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.
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”
Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your fingers here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving but believe.” Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God.” Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.
LET US MEDITATE NOW WITH THE COMMENTARY OF ST. AUGUSTINE ON THESE WORDS OF THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN.
On the power to forgive sins St. Augustine comments:
“Among them only Peter merited to personify the whole Church almost everywhere. Because of that personification of the whole Church which he alone represented, he merited to hear: I give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Not only one man received these keys but the unity of the Church. That you may see that it is the Church who received the keys of the kingdom of heaven, listen to what in another place the Lord said to all his apostles: Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive will be forgiven them, and whose sins you retain will be retained.” This refers to the power of the keys, of which it was said: Whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven. But this was formerly said only to Peter… The dove binds, the dove looses, he binds and looses the edifice built on the rock. Let those bound fear, let those loosed fear. Those loosed let them fear to be bound; those bound let them pray to be loosed. Each one is bound by the ropes of their sins. Outside of this Church nothing can be loosed (s. 295,2).
On the Apostle Thomas, who doubted, St. Augustine says:
“They saw the Lord in person, present in the flesh and they heard the words coming out of his mouth and they proclaimed these to us. Therefore, we also have heard but we have not seen. Are we thus less fortunate than those who saw and heard? Then, how come he adds: That you too may be in communion with us? They saw, we have not, nevertheless, we are in communion with them because we have the faith in common with them. One of them, thus, despite seeing him did not believe and wanted to touch him in order to believe. These were his words: I will not believe unless I put my fingers in the wounds left by the nails and touch their marks. And he who always offers himself to the gaze of angels that they may see him, offers himself to the hands of men that they may touch him. And that disciple touched him and exclaimed: My Lord and my God. After touching him as man he confessed him as God. And the Lord, to console us who do not have the possibility of touching him with the hands once he is seated in heaven, but who can touch him with faith, tells him: Because you have seen you have believed; blessed are those who do not see and yet believe. We are the ones he describes, we the ones he indicates. Let it then be a reality in us that blessedness which the Lord prophesied would arrive. Let us firmly maintain what we do not as yet see, because it is proclaimed by those who saw.
In order that you also may be in communion with us. What great thing is there in being in communion with men? Do not despise it; consider what he adds: And let our communion be with God the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we write this for you, your joy may be full. He affirms that the complete joy is in the communion itself, in the charity itself, in the unity itself (ep. Io. tr. 1 ,3).
St. Augustine does not forget the “blessedness” of this passage, because we are happy who have seen and have believed:
“When, therefore, the Lord said to Thomas: “Come, put your hand and do not be incredulous but faithful,” and how he, having touched the place of the wounds, exclaimed and said: “My Lord and my God,” he is rebuked and told: You have believed because you have seen.” Why, if not because a prophet is not honored in his native place? But why among strangers honor is rendered to this prophet, what follows? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed. It is a prophecy about us, and the Lord has deigned to accomplish in us what he praised beforehand. Those who crucified him, touched him, and nevertheless they did not believe; we did not see him nor touched him, we have heard and have believed. Let it be fulfilled in us the joy he promised would be realized in us… (Io. eu. tr. 16, 4).
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. “Receive the Holy Spirit; whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; whose sins you retain, they are retained” (Jn 20:23).
•What importance does the Sacrament of Reconciliation have in your life?
•Living the Paschal Mystery is living the freedom from sin. How do you live the gift of forgiveness of sins?
b. “My Lord and my God!” Jesus told him: “Because you have seen me you have believe? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe” (Jn. 20:28).
•What does it mean that Christ is your Lord and God? •On what is your faith in Christ founded?
c. Pray with the phrase: “You are my Lord and my God.”
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 the risen Christ in the midst of the apostles and Thomas putting his fingers into the wounds of Christ. Contemplate and adore the divinity of Christ and experience the gift of paschal peace.
b. Contemplate how the apostles receive the Holy Spirit to forgive sins. Be grateful to the risen Christ for this gift and feel the Paschal joy in your heart.
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).
“My Lord and my God”, touching the man, he confessed his God. (ep. Io. tr. 1,3).