LECTIO DIVINA: XXX Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

1

Translated by Fray Emilio Larlar, Jr., OAR

Lk 18:9-14

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:

He then addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else. “Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity—greedy, dishonest, adulterous—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’ But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’ I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

He then addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else. “Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity—greedy, dishonest, adulterous—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’ But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’ I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

He then addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else. “Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity—greedy, dishonest, adulterous—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’ But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’ I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

            He then addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else. “Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity—greedy, dishonest, adulterous—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’ But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’ I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

C. Meditatio

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

“But, since faith is not proper to the proud, but of the humble, some who believe themselves to be just and despise others, He proposed this parable: Two men went up to the temple to pray; one was a Pharisee, the other a Publican. The Pharisee said: I give You thanks, O God, because I am not like other men. If he had said at least “like many men”! What does like the other men, but all, with him as an exception? “I, he said, am just; others are sinners”. I am not like other men, who are unjust, robbers, adulterers. The near presence of the Publican was for him occasion of greater conceit. Like that Publican, he says, “I, he says, am alone; that is of others”. I am not, he said, like that, due to my good actions, thanks to which I am not wicked”. I fast twice a week I give a tenth of what I own. What did he ask of God? Examine his words and you will find nothing. He went up to pray, but he did not want to pray to God, but insult to whom he was praying. The Publican, on the contrary, remained standing at a distance, and, however, he came near to God. The knowledge of his heart kept him at a distance, but his filial love brought him near. The knowledge of his heart kept him at a distance, his filial love brought him near. The Publican, on the contrary, remained standing at a distance, but the Lord saw him near. Because the Lord is sublime and directs His attention at humble things. In turn, those who exalt themselves, like the Pharisee, He knows them from afar. What is elevated He knows from afar, but He does not forgive it. He still hears the humility of the Publican. Is it insignificant to say that he remained standing from afar. He didn’t even raise his eyes to heaven. In order to be seen he avoided seeing. He did not dare to raise his eyes up; his conscience bothered him, hope raised him up. Listen still more: He struck his breast. He claimed for himself the punishment. For this reason the Lord forgave the one who confessed his sin: He struck his breast saying: Lord, be merciful to me a sinner. Look who is praying. Why are you surprise that God forgives when a sinner accepts himself as he is? You have heard the dispute between the Pharisee and the Publican; hear the sentence. You have heard the proud accuser and the humble culprit; listen now to the Judge: Truly I say to you. He speaks the Truth, God says, says the Judge: Truly I say to you that the Publican came down from the temple justified and not the Pharisee. Tell us, Lord, the cause. I see that the Publican came down from the temple justified and not the Pharisee, I ask why? Do you ask why? Listen: Because everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and everyone who humbles himself will be exalted. You have heard the sentence. Be careful not to have an evil cause. I say another thing: You have heard the sentence, avoid pride.

Consider now, consider this I don’t know what impious charlatans and listen to it those, by presuming of their powers, say: “God made me a man, but I am the one make myself just”. O man, worse and more hateful than the Pharisee! The Pharisee, with pride, certainly declared himself just, but he gave thanks to the Lord for it. He declared himself just, but still he gave thanks to the Lord for it. I give You thanks, O God! He gives thanks because he is not like other men and, nevertheless, he is reprimanded for being proud and conceited. Not because he gives thanks to God, but because he gave the impression that he did not want that more be given to him. I give You thanks because I am not like other men who are unjust. Therefore you are just; hence you ask for nothing; therefore you are already full; therefore human life on earth is not a temptation (Job 7:1), therefore you are already full, therefore you live in abundance, therefore already you have no reason to say: Forgive us our sins (Mt 6:12). Therefore, who is the one who impiously goes against grace, if the one who proudly gives thanks is reprimanded?” (Sermon 115, 2-3).

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. “He went up to pray, but he not want to ask God, but to praise himself” (Sermon 115, 2).
  • What is it that is truly important in prayer?
  • How can the prayer become truly an act of praise to God?
  • God made me man, but I am the one who make myself just”. (Sermon 115, 2).
  • Why are these words worse that the proud pray of the Pharisee?
  • What importance does the act of thanksgiving have in your prayer?

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 how the Pharisee and the Publican go up to the temple and consider how the Pharisee prays with his pride, and the Publican with his humility at the back of the temple. Focus your attention on the Publican and ask the Lord that your prayer may always be like his, humble and confident.
  • Consider within you all the gifts that you have received from God, and make of your prayer a moment of grateful contemplation. Just as the Pharisee did not know how to be grateful and believed that everything was his, think about your poverty along with the gifts that God has given you and be thankful.

F. Communicatio

Think about everything you can share with those who surround you about the experience you have had of God, especially with regard to being humble in prayer, of being grateful to God for His benefits and gifts. The following points can help you, as 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

“At a distance God knew the Pharisee who bragged about himself, and closely He helped the Publican who repented. The former was proud of his good works and hid his wounds; the latter was not proud of his merits, but showed his wounds…” (En. in Ps. 39, 20).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Fray Emilio Larlar, Jr., OAR

Fray Emilio Larlar, Jr., OAR

Official Translator, Priest-Religious of the Order of Augustinian Recollects in the Province of St. Ezekiel Moreno.

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