LECTIO DIVINA: V Sunday of Easter, Cycle A
Translated by Fray Hubert Dunstan 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.
Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I
go to prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. Where I am going you know the way.” Thomas said to him, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said to him, “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” Jesus said to him. “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father.
LET US MEDITATE NOW WITH THE COMMENTARY OF ST. AUGUSTINE ON THESE WORDS OF THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN.
“What do you suppose, my brothers, when he said: And you know to where I am going and you know the way? And because they knew him who is the Way, we know that they knew the Way; but the road is by which one goes; perhaps, is the road also to where one goes? Well, he had said that they knew the one and the other, to where he was going and the road. It was, therefore, necessary that he would say “I am the Way,” to show that whoever knew him, knew the Way that they supposed they did not know; on the other hand, because, having known the road by which he would go, they needed to know to where he was going; why was it necessary for him to say “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life,” if not because he was going to the Truth, he was going to the Life? Therefore, he was going to himself (Goal) and by himself (Way). And we, to where are we going if not to him (Goal)? And by which are we going if not by him (Way)? Therefore, he is going to himself and by himself; we to him and by him; better said, to the Father, he and we. In fact, he speaks of himself in another passage: I am going to the Father, and in this place he affirms concerning us: No one goes to the Father except through me. Therefore, he by himself (Way) to himself and to the Father (Goal), while we, by him (Way) and to him and to the Father (Goal).
Who comprehends this if not the one who understands spiritually? And how much does one comprehend even when he understands spiritually? Brothers, why do you want me to explain this to you? Think how sublime it is. You see what I am, and I see what you are; in all of us the corruptible body weighs down the soul and the earthly habitation burdens the mind that thinks about many things. Do we suppose that we can say: I raise up my soul to you who dwells in heaven? But where I groan burdened by so much weight, how can I raise up my soul, if he who emptied himself, does not elevate it with me? I will therefore say whatever I can; among you comprehend what you can. I speak by the gift of him whose gift you comprehend what you can, and by his gift, believe what you do not yet comprehend, because the prophet affirms: If you do not believe, you will not understand.
Thus, to connect the following with the preceding, he affirms: If you have known me, evidently you have also known my Father. This means what he affirms: No one comes to the Father except through me. Afterwards he adds: And from now on you know him and have seen him. But Philip, one of the apostles, not understanding what he had heard, affirms: Lord, show us the Father and that is enough for us. The Lord answers him: I have been with you for a long time and you have not known me, Philip? He who sees me also sees the Father. See that he rebukes them because he has been a long time with them, and he was not known. Had he not said “You know to where I am going and you know the Way,” and even though they had said that they did not know this, he had convinced them that they knew, adding and saying: “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life? As he says now “I have been a long time with you and you have not known me,” even though in reality they knew to where he was going and the Way, evidently, not for any other reason why they knew him? But this problem is resolved easily if we say that some of them knew him, others did not know him and among those who did not know him was also Philip, so that what he affirms is understood: Now you know to where I am going and you know the Way, he said it to those who knew him, not to Philip, to whom it was said: I have been a long time with you, and you had not known me, Philip?
But, that they may not suppose differently, he affirms: And from now on you know him and have seen him. Actually, they saw his Son, in all likeness; but he had to call their attention, that the Father, whom they had not yet seen, is such as is the Son whom they see. And that is why it is later said to Philip, “Who sees me, also sees the Father,” not because the Father and the Son are one and the same –which the Catholic Church condemns- but because the Father and the Son are so alike that who knows the one also knows the other. Actually, to those who see one of two who are alike in everything and they want to know the other, we use to speak in a form that about them we say: “ you have seen this one, you have seen the other.” Evidently, therefore, He who sees me, also sees the Father is said not to mean that the Father is one and the same as the Son, but that the similarity with the Father does not absolutely differ from the Son. In fact, if the Father and the Son were not distinct, it would not be said: If you have known me, you also have known the Father. Thus, because no one comes to the Father except through me, he affirms: If you have known me, evidently you have also known my Father, because I, through whom one arrives at the Father, will lead you to him, that you may also know him as well. But because I am absolutely similar to him in everything, from now on you will know him, because you know me, and you have seen him if with the eyes of the heart you have seen me (Io. eu. tr. 69,2; 70,2).
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. “Let not your hearts be troubled. Have faith in God, have faith also in me” (Jn. 14:1). •What are your fears?
•Why is it important to trust in Christ and to trust in God?
b. “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (Jn. 14:6).
•What does it mean for you that Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life? •How can you walk through Christ to arrive at the Father?
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 shows you that he is the way, the truth and the life. Contemplate him as the Way that leads to truth and life. Ask him to help you to always walk by him to arrive at the Father.
b. Contemplate Christ asking you: “what are your fears and anxieties?” and he invites you to abandon them in his hands and that you trust in him. Contemplate how these fears go disappearing as you abandon yourself more and more into his hands. Contemplate and trust.
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 piritual life, in my community life?
• What has been my predominant 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 us travel finding ourselves in the Way, since the King of the Fatherland is our Lord Jesus Christ. In it is the Truth, I travel this Way. To where are we going? To the Truth. By what road do we travel? By Faith. To where are we going? To Christ. By what road do we travel? By Christ.” (en. Ps. 123:2).