LECTIO DIVINA: The Ascension of the Lord, Cycle A


Translated by Fray Hubert Dunstan Decena, OAR

Translated by Fray Hubert Dunstan Decena, OAR

Mt. 28:16-20

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. 128,4) Amen.

B. Lectio.

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

16 The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. 17When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted. 18 Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

C. Meditatio.

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

“To where were the disciples sent in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, to baptize as ministers? Whither were they sent? Go, he said, baptize the nations. You have heard, brothers, how that heritage came: Ask of me and I shall give to you all the nations for your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for your possession. You have heard how the Law went out from Zion, and from Jerusalem the word of the Lord, because there the disciples heard: Go, baptize the nations in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. We were made present when we heard: Go, baptize the nations. In whose name? In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. This is the only God, because they have to baptize not in the names of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, but in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Where you hear only one name, there is only one God, as it is said of the descendant of Abraham, and the Apostle Paul explains: in your descendant shall all the nations be blessed; he has not said “in your descendants” as in many, but as in only one, “in your descendant,” who is Christ. Just as the Apostle has wanted to teach you that Christ is only one because it does not say “in your descendants,” so also here, when it is said “in the name,” not “in the names,” as there it was “in your descendant,” not “in your descendants,” thus it is proven that “the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” are only one God.

“But, the disciples say to the Lord, behold, we have heard in whose name we are to baptize; you have made us ministers and you told us: “Go, baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, whither shall we go?” “Whither? Have you not heard? To my inheritance.” You ask, “Whither are we going?” “To those I have ransomed with my blood.” Therefore, “whither?” “To the nations.” The Apostles were sent to the nations; and if to the nations, then to all languages. And this meant the Holy Spirit distributed in tongues of fire, united in one dove. On the one part, the tongues of fire are distributed; on the other, the dove unites. The tongues of the nations have come in accord. Is there anything more evident, my brothers? In the dove, unity; in the languages of the nations, society.

In fact, some time ago the languages divided by pride and then the languages out of only one became many. In fact after the deluge certain proud men, as if trying to strengthen themselves against God, as if there be something higher than God, or something secure for pride, they built a tower, as something a deluge could not destroy if it could happen again. They had heard and narrated that the deluge had destroyed all iniquity. But they did not want to abstain from iniquity; so that as defense against the deluge they needed the height of a tower; they built an elevated tower. God saw their pride and acted so that this error would penetrate in them: speaking they would not understand each other; by pride the languages were made diverse.

Pride made the languages diverse, the humility of Christ gathered together the different languages. The Church reunites whatever that tower had dispersed. From only one language came out many; don’t be surprised, pride did that. Out of many languages came out only one; don’t be surprised, love has done it, because even though the sounds of the languages are diverse, in the heart only one God is invoked, only peace is kept (Io. eu. tr. 6, 9-10).

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. “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Mt. 28:19).

  • What do these words of Christ mean?
  • How do you collaborate with this missionary command of Christ?

b. “And know that I am with you all days, until the end of the world” (Mt. 28:20).

  • How is Christ present until the end of time?
  • What sentiments are awakened in you by these words of  Christ?

c. Pray with this phrase: “Lord, send me and consecrate me in your love.”

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 that Christ sends you to proclaim the Gospel. Contemplate how Christ desires that you be his witness. Contemplate that he ascends to heaven, and ask him to make you a witness to his love.

b. Contemplate how Christ is present in the midst of your life, because he is with us until the end of time. Contemplate how he is at your side and how he desires that you discover his presence at every moment. Ask him to open the eyes of your heart to discover him always.

F. Communicatio.

Think of everything that you can share with those around you about the experience you had with God especially about being witness and sent by Christ. 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?

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 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).

Adhere to Christ, who through his incarnation and ascension became our Way. Do you want to ascend? Take hold of him who ascends, because by your own strength alone, you cannot raise yourself up” (s. 91,7).

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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.