LECTIO DIVINA: Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C
Lk. 11:1 – 13.
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.
Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us, and do not subject us to the final test.”
And he said to them. “Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him.’ and he says in reply from within, ‘Do not bother me, the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed. I cannot get up to give you anything.’ I tell you, if he does not get up to give the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence.
And I tell you, ask and you will receive, seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?”+
Let us now meditate with the commentary of St. Augustine on these words of the Gospel according to St. Luke.
“Therefore, for us words are necessary: They warn us and permit us to see what we ask for, without even thinking that with them we tell the Lord or force him. When we say: ‘hallowed be your name’, we incite ourselves to desire that the name of the Lord, which is always holy, be held holy by the people, i.e., not be despised. When we say ‘may your kingdom come’ which is sure to come we like it or not, we inflame our desire for that kingdom, that it may come to us and may merit to reign in it. When we say: ‘Let your will be done on earth as in heaven,’ we ask him for ourselves the same obedience, that we may fulfill his will, as the angels in heaven fulfill them. When we say: ‘Give us today our daily bread’ in the word ‘today’ we understand the present time, we pray for sufficient food mentioned above under the name of bread, i.e., for the most part; or perhaps the sacrament of the faithful can be understood, that we need at the present time, though not for happiness at the present time but for the eternal. When we say ‘forgive us our tres- passes as we forgive those who trespass against us’ we ask to reflect upon what we ask and upon what we do, that we may merit to receive it. When we say ‘lead us not into temptation’ we exhort ourselves to ask for it, lest lacking divine assistance, seduced we may consent or afflicted we may concede. When we say ‘but deliver us from evil’ we invite ourselves to think that we are not yet in that good place where we suffer no evil. And this last petition in the Lord’s Prayer covers so much that the Christian subject to any tribulation sighs with that formula, cries with it, begins with it, stops in it, and by it ends the prayer. It is necessary to use words to imprint in our memory the realities themselves” (ep. 139, 11,21).
He says: “A man to whose house a guest had arrived, went to the house of a friend, and started to call saying: ‘A guest has come to me, lend me three loaves.’ He replied: ‘I am already resting and my servants with me.’ The man does not stop, he stays there standing, he insists, he calls; like a friend begs another friend. And what does Jesus say? Truly I tell you that he gets up and gives him as many loaves as he wants, but not for friendship, but for the insistence. Why the inconvenience? Because he did not stop calling; because even though he had refused it, he did not go away. He who had refused the loaves, did what he was asked for, because the other did not get tired of asking. With what greater reason will he, who is good, give us, he who exhorts us to ask and who is displeased if we do not ask him? If at times he delays in giving, he endears his gifts, he does not deny them. The acquisition of something long desired is sweeter; what is immediately obtained may lose its value. Ask, seek and insist. Asking and seeking you obtain a necessary growth to receive the gift. God reserves for you what he does not want to immediately give so that you also learn to ardently desire the great things. Thus, it is better to always pray and not to despair” (s. 61, 6).
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. “Ask and you shall receive; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you. For everyone who asks receives; and the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks the door will be opened. (Lk. 11:9-10).
- How do you live in your prayer these three verbs: ask, seek, and knock?
- What does this statement of St. Augustine mean to you: “This is the healthy faith: it makes us pray; seek to find; ask to receive; knock that it may be opened for us. He who rebels against it closes for himself the door of divine mercy”? (perf. Iust. 2, 19, 40).
b. What does this statement of St. Augustine suggest to you: “When we say may your kingdom come to us, which certainly will come, we like it or not, we inflame our desire for that kingdom, that it may come to us and we may merit to reign in it” (ep. 130, 11, 21).
- What experience of God’s compassion and mercy do you have in your life?
- Are you compassionate with the persons around you, imitating the example of Christ?
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 how you knock at God’s door and how, by your perseverance the door opens and God gives you what you need. At this moment of contemplation, allow that God fills your heart with his peace.
b. Contemplate and savor each one of the words of our Father, St. Augustine. Let them fall into your heart and verify what affections and feelings are awakened in you. Do not hurry to advance in the content of the prayer. If some petition has aroused in you profound love and affection, tranquilly remain in it and pray with this profound affection.
Think of everything that you can share with those around you about the experience you had with God, especially as regards the Lord’s Prayer and asking, knocking, and seeking in prayer. The following points can help you to 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?
G. Final Reflection of St. Augustine.
“You, O Lord, it is whom we must ask, in You it is where we must seek, at your door it is that we must knock; then, then we shall receive, then shall we find, then it shall be opened unto us. Amen.” (conf. 13, 53).
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).+