LECTIO DIVINA: IV Sunday of Lent, Cycle A
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.
As he passed by he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him. We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day. Night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva, and smeared the clay on his eyes, and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed, and came back able to see. His neighbors and those who had seen him earlier as a beggar said, “Isn’t this the one who used to sit and beg?” Some said, “It is,” but others said, “No, he just looks like him.” He said, “I am.” So they said to him, “So how were your eyes opened?” He replied, “The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and told me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went there and washed and was able to see.” And they said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I don’t know.” They brought the one who was once blind to the Pharisees. Now Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a Sabbath. So then the Pharisees also asked him how he was able to see. He said to them, “He put clay on me eyes, and I washed, and now I can see.” So some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, because he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others said, “How can a sinful man do such signs?” And there was a division among them. So they said to the blind man again, “What do you have to say about him, since he opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.”Now the Jews did not believe that he had been blind and gained his sight until they summoned the parents of the one who had gained his sight. They asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How does he now see?” His parents answered and said, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. We do not know how he sees now, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him, he is of age; he can speak for himself.” His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews, for the Jews already agreed that if anyone acknowledged him as the Messiah, he would be expelled from the synagogue. For this reason his parents said, “He is of age; question him.” So a second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, “Give God the praise! We know that this man is a sinner.” He replied, “If he is a sinner, I do not know. One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see.” So they said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered them, “I told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?” They ridiculed him and said, “You are that man’s disciple; we are disciples of Moses, but we do not know where this one is from.” The man answered and said to them, “This is what is so amazing, that you do not know where he is from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if one is devout and does his will, he listens to him. It is unheard of that anyone ever opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he would not be able to do anything.” They answered and said to him, “You were born totally in sin, and are you trying to teach us?” Then they threw him out. When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, he found him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered and said, “Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him and the one speaking with you is he.”He said, “I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him. Then Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind.” Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not also blind, are we?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you are saying, ‘We see.’ So your sin remains.
LET US MEDITATE NOW WITH THE COMMENTARY OF ST. AUGUSTINE ON THESE WORDS OF THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN.
The Lord came, what did he do? He created a great mystery. He spat on the ground, of his saliva he made clay because the Word became flesh, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man. He was anointed, but he could not yet see. He sent him to the pool called Siloam. Well then, it is the concern of the Evangelist to entrust to us the name of this pool and he affirmed: which is translated “Sent”. You already know who has been sent; for sure, if he had not been sent, not one of us would be freed from evil. He washed, therefore, his eyes in the pool called “Sent”; he was baptized in Christ. If, when in some way, he baptized him in himself, then he enlightened him when he anointed him, perhaps he made him a catechumen. Certainly, the depth of such an important sacrament can be profoundly expounded and explained in various ways; but let this suffice for you, beloved; you have heard a great mystery. He asks someone: “Are you a Christian?” He answers you: “I am not,” if he is a pagan or a Jew. But if he says: “I am,” you ask further, “Are you catechumen or faithful?” If he answers “catechumen,” he is anointed but not yet washed. But why anointed? Ask and he will answer: ask him in whom does he believe: by the fact that he is a catechumen, he says: “in Christ.” Thence, I now speak to faithful and catechumens. What do I say of the spittle and the clay? That the Word became flesh. The catechumens also hear this; but it is not enough that they be anointed, they must hasten to the washing, if they seek the light (Io. eu. tr. 44,2).
Therefore, the neighbors and those, who saw him before, were saying, because he was a beggar: Is this not the one who was sitting there and begging? Some said “This is he;” others: “No way, but he looks like him.” His opened eyes changed his physiognomy. He said, “I am he;” a grateful word, so as not to be condemned as ungrateful. Thus they said to him, “How were your eyes opened?” He replied: “That man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and told me: ‘Go to the pool of Siloam and wash.’ And I went and washed and I saw.” Behold he has become herald of grace; see that he proclaims good news; he confesses seeing. That blind proclaims, while the heart of the impious tears to pieces for they did not have in their heart what he now had on his face. They said: “Where is he who opened your eyes?” He answered: “I do not know.” In these words his spirit was still similar to the anointed who did not as yet see. Let us imagine, brothers, how could he have that anointing in his spirit. He proclaims but does not know the person of whom he preaches (Io. eu. tr. 44,8).
Jesus heard that they had thrown him out and when he found him said to him: Do you believe in the Son of God? Immediately he washes the face of the heart. He answered and asked, still as anointed, Who is he, Lord, that I may believe in him? And Jesus said to him: You have seen him and is the one speaking with you. That was the Sent, this is he who washed his face in Siloam, which is translated “Sent.” Finally, with the face of the heart washed and the conscience cleansed, after recognizing him not only as Son of Man, which he has previously believed, but already as Son of God who became flesh, He affirms: I believe, Lord. “I believe, Lord” is little. Do you want to see to what degree he believes? Prostrating himself, he worshiped him (Io. eu. tr. 44, 15).
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. “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (Jn. 9:5).
•Why is Christ the Light of the world? •How does Christ enlighten you?
b. “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” (Jn. 9:35) •How is your faith in Christ?
•To what does your faith in Christ commit you?
c. Pray with this phrase: “Lord, open the eyes of my heart.”
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 and imagine that you are the blind man, and that you approach Jesus that he may open your eyes. Contemplate how Christ puts clay on your eyes, and how you go to wash in the pool. Contemplate after having washed, that you are able to see. Contemplate the face of Christ who looks at you; contemplate most of all his look, and allow yourself to be gazed upon by Christ. Contemplate and adore.
b. Contemplate the man who had been blind, and how he is interrogated by Jews and he is expelled from the synagogue. Contemplate how Jesus found him. Contemplate the dialogue with Jesus, and how he who had been blind adores Jesus, saying that he believes in him. Contemplate and reaffirm your faith in Christ.
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 piritual 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).
“Whoever does not see the works of Christianity, is blind. Whoever sees them and does not praise them, is ungrateful” (civ. 1, 7)