LECTIO DIVINA: 2nd Sunday of Easter, Cycle B
Translated by Fray Dunstan Huberto 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 hand 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 finger 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 has merited to personify the whole Church almost anywhere. In attention to
that personification of the whole Church that only he was representing, he merited to hear: I give to you the
keys of the kingdom of heaven. These keys were not received by only one man, but the unity of the Church
(…) That you may see that it is the Church that received the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, listen to what the
Lord in another place says to all the Apostles: Receive the Holy Spirit. And in continuation he says: Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them and whose sins you retain they are retained. This refers to the power of the keys, of which it was said: Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. But before, it was said only to Peter (…) The dove binds, the dove looses. The building standing on the Rock binds and looses. Let the bound fear, let the loosed fear. Let the loosed fear to be bound; the bound let them pray to be loosed. Everyone is bound by the knots of his own sins. Outside of this Church nothing can be loosed (s. 295, 2).
On the Apostle St. Thomas who doubted, St. Augustine says:
“They saw the Lord in person, present in the flesh and they heard the words come out of his mouth and they announced them to us. Therefore, we also have heard but we have not seen. According to this, are we less fortunate than those who saw and heard? Well then, how come he adds: In order that you also would be in communion with us? They saw we did not and, nevertheless, we are also in communion with them, because we have 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 are his words: I will not believe unless I introduce my fingers into the wounds left by the nails and touch the nail marks. And he who always offers himself to the gaze of the angels to see, immediately offered himself to the hands of men to 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 our hands once he is seated in heaven, but, yes, of touching him with faith, tells him: Because you have seen me you have believed; blessed those who do not see and yet believe. We are the ones described, we are the ones indicated. Let it, therefore, be a reality in us this blessedness that the Lord had predicted would come to pass. Let us firmly maintain what we do not yet see, since those who saw it announce it.
So that you also be in communion with us. What is great 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 this –he says- we write to you, so that your joy may be full. He affirms that the full 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 “beatitude” of this passage, because we are happy those who have not seen and have believed.
“When, therefore, the Lord said to Thomas: “Come, put your hand and do not be unbelieving but believe” and as he, having touched the places of the wounds, exclaimed and said: “My Lord and my God,” he rebukes him and tells him: You have believed because you have seen. Why? except that a prophet is not honored in his our countr?. But, why among strangers this prophet is given honor? What follows? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed. It is a prediction about us, and the Lord has deigned to fulfill in us what he praised before. Those who crucified him saw him, touched him, yet with all that few believed; we have not seen him nor touched him, we have heard, we have believed. Let it be fulfilled in us the happiness that he promised 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 them; whose sins you retain, they are retained” (Jn 20:23).
•What importance does the sacrament of reconciliation have in your life?
•Living the paschal time is living the liberation from sin. How do you live the gift of “forgiveness of sins”?
b. “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him: “Because you have seen me you have believed? Blessed those who have not seen and yet believe” (Jn. 20:28).
•What does it mean that Christ is your Lord and your God? •On what is your faith in Christ based?
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 in the wounds of Christ. Contemplate and adore the divinity of Christ and experience the paschal gift of peace.
b. Contemplate how the Apostles receive the Holy Spirit to forgive sins. Thank 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 spiritual life, in my community life?
• What has been my dominant 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).