LECTIO DIVINA: XVI Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A
Translated by Fray Hubert Dunstan Decena, OAR
A. Invoking the Holy Spirit.
We invoke the Holy Spirit using the words of At. 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 hearts well disposed, with serenity, read slowly the following words savoring them and allowing yourself to be touched by them.
He proposed another parable to them, “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well. The slaves of the householder came to him and said, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from? He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ His slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, “First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn,”
He proposed another parable to them, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the ‘birds of the sky come and dwell in it branches.’”
He spoke to them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened.”
All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables. He spoke to them only in parables, to fulfill what had been said through the prophet: “I will open my mouth in parables. I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation of the world.”
Then dismissing the crowds, he went into the house. His disciples approached him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.” He said in reply, “He who sows good seed is the Son of Man, the field is the world, the good seed the children of the kingdom. The weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears ought to hear.”
Let us now meditate with the commentary of St. Augustine on these words of the Gospel according to St. Matthew.
“Now the seed is sown, what is sown grows, then comes the harvest. But the enemy has sown over it the seed of the darnel, and the bad sprouted among the good, the false Christians who look like the grass but do not produce the same fruit. The darnel is properly called grass that upon coming out looks like the wheat, like the cumin, the oats, and other plants that have the first sprouts very similar. Thus the Lord on speaking about the sowing of the darnel, concluded: The enemy came and sowed upon it the darnel; when the grass grew and the fruit appeared, then the darnel was visible. Therefore, the enemy came and sowed on it the darnel. But what happened to the wheat? Nothing, the wheat does not become suffocated by the darnel; better still, tolerating the darnel made the wheat grow. The Lord himself said to some workers who wanted to pull out the darnel: Let both grow until the harvest, lest in trying to pull out the darnel, you also pull out the wheat; but when the harvest time arrives, I will tell the harvesters: gather first the darnel and tie them up in bundles for burning, but the wheat gather them into the barn. That is the end of the year, the harvest of the world. You will crown the year with the blessings of your goodness. On hearing “the crown”, the glory of victory is meant for us. Conquer the devil and you will have the crown. You will crown the year with blessings of your goodness. Again, the goodness of God is emphasized, so that no one may glory is his own merits” (en. Ps, 64:16).
On the parable of the yeast put into the dough, St. Augustine comments: “You worthily receive (the sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ) if your guard yourselves from the ferment of false doctrine, in such a way that you become the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth; or when you preserve that ferment of charity that the woman mixes in three measure of flour until it ferments the whole dough. This woman is the Wisdom of God, who appeared in mortal flesh thanks to a Virgin, who sows his Gospel throughout the whole world; the world that he restored after the deluge beginning with the three sons of Noah, like the three measures mentioned, until they fermented the whole. This is the totality which in the Greek says “holon”, where you will be found if you keep the bond of peace “according to the whole” which in the Greek is called “cat’holon” from which comes the name “catholic” (s. 228B, 5 = s. Denis, 3, 5).
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. “When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well” (Mt. 13:26).
- Why is the bad side by side with the good?
- How do you confront evil in your own life and in your community?
b. “The kingdom of heaven is like the yeast which a woman mixes with three measures of flour” (Mt. 13:33).
- In your point of view, why is the kingdom of heaven like the yeast?
- What signs indicate that in your life the kingdom of God flourishes?
c. Pray with this phrase: “Put into my heart the yeast of charity” (s. 228B, 5).
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 your own heart. Note that in it a mustard seed is growing. Contemplate its smallness, its fragility, yet it is strong to grow. Contemplate that once planted in the soil of your heart it slowly and silently grows. Contemplate how it has become a big bush where birds of the sky build their nest in it. Contemplate and ask God for strength that the seed of the Gospel grow in you.
b. Contemplate your heart and perceive in it the yeast of charity. Contemplate how in your interior you also have the yeast of sin and that it is necessary that your get rid of the old yeast (1 Cor. 5:7), that truly in you the yeast of the kingdom of heaven may bear fruit, the yeast of love. Contemplate and ask God the strength to allow that the yeast of love be the one to fill you and transform you.
Think of everything that you can share with those around you about the experience you had with God, especially about allowing the seed of the kingdom, the yeast of charity to grow in you. The following points can help you 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 will 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).
“Among the presbyters there is wheat and there is darnel; among the people there is wheat and there is darnel. Let the good tolerate the bad; let the bad change and imitate the good” (s. 73, 4).