LECTIO DIVINA: 3rd Sunday of Advent, Cycle A
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 the heart well disposed, with serenity, read slowly the following words, savoring them and allowing yourself to be touched by them.
2 When John the Baptist heard in prison of the works of the Christ, he sent his disciples to Jesus 3 with this question, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?”4 Jesus said to them in reply, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. 6 And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.” 7 As they were going off, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John, “What did you go out to the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? 8 Then what did you go out to see? Someone dressed in fine clothing? Those who wear fine clothing are in royal palaces. 9 Then why did you go out? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written: ‘Behold I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way before you.’ 11 Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”
Let us now meditate with the commentary of St. Augustine on these words of the Gospel according to Matthew.
We have heard the double testimony truthful and honorable: one, the testimony of John concerning Christ, the other the testimony of Christ concerning John. What, therefore does it mean that John, already in prison to be executed, should send his disciples to Jesus with the command: Go and ask him: Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another? Is all the praise reduced to this? Has the praise turned to doubt? What are you saying, John? To whom do you speak? What are you talking about? You speak to the judge and you speak as the precursor. You extended the finger, you pointed him out and you declared: Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world. You said: Of his fullness we have all received. You have said: I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. And now you say: Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another? Is it not he himself? And you, who are you? Are you not his precursor? Was it prophesied of you: Behold, I send my messenger before you, and he will prepare your way? How can you prepare his way, if you stray away from him? The disciples of John, therefore, came and the Lord told them: Go and tell John: the blind see, the deaf hear, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor; and blessed is the one who finds in me no motive of scandal. You do not suspect that John found motive of scandal in Christ. Nevertheless that seems to be the implication of the words: Are you the one who is to come? Ask the works … My words –he says- are my works. Go and tell him. After they had left… Perhaps to avoid that someone may say: “John was formerly good, but the Spirit of God abandoned him.” He said these things after they had left; after those sent by John had left, it was then Christ praised John (s. 66, 3).
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.
- “Are you the one who is to come or should we look for another?” (Mt. 11:3)
- How do you await the coming of Christ?
- Is Christ really your Savior or are you waiting for a Savior at your taste or desire?
- “Blessed is he who is not scandalized in me!” (Mt. 11:6)
- Why can the message of Christ scandalize you?
- How do you live the contradictions of faith in your life?
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 healing the sick, restoring sight to the blind as a sign that he is the Messiah. Be amazed and love.
- Contemplate the disciples of John the Baptist asking Jesus the question: “Are you he who is to come or should we look for another?” Listen to his answer and contemplate in him your Messiah.
Think of everything that you can share with those around you about the experience you had with God, especially about recognizing Christ as the Messiah. 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 light 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 a 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).“Up until John the Baptist, prophecy was an unintelligible sound, because it could not he understood until it was accomplished in the Lord” (cons. eu. 2,1).