LECTIO DIVINA: Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C
Lk. 12:49 – 53.
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.
“I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”
Let us now meditate with the commentary of St. Augustine on these words of the Gospel according to St. Luke.
St. Augustine comments in the first place the fact that Jesus has come to throw fire on the earth, a fire that must burn us and purify us: To this same thing the other words also refer: Consuming Fire. Over it, I ought not argue, but rather to ask them what fire did the Lord say that he had come to bring into this world. These are words of the Gospel that they cannot reprove, not because they honor Christ, but to teach the Christians. When they are reminded that the Lord said: ‘I have come to bring fire into this world’, these miserable persons reply: “This fire is another thing.” To which we answer: “This other thing is also distinct; do not be afraid.” Actually, it is Christ who speaks in the Old Testament when he says: “I am a devouring fire” (Dt. 4:23-24), he who affirms in the Gospel that he has come to bring fire to the world, i.e., the Word of God which he is. He himself explained the ancient Scriptures to his disciples after having risen, beginning from Moses and all the prophets. Then the disciples confessed having received this fire saying: “Did not our hearts burn along the road when he explained to us the Scriptures? (Lk. 24:32). He is the consuming fire. The divine love consumes the old life and renews the man in such a way that God, as consuming fire, makes us love him, and as jealous he loves us. Therefore, fear not the fire who is God; rather fear the fire that he has prepared for the heretics (c. Adim. 13, 3).
On the separation that Christ has brought, St. Augustine comments the following: There shall be in one house five divided among themselves: two against three and three against two, i.e.: the son against the father, the daughter against the mother, the daughter-in-law against the mother-in-law. What sword caused this division, but that which Christ brought? Thus it is, brothers, even this we see happening every day. For example, a young man wants to serve God, but his father does not agree; they are already divided among themselves. The one promises him earthly inheritance and what the other desires is a heavenly one; this promises him one thing, but the other chooses another. Let not the father think that injustice is done to him, but only that God is preferred over him. And nevertheless, he argues with his son who wants to serve God. Yet the spiritual sword that separates is stronger than the natural carnal that unites. This also happens between daughter and mother, and much more so between daughter-in-law and mother-in-law. There are time that in one same house live a mother-in-law and a daughter-in-law, one being pagan the other a catholic. And there where this sword has strongly entered, I do not fear the second baptism. Can the daughter be divided against the mother, and will a daughter-in-law not be divided against her mother-in-law?
This also happens to humanity in general: the son is divided against the father. We were at some time sons of the devil (….) And all our infidelity, from what father does it come except the devil? Not that he created us but that we imitate him. Now you see why there is division between a son and his father. Then came that sword which renounces the devil; he has found another father, another mother. That one, offering himself to be imitated, engendered destruction; on the other hand the father and mother that we have found, engender for eternal life. The son is against the father. The daughter is against the mother; the Jewish people that believed, stayed away from the synagogue. The daughter-in-law is divided against the mother-in-law. The people coming from the gentiles we call daughter-in-law, since Christ is the Groom, son of the synagogue. From where was the Son of Man born according to the flesh? From that synagogue. (…) And what did he do to leave the mother? Leaving the Jewish people fastened to the ancient rituals. (…) And the mother-in-law, who is it? The mother of the Groom. Yes, the mother of the Groom, our Lord Jesus Christ, is the synagogue. Therefore, her daughter-in-law the Church, who comes from the gentiles, did not accept the carnal circumcision, is in disagreement with the mother-in-law” (en. Ps. 44, 11-12).
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 affection 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. I have come to throw fire on the earth and how I wish that it were already blazing” (Lk. 12:49).
- What effects does the fire of Christ produce in your life?
- What does this phrase of St. Augustine suggests to you: “Divine love consumes the old life and renews the man in such a way that God, as the consuming fire, makes us love him” (c. Adim. 13, 3).
b. Do you believe that I am here to put peace on earth? No, I assure you, but division” (Lk. 12:51).
- What is the false peace against which Christ rebels?
- What divisions and separations have happened in your life because 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 Christ put peace in your heart. Contemplate how they stay away from your heart all those things that do not pertain to the kingdom of God, to Jesus Christ and on the contrary your heart is filled with God and thus it can experience a great peace.
b. Contemplate your own heart and consider if in it the fire of Christ is burning. Feel the heat of the fire of your own heart, and feel also how in this fire of God your sins and evil inclinations are burnt. Ask Jesus that the fire of his love in you may never be put out.
Think of everything that you can share with those around you about the experience you had with God, especially as regards the separation that Christ establishes in the life of the believer and the fire of love that must burn and purify the heart of 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?
G. Final Reflection of St. Augustine.
What fire of charity inflames your spirit?” (s. 234,3).
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 may 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). +