Lectio Divina: Palm Sunday (C)
Lk. 22:14-71; 23:1-56
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, Holy Spirit, 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 Gospel of the day, savoring them and allowing yourself to be touched by them. N.B. Today in year C., we read the Passion of Christ according to Luke. Since it is too long to transcribe here, please, take the Lectionary and read it from there. If you have the New Roman Missal, read it from there. The Missalette does not carry the full Gospel reading.
Let us now meditate with the commentary of St. Augustine on these words of the Gospel according to St. Luke:
“With full solemnity we read and celebrate the Passion of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, whose Blood washed away our sins. The objective is that this yearly devout practice renews our memorial, and since many people gather together, the proclamation of our faith reaches greater glory. The solemnity itself demands from me that I deliver to you a sermon on the Passion of the Lord, as he grants it to me. In so far as he suffered from the hands of his enemies, our Lord chose to leave us an example of patience for our salvation, useful for the course of this life, in such a way that we do not refuse to suffer the same for the truth of the Gospel, if that be his will. But, since what he suffered in this mortal flesh he suffered freely and not for necessity, it is right to believe that he also wanted to symbolize something in each act that took place and are left written about his Passion.
In the first place, in the fact that, after being given over to the crucifixion, he himself carried the cross, he left us a mark of continence and, in going ahead, he indicated that whoever follows him must do the same. He also made identical exhortation verbally when he said: “Whoever loves me, must take up his cross and follow me.” Carrying one’s cross, in a certain way, is equal to governing one’s own mortality.
The fact that he was crucified on Calvary meant that in his Passion the forgiveness of all sins took place, of which the Psalm says: “My sins have multiplied more than the hairs of my head.” With him two men were crucified, one on each side. By this he signified that he will have some at his right hand side and others at his left hand side. At his right will be those to whom it is said: “Blessed are those who suffer persecution for the sake of justice.” At his left, however, are those to whom it is said: “Even though I deliver my body for burning if I have not love, it serves me nothing.”
The caption placed above the cross in which it was written: “King of the Jews,” made it clear that even though they have put him to death, the Jews did not prevent him from being their king, he who with evident and sublime power will give to each one what his deeds deserve. For this reason the Psalm sings: “He made me king on Zion his holy mountain.”
That the caption was written in three languages: Hebrew, Greek and Latin, indicated that he was to reign not only over the Jews, but also over the Gentiles… Joseph and Nicodemus gave him burial. According to some who verified the etymology of the name, Joseph means “increased.” Nicodemus, on the other hand, is a Greek name; many know that it is composed of the words: “victory” and “people,” since “nikos” means victory and “demos” people. Who became increased upon dying but he who said, “Unless a grain of wheat dies, it remains alone, but if it dies, it multiplies”? And who upon dying conquered the people who persecuted him, but he who, after rising, will be its judge?” (s. 218, 1-6. 15)
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 give rise to affections and sentiments in 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. It is not a matter of exhausting the list, but of helping you to pray with some points that better fit your personal experience.
- “And he was still speaking, when a cock crowed. The Lord, turning around, threw a glance at Peter” (Lk. 22:61).
- What is the testimony for Christ that you give in the world?
- St. Luke is the only Evangelist who speaks of the glance of Jesus towards Peter. What does this glance of Jesus during his Passion tell you today?
“As they led him away, they took hold of a certain Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country; and after laying the cross on him, they made him carry it behind Jesus” (Lk. 23:26).
What does it mean for you to carry your cross every day following Christ?
What does the figure of Simon the Cyrenian mean for you?
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 Peter denying Jesus, and afterwards, how Christ upon coming out, casts a glance towards Peter who just finished denying him. Allow Christ’s eyes to cast a glance at you. In your contemplation, interpret what the glance of Christ tells you at this moment.
- Contemplate the Cyrenian who helps Christ carry his cross. Identify yourself with him, and make your prayer a moment of contemplation on the Passion of Christ.
Think of everything that you can share with those around you about the experience you had with God, especially as regards the glance of Christ resting on you and carrying the cross behind Jesus. 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?
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 thought 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). +