LECTIO DIVINA: Second Sunday of Advent, Cycle C
Translated by Fray Hubert Dunstan M. 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.
1 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Cesar, When Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene 2 during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert. 3 He went throughout the whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins 4 as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah:
A voice of one crying out in the desert:
5 Every valley shall be filled
and every mountain and hill shall be made low.
The winding roads shall be made straight,
6 And the rough ways made smooth,
Let us now meditate with the commentary of St. Augustine on these words of the Gospel according to St. Luke.
“You must be just with yourself, including even punishing yourself; since the first justice of man consists in punishing yourself, for being bad, and thus God will make you good. And the first justice of man open the road to God, that he may come to you. Open the road to him by confessing your sins. St. John acted thus when he was baptizing with the water of repentance and he wanted that they come to him having repented of their past actions and he said to them: Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. If you, O man, took pleasure in your sins, let what you have been displease you now, so that you can become what you were not. Prepare the way of the Lord; let this justice take precedence, by acknowledgment of your sins he will come to visit you since he will put his steps on the road; because now he has where to put his feet, and where he can walk towards you. On the contrary, before confessing your sins, the road was blocked for God to come towards you. He had no path to come near. Confess your life and you will open the road, and Christ will come to you, he will put his steps on the road; and thus he will instruct you to follow his tracks” (en. Ps. 84, 16).
John the voice, Christ the Word.
I am the voice of one who cries in the desert. John was the voice; the Lord, on the other hand, the Word who existed in the beginning. John is the temporal voice; Christ the eternal Word that existed in the beginning. Remove the Word, what happens to the voice? When it means nothing, it is an empty noise. The voice without the word beats the air, but does not edify the heart. But let us consider the order of things in the act of edifying our heart. If I think of something to say, the word is already in my heart; but if I want to speak to you, I think of how what is already in my heart can also be in yours. Seeking the means of how I can arrive at you and plant in your heart the word that is already in mine, I assume the voice and once assumed I speak to you. The sound of the voice brings to you also the understanding of the word; and once it has fulfilled this function, the sound passes away, but the word that the sound brought to you is already in your heart without having departed from mine. Once the sound has transferred the word to you, does it not seem to say: He must increase and I must decrease? The sound of the voice resounded to accomplish a service and it departed as though saying: My joy of is complete. Let us retain the word; let us not lose the word conceived in the medulla of our being. Do you want to see the voice that passes away and the divinity of the Word that remains? Where now is the baptism of John? It fulfilled its function and it disappeared; but the baptism of Christ is now repeated. We all believe in Christ and we hope for salvation from him. The voice himself said this. Yet how difficult it is to distinguish the word from the voice, to the point that John himself was considered the Christ. The voice was confused with the word, but the voice recognized itself in order not to offend the word. I am not, he says, the Christ nor Elijah nor a prophet. They answered him: Then, who are you? I am, he said, the voice of one crying out in the desert, the voice that breaks the silence. Prepare the way of the Lord: as if saying: “My sound goes directed to make him enter the hearts; but he does not desire to come to a place where I want to introduce him unless you prepare a path for him.” What does it mean: Prepare the path for him? if not: “Implore him as you ought?” What does it mean: Prepare the path for him, if not “Have thoughts of humility? Receive from him the example of humility. They think he is the Christ, and he says that he is not what they think he is. He does not take on the error of others, not even to feed his own pride. If he had said that he was the Christ, how easily they would have believed someone whom they already believed even before he said anything. But he did not say it; he acknowledged who he was, he distinguished himself from Christ, he humbled himself. He saw where his salvation was; he understood that he was a lamp, and he feared that the wind of pride would blow it out (s. 293, 3).
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. “Prepare the way of the Lord” (Lk. 3:4).
- What does this mean: “Prepare the way of the Lord”?
- How can you concretely prepare the way of the Lord in your life?
b. “What does it mean to: Prepare the way of the Lord, if not: “have thoughts of humility”? Receive from John the Baptist the example of humility” (s. 293, 3).
- What does it mean for you: to have thoughts of humility?
- How can you imitate the example of John the Baptist?
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 John the Baptist, and how he preaches with power and conviction the word of God. Contemplate and ask for the same enthusiasm and conviction for your life.
b. Contemplate how Christ through his Spirit directs the paths of your heart. Contemplate what it is that you have to remove to make them straight and smooth for him.
Think of everything that you can share with those around you about the experience you had with God, especially about preparing the way of the Lord. The following points can help you share with you 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). +