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). Amen.
With heart well disposed, with serenity, read slowly the following words, savoring them and allowing yourself to be touched by them.
When Judas had left them, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and God will glorify him at once. My children, I will be with you only a little while longer. I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Let us now meditate with the commentary of St. Augustine on these words of the Gospel according to St. John.
The Lord Jesus testifies that he had given to his disciples a new commandment: that they love one another; he affirms: I give you a new commandment: that you love one another. Did this commandment not already exist in the Old Law of God, where it is written: You shall love your neighbor as yourself? Why then does the Lord call new something that is clearly seen as old? Or is it a new commandment precisely because having taken off the old man, he puts on us the new man? Surely, he renews the hearer, or rather the obedient, not all kinds of love, but that about which the Lord, to distinguish it from carnal love, has added: “As I have loved you,” because husband and wife love each other, as do parents and children and any other human chain that binds humans to one another, not to speak about culpable and reprehensible love with which adulterers love each other and any other who are bound not with human chain, but with some noxious indecency in human life. Christ, therefore, gave us a new commandment: that we love one another as he himself also loved us.
This love renews us that we may be new men, heirs of the New Covenant, singers of a new song. This love, beloved brothers, also renewed the ancient just men, the patriarchs and the prophets, as later the blessed apostles. This same love renews now the nations and the universal human kind scattered throughout the orb of the earth, it makes and gathers the new people, Body of the new bride, the spouse of the Only Begotten Son of God, of whom the Song of Songs says: “Who is she that ascends dressed in white?” Dressed in white, yes, because renewed, with what, if not with the new commandment? That is why, the members, who are in her, are solicitous for one another and if one member suffers, all the members together suffer, and if one member is glorified, all the members together rejoice. Therefore, they listen and observe: “I give you a new commandment: that you love one another”; unlike those who corrupt whom they love, unlike those who love men because they are men, rather like those who love because they are gods and all sons of the Most High, in such a way that His Only Begotten Son calls them his brothers, because they love one another with that love with which he himself loved them to lead them to that goal that suffices, where his desire is satisfied with goods because when God is all things in all, nothing shall be wanting to desire (Io. eu. tr. 65, 1).
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.
- “I give you a new commandment: that you love one another” (Jn. 13:34).
- How do you live this new commandment?
- What does it mean to you: to love as Christ has loved you?
- “It is a new commandment precisely because, having taken out the old man, he puts on us the new man” (Io. eu. tr. 65, 1).
- What does ‘putting on the new man’ mean for you?
- How can you show in your life the love proper to the ‘new man’?
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 shows his love for you. Contemplate the infinite love of Christ for all men and ask him to make you love as he has loved.
- Contemplate Christ on the cross, the sign and guarantee of God’s infinite love for men and repeat in your interior: “Let me love as you have loved.”
Think of everything that you can share with those around you about the experience you had with God, especially about living the new commandment of love. 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 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).