LECTIO DIVINA: Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C
Lk. 9:51 – 62.
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 for his being taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem, and he sent messengers ahead of him. On the way they entered a Samaritan village to prepare for his reception there, but they would not welcome him because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?” Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they journeyed to another village.
As they were proceeding on their journey someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus answered him, “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.” And to another he said, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.” But he answered him, “Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” And another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home.” To him Jesus said, “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.”+
Let us now meditate with the commentary of St. Augustine on these words of the Gospel according to St. Luke..
Foxes have dens, and the birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head. Foxes have dens in you, the birds of the sky have nests in you; the foxes mean the deceit, the birds of the sky mean the pride. As the birds seek the heights, so do the proud men; just as foxes have hidden lairs, so do insidious and treacherous men. What did the Lord answer? Pride and deceit can reside in you; Christ has nowhere to dwell in you, nowhere to rest his head. Because to recline the head is the humility of Christ. If Christ had not inclined his head, you would not have been justified. … Why do you seek the sublimity of the kingdom, but you do not imitate my humility? (en. Ps. 90:2,7)
“I will follow you wherever you go, and you say “Follow me to someone who does not want to follow you? “Him, he says, I exclude because I see in him lairs, in him I see nests.” But why do you bother him whom you invite and he excuses himself? Look that you oblige him but he does not come; you exhort him but he does not follow. For, what does he say? I will go first to bury my father. He was manifesting to the Lord the faith in his heart, but filial love was making him delay following him. But when our Lord Jesus Christ destines men for the service of the Gospel, he does not want any excuse based on carnal or temporal affection to intervene. Surely, the Law commands this filial love, and the Lord himself accuses the Jews of annulling this divine commandment. The Apostle Paul also put it in his letter and said: This is the first commandment that bears a promise. What? Honor your father and your mother (Eph. 6:2). No doubt that God commanded it. This young man, therefore, wanted to obey God and give burial to his father. But there are places, circumstances and things that must be placed at the service of this thing, this circumstance, this place. One must honor his father, but he has to obey God; one must love his parent, but he must prefer the Creator. I call you –Jesus says- to the service of the Gospel; I need you for a task greater than what you wish to do. Let the dead bury its dead. Your father has died; there are other dead to bury the dead. Who are the dead who bury the dead? Can a dead be buried by other dead? How can they prepare for burial when they are dead? How can they conduct a cadaver when they are dead? How will they mourn if they are dead? Not only do they prepare for burial, they also conduct the cadaver, mourn for it, and they are dead: because they lack faith. What is written in the Song of Songs has taught us when the Church said: Put order to love in me (Song 2:4). What does it mean: Put order to love in me? Establish order and give to each one what it deserves. Do not submit what goes ahead to something that goes behind. Love your parents but put God ahead of them. Pay attention to the mother of the Maccabees: Sons, -she says- I do not know how you appeared in my womb. I could conceive you and give you birth; form you I could not. Therefore, listen to him, prefer him to me, don’t you mind that I be left without you (2 Macc. 7:2). She indicated it and they obeyed. What the mother taught to her sons, that the Lord Jesus Christ taught to the one to whom he said: Follow me” (s. 100, 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 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. For St. Augustine the foxes represent the deceptions and the birds the pride, thus he says “Christ has nowhere to dwell, nowhere to recline his head” (en. Ps. 90, 2, 7).
- What space in your interior do you reserve for Christ to dwell?
- How can you get rid of the elements that impede you to follow Christ?
b. “He who puts his hand on the plow and looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God” (Lk. 9:62).
- St. Augustine comments: There is nothing so opposed to hope as looking back, i.e., putting trust in things that slip and pass away” (s. 105, 7). How can you apply this to your life?
- How is your following of Christ?
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 Christ approaches and tells you: “Follow me.” Put your attention at the gaze of Jesus, in the form he says it to you and the contemplate your answer to him.
b. Contemplate how Jesus tells you: “Let the dead bury their dead.” Contemplate who are the dead that you ought to leave behind and ask Christ for the strength to be able to follow him leaving behind what is dead in you.
Think of everything that you can share with those around you about the experience you had with God, especially about the call of Christ and of leaving everything that impedes following him. 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 prayer?
- How can I apply this text of Scripture at this moment of my life? What light does if 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 predominant 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 permit, 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, God, forever and ever. Amen (en. Ps. 150:8).
“The contrary of hope is to look back; when one speaks of hope, one speaks of future things, not of past things” (cons. eu. 2, 22).+