standing behind at his feet, she began to wash his feet with her tears, and she wiped them with the hairs of her head, and she kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment,’ Luke vii 37, 38. See here, my soul, a penitent indeed; thoroughly penetrated with the sense of the dreadful evil of her sins, and therefore not to be restrained either by shame or fear, or any consideration of what the world would think or say, from running immediately to her Saviour, though then at table, and in the midst of the Pharisees, and there to do public penance, without regard to their censures or contempt. O see what it is for a soul to have her eyes truly opened to discover the deformity of her sins, and to view those odious monsters in their true shape, which have so long possessed her! She thinks every moment of age till by running to our Lord she can get rid of her guilt, whatever it may cost her, or whoever may scoff at her, or censure her for it.

Consider 2ndly, the chiefest ingredients in Magdalene’s conversion – her faith, her humility, her love, her penitential tears, and her dedicating now to the service of her Lord all that she had before employed in sin. Her faith, joined with her humble confidence in the goodness and mercy of her Saviour, appears in her running to him, to be washed and cleansed by him from all her filth in the true fountain of life. Her humility appears to her not daring to come before his face, nor to address herself to him in words, but standing behind at his feet, and speaking to his heart by floods of tears. Her ardent love shows itself in her often kissing his feet, and in the penitential tears it produces, and is therefore taken notice of by our Lord, as the main disposition towards her justification. ‘Many sins are forgiven her,’ (said he,) ‘for she hath loved much,’ verse 47. And now her hair, her precious ointments, her whole person are wholly dedicated to her Saviour; to whom, from this time forward, she adheres with such an inviolable fidelity and unalterable affection, as not even to suffer herself to be kept off from him either by the ignominy of the cross or the horror of the sepulchre. See, sinners, what it is to be a perfect convert, what it is to be a penitent indeed.

Consider 3rdly, the lessons all Christians may learn from Magdalene’s conversion. And first, a sense of the wonderful mercies of God, who thus changes in an instant the greatest sinners into the greatest saints, that so we may never despair of the conversion of any one, nor ever presume to despise poor sinners, how abandoned soever, to prefer ourselves before any of them, since whatever they are to-day to-morrow they may be great penitents and great favourites of heaven. Secondly, we must learn from this great example a ready compliance with the races and calls of God, with a courage and resolution to overcome the opposition we shall be sure to meet with in our return to God from old habits, human respects, or any other considerations. Alas! if Magdalene had regarded the censures of the world or delayed her conversion, for fear of what the Pharisees should say or think of her, in all appearance she would have died in her sins. Thirdly, we may learn by her example, that the most effectual means for the remission of all our sins and the advancing of our souls to the perfection of all holiness, is an ardent love of our blessed Redeemer, and a repentance influenced by love. Happy we if we can but learn of her to go daily in this penitential spirit to the feet of Christ: he never rejects a penitent lover.

Conclude, if thou hast followed Magdalene in her sins to imitate her also in her conversion; and the more and the greater thy sins have been to make the greater return of love to him who has so mercifully spared thee in thy sins, and so lovingly forgiven thee that immense debt which thou owedst to his justice.

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