LECTIO DIVINA: XVIII Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B
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.
When the crowd saw that neither Jesus not the disciples were there , they themselves got into boats and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus. And when they found him across the sea they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” Jesus answered them and said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not work for food that perishes but for food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father, God, has set his seal.” So they said to him, “What can we do to accomplish the work of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.” So they said to him. “What sign can you do, that
we may see and believe in you? What can you do? Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” So Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen I say to you, It was not Moses who gave them bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” So they said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never hunger and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”
LET US MEDITATE NOW WITH THE COMMENTARY OF ST. AUGUSTINE ON THESE WORDS OF THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN.
After the sacrament of the miracle, Jesus adds a sermon so as, if it was possible, to nourish those who had already been fed, and with the words satisfy the minds of those whose bellies he satisfied with bread; but yes they understand; and if they do not understand, so that the fragments do not go to waste, what they do not understand will be collected. Let him speak then and let us listen: Jesus answered them and said: Amen, amen I say to you; You seek me not because you saw signs but because you have eaten of my loaves. You seek me for the carnal not for the spiritual. How numerous do not seek Jesus except that he may do good for them temporally! One has a business, he seeks the intercession of the clerics; one more powerful oppresses another, and seeks refuge in the Church; another wants that someone intervenes in his favor before whom someone is of small value; one in this way, another of that way; every day the Church is filled with such individuals. Scarcely is Jesus sought for himself. You seek me not because you saw signs but because you ate of my loaves. Work not for food that perishes, but for that which remains for eternal life. You seek me for another thing, seek me for myself. Certainly He insinuates himself as that food that later he makes clear: That which the Son of Man will give to you. I believe that you look forward to eating again of the loaves, recline again, be satisfied again (…).
What shall we do fulfill the works of God? What shall we do? They ask. Can we fulfill this, observing what? Jesus answered and said to them: This is the work of God: that you believe in whom he sent. This, then, is to eat the food that does not perish, but that which remains for eternal life. Why do you prepare the teeth and the belly? You believe and so you have eaten. Certainly, faith is distinguished from the works, as the Apostle says: “that man is justified without works through faith” and there are works that without the faith of Christ, seem good but they are not good because they are not referred to the goal by virtue of which they are good; because the end of the Law is Christ for justice in favor of all who believe. That is why he did not like to distinguish the work from the faith, but that he said that the faith itself is the work, since that faith itself works through love. He did not say ‘This is your work’, but: This is the work of God: you who believe in him he sent, so that he who glories, let him glory in the Lord. Why, then, as he was inviting them to the faith, were they still asking for signs to believe? Because they said: What signs do you do that we may see them and believe in you? Was it perhaps too little having been satisfied with five loaves? In fact, they knew this, they preferred to this food the manna from heaven. On the other hand, the Lord Jesus said to be of such category that he is placed before Moses because Moses dared not say of himself that he would give food that does not perish, but that it remains for eternal life. That man promised something more than Moses, since through Moses a kingdom was promised, a land flowing with milk and honey, temporal peace, abundance of children, bodily health and everything else, temporal, yes, but spiritual in figure, because in the Old Testament the promise was to an old man. Therefore, they were observing what was promised through Moses and they were observing what was promised through Christ. That one promised on earth a full belly but of food that perishes; this one promised the food that does not perish, but which remains for eternal life (…)
Well then, Jesus told them: I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me shall not hunger and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. “Whoever comes to me” is the same as “whoever believes in me”; and as to what he said: “He shall not hunger.” This must be understood: “He shall never thirst”; clearly, the one or the other signify eternal satisfaction where nothing will be wanting. You desire the bread from heaven: you have it in front of you and you do not eat it. But I told you that you have seen me, but you have not believed. (Io. eu. tr. 25, 10. 12. 14 ).
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. “Jesus is scarcely sought for Jesus’ sake. You seek me not because you have seen signs but because you have eaten of my loaves.” (Io eu.tr. 25, 10).
•What are your deeply interior reasons for following Christ?
•Up to what point do your material interests and your personal benefit are mixed with your faith in Christ?
b. “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst” (Jn. 6:35).
•For you what is the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist?
•Why is Christ “the Bread of Life” in 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 Christ presenting himself as the Bread of Life. Contemplate the persons who surround him and from your deepest affection experience hunger and desire for this living and true bread.
b. Contemplate Christ present in the Eucharist as the bread of life. Consider Christ’s infinite love to remain in the sacrament, and make this moment of contemplation a moment of praise and gratitude in the contemplation.
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 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 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).
“Certainly, that bread requires the hunger of the interior man(Io. eu.tr. 26, 11).