LECTIO DIVINA XXVIII 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.
17 As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 Jesus answered him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; you shall not defraud; honor your father and your mother.’” 20 he replied and said to him, “Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth.” 21 Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, “You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” 22 At that statement his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples. How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 The disciples were amazed at his words. So Jesus again said to them in reply, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God.” 28 Peter began to say to him, “We have given up everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Amen I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the gospel 30 who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come.” +
Let us now meditate with the commentary of St. Augustine on these words of the Gospel according to St. Mark.
To that rich man who, in order to achieve eternal life, wanted to receive an advice: that man had said to the Lord: What shall I do to attain eternal life? But Christ did not answer him: “If you want to arrive at eternal life, go and sell all that you have”, but rather: “If you want to come to the life, observe the commandments.” When the young man said that he had observed them as the Lord had commanded in the Law and in asking what he still lacks, he received this answer: If you want to be perfect, ‘go, sell what you have and give them to the poor.’ And so that he would not believe that in this way he was losing the plenty that he loved, he added: ‘And you will have a treasure in heaven.’ Then he added: ‘And come, follow me.’ Thus let no one think that it will be profitable to do it if he does not follow Christ. But the young man went away sad: he would see how he had observed the commandments of the Law. I think that he answered that he had observed them, more with arrogance than with truth. Nonetheless, the Good Master distinguished between the commandments of the Law and that more excellent perfection. Of the first he said: ‘If you want to come to life, observe the commandments.’ And of the second: ‘If you want to be perfect, ‘Go and sell all that you have.’ Why do we have to deny that the rich come to eternal life, even though they exclude themselves from the other perfection, so long as they observe the commandments, and they give so that they may be given back, and forgive so that they may be forgiven?(ep. 157, 25)
On someone who is truly poor, St. Augustine makes the following comment: When our Lord Jesus Christ had said to the rich man, that one who went away from him: ‘Go, sell all that you have and give it to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven, and then come follow me, and had also expressed his profound lack of hope in the rich, to the point of saying that it was easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven, immediately the disciples were full of anxiety and said among themselves: ‘Then who can be saved?’ On saying this, were they thinking of how few are the rich without considering the great number of poor people? If it is difficult, even impossible, for the rich to enter heaven as it is impossible for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, will all the poor enter heaven, and only the rich will have to be excluded? But how many are the rich? While the poor are by the thousands. But no, in the kingdom of heaven we will not consider the tunics they wear, but the garment that there they will focus on, will be the splendor of justice of each one. Therefore, there will be poor people equal to the angels of God; with only the garment of immortality, they will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Then why lament or be anxious about the reduced number of the rich? In fact, this was not the thinking of the Apostles. When the Lord said: ‘It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven, and they said among themselves: ‘Then who can be saved’, What were they thinking? Not in the wealth but in the ambition. They were conscious that also the poor even without money can be rich in avarice. And that you may know that what is condemned is not the money of the rich but the avarice; listen to what I tell you: you focus on the rich beside you, and perhaps he has money but he is not avaricious; on the other hand, you do not have money but you are avaricious. That poor man covered with wounds, wretched, leaked by dogs, without resources, hungry, perhaps without clothes, he was brought by the angels to the bosom of Abraham. Pay attention, you for being poor, you are happy now, are you disposed to also bear the wounds? With your good health, don’t you have a magnificent patrimony? In Lazarus the merit was not in his poverty but in his piety. You think of his being brought up, but not to where he was brought. Who was brought by the angels? A poor man, wretched, covered with sores. To where was he brought? To the bosom of Abraham. Read the Scriptures and you will see that Abraham was rich. And you can verify that he was not condemned for his riches, because Abraham had much gold, a great quantity of silver, of flocks, of slaves; he was rich, and the poor Lazarus was brought to his bosom. Can it not be said that both were rich for God, and poor of ambition? (en. Ps. 51, 14).
With the text, let us now pray from our 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 looked at him with love and said to him: ‘You lack one thing to do.’ (Mk. 10:21)
- How is the look that Jesus continually directs toward you?
- What is lacking for you to do in your spiritual life and in your following of Christ?
b. “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Mk. 10:25).
- How can you apply these words of Christ to your actual life?
- Why do you consider yourself rich? Or poor?
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 scene of the young man hurriedly approaching Jesus, he asks the question, dialogues with Jesus, and finally departs sad, and how Jesus dialogues with his disciples. Contemplate and meditate.
b. Contemplate how Jesus looks at you with the same gaze as he looked at the rich young man. Detain Christ’s gaze on you. “Listen” to what that gaze tells you. Verify your feelings and your commitments with Christ.
Think of everything that you can share with those around you about the experience you had with God, especially as regards being rich in God, and knowing that Christ always looks at us with love and mercy. The following points can help you 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 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).
“Christ enriches the true poor and makes poor the false rich” (en. Ps. 39, 28).
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