LECTIO DIVINA: Feast of Sto. Niño, Cycle C

finding of jesus in the temple

by Fray Hubert Dunstan M. Decena, OAR

Lk. 2:41- 52                           

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.

          41 Each year his parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, 42 and when he was twelve years old, they went up according to festival custom. 43 After they had completed its days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. 44 Thinking that he was in the caravan, they journeyed for a day and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances, 45 but not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, 47 and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” 49 And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” 50 But they did not understand what he said to them. 51 He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and he was obedient to them: and his mother kept all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and man. +

C. Meditatio.

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

          The first thing we note is that Joseph and Mary like all devout Jews were observant of their religious obligations to the holy days and Passover was the most important of all holy days, commemorating the freedom from the slavery in Egypt, as found in the Book of Exodus. There are Catholics who, because of their position in the Church would seek exemptions and privileges; Joseph and Mary acted otherwise, they felt themselves bound to be more observant of Jewish holy days and other obligations. Their lives revolved around the fulfillment of the rituals, the prayers and activities of the religious holy days; they were faithful to these observances.

Joseph was conscious that he was not bound by blood to Jesus but only by a legal fatherhood, and gave the duty of questioning him to his mother. On the other hand, Mary reminded Jesus that Joseph was his “father” here on earth: “your father and I have been searching for you with great anxiety.” Clearly, Mary expressed her understanding of Joseph’s role in their family life. It was at this point that Jesus make clear his son-ship, Mary’s motherhood, and Joseph’s fatherhood, and over and above all these, God’s Fatherhood: “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”  Mary and Joseph did not understand the wisdom of God’s plan, yet they answered in their hearts: ‘Let it be done unto me.’

Jesus led the way for all of them to total obedience: “He went down with them and came to Nazareth and was obedient to them.” With very few brush strokes, St. Luke paints for us the simple and holy life of the family in Nazareth. Verse 52 is almost a repetition and follow-up of verse 40: “he advanced in wisdom and age and favor of God and man.” When we reach sixty years, we feel a sense of accomplishment that we have achieved senior citizenship. But can we look back to those years and claim that we have really “advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and man”? I may have achieved much in the eyes of man, but can I claim the same in the eyes of God? Or do I have to ask God forgiveness for so much time wasted to succeed in his service? St. Luke tops his narrative with a very observant thought: “His mother kept all these things in her heart.” Let us ask Mary to share with us her wisdom as we look back to review our way of life from the eyes of faith. The new year is put under Mary’s patronage to help us in this business of life-review of the past years and of life-plan for the future. Mary is the Spouse of the Holy Spirit and she is our advocate to obtain his gifts. +

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. “Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety” (Lk. 2:48).

  • How much do I appreciate my parents’ love and authority at home?
  • How do I show them my love and gratitude in return?

b. “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Lk. 2:40)

  • How much do I realize that my duties to God are over and above my duties to my earthly parents?
  • In my choices and decisions, does God’s will take precedence?

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 Jesus as a young man in Nazareth, obedient to Mary and Joseph, even learning the trade of carpentry from Joseph. Contemplate and feel the humility of Jesus working with his hands, his poverty, working and earning a living by the sweat of his brow.

b. Contemplate Joseph and Mary fully knowing who Jesus was, yet living an ordinary human life in poverty and simplicity. Contemplate and adore, loving and imitating their virtues.

F. Communicatio.

Think of everything that you can share with those around you about the experience you had with God, especially as regards the poverty, simplicity and humility of Jesus’ life as a boy in Nazareth submitted to Joseph and Mary. 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). +

          Father, you revealed your Son to the nations by the guidance of a star. Lead us to the glory of heaven by the light of faith. This we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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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.