LECTIO DIVINA: Baptism of the Lord, Cycle C


Translated by Fray Hubert Dunstan M. Decena, OAR

Lk. 3:15-16, 21-22.

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.

          15 Now the people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Messiah. 16 John answered them all, saying, “I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming, I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

          21 After all the people had been baptized and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, heaven was opened 22 and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”+

C. Meditatio.

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

“Therefore, John was sent ahead to baptize the humble Lord. The Lord wanted to be baptized for humility, not because he had any iniquity. Why was Christ the Lord baptized? Why was Christ the Lord, the only begotten Son of God, baptized? Investigate why he was born and then you will find why he was baptized. There you will find the road of humility, which you cannot undertake with proud feet; a road which, if you do not tread with humility, you cannot arrive at the summit to which it leads. He who descended for you was baptized for you. Take note how small he became despite being so great: Who, though he was in the form of God, did not deem equality with God, something to be grasped. The Son being equal with the Father was not plunder but nature (consubstantial). In John yes it would have been plunder liking to be considered the Christ. Thus he did not judge a plunder to be equal to God. Not having resulted from plunder, he was co-eternal with the eternal, from whom he was born. Nevertheless, he emptied himself taking the form of a servant, that is, taking the form of man, Who, existing in the form of God, he emptied himself taking the form of a servant. He assumed what he was not without losing what he was. Remaining as God, he assumed being a man. He took the form of servant, and he became God-Man, he, by whom in his  being divine, was made man. Consider, therefore, what majesty, what power,  what greatness, what equality with the Father; he arrived at vesting himself for us in the  form of servant; take note also the way of humility taught by such great master.  More worthy of mention is that he wanted to become man than his desire to be baptized by a man” (s. 292,3).

We realize that at the Jordan river, our God presents himself as Trinity. Jesus arrived and was baptized by John, the Lord by his servant, an act whose objective is to give us an example of humility. Thus when John said: I ought to be baptized by you, and you come to me? He answered, Leave it for now, that all justice may be fulfilled; he made clear that it is in humility where all justice is fulfilled. Thus, once baptized the heavens were opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in the form of a dove; then a voice followed from above: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Here, then, we have the Trinity with a certain distinction of Persons; in the voice, the Father; in the man, the Son; in the dove, the Holy Spirit. Certainly it was necessary to recall it, because seeing it was very easy. Therefore, with all the evidence and without giving way to the scruple of doubt,  the Trinity is presented because Christ the Lord himself comes to John in the condition of servant is certainly the Son; it cannot be said that he is the Father or the Holy Spirit. It says Jesus came; certainly he is the Son of God. As regards the dove, who can doubt? Or who can say: “What is the dove?” when the Gospel itself very clearly testifies: The Holy Spirit came down upon him in the form of a dove? Similarly, as regards the voice, there exists no doubt that it is the Father, since it says: You are my Son. Therefore, we have the Trinity with the distinction of Persons” (s. 52, 1).

D. Oratio.

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. “You are my Son, the beloved, the favorite” (Lk. 3:22).

  • What does it mean that Christ is the favorite and beloved Son of the Father?
  • From baptism we are sons of God. How can you apply these words of the Gospel to your own personal life (being a favorite and beloved son of the Father)?

b. “If you do not tread with humble feet the road of humility, you will not arrive at the summit to which it leads” (s. 292, 3).

  • Why is humility necessary in your life?
  • How can you be more humble?

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 going down the river to be baptized. Contemplate his humility. Ask that you also can be humble.

b. Contemplate how God pronounces the words: “You are my son, the beloved, my favorite” upon Christ, and also upon you. Verify what feelings and affections arise in your interior as you listen interiorly to these words pronounced over you.

F. Communicatio.

Think of everything that you can share with those around you about the experience you had with God, especially as regards your being a beloved and favorite son of the Father. 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).

For the praise and love of the one God (doctr. chr. 2, 38, 57)

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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.