LECTIO DIVINA: Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C
Lk 10:1-12. 17-20.
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.
After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit. He said to them, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Carry no money bag, no sacks, no sandals, and greet no one along the way. Into whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this household.’ If a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you, for the laborer deserves his payment. Do not move about from one house to another. Whatever town you enter and they welcome you, eat what is set before you, cure the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God is at hand for you.’ Whatever town you enter and they do not receive you, go out into the streets and say, ‘The dust of your town that clings to our feet, even that we shake off against you.’ Yet know this: the kingdom of God is at hand. I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom on that day than for this town.
The seventy-two returned rejoicing, and said, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name.” Jesus said, “I have observed satan fall like lightning from the sky. Behold, I have given you the power ‘to tread upon serpents’ and scorpions and upon the full force of the enemy and nothing will harm you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”+
Let us now meditate with the commentary of St. Augustine on these words of the Gospel according to St. Luke.
In the first place, St. Augustine points out the trust one must have in God because the sending of the evangelizers is like sheep among wolves. Unlike lions among beasts, as St. Augustine points out, but in a clearly disadvantaged and dangerous situation, but St. Augustine thus emphasizes, as St. Paul does, that “power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9) The Lord does not say: ‘Look I send you as lions in the midst of beasts’. By speaking of sheep in the midst of wolves he sufficiently showed the small number of sheep and the flocks of wolves. And even though only one wolf frightens a flock of sheep, big though it may be, the sheep sent in the midst of innumerable wolves would go without fear, because he who sent them, was not abandoning them. Why would they fear to go in the midst of wolves those with whom was the Lamb who conquered the wolf? (s. 64 A, 1)
St. Augustine also retains himself to make an interesting allegorical interpretation of the elements that the evangelizer must not deal with: “Do not –he says- take along neither bag, nor knapsack, nor shoes, and do not greet anyone along the way. Into whatever house you enter say: ‘Peace to this house’; and if in it there be a son of peace, your peace will rest on him; if there is no one, it will return to you.” Though briefly, let us review all of it point by point. Do not carry –he says- any bag. What do I do? When I go for a trip, I take some money –I confess- ; I take what is necessary for the trip. No bag, I don’t need to. No shoes, what is this? He commanded me to travel bare foot? That I travel with shoes you also see that, for I don’t say words and hide my feet.; before your eyes, I travel with shoes. Further- more, if someone would greet me along the way and I do not return the greeting, I would be judged proud. The flood of words released against me would redound on the Lord. Thus I greet the persons I meet along the way. The other, to say Peace to this house when we enter one, is now easy. But, how it pains us, what refers to the bag and the shoe! Let us direct our eyes to the Lord, in case he consoles us and grant us to understand these words (…) And what is the shoe? What is the shoe that we use? They are leathers of dead animals; they are leathers of dead animals that we use to protect our feet. We cover our feet with leathers of dead animals. What then are we commanded? To renounce the works of death (…) What then does it mean greet no one along the way? Certainly it can also be understood in this simple form: he commanded that we hurry up, and thus he expressed it thus: Greet no one along the way, as if saying: “put aside everything else until you should have done everything commanded” (…) But there exists another meaning that now fills my mind more. I do not hide that I sense that it concerns me more and all of us, the dispensers, but it also concerns you, the hearers (…) Whoever greets along the way greets occasionally, since he was not referring to the one he actually greets. He was carrying something at hand, but something else came out at the moment. He wanted to do one thing, but he did something else. Therefore, what is to greet occasionally? Announce salvation for opportunism. But what else is to announce salvation, but to preach the Gospel? Therefore, if you preach it, do it for love not for opportunism (…) Therefore, when someone full of peace greets saying: Peace to this house, if there is in it a son of peace, his peace will rest on him, if on the contrary no son of peace is found there, whoever greeted lost nothing. He says: It will return to you. The peace that did not leave you will return to you. This then is what he wanted to say: “You profited for having announced it; he who did not receive, it profits nothing.” Not because he remained empty did you lose your reward. You are rewarded according to your goodwill; you are rewarded according to the love that you put into it. He rewards you who assured you by the voice of an angel: Peace on earth to men of good will (s. 101, 5,7,9,11).
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. “Behold, I send you as lambs in the midst of wolves” (Lk. 10:3).
- How is your faith in Christ? What are your fears?
- St. Augustine says: “the sheep sent into the midst of innumerable wolves went fearless, because he who was sending them did not abandon them” (s. 64A,1). What are your fears in your work of evangelization?
b. “Carry no bags, nor knapsack, nor sandals” (Lk. 10:4).
- How is your trust in God and in his providence?
- St. Augustine interprets the sandals as “renouncing dead works” (s. 101, 5). As conversion. What importance do you give to conversion and your holiness of life?
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 who was sending out his apostles. Contemplate how you find yourself among them. Contemplate the task that Christ gives you and his demands. Verify your emotions and sentiments.
b. Contemplate how Christ fills your heart with his peace, how with his own hands deposits the peace in your heart, so that you can carry it and can share it upon arriving at the places of assignment. Feel how that peace, the peace of Christ, fills your heart, transforms it and fills you own being making you an Eirenoforos (bearer of peace).
Think of everything that you can share with those around you about the experience you had with God, especially as regards being sent by Christ, with the charge of conversion and being a bearer of peace. 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 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 reflection of St. Augustine.
“Begin with the confession to praise the Lord and you will end up with peace” (en. Ps. 75, 4).
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, God, forever and ever. Amen (en. Ps. 150:8).+