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 hearts well disposed, with serenity, read slowly the following words, savoring them and allowing yourself to be touched by them.
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
Let us now meditate with the commentary of St. Augustine on these words of the Gospel according to St. John.
On the great love God has for the world manifested in the surrender of his own Son, St. Augustine says: “Oh, how you have loved us, Good Father, that you did not spare your own Son, but that you gave him up for us, wicked that we are! Oh, how you loved us, you who did not deem equality with God something to be grasped at, becoming for us obediently accepting even death, death on a cross, being the only free among the dead, having power to give his life only to take it back anew. For us he became before you conqueror and victim, and therefore conqueror being the victim; for us priest and sacrifice before you, and therefore priest because he is sacrifice, making us for you from slaves into sons, being born from you in order to serve us” (conf. 10, 69).
And on the words referring to the mission of Christ, not to condemn but to save the world, St. Augustine says: Because God sent his Son to the world, not in order to judge the world, but in order that the world be saved through him. In so far as it depends on the physician, he has come to heal the sick. He commits suicide who does not observe the precepts of the physician. The Savior has come into the world. Why is he called Savior of the world, if not to save the world, not to judge the world? If you do not like to be saved, you will be judged by yourself. And why will I say “you will be judged?” Look what he affirms: Whoever believes in him will not be judged; on the contrary, whoever does not believe –what do you expect him to say but that he is judged? – is already judged, he affirms. The judgment has not yet appeared, but it is already made. The Lord knows those who belong to him; he knows those who will remain until the crown, those who will remain until the flame; in his threshing floor he knows the wheat, he knows the chaff; he knows the harvest, he knows the darnel. He who does not believe is already judged. Why judged? Because he has not believed in the name of the Only Begotten Son of God. (Io. eu.tr. 12, 12).
Farther on, St. Augustine comments: He who does not believe is already judged; and in another place: An hour will come when those who are in the tombs will hear his voice and shall come out: those who did good, for the resurrection of life; those who did evil, for the resurrection of judgment. Look how he uses “judgment” instead of condemnation or punishment. Nevertheless, if ‘judgment’ is always taken for ‘condemnation,’ shall we perhaps hear in a Psalm: “Judge me, O Lord”? “Judgment” is used there as ‘affliction,’ here as ‘discernment.’ How come it is discernment? As he himself explains affirming: Judge me, O God. Read and see what follows. What does Judge me, O God mean? He adds: From unholy people discern my cause. Thus, according to what has been said: “Judge me, O God and from unholy people discern my cause, Christ the Lord has affirmed a little earlier: I do not seek my glory. There is one who seeks it and judges. How come there is one who seeks and judges? It is the Father who from your glory will discern and separate my glory. Thus, you will glory according to this age; I, as I say to the Father, “Father glorify me with that glory that I had with you before this world existed,” I do not glory according to this age. What does “that glory” mean? Distinct from human conceit. Such is the Father’s judgment. What does “he judges” mean? He discerns. What does he discern? The glory of men from the glory of his Son, because thus it is written: “God your God anointed you with the oil of gladness, above your companions” (Io. eu. tr. 43, 9).
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 a 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. “O how you loved us, good Father, that you did not spare your only Son, but that you gave him up for us, wicked that we were!” (conf. 10, 39)
- How do you live out the mystery of the infinite love of God and of Christ for human beings?
- What sentiment is awakened in you before the infinite love of God and of Christ?
b. “Because God did not send his Son to the world to judge the world, but that the world may be saved by him” (Jn 3:17).
- “To be saved by Christ:” what does it mean for you?
- How can you collaborate with God’s plan of salvation?
c. Pray with this phrase: “Your mercy lovingly surrounds me to animate me” (ciu. 1, 8, 1).
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 how the Triune God dwells in your heart. How he fills all your interior, and animates and gives meaning to your life. Contemplate and adore.
b. Contemplate Christ on the Cross and contemplate the infinite love God has for the world to send his Son for us. Contemplate Christ’s love that surrendered his life for you. Contemplate, adore and give thanks.
Think of everything that you can share with those around you about the experience you had with God, especially about the presence of the Triune God in your heart. 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 dominant sentiment during this moment of prayer?
Final Prayer of St. Augustine.
Turning towards the Lord: Lord God, Father Almighty, with 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 you deign to hear our petitions according to your good will, that by your power you may drive away the enemy from all our thoughts and actions; that you increase our faith, govern our mind, and 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, one God, forever and ever. Amen (en. Ps. 150:8).
“The Love that comes from God and is God, is properly the Holy Spirit, through him the love of God is poured into our hearts, making the Blessed Trinity dwell within us ” (trin. 15, 18, 32).