LECTIO DIVINA: XXV Sunday in Ordinary Time, 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.
They left from there and began a journey through Galilee, but he did not wish anyone to know about it. He was teaching his disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, and three days after his death he will rise.” But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to question him.
They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house, he began to ask them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they remained silent. They had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest. Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” Taking a child he placed it in their midst, and putting his arms around it he said to them, Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.”
LET US MEDITATE NOW WITH THE COMMENTARY OF ST. AUGUSTINE ON THESE WORDS OF THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. MARK.
St. Augustine has left us one of his best commentaries on this Gospel text gathered from a sermon directed to a new bishop. Even though the sermon has an episcopal tone and of inviting the new bishop to serve his people, the Augustinian words can serve for our meditation.
Whoever among you wants to be the greatest, let him be your servant. See how I have not made any affront to my brother, your future bishop, in desiring and inviting him to be your servant. If I did it to him, I did it beforehand to myself; I am not just anyone who speaks about a bishop, rather I speak being myself a bishop; and what I advise to him incites fear also in me, and I remind myself of what the Apostle said: Thus I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight as if I were shadowboxing. No, I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified. Therefore, to say it briefly, we are your servants, but in Jesus, as the Apostle says: On the other hand, we are your servants for Jesus. We are your servants for him who also makes us free. He says to those who believe in him: If the Son sets you free, you will truly be free. Shall I then doubt that in making myself a servant for him, who, if he does not set me free, I will remain in slavery without redemption? We have been put in front of you and we are your servants; we preside, but only if we are useful. Let u see, therefore, in what is the bishop a servant who presides; in the same way that the Lord was. When he said to his apostles: Whoever among you wants to be the greatest, let him be your servant; in order that human pride may not feel annoyed by that servile name, he immediately consoled them, putting himself as example in the fulfillment of that to which he had exhorted them. Whoever among you wants to be the greatest, let him be your servant. But take note of how: In the same way that the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve. Let us investigate in what he served. If we focus in corporal services, we see that it was the disciples who served him. he even sent them to buy and prepare food. In the Gospel it is written that as the day of his Passion was approaching, his disciples asked him: Lord, where do you want us to prepare the Pasch? He told them where; they went, prepared it and served it. What, then, do his words mean: In the same way that the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve? Listen to what follows: He said, he did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as ransom for many. Here is how the Lord served, this is how he commanded , that we be servants. He gave his life in ransom for many: he redeemed us. Who among you is capable of redeeming another? By his blood and by his death we have been redeemed; by his humility we have been raised, fallen that we were; but we also must present our grain of sand in favor of his members, since we have become his members: He is the head, we his body. Furthermore, the Apostle John exhorts us in his letter to follow the example of the Lord who had said that he must be your servant who wishes to be the greatest among you, as the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as ransom for many. Thus exhorting us to imitate him, he said: Christ gave up his life for us; similarly, we must give up ours for our brothers. The Lord himself also asked after the resurrection: Peter, do you love me? He answered, “Yes, I love you.” The question was repeated three times, and he answered three times; and three times the Lord told him: Pasture my sheep. How can you show that you love me if not by pasturing my sheep? What can you give me with your love, if you expect everything from me? This then is what you have to do if you love me: pasture my sheep. Thus, once, twice, three times. “Do you love me? I love you. Pasture my sheep.” Three times he had denied him because of fear, three times he confessed him for love. In continuation, after the Lord had entrusted three times his sheep to him who answered and confessed his love, condemning and erasing his fear, he added: When you were young, you girded yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old, someone else will gird you and bring you to where you do not want to go. He said this indicating with what death he was to glorify God. He spoke to him about his cross, he predicted his passion. Directing him towards it, the Lord told him: Pasture my sheep, suffer for my sheep. (s. 340A, 2-3).
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. “He who wants to be the first, let him be the last and the servant of all” (Mk. 9:34).
•How do you serve your brothers?
•In a world the seeks notoriety and visibility, up to what point do you want to be the last?
b. “He took a child into his arms and put him in their midst” (Mk. 9:35)
•Why is it important for you to live your faith like a child?
•What does Jesus’ gesture mean for you, that he took a child into his arms and put him in the midst of the Apostles?
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 Christ embracing a child and putting him in the midst of his disciples inviting them to humility. Contemplate, admire and learn to be humble.
b. Contemplate how Christ invites you to follow him along the road of humility and the road of silent service. Contemplate how Jesus did not come to be served, to be every day in Facebook, but to serve and to surrender his life for love. Verify your feelings and your commitment to faith.
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).
“Let them serve in such a way that they feel ashamed of exercising dominion; let them rule in such a way that they enjoy serving them.” (ord. 2, 8, 25).(Io. eu. tr. 2, 2).