LECTIO DIVINA: Feast of the Holy Family, Cycle B
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, 40) Amen.
With heart well disposed, with serenity, read slowly the following words, savoring them and allowing yourself to be touched by them.
When the days were completed for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, just as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male that opens the womb shall be con- secrated to the Lord,” and to offer the sacrifice of “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,” in accordance with the dictate in the Law of the Lord. Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had not seen the Messiah of the Lord. He came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the Law in regard to him, he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying:
“Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen the salvation, which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.”
The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted and your soul a sword will pierce so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer. And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem. When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions of the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.
Let us now meditate with the commentary of St. Augustine on these words of The Gospel according to St. Luke.
Understand, my brothers, what great desire to see Christ the saints of old had. They knew that he had to come, how many who lived piously would say: “Oh, that his birth would find me here! Oh, that I may see with my eyes what I believe in the Scripture of God! Therefore, that you may know that the saints and the just of antiquity desired to see what was granted to this old man Simeon, our Lord Jesus Christ said to his disciples: Many just men and prophets wanted to see what your eyes are seeing, and they did no see it, and to hear what you are hearing, and they did not hear it. This old man was too old to hear him, but he was mature to see him. He did not hope to hear Christ speak, because he recognized him even when he was not yet speaking. And this was granted him in his extreme old age, as to a man who was desiring, sighing and saying in his daily prayers: “When will he come? When will he be born? When will I be able to see him? Will I live until then? Will he find me here? Will these eyes of mine see the one who will open the eyes of the heart?” All this he was saying in his prayer, and in attention to his desire, he received as an answer that he would not taste death before seeing the Christ of the Lord. Mary his mother was carrying the baby still unable to speak, the old man saw him and recognized him. Where had he seen him to recognize him? Or was it inwardly revealed to him who had been born outside? He saw him and recognized him. Simeon recognized a baby boy who did not speak, while the Jews killed a mature man who was performing miracles. Having recognized him, he took him into his arms and embraced him. He was carrying him by whom he was carried, because he was the Christ, the Wisdom of God, who extend powerfully from one extreme to the other and disposes of everything ever so gently. How great was he who was there! And despite being so great, how small he had made of himself! Made small, he was searching the small ones! What does ‘searching for the small ones’ mean? He was calling together not the proud nor the arrogant, but the humble and the meek. He deigned to be put in a manger in order to become food for the pious beasts. Simeon took him into his arms and said: Now Lord, let your servant go in peace. You leave me in peace because I see the peace. Why do you leave me in peace? Because my eyes have seen your salvation. The salvation of God is Jesus Christ, the Lord. Proclaim his salvation day after day” (s. 370, 2).
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 and 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. “For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles” (Lk. 2:32).
- How does Christ illumine you?
- How can you contemplate Christ?
b. “What is the meaning of this ‘seeking the little ones?’ He was calling together not the proud nor the arrogant, but the humble and the meek” (s. 370, 2).
- For you what does ‘to be humble’ mean?
- Why is ‘being humble’ important?
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 Virgin Mary and St. Joseph enter the temple to present Christ and how happily the old man Simeon comes to meet them. Identify yourself with him and his actions. Contemplate and love.
b. Contemplate how the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph enter the temple to present Christ and how happily the prophetess Anna comes to meet them. Identify yourself with her and her actions. Contemplate and love.
Think of everything that you can share with those around you about the experience you had with God, especially about discovering Christ and allowing yourself to be illumined by his light. The following points can help you share with your community the experience of the lectio divina on the text.
- What have I discovered about God and about myself in this moment of prater?
- 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).