Lectio Divina: 1st Sunday of Advent
Translated by Fray Hubert Dunstan Decena, OAR
A. Invoking the Holy Spirit
We invoke the Holy Spirit using the words of St. Augustine.
Come, Holy Spirit, by whom every devout soul, who believes in Christ, is sanctified to become a citizen of the City of God! (En. Ps. 45:8) Come, HolySpirit, grant that we receive the motions of God, put in us your flame, enlighten us and raise us up to God (s. 128,4)
With the heart well disposed, with serenity, read slowly the followingwords, savoring them and allowing yourself to be impressed by them.
At that time Jesus said to his disciples: “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand. Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth. Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.”
Let us now meditate with the commentary of St. Augustine on these words of the Gospel according to St. Luke.
“Let us consider that by chance it is better to think that the signs prophesied by these words are not happening now, but that they will be accomplished when the tribulation affects the whole world, in the sense that it will affect the Church, who will suffer the tribulation in the whole world, and not evils that afflict only her. There will be those who say: Peace and security. Then sudden death and the coming of the Lord will surprise them, for he will come like a thief in the night, while on the contrary those who desire the return of the Lord will be happy and will exult. We see that those evils, which are considered the greatest and most extreme, are now common to both peoples and kingdoms, that of Christ and of the devil, because they equally afflict both the good and the bad. Wherever they happen, or are feared to happen, no one can say: Peace and security. Yet in the midst of such evils, everywhere there are repeatedly splendid banquets, drunkenness boils, avarice reigns, lascivious songs and the organs, the flutes, the lyres and the cither resound, the dice roll, and many genre of music and games are played. Is that fainting in fear or rather corrupting oneself in frivolity? But the children of darkness shall possess them and will give themselves to them all the more, when they say: Peace and security.
Luke says: And on earth nations will be dismayed.Here one understands by nations not the descendants of Abraham in whom all nations will be blest, but the nations who will be at the left side when the whole world will gather before the Judge of the living and the dead. Because the two classes will exist in all peoples, one that oppresses and the other oppressed, one that says Peace and security and the other on whom the sun is darkened and the moon hides its brilliance, on whom the stars fall and the hosts of heaven tremble.
“Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with great power and majesty. I see that this can be understood in two senses. He can come upon the Church as upon a cloud, as now he similarly does not cease to come as he said: Now you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Father coming upon the clouds of heaven. But then he will come with great power and majesty, because his power and divine majesty will appear more in his saints, those to whom he increased the fortitude that they may not succumb to the great persecution. It may also be understood that he will come in his body which is seated at the right hand of the Father, which also died, rose again, and ascended into heaven, according to what is written in the Acts of theApostles: Having said this, a cloud received him and took him from their sight. And right there as the angels told them: He will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven, do we have motives to believe that he will come not only in his body, but also upon a cloud; he will come as he went, and upon going, he did it upon a cloud” (Ep. 199, 37,40-41).
With the text, let us now pray from the depths of our heart. I suggest the following phrases and questions that can awaken in you the dialogue with God and at the same time can give rise to affections and feeling sin your dialogue with God. Do not move to the next phrase or question if you can still continue dialoguing with God in one of them. We do not try to exhaust the list, but to help you to pray with some points that better fits your personal experience.
- “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness” (Lk. 21:34).
- How is your attachment to material goods?
- Where does your heart dwell?
- “Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent” (Lk. 21:36).
- What does “Be vigilant” mean for you? How can you do it?
- What do these words of St. Augustine suggest to you? The mind is vigilant if faith does not sleep, nor is hope extinguished, nor is charity grown cold” (s. 223E, 1).
I propose to you some points for affective interior contemplation. Once again, you do not need to follow all of it, rather you can choose what fits your personal experience.
- Contemplate how Christ returns upon the cloud of heaven and gathers all men. Consider the accounting of your life that you have to make.
- Contemplate Christ, the Lord and Judge of history and adore his infinite majesty. Say with you heart: “You are my salvation” (conf. 1,5).
Think of everything that you can share with those around you about the experience you had with God, especially concerning the second coming ofChrist and the universal judgment. The following points can help you as guide to share with the community the experience of the lectio divina on this text:
- What have I discovered about God and about myself in this moment of prayer?
- How can I apply this text of Scripture at this moment of my life? What lights does it give me? What challenges does it put before me?
- What concrete commitment does this text of Scripture ask of me in my spiritual life, in my community life?
- What has been my predominant feeling during this moment of prayer?
G. FinalPrayer of St. Augustine
Turning towards theLord. Turning towards the Lord, God, FatherAlmighty, with pure heart, as far as our littleness permits, let us give him our most devoted and sincere thanks, begging with all our strength from his particular goodness, that he may be pleased to hear our pleas according to his great goodness, that by his power he may drive away the enemy from all our thoughts and actions; that he may increase our faith, govern our mind, give us spiritual thoughts, and bring us to his happiness, through his Son Jesus Christ, our Lord, who with him lives and reigns, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever. Amen (En. Ps. 150:8).