Translated by Fray Emilio Larlar, Jr., OAR
Lk 10: 1-12;17-20.
A. Invocation to the Holy
Let us invoke the Holy Spirit with the words of St. Augustine.
Come Holy Spirit, by whom every pious soul who believes in Christ in order to make himself a citizen of the City of God is made holy! (En. in Ps. 45, 8). Come Holy Spirit, grant that we may receive the promptings of God, place in us Your fire, illumine us and raise us up to God (Sermon 128, 4).
With a willing heart, and with sincerity, read slowly the following words, savoring them and allowing them to have an impact on you:
After this the Lord appointed seventy [two] others whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit. He said to them, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way. Into whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this household.’ If a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you, for the la-borer deserves his payment. Do not move about from one house to another. Whatever town you enter and they welcome you, eat what is set before you, cure the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God is at hand for you.’ Whatever town you enter and they do not receive you, go out into the streets and say, ‘The dust of your town that clings to our feet, even that we shake off against you.’ Yet know this: the kingdom of God is at hand. I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom on that day than for that town.
The seventy [-two] returned rejoicing, and said, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of Your name.” Jesus said, “I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky. Behold, I have given you the power ‘to tread upon serpents’ and scorpions and upon the full force of the enemy and nothing will harm you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” At that very moment He rejoiced [in] the Holy Spirit and said, “I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hid-den these things from the wise and the learn-ed you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.
Let us meditate now with the commentary of St. Augustine on these words of the Gospel of St. Luke:
In the first place St. Augustine points out the confidence that is necessary to have in God because the sending made to the evangelizers is like lambs in the midst of wolves. It is not like lions in the midst of donkeys, as St. Augustine points out, but in a situation of clear disadvantage and danger, but that is why St. Augustine stresses, as St. Paul does, that power is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor 12:9); “The Lord does not say: “Behold that I send you as lions in the midst of asses”. When talking about lambs in the midst of wolves he showed sufficiently the small number of lambs and the herd of wolves. And even if only one wolf usually scares a flock, however great it may be, the lambs sent in the midst of innumerable wolves went without fear, because the one who sent them did not abandon them. Why would they be afraid of going in the midst of wolves those with which the Lamb who conquered the wolf was? (Sermon 64, 1).
Likewise St. Augustine pauses to make an interesting allegorical interpretation of the elements that the evangelizer must not carry: “Do not carry – He says – money purse, sack, sandals, and greet no one on the way. Into whatever house you enter, say; “Peace to this house”, and if in it there is a son of peace, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you. Let us review even briefly everything point by point. Do not carry – He says – money bag. What am I doing? When I travel, I bring some money – I confess-; I bring what is indispensable for the road. Nor sack. It is fitting not to carry it. Nor sandals. What is it all about? Did He command me to walk with bare feet? That I walk with shoes you also see by yourselves, because I don’t say words and hide my feet; before your eyes I walk with my shoes on. Even more, if someone greets me on the way and I do not return his greeting, I would be judged as proud. The barrage of words spoken against me would revert on the Lord. I therefore greet the persons whom I meet on the way. The other, to say Peace to this house when we enter into one, is easy. But, how we are worried with regards to money bag and sandal! Let us take a look at the Lord in case He consoles and grants us His understanding of those words (…). And what is the sandal? What is the sandal that we use? They are animals’ skins; skins of dead animals with which we protect our feet. We cover our feet with the skins of dead animals. What are we ordered, then? To renounce the works of the dead (…) Therefore, what does, do not greet someone on the way mean? Certainly it can be understood in this simple way: He ordered that we act with haste; and for that reason he expressed thus: Do not greet anyone along the way, as if to say: leave everything else until you have done everything that have been ordered” (…). But there is another sense that now occupies my mind. I do not hide that I notice that it concerns me more than all of us, the dispensers, but it likewise concerns you, the hearers (…) The one who greets on the way greets by chance, because he did not direct himself to the one whom he in fact greets. He is carrying something else in his hands, but something else came up. He was going to do something and another thing to do crossed his way. Therefore, what does to greet by chance mean? it means to announce health for selfishness. But what does to announce health, but to preach the Gospel? Therefore, if you preach it, do it for love, not for selfishness (…) Therefore, when one who is filled with peace greets says: Peace to this house, if there is in it a son of peace, his peace will rest in him; if, on the contrary, there is no son of peace there, the one greet-ed lost nothing: It will return to you, He says. The peace that did not separate from you will return to you. Because this is what He wanted to say: “The fact of having an-nounced it as useful for you; and to the one who did not accept it; it was of no use. Not because he was left empty did you lose your recompense. You are paid according to your good will; you are paid according to the love that you placed on it. The One who gave you assurance through the voice of the angel: Peace on earth to men of good will, pays you. (Sermon 101, 5. 7.9.11).
Let us pray now from the bottom of our heart with the text. I suggest to you the following phrases and questions that may arouse in you the dialogue with God, and, at the same time, may elicit affections and sentiments in your dialogue with God. Do not pass to the other phrase or question if you can still continue dialoging with God in some of them. It is not a matter of finishing this list, but of helping you to pray with those points that are most applicable to your personal experience:
a.- “Behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves”. (Lk 10:3).
- How is your faith in Christ? What are you fears?
- St. Augustine says: “the lambs sent in the midst of innumerable wolves went without fear, because the one who sent them did not abandon them” (Sermon 64A, 11). What are your fears in the your work of evangelization?
b.- “Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals” (Lk 10:4).
- How is your trust in the Lord and in His Divine Providence?
- St. Augustine interprets the sandals as “renouncing dead works” (Sermon 101, 5), as conversion. What importance do you give to conversion and to holiness in your life?
I propose to you some points of affective inner contemplation. Once again, there is no need that you follow everything, but that you choose what is more applicable to your personal experience:
a.- Contemplate Christ who sends His Apostles. See how among them you also see yourself. Reflect on the responsibility that Christ gives you and its demands. Check you affections and feelings.
b. Reflect on how Christ fills your heart with peace. How with His hands He deposits peace in your heart, so that you may carry it and communicate it when going to places. Feel how that peace, the peace of Christ, fills your heart, transforms it and fill it with your own being, making you an (Eirenófo-ro) a bearer of peace).
Think about everything that you can share with those who surround you of the experience that you have had of God, particularly with regard to being sent by Christ, with the commitment of conversion and of being bearer of peace. The following points can help you as a guide in sharing with your community the experience of the lectio divina on this text:
- What have I discovered about God and about myself during this moment of prayer?
- How can I, in these moments of my life, apply this text of the Scriptures? What lights does it offer me? What challenges does it present to me?
- To what does this text of the Scripture concretely commit me in my spiritual life, in my community life?
- What has been my predominant feel-ing in this moment of prayer?
G. Final Prayer of St. Augustine
“Start through confession praising the Lord and you will end up in peace” (En. in Ps. 75, 4).