LECTIO DIVINA XXVII Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B
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, 40) Amen.
With heart well disposed, with serenity, read slowly the following words, savoring them and allowing yourself to be touched by them.
2 The Pharisees approached and asked, “Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?” They were testing him. 3 He said to them in reply, “What did Moses command you?” 4 They replied, Moses permitted him to write a bill of divorce and dismiss her.” 5 But Jesus told them, “Because of the hardness of you hearts he wrote you this commandment. 6 But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female. 7 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, and be joined to his wife, 8 and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. 9 Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” 10 In the house the disciples again questioned him about this. 11 He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her 12 and if she divorces her husband and marries another, commits adultery.”
13 And people were bringing children to him that he might touch them, but the disciples rebuked them.14 When Jesus saw this he became indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.” 16 Then he embraced them and blessed them, placing his hands on them.+
Let us now meditate with the commentary of St. Augustine on these words of the Gospel according to St. Mark.
You know, brothers, since your hear it frequently, that the Lord says in the Gospel: Let the little children come to me for theirs is the kingdom of heaven; and also: Whoever does not receive the kingdom of heaven like a little child, will not enter it; and similarly in many other places, our Lord condemns the old pride of man in order to drastically renew his life into the likeness of the child, to manifest a singular humility. Therefore, dearest, when you hear it sung in this Psalm: ‘Praise, children, the Lord,’ do not think that this exhortation is not directed to you because you have surpassed the age of childhood, or because you find yourselves in in the splendor youth, or because you are already grey-haired in the venerable old age, because to all of you the Apostle says: Do not be children in mind, but become children in malice in order to be perfect in mind. And of what malice does he principally speak if not that of pride? Pride, presuming of vain greatness, does not permit man to walk along the narrow road and enter by the narrow gate. Nevertheless, the child easily enters by what is narrow; and therefore, no one, unless he becomes a child, enters the kingdom of heaven. What a more detestable thing than the malice of pride, since it does not want even God for superior? For thus it is written: The beginning of man’s pride is to apostatize from God. Throw away, break, pulverize, annihilate this pride that arises with stiff neck against divine precepts and that opposes the light yoke of the Lord, and praise, you children, the Lord, praise the name of the Lord. Because, having demolished and extinguished pride, praise is obtained by the mouth of infants and of babes, and having dominated and destroyed him who glories, let him glory in the Lord. Those who consider themselves great do not sing this song; they do not sing this song those who, knowing God, did not glorify him as God, nor did they give him thanks; they praise themselves not God; thus they were not children. They prefer to exalt their own name rather than praise the name of the Lord. Thus they vanished in their thoughts and their senseless heart became obscured; and calling themselves wise, they became foolish, because these same persons who at the moment must pass by the narrow road wanted to proclaim his name for a long time and to all the corners of the world. It is fitting to proclaim God, it is fitting to proclaim the Lord, always and in all parts. Thus let it be preached always: Blessed be the name of the Lord now and forever .Let it be preached in all parts: From the rising of the sun to its setting, praise the name of the Lord! (en. Ps.112:1)
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. “I assure you that whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will not enter it” (Mk. 10:15).
- What is your attitude towards God and the kingdom of God?
- What does it mean to you: to receive the kingdom of God like a little child?
b. “What is more detestable than the malice of pride, since it does not want to hold not even God as Superior?” (en. Ps. 112, 1).
- In a world that craves for power and fame, what is your risk of being proud?
- What does it mean for you to be humble?
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 speaking with his disciples and telling them to permit the little children to come to him. Contemplate Christ embracing and blessing the children. Contemplate and ask that your heart may be always simple like that of a child.
b. Contemplate how Christ invites you to return to childhood, to put aside malice and pride. Contemplate and, above all, trust, leaving behind your preoccupations in the hands of Christ. Ask him that you may always be like a child in his hands, for simplicity of life, for happiness through infinite trust in God.
Think of everything that you can share with those around you about the experience you had with God, especially as regards becoming like a little child to be able to enter the kingdom of heaven. 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).
“He speaks like a little child to the little ones, and he is little in such a way that he is also great. On the other hand, we are little but in him we are great” (Io. eu. tr. 21, 1). +