LECTIO DIVINA: 4th Sunday of Easter
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, 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 following words savoring them and allowing yourself to be touched by them.
Jesus said: “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”
Let us now meditate with the commentary of St. Augustine on these words of the Gospel according to St. John.
“My sheep hear my voice; and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life.” The pastures are there. If you remember, earlier he had said: And he shall enter, shall go out and find pastures. We have entered believing, we go out dying. But since we have entered by the gate of faith, so too let us go out of the body as believers, and thus we go out by the gate itself in order to find pastures. Eternal life is called good pastures: there no grass dries up, all is verdant, all is lush. Certain plants are called perennial, only the living is found there. He affirms: to my sheep I will give them eternal life. You seek unjust accusations precisely because you think in the present life … What does this mean: No one snatches them from my hand, and No one snatches them from the hand of the Father? It is perhaps that the hand of the Father and the Son are one? Or perhaps the Son himself is the hand of the Father? If by hand we under- stand power, one is the power of the Father and of the Son, because one is their divinity. If on the other hand we understand the hand as said through a prophet: “And to whom has the hand of the Lord been revealed?” then the hand of the Father is the Son himself. This is said not as though God had human form and members of the body, rather because through him all things were made. Certainly, some men use to say that their hands are some men through whom they make what they want; sometimes the hand of man refers to the man’s work itself made by his own hands, as when it is said that one recognizes his hand in what he has written. Since “the hand of man” is spoken of in many ways, which properly speaking is a member of the body, how much more, when we read “hand of God” which has no bodily form, should it not be understood only in one way? And thus in this place we better understand by hand of the Father and the Son the power of the Father and the Son, so that because we have interpreted that here the Son himself is called the hand of the Father, the carnal mind will begin to seek a son for the Son himself for what similarly creates a hand for Christ. “No one snatches from the hand of the Father” therefore means
this: No one snatches me” (Io. eu. tr. 48, 5.7).
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 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.
- “My sheep hear my voice. I know them and they follow me” (Jn. 10:27)
- Where and how do you hear the voice of Christ-Shepherd?
- For you, what does it mean that Christ knows you?
- “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand” (Jn. 10:28).
- Why is eternal life important for you?
- Facing the difficulties and dangers of life, how is your confidence in Christ, the Good Shepherd?
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 Christ who calls you to follow him. He is the Good Shepherd who leads you to the eternal pastures. Contemplate and open your ears to hear his voice. Repeat in your heart: “You are my Shepherd.”
- Contemplate how Christ as Shepherd leads you to eternal life. Make your contemplation a moment of prayer of trust and abandonment into the hands of the Good Shepherd. You may repeat in your heart the prayer: “Lord, I fully trust in you.”
Think of everything that you can share with those around you about the experience you had with God, especially about listening to the Good Shepherd and trusting in him. 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 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 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 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).