LECTIO DIVINA: XXXII Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A
Translated by Fray Dunstan Huberto Decena, OAR
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.
With heart well disposed, with serenity, read slowly the following words, savoring them and allowing yourself to be touched by them.
“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them, but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps. Since the bridegroom was long delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight, there was a cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise ones replied, ‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you. Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’ While they went off to buy it, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. Then the door was locked. Afterwards the other virgins came and said, ‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’ But he said in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
Let us now meditate with the commentary of St. Augustine on these words of the Gospel according to St. Matthew.
“Therefore, the five virgins represent all the souls who are to enter the kingdom of God. Rightly are these virgins designated with the number five, because five are the senses of the body, well known to all. Something enters the soul through five doors of the body: through the eyes, through the ears, through the smell, through the taste, and through the touch evil desires enter. He who does not give way to the corruption of these five doors, is counted among these virgins. This corruption is given passage by means of illicit desires. The Scriptures tell us at every step what is licit or illicit. It is necessary that you be counted among those five virgins. Thus you will not fear what is said: “No one will enter.” This is said and so it will happen, but only after you had entered. No one will close, leaving you outside; but once you have entered, they will close the gates of Jerusalem, and the locks of the gates will be secured. But, if you do not want to be a virgin by heart or you want to be a virgin among the foolish, you will remain outside and you will call in vain.
Why did they not bring oil along with them? The oil is the act of bragging in the brilliance and in the splendor. But what does the Apostle say? Pay attention to the wise virgins who take oil along with them (and look at what he says): Let each one test his own works, then he shall have glory in himself not in somebody else’s. These are the wise virgins. The foolish certainly trim their lamps, their works seem to shine, but they fail and die out, because they are not nourished with interior oil. The Bridegroom delays and they all sleep, because both kinds die. Since the coming of the Lord is delayed, both the foolish as well as the wise are subjected to death of the bodily and visible life, which the Scripture calls ‘sleep’ (dormitio) as it is known by all Christians. (…) See, that the Bridegroom will surely come, and all will rise up, but not all will enter, since the works of the foolish virgins will fail because the oil in the conscience is absent, and they will not find from whom to buy what the flatterers used to sell them. Those who mock, not those who envy, say: Go, buy for yourselves. The foolish ask for it from the wise telling them: Give us oil, because our wedding lamps are dying out. And what did the wise ones say? You rather go to the merchants and buy it for yourselves, for there may not be enough for us and for you. This should have been the warning to them: “Of what use for you now are those from whom you used to buy flattery?” And while they went to buy it, the wise ones entered and the door was locked. When they walked away with the heart, when they were doing such things, when they moved away from right intention, and looking back they recall past things, they walked to the merchants, But now they do not find the protectors, they do not find the flatterers, by whom they used to be praised and how they were excited to good works, not by the stability of good conscience, but by the initiative of strangers’ tongues (en. Ps. 147:10-11).
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. “Five of them were foolish and five were wise” (Mt. 25:2).
- With what group do you identify?
- What concrete elements in your life manifest the you pertain to this group?
b. “The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them, but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps” (Mt. 25:3-4).
- What does the oil for the lamps represent for you?
- How can you apply this text to your own life?
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 the ten virgins who go to wait for the bridegroom. Contemplate the two groups, the foolish and the prudent. Contemplate how they all fall asleep and soon a voice is heard announcing the arrival of the bridegroom and how all arise, and the prudent ones begin to prepare their lamps. Contemplate how the prudent ones enter the wedding feast and the foolish, having gone to the merchants, remain outside. Contemplate and consider your own life.
b. Contemplate that you are one of the ten virgins. Contemplate your own lamp and your own oil. Contemplate how you prepare your lamp, the lamp of your own heart, to go to meet the Bridegroom. Contemplate how you can enter into the wedding feast. Contemplate your own happiness and how your lamp shines. Ask God that the oil of charity may never fail in your life that your lamp may always be alight. Contemplate and adore.
Think of everything that you can share with those around you about the experience you had with God, especially about being vigilant awaiting the return of Christ. 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?
G. 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 goodwill, 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).
“By faith, Christ lives in you. If faith is present, Christ is present; if faith keeps vigil, Christ keeps vigil; if faith is forgotten, Christ sleeps” (s. 81, 8).
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