Translated by Fray Emilio Larlar, Jr., OAR
A. Invocation to the Holy Spirit
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:
“I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a house-hold of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”
Let us meditate now with the commentary of St. Augustine on these words of the Evangelist St. Luke:
St. Augustine comments on the first place the fact that Jesus has come to throw fire on earth, a fire that must inflame and purify us: “To this very thing the other words refer themselves: A devouring fire. About it I must not discuss, but rather I ask you what fire did our Lord say that He had come to bring to this world? These are the words of the Gospel that they cannot reprimand, not because they honor Christ, but in order to teach Christians. When they are reminded that Christ said I have come to bring fire into this world, the miserable answer: “That fire is another thing.” To whom we respond: This other thing is likewise distinct; do not be afraid”. Indeed, it is Christ who speaks in the Old Testament when He says: I am a consuming fire (Dt 4:23-24), He affirms in the Gospel that He has come to bring fire into the world, that is, the Word of God who is Himself. He Himself explained the Old Scriptures to His Disciples after He had resurrected, starting from Moses and all the Prophets. Then the Disciples admitted having received that fire, saying: Did not our heart burnt on the way, when He explained to us the Scriptures? (Lk 24:32). He is the consuming fire. The Divine Love consumes the old life and renews man in such a way that God, as a consuming, fire, makes us love Him, and as a jealous one He loves us. Therefore, do not be afraid of the fire who is God; rather fear the fire that He had prepared for the heretics. (Con. Adim. Man. Disc. 13, 3).
On the division that Christ has brought, St. Augustine comments as follows: “They will be in the same five divided among themselves; two against three, and three against two, that is to say: the son against the father, the daughter against the mother, the daughter in-law against mother in-law. What sword caused this division, but the one that Christ brought? That’s right, brothers, we even see this being done every day. For example, a young man desires to serve the Lord, but his father does not agree; already they are divided among themselves. One promises him an earthly inheritance, and what the other wants is what is celestial; this promises him one thing, but the other chooses another. Do not let the father think that an injury is being done to him; it is only God who is being preferred to him. And however he argues with his son who wants to serve God. Therefore the spiritual sword that separates is stronger, than the carnal nature that unites. This happens also between daughter and mother, and much more between daughter in-law and mother in-law. There are times that within the same house daughter in-law and mother in-law live together, one being a heretic and the other Catholic. And there where this sword has strongly entered, I am not afraid of rebaptism. Can the daughter be divided against the mother, and not the daughter in-law against the mother in-law?
This also happens to humanity in general: the son is divided against his father. We were for sometime sons of the devil (…). And every infidelity of ours, from what father does it come from, but from the devil? It is not that he had created us, but that we imitate him. Now you can see how today there is division between a son and his father. That sword came, it renounces the devil; has found another father, another mother. That one, offering himself to be imitated, cause destruction; by contrast, the father and the mother that we have found, gave birth for eternal life. The son is against the son. The daughter is against her mother: the Jewish people who believed, have stayed away from the synagogue. The mother in-law was divided against her daughter in-law: the people coming from the Gentiles we call daughter in-law, since Christ is the Spouse, the son of the synagogue. From where was the Son of God according to the flesh born? From that synagogue (…) How did He leave His mother? By leaving the Jewish people, to that synagogue, clinging to ancient rites. (…) And who is the mother in-law? She is the mother of the spouse. Yes, the mother of the Spouse, our Lord Jesus Christ, is the synagogue. Therefore, its daughter in-law is the Church, who comes from the Gentiles, she did not admit the circumcision of the flesh, she is in conflict with her mother in-law (En. in Ps. 44, 11-12).
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:
- “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!” (Lk 12:49).
- What does the fire of Christ produce in your life?
- What does the phrase of St. Augustine: “The Divine Love consumes the old life and renews man in such a way that God, as a Consuming Fire, makes us love Him” (Cont, Adim.Man, Disc. 13, 3) suggest to you?
- “Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” (Lk 12:51).
- What is the false peace which Christ is against?
- What divisions and separations have happened in your life on account of Christ?
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:
- Consider how Christ places peace in your heart. Reflect on how all those things which do not belong to the Kingdom of God, to Jesus Christ are getting away from your heart and on the contrary your heart is filled with God and for this reason, you can experience great peace.
- Look at your own heart and see if in it the fire of Christ is burning. Feel the warmth of fire of your own heart, and likewise feel how your sins and evil inclinations are burnt in that fire. Ask Jesus that fire of His love may not be extinguished in you.
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 the separation that Christ established in the life of a believer and the fire of His love that must inflame and purify the heart of man. The following points can help you as guide, in your 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 feeling in this moment of prayer?
G. Final Prayer of St. Augustine
“That the fire of charity inflame your spirit”. (Sermon 234, 3).