LECTIO DIVINA: XXIII Sunday in Ordinary Time. Cycle C

Translated by Fray Emilio Larlar, Jr., OAR

Lk 14:25-33

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).

B. Lectio

            With a willing heart, and with sincerity, read slowly the following words, savoring them and allowing them to have an impact on you:

Great crowds were traveling with Him, and He turned and addressed them, “If any one comes to Me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. Which of you wishing to construct a tower does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if there is enough for its completion? Otherwise, after laying the foundation and finding himself unable to finish the work the onlookers should laugh at him  and say, ‘This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish. Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down and decide whether with ten thousand troops he can successfully oppose another king advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops? But if not, while he is still far away, he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms. In the same way, everyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.

C. Meditatio

            Let us meditate now with the commentary of St. Augustine on these words of the Gospel according to St. Luke:

            St. Augustine points out that there are things that try to separate us from the love of Christ, and that some gratify and are pleasing to us, like the family, and others are bitter and painful, like the cross; but the following of Jesus demands leaving behind  some things and embracing  with courage others: They threaten us to separate ourselves [from Christ] not only the things that harm us but also those that animate us (…)  if one comes to me and does not hate his father, mother, wife and children, his brothers and even his life, cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his cross to follow Me, cannot be My disciple. The Lord mentions both things: that which is pleasing and can deceive us with flattery, and those which oppress us with threats. Against the deceitful flatteries that come from carnal affection He says: If one wishes to come to Me and does not hate his father, mother, wife, children, etc. Against that which draws us away from faith with violent anger through fear makes us strong by means of that support and that armor which He calls with only one name the “cross.” He says: He who does not take his own cross and follow Me (…) He says of the one who does bear with patience – this means to carry on one’ shoulder the cross. The one who does not follow this way, cannot be My disciple (Dolbeau Sermons, 13, 2=159A. 2).

On the other hand the same St. Augustine in his Letter to Letus (Letter 243), uses this text of the Gospel in order to remind him that he must leave human affections in order to enter the monastery; only by leaving what is particular can he have access to what is common and to be able turn to the call of Christ, of whom he is a “soldier” being a monk: “In which we see that the fund needed for the construction of the tower and for ten thousand soldiers that are against those who come with the twenty thousands, do not mean anything but the renunciation of everything that one possesses. The antecedents agree with the conclusion. Because in the renunciation of all possessions is included the hatred for father, mother, wife, children brothers, sisters and even one’s own soul. These are the possessions that always impede in obtaining not one’s temporary and transitory possession, but the common things that remain forever (…) Let not the parents get mad, because God orders us to hate them, when He orders the same with regards to our soul. And since with respect to our soul we are commanded to hate it for Christ together with our parents, thus also in another passage it is said to us about the soul can be applied in the same way to the parents: He who loves his soul, he will lose it, He says. And I will say without doubting it: “He who loves his parents, will lose them”. With respect to the soul He said there “he will hate it”, as here “he will lose it”. This commandment, in which we are ordered to lose our soul, does not mean that we have to kill it, which would be inexpiable crime. It means that we have to kill in us the affection of the soul, by which the present life delight us with the deterioration of the future one. The same thing must be said of to lose one’s soul and of to hate it, and both things are done with love since the fruit of the conquest of that soul is clearly manifested when the same commandment tells us: Whoever loses is soul in this life, will find it in the eternal life. This same thing we can say with reason about the parents: he who loves them will lose them; but not my killing them, in a manner of parricides, but by wounding and killing moved by piety and faith, with the sword of the Word of God, with which they insist on tying up their children they gave birth to the obstacles of the world and of themselves. But at the same time giving life to that affection by which they are brothers, by which in the company of their temporal children they acknowledge God and the Church as their eternal Parents” (Letter 243, 3, 5).

D. Oratio

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:

  1. “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple”. (Lk 14:27).
  • What is the cross that you must carry?
  • How do live your discipleship by following Christ?
  • “If any one comes to Me without hating his father* and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple”. (Lk 14:26).  
  • What is the cross that you must carry?
  • How do live your discipleship by following Christ?
  • “If any one comes to Me without hating his father* and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple”. (Lk 14:26).
  • What is the love that guides your life?
  • St. Augustine said: With respect to the soul He said there “he will hate it”, as here “he will lose it” This commandment, in which it is commanded to us to lose our soul it does not mean that we have to kill ourselves, which would be an inexpiable crime. It means that we have to kill in us the carnal affection of the soul, by which the present life delights us with the deterioration of the future (Letter 243, 3). What do these words suggest to you?

E. Contemplatio

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:

  1. Contemplate Christ and let Him order the love in your heart. Consider how He removes from it the disordered love from yourself and from those who surround you, and how He places the love of Christ at the center of your heart.
  2. Reflect on how Christ invites you to take your cross with courage to follow Him. Consider your cross. Look at the size and its characteristics. Contemplate that it is Christ who places it on your shoulders, but it is likewise Christ who helps you to carry it. Verify your affections and feelings.

F. Communicatio

            Think about everything you can share with those who surround you of the experience that you have had of God, particularly with regard to carrying your cross following Christ and in order to put the affections of your heart in order. 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 feeling in this moment of prayer?

G.  Final Prayer of St. Augustine

            “The one who sails the waters of this world on the wood of the cross navigates far from the path of iniquity”. (En. in Ps. 118, 26, 8).

23-TO-C

Fray Emilio Larlar, Jr., OAR

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