Translated by Fray Dunstan Huberto 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 heart well disposed, with serenity, read slowly the following words, savoring them and allowing yourself to be touched by them.
What is your opinion? A man had two sons. He came to the first and said, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ He said in reply, ‘I will not.’ But afterwards he changed his mind and went. The man came to the other son and gave the same order. He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir.’ But did not go. Which of the two did his father’s will?” They answered, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you. When John came to you in the way of righteousness, you did not believe him; but tax collectors and prostitutes did. Yet even when you saw that, you did not later change your minds and believe him.
Let us now meditate with the commentary of St. Augustine on these words of the Gospel according to St. Matthew.
“Therefore the Lord said to the proud Pharisees: I assure you that the publicans and the prostitutes will precede you into the kingdom of heaven. They will precede them because they do violence to the kingdom of heaven; the advance believing; they submit to the faith, and nothing can oppose them because by their violence they conquer the kingdom. In the Gospel it is written: The kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent ones conquer it. This was what that thief did, he was stronger on the cross than in cruelty (en. Ps 86:6).
On the fact that Christ has come to seek and to call sinners to conversion, St. Augustine comments: “Listen to the sinful woman in the city, who shed on his feet so much tears as she found herself so very far from his footsteps. Listen to the prostitutes and the publicans , who precede the Scribes and Pharisees in the kingdom of heaven. Listen to those who suffer any kind of illness, with whom you shared in banquets, a sharing which they considered sin those who, believing themselves healthy, did not seek you as the physician, even though you have not come to call to repentance the just but the sinners. When all of these have returned to you, they easily become meek and humble in your presence, extremely conscious of their sinful life and of your indulgent mercy, because where sin abounded, there grace all the more abounds (virg. 36).
On disposing oneself to do the will of God, St. Augustine comments: “Come on, brothers, return to your interior, examine yourselves, ask yourselves, answer truthfully and judge yourselves without consideration for your person, bring out a just sentence. Remember that you are a Christian, that you frequent the Church, that you listen to the word of God, that you feel joy at its reading. You praise him who explains it, I seek someone who fulfills it; I repeat; you praise the speaker, I seek one who fulfills it. You are a Christian, you frequent the Church, you love the Word of God, you willingly listen to it. See what I propose: examine yourself about it, hang on to it, go up the tribunal of your mind, confront your own presence, and judge yourself; and if you find yourself wicked, correct yourself. This, then, is my proposal” (s. 178, 7).
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. “Son, go to work today in the vineyard.” He answered: “I don’t want to.” But later he relented and went” (s. Mt. 21:29).
- How do you receive the desires and the will of God?
- In some occasion in your life, have you said “no” to God, but later relented and did the will of God? When?
b. “You praise him who explains the Word of God, I seek one who fulfills it” (s. 178, 7).
- How is your listening to the Word of God?
- How do you fulfill the will of God in your life?
c. Pray with this phrase: “Here I am, Lord, I come to do your will” Ps. 39:6).
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 God calls you by name and he wishes to entrust to you a mission. Contemplate what is your response, what you say to the Lord, what is your interior disposition and what is your sentiment about the response you have given. Contemplate and ask that God dispose your heart to fulfill his will always and in all situations.
b. Contemplate your life of faith, and contemplate in your memory your first steps as believer close to the Lord. Contemplate now how is your actual situation, and how is the interior disposition that you have in these moments. Contemplate if your heart is disposed and open to fulfill the will of God, or if you are enclosed within yourself, and it is difficult now to fulfill the will of God. Ask God to free you from these bonds and that he give availability and docility. Contemplate and adore.
Think of everything that you can share with those around you about the experience you had with God, especially about being open to fulfill the will of God. The following points can help you 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 goodwill, 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).
“Put in first place the will of God; learn to love yourself, by not loving yourself” (s. 96, 2).