LECTIO DIVINA: 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)
INVOKING THE HOLY SPIRIT
We invoke the Holy Spirit using the words of St. Augustine.
Come, Holy Spirit, by whom every devout soul, who believe 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).
With the heart well disposed, with serenity, read slowly the following words, savoring them and allowing yourself to be touched by them.
Jesus said to his disciples: “To you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. To the person who strikes you on one cheek, offer the other one as well, and from the person who takes your cloak, do not withhold even your tunic. Give to everyone who asks of you, and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand if back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do the same. If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, and get back the same amount. But rather, love your enemies and do good to them, and lend expecting nothing back, then your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give, and gifts will be given to you: a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.”
Let us now meditate with the commentary of St. Augustine on these words of the Gospel according to St. Luke.
St. Augustine would invite us not to judge since we never know the hidden intentions that may move a person to act: The lover of truth calls agreeable what is true. But the judgments of men on what is hidden about other men, since they are hasty, are not agreeable. Thus he called his shame what he had suspected of others. The Apostle also says that they do not understand those who compare others with themselves. And man is very inclined to suspect of others what he experiences in himself. This shame of his, of having suspected of others what he was perceiving in himself, he was praying that it be removed in order not to be similar to the devil, who suspected in the interior of holy Job that he was not gratuitously serving God, which is why he asked to tempt him to discover in him the crime he was accusing him of” (en. Ps. 118:12, 4).
On the love for the enemies, St. Augustine comments on how difficult it is, and how we ought to desire that everyone be converted and become friends of God, that is, to enjoy the kingdom of heaven: “Indeed, how much violence a man has to do to himself in order to love his enemies… one must love also the enemy, not as enemy but as a human being, that one must desire for him that he obtain what I desire for myself; that is, that corrected and renewed he may arrive at the kingdom of heaven” (s. dom. mon. 1, 15, 40-41).
On forgiving and giving, St. Augustine says: “Forgive and you shall be forgiven; give and you shall be given. When he says: Give and you shall be given, consider who says it and to whom it is said. God says it to man, the immortal to the mortal, the great father of the family to the beggar. Because he does not return to us only what we have given him, we have found in him someone to lend to with interest. We lend at usury but to God, not to man. We give to someone who has abundance; we give to someone who gave us what to give him. In exchange for our small things, frivolous, mortal, subject to corruption, earthly, he will give in return goods eternal and incorruptible, that endure forever. Why enumerate many things? He who promises, promises himself. If you love him, buy him with himself” (s. 42,2).
In this same sense, St. Augustine insists in another sermon, to indicate that we are all beggars of God, that we are to give to our brothers, so we can receive from God: “Forgive and you will be forgiven; give and it shall be given to you. This ‘forgive and you will be forgiven’ inculcates the forgiving; the ‘give and it shall be given to you’ inculcates the guarantee of a favor. As regards forgiveness he says, ‘not only do you want that your sins be forgiven, but also that you have someone to forgive. On the other hand, as regards the guarantee of a favor, a beggar begs from you, and you are a beggar of God. When we pray we are all beggars of God; we are at the door of the Father of the family; more, we prostrate ourselves and we groan suppliants, wanting to receive something, and that something is God himself. What does the beggar ask from you? Bread. And what do you ask from God but Christ who says: I am the Bread of Life who comes down from heaven? Do you want to be forgiven? Forgive: ‘Forgive and you shall be forgiven.’ Do you want to receive? ‘Give and it shall be given to you’” (s. 83, 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.
- “Judge not that you may not be judged” (Lk. 6:37).
- Knowing the actuation of others, how do you act? Are you accustomed to judge?
- St. Augustine reminds us: “The judgments of men on what is hidden of other men are rash and therefore not pleasant” (en. Ps. 118, 12, 4). How can you apply these words of St. Augustine to your life?
- What does this statement of St. Augustine suggest to you: “Give and it shall be given to you … a beggars asks from you, and you are a beggar of God. Because when we pray we are all beggars of God” (s. 83, 2)?
- Why do you believe that it is important to give, in order to receive?
- What does it mean to you to be “a beggar of God”
I propose to you some points for affective interior contemplation. Once again you do not need to follow all of it, rather you can choose what fits your personal experience.
- Contemplate how Christ puts into your hands a measure of abundant graces and blessings. Contemplate all that Christ has given you, receive them with gratitude, and be conscious that you have received them in order to share them. Verify your affections.
- Contemplate Christ and ask him to make you compassionate as he is compassionate. Contemplate how he molds your heart to remove all bitterness and everything that hinders you from being compassionate. Contemplate and allow that Christ molds your heart according to his heart. (Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto thine.)
Think of everything that you can share with those around you about the experience you had with God, especially on judging others, and on giving in order to receive. 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 predominant sentiment during this moment of prayer?
FINAL PRAYER OF ST. AUGUSTINE
Turning towards God: 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 you 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).
“You give what perishes in time and you receive what remains forever” (s. 389, 3).