LECTIO DIVINA: XX Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B


20th Sun. in Ord. Time B.
Jn. 6: 51-58.

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, 40) Amen.

B. Lectio.

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

          51”I am the living bread that came down from heaven, whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give in my flesh for the life of the world.” 52 The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying: “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

C. Meditatio.

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

          From the Gospel, we have heard the words of the Lord that follow the preceding sermon. Concerning them you owe your hearing and mind a sermon, and this is not inadequate for today since it deals with the body of the Lord, that he said he would give to eat for eternal life. Well then, by saying “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him,” explains the manner of this sharing and gift of his, how he gives his flesh to eat. The sign that one has eaten it and drunk it, is this: if it remains and is object of permanence, if it dwells and is inhabited, if it adheres without being abandoned. With mystical words, then, he has taught us and stimulated to this: to be in his body under the same head, among his members, eating his flesh, without abandoning its unity. But it was too much for those present, and they were scandalized without understanding it, because on hearing this they did not think except in the flesh, of which they were. Well then the Apostle says, and he tells the truth: To think according to the flesh is death. The Lord gives us his flesh to eat, but to think according to the flesh is death, even though of his flesh he says that there is eternal life. Therefore, not even the flesh ought we to think of according to the flesh, as in the following words.

          That is why many hearers, not among his enemies, but among his disciples, said: This saying is hard to accept. Who can listen to it? If the disciples found this word hard to accept, what would his enemies think? And nevertheless it was necessary to say what not everyone could understand. The secret of God must awaken attentive, opposing persons. On the contrary, after the Lord Jesus said those words they soon departed; they did not believed that he was saying something important, that in saying those words he was completely covering some grace; rather as they wanted and in a human manner they understood that Jesus could and disposed it, to distribute like cuts, to those who believe, the flesh with which the Word was clothed. They affirmed: “This is a hard saying, Who can hear it?

          Well then, because Jesus knew in his interior that his disciples were murmuring over this; when in fact they were saying this among themselves that he may not hear them; nevertheless he knew them in themselves, and having heard in their interior, he replied and asked: Does this scandalize you? Certainly, this  scandalizes you, my saying: I give you my flesh to eat and my blood to drink. But if you will see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before? What does this mean? With this does this resolve what he had said before? With this does he clarify the reason that had scandalized them? Simply with this, if they had understood. They in fact supposed that he would distribute his body; he, on the other hand, said that he was going to ascend into heaven, supposedly, his complete self. When you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before, then you will certainly see that he distributes his body not in the manner that you suppose, or you will then certainly understand that his grace is not consumed in bites (Io. eu. tr. 27, 1-3).

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. “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has life eternal and I will raise him up on the last day” (Jn. 5: 54).

  • In your life, how do you connect the Eucharist with having eternal life?
  • How do you live the celebration of the Eucharist? What does it mean for you that if you eat the flesh and drink the blood of Christ you will raised on the last day?

b. “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I in him” (Jn. 6:56).

  • For you, how important is it that Christ lives in you?
  • Do you give space for God in your interior or are you filled with material things?

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 how your life is intimately connected with that of Christ. While you contemplate and pray be conscious of the beat of your heart and pray with each beat knowing that in you beats not only the physical life, but also the life of God.

b. Contemplate your own heart and consider if Christ, the Living Bread, is inside it, and if his presence fills your whole heart or if on the contrary, there are other things that impede that God be completely in you. Verify your affections and emotions while you contemplate.

F. Communicatio.

Think of everything that you can share with those around you about the experience you had with God, especially regarding the presence of Christ in your interior and how your life is united to, and is dependent on, the life of Christ. The following points can help you share with your community the experience of the lectio divina on the 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 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, God, forever and ever. Amen (en. Ps. 150:8).

          “‘This saying is hard.’ They were hard, not the saying.” (en. Ps. 98:9)

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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.