LECTIO DIVINA: HOLY FAMILY
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 following words, savoring them and allowing yourself to be impressed by them.
Each year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, and when he was twelve years old, they went up according to festival custom. After they had completed its days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Thinking that he was in the caravan, they journeyed for a day and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances, but not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But he did not understand what he said to them. He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and man.
Let us now meditate with the commentary of St. Augustine on these words of the Gospel according to St. Luke.
See in what manner. When he was twelve years of age as man, the Lord Jesus as God is anterior and exterior to time; separating himself from his parents, he remained in the temple discussing with the elders who were admiring his teaching. His parents, upon returning from Jerusalem, searched for him in the caravan, that is, among those who were traveling with them. Not finding him, they were very preoccupied, and returned to Jerusalem, where they found him discussing with the elders in the temple. All this, as I said, when he was only twelve years of age. But, why be surprised about it? The Word of God is never silent, yet, it is not always heeded. They find him in the Temple, and his mother tells him: Why have you done this to us? Your father and I were anxiously looking for you. And he answers: Did you not know that it is expedient that I be occupied in the things of my Father? He said this because as Son of God, he was in the temple ofGod. That temple, in effect, was not of Joseph but of God. Someone might say, “Here he admitted that he was not the son of Joseph.” Considering the lack of time, pay attention, brothers, with a little more patience to what suffices to conclude this sermon. When Mary said: “Your father and I were anxiously looking for you,” he replied: Did you not know that it is expedient that I be occupied in the things of my Father?” Even though he was their son, he did not want it to be such that it excludes his being Son of God. Son of God, yes, Son of God from eternity, he who created them. On the other hand, as son of man born in time, of a virgin without human seed, he had both of them as parents. How do we prove it? Mary already said it: “Your father and I were anxiously looking for you.” Even though she had merited to give birth to the Son of the Most High, she remained very humble; she did not put her name before that of her spouse. She does not say: “I and your father,” but “Your father and I.” She did not count on the dignity of her womb, but on the conjugal hierarchy. The humble Christ would never have taught his mother to be proud. Your father and I, she said, were anxiously looking for you.” She said: Your father and I,” because the head of the wife is the husband. How much less should the other women be proud! Nevertheless, this in no way changes the order and the content of our faith, according to which we confess that he was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, She conceived being virgin, gave birth being virgin, and remained a virgin” (s. 51, 17-18).
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 dialogue with God, and at the same time can give rise to affections and sentiments in your dialogue with God. Do not move to the next phrase or question it you can still continue dialoguing with God in one of them. It is not a matter of exhausting the list, but of helping you to pray with some points that better fit your personal experience.
- “AndJesus was growing in wisdom, in stature and in grace before God and men” (Lk.2:52).
- How is the growth of Christ in your life and in your family?
- What is it that impedes Christ to grow and develop in you and in your family?
- “The Word of God is never silent, but is not always heeded” (s. 51,17).
- How is your listening to the Word of God?
- How does God speak to you in your life?
I propose to you some point 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 the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph anxiously seek the child Jesus in the temple and how they experience great peace when they find him. Contemplate that you also seek Christ, and how the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph help you to find him.
- Contemplate how Christ develops in you interiorly. Give him space and put yourself into his hands, and repeat silently in your interior: “He must increase and I must decrease” (Jn. 3:30).
Think of everything that you can share with those around you about the experience you had with God, especially about how Christ develops in you and in your own family. The following points can help you as guide to share with your 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 light 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 sentiment during this moment of prayer?
G. Final Prayer of St. Augustine
Turning towards the Lord:
Lord God, Father Almighty, with pure heart, as far as our littleness permits, allow us to give you our most devoted and sincere thanks, begging with all our strength from your particular goodness, that by your power you may drive away the enemy from all our thoughts and actions; that you may increase our faith, govern our mind, give us spiritual thoughts, and bring us to your happiness, through your Son Jesus Christ, our Lord, who with you lives and reigns, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever. Amen (en. Ps. 150:8).