LECTIO DIVINA XXIX 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.
35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” 36 He replied, “What do you wish me to do for you>” 37 They answered him, “Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.” 38 Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I drink or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” 39 They said to him, “We can.” Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink, you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; 40 but to sit at my right or at my left is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared.” When the ten heard this, they became indignant at James and John. 42 Jesus summoned them and said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority over them felt. 43 But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; 44 whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. 45 For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Let us now meditate with the commentary of St. Augustine on these words of the Gospel according to St. Mark.
In the Gospel you heard the sons of Zebedee. They were seeking a privileged position, on seeking that one of them sit at the right of such great Father and the other at his left. Of privilege without doubt and of great privilege indeed is the position they were seeking; but since they were careless of ‘by what road’, the Lord takes back their attention from ‘whither they wanted to arrive’ so that they may pay attention to ‘by what road’ they are to walk. What does he answer to those who sought such a privileged position? Can you drink the chalice that I have to drink? What chalice but that of humility, that of the Passion, drinking which and making his own our weakness, he says to the Father: ‘Father, if it were possible, let this chalice pass me by.’ Putting himself in the place of those who refuse to drink this chalice and seeking a privileged position, avoiding the path of humility, he said: Can you drink the chalice that I have to drink? You seek the Christ glorified; go back to him as crucified. You want to reign and be glorified beside the throne of Christ; learn to say beforehand: Be it far from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is the Christian Teaching, the precept and recommendation of humility; not to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, for there is nothing great to glory in the wisdom of Christ, but, yes, it is great to do so in his cross. Where the impious finds motive to insult, there the pious finds his glory. What provokes the insult of the proud, let it be identical to what provokes the glory of the Christian. Be not ashamed of the cross of Christ; for this you receive the sign on your forehead, you may call it the seat of decency. Think of your forehead so as not to fear the stranger’s tongue (s. 160, 5).
On service to the brothers and not to seek to be the first, St. Augustine comments: I now see what God says, he alone is great; let the falsely great man be silent, he is more falsely great the more he had scorned being small. Who renounces to be small? He who says these things. Because thus the Lord speaks: Whoever among you wants to be the greatest, let him be your servant. If this individual would want to be the servant of his brothers, he would not separate them from their Mother. But since he wants to be great and not wholesomely small, God who opposes the proud and gives his grace to the humble, since he alone is great, he fulfills all that he promised and contradicts the slanderers (en. Ps. 85:14). +
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 ne 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. “Can you drink the chalice I have to drink? What chalice if not that of humility, that of the Passion?” (s. 160, 5).
- In what occasions of your life have you drunk the chalice of the Lord?
- What does it mean for you to participate in the Passion and the chalice of Christ?
b. “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as ransom for all” (Mk. 10: 45).
- We live in a world of comfort and pleasure, how do you imitate the service of Christ in your life?
- What does it mean for you “to give your life”, and how do you give it for your brothers in actual reality?
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 mother of the two sons of Zebedee approaching Christ with her two sons and making the request from Jesus. Listen to the answer, the admiring faces of the two sons of Zebedee, as well as the envy of the other apostles. Contemplate the answer of Jesus on the service and the giving of life. Contemplate, reflect and love.
b. Contemplate how Christ invites you to serve the brothers and how Jesus himself shows you that he learnt through suffering and death to obey the Father and to give his life for all. Contemplate how Christ invites you to service and that you also surrender your life for love.
Think of everything that you can share with those around you about the experience you had with God, especially on not to seek positions of honor but to serve the brothers in imitation 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).
“There is nothing great to glory in the wisdom of Christ, but yes there is to glory in his Cross. Where the impious finds motive to insult, there the devout finds his glory” (s. 160, 5).