LECTIO DIVINA: Sunday of Nativity

Christmas nativity scene with Holy Family
Christmas nativity scene with Holy Family

Translated by Fray Hubert Dunstan M. Decena, OAR

Jn. 1:1-18

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.

          1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be 4 through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; 5 the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 6 A man named John was sent from God. 7 He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8 He  was not the light but came to testify to the light. 9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world came to be through him, but the world did not know him. 11He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him. 12 But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name, 13 who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice not by a man’s decision but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth. 15 John testified to him and cried out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.’” 16 From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace, 17 because while the Law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God, who is at the Father’s side, has revealed him. +

C. Meditatio.

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

          These, then, were born not by the will of the flesh nor by the will of man but of God. Now then, so that men be born of God, God was first born of them since Christ is God and Christ was born of men. Certainly, he was born of God so that through him we would come to be, born of woman so that through him we may be re-created; on earth he sought nothing but a mother, because he already had a Father in heaven. Do not then be surprised, oh man, that by grace you are made son, because you are born of God according to his Word. The Word himself wanted first to be born of man, so that you may have assurance to be born of God and you may tell yourself: “Truly God wanted to be born of man because he wanted me to be immortal and he be born mortal for me.” Thus after having said: “They are born of God”, so that we may not be amazed or horrified by such immense grace, that it may seem to us incredible that men be born of God, as if assuring us he adds: And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. Why then are you amazed that men are born of God? Turn your gaze towards God himself born of men: And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

          Truly, because the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, from birth itself he became eye drops with which to clean the eyes of our hearts and we could see his majesty through his humility. That is why The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. He healed our eyes. And what follows? And we saw his glory. It could not see his glory if humility had not healed the flesh. Why could we not see? Pay attention then, my Brother, and see what I say. A kind of dust has fallen into the eyes of man, soil has fallen into man’s eyes and it seriously wounded his eyes, he could not see the light. Now, an ointment is applied to this seriously wounded eye. Soil has seriously wounded it, and in order to be healed, soil must be put into it, since all eye drops and medicines served for nothing, except that of soil. By dust you became blind, by dust are you healed; since you were blinded by dust; you were blinded by the flesh, by the flesh you are healed. Thus the soul has become carnal by consenting with carnal affections; that is why the eye of the heart had become blind. The Word became flesh: this physician became an eye drop. And because he came in such a form that with the flesh he would extinguish the vices of the flesh, and with death he would kill death, thus it happened in you that, because The Word became flesh, you can say: And we saw his glory. What glory? That of becoming the Son of Man? This is his humility, not his glory. But up to what point was man’s vision elevated after being healed through the flesh? He says, We saw his glory, the glory of the only Son born of the Father, full of grace and truth…. Now let this suffice and let yourselves be built up in Christ, strengthen yourselves in faith, be vigilant through good works and stay not away from the wooden boat by which you can cross the sea” (Io. eu. tr. 2, 15-16).

D. Oratio.

With the text, let us now pray from the depth 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 you 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. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn. 1:14).

  • What does it mean for you that Christ has become man?
  • How does God dwell in your life?

b. “The Word was the true light that illumines every man who comes into this world” (Jn. 1:9).

  • What importance does it have in your life that Christ is the Light?
  • What do you think of St. Augustine’s statement: “Staying away from Christ you are darkness …. When you come near you are illumined” (en. Ps. 70: 2, 6)?

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 Christ the light of the world who illumines your life. Let yourself be inundated  by his light and experience peace and joy in your  prayer.

b. Contemplate the moment of Christ’s birth, when the Word made flesh comes among men. You can contemplate Bethlehem allowing the mystery of Christ’s birth to fill you with amazement and love. Adore the Word of God made man

F. Communicatio.

Think of everything that you can share with those around you about the experience you had with God, especially concerning the Word of God who became man. 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 good will, 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 an

More posts about:

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.