LECTIO DIVINA: Palm Sunday, Cycle A


Translated by Fray Hubert Dunstan Decena, OAR

Mt. 21:1-11.

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. 128,4) Amen.

B. Lectio.

With hearts well disposed, with serenity, read slowly the following words, savoring them and allowing yourself to be touched by them.

1 When they drew near Jerusalem and came to Bethpage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find an ass tethered, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them here to me. 3 And if anyone should say anything to you, reply, ‘The master has need of them.’ Then he will send them at once.” 4 This happened so that what had been spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled: 5 “Say to daughter Zion, ‘Behold, your king comes to you, meek and riding on an ass, and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’” 6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had ordered them. 7 They brought the ass and the colt and laid their cloaks over them, and he sat upon them. 8 The very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and strewed them on the road. 9 The crowds preceding him and those following kept crying out and saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; hosanna in the highest.” 10 And when he entered Jerusalem the whole city was shaken and asked, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds replied, “This is Jesus the prophet, from Nazareth in Galilee.”

C. Meditatio.

Let us now meditate with the commentary of St. Augustine on these words of the Gospel according to St. Matthew.

“Therefore, those who do not want to glory in the Lord are not meek, they are violent, rugged, conceited, proud. The Lord likes to have meek donkeys; be you a donkey of the Lord, i.e., be meek. He rides on you, he governs you; be not afraid of stumbling and falling into the precipice. Yours is the weakness, yes, but pay attention to him who leads you. You are a donkey but you carry Christ. He also desired to enter the city on a donkey, and the donkey was meek. Was that donkey ever praised? Was it to the donkey that it was said: Hosanna, Son of David, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord? The donkey was carrying him, but the cries of those who preceded and followed him were directed to him who rode on him. The donkey would best be saying: My soul glories in the Lord, let the meek hear and be glad. No, the donkey never said this, my brothers, but, yes, let the people say it, they who imitate that donkey, if you want to be the bearer of your Lord. Perhaps, the people will be angry for being compared to a donkey on which the Lord was seated; and some proud and conceited may tell me: Look, this makes us donkeys. Let him be a donkey of the Lord everyone who says this; let him not be a horse or a mule who are irrational. You already know that verse in the Psalm: Be not the horse or mule that are irrational. The horse and the mule sometimes raise up their neck and fiercely throw off the rider. They are tamed with a bit, a bridle, and a whip until they learn to submit and carry their master. But you, before the bridle may punish your jaws, be meek and carry your Lord; do not seek the praise for yourself; let them praise him who is seated on you, and thus you can say:  My soul glories in the Lord, let the meek hear it and be glad. Because those who are not meek hear these words, they are not glad, rather they are angry. These are the ones who say that we treat them like donkeys. But the meek, let them hear well and be what they hear” (en. Ps. 33:2,5).

D. Oratio.

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. “Tell daughter Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you humble, riding on an ass the foal of an ass’” (Mt. 21:5).

  • What does it mean that Christ is a humble King?
  • How do you imitate the humility of Christ in your life?

     b. “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Mt. 21:15).

  • How do you give glory to Christ in your life?
  • What do you think of the faith of that multitude now acclaiming Christ but who afterwards would ask that Christ be crucified?

     c. Pray with this phrase: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

E. Contemplatio.

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 entering Jerusalem amidst the acclamation of the people. Contemplate how persons cut branches and throw them before the donkey which Jesus rides. Observe the emotions and the happiness of the Apostles. Contemplate the infinite humility of Christ, who knows everything that will happen. Contemplate and adore your King.

     b. Contemplate Christ at the gate of Jerusalem. Feel his feelings. He knows that this is not a moment of glorification, as his disciples thought. Jesus well knew that this was the beginning of his Passion. Contemplate how Jesus knows the counterfeit and the fragility of the acclamations of the multitude, since he knows that this same multitude will shout that he be crucified. Contemplate the serenity of Jesus, his acceptance of the will of the Father, and his prayer of intercession for all men. Contemplate and adore.

F. Communicatio.

Think of everything that you can share with those around you about the experience you had with God, especially about the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem to live out his Passion. 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 pure heart, as far as our feebleness 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 good will, 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, one God, forever and ever. Amen (en. Ps. 150:8).

“The Cross of Christ is the way of Charity” (Io. eu. tr. 1, 9).

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Fray Dunstan Huberto Decena, OAR

Fray Hubert Dunstan Decena, OAR

Priest/Religious/Bible Professor of the Order of Augustinian Recollects in the Province of St. Ezekiel Moreno.