Translated by Fray Hubert Dunstan Decena, OAR
A. INVOCATION OF 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.
The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. He is the one of whom I said, ‘A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.’ I did not
know him, but the reason why I came baptizing with water was that he might be made known to Israel.” John testified further, saying, “I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from the sky and remain upon him. I did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain, he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.”
[IN THE PHILIPPINES: FEAST OF STO. NIÑO] Mt. 18:1-5,10
The disciple approached Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of he disciple approached Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”. He called a child over, placed it in their midst , and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever recieves one child such as this in my name recieves me. See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly father.”
LET US MEDITATE NOW WITH THE COMMENTARY OF ST. AUGUSTINE ON THESE WORDS OF THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN.
“This happened in Bethany, at the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing. On the next day, John saw Jesus coming towards him and he said: Behold, the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sin of the world. No one claims for himself and says that he takes away the sin of the world. Pay attention that John is already stretching his finger against proud men. As yet heretics were not born and already being denounced. From the river he was then crying out against those who today he cries against from the Gospel. Jesus comes, and he, what does he say? Behold the Lamb of God. If the Lamb is innocent, John is also a lamb. Perhaps, is he not also innocent? But who will be innocent? And up to what extent? They all come from the shoot and the lineage of whom David sang with sighs: I was conceived in iniquity, in sin my mother nourished me in the womb. Lamb, therefore, is only he who has not come in this way, because he was not conceived in the midst of iniquity, because he was not conceived in the condition of any mortal; nor in iniquity did his mother nourish him in the womb he who was conceived by a virgin and was born of a virgin, because she conceived him by faith and by faith received him. Here therefore is the Lamb of God. This does not have the sin of Adam; from Adam he took only the flesh, he did not take on the sin. He who from our matter did not take on the sin, this is he who takes away our sin. Behold, the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sin of the world.
Pay a little attention, my brother. When did John recognize Christ? Surely, he was sent to baptize with water. Then comes the question: what for? That he might be manifested to Israel, he said. What for was the baptism of John? My brothers, if it had served for something, it would have subsisted up to now; men would have been baptized with the baptism of John and thus come to the baptism of Christ. But, what does he say? That he might be manifested to Israel. That is it, he came to baptize with water, so that Christ might be manifested to Israel itself, to the people of Israel. John received the ministry of baptism with water for repentance, but to prepare the way for the Lord, when the Lord was not as yet. But when the Lord made himself known, it was superfluous to prepare the way, because he made himself the Way for those who knew him; that is why the baptism of John did not last long. But, how did the Lord manifest himself? In humble condition, in order that, through it, John may receive the baptism with which the Lord would be baptized in person (Io. eu. tr. 4, 10-11).
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.
a. “This is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29).
•Do you recognize the saving presence of Christ in your life?
•What testimony do you give to Christ before other men?
b. “After me there comes a man who is before me because he existed before
•Why must Christ be always before you?
•What importance do humility and obedience have in your life?
c. Pray with the phrase: “Jesus, my Way, guide me” Io. eu. tr. 4, 10-11).
I PROPOSE TO YOU SOME POINTS FOR AFFECTIVE INTERIOR CONTEMPLATION. ONCE AGAIN, YOU NEED NOT FOLLOW ALL OF IT, RATHER YOU CAN CHOOSE WHAT FITS YOUR PERSONAL EXPERIENCE.
a. Contemplate John the Baptist pointing to Christ among those who come to him to be baptized. Contemplate the humility and the fortitude of John the Baptist to give testimony to Jesus.
b. Contemplate how at the moment of baptism, the Holy Spirit descends upon Jesus. Feel also that, how the Holy Spirit descended to your heart on the day of your baptism, is now being renewed at this moment of contemplation. Contemplate and accept the Divine Guest.
THINK OF EVERYTHING THAT YOU CAN SHARE WITH THOSE AROUND YOU ABOUT THE EXPERIENCE YOU HAD WITH GOD, ESPECIALLY CONCERNING THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST AND THE UNIVERSAL JUDGMENT. 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).
“Thus, Christ wanted to be baptized in water by John, not to remove any sin of his, but to give a great example of humility…” (ench. 49, 14).