LECTIO DIVINA: 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C
Lk. 17:11 – 19.
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.
As he continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee. As he was entering a village, ten lepers met him. They stood at a distance from him and raised their voice, saying, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” And when he saw them, he said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” As they were going they were cleansed. And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” Then he said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.” +
Let us meditate with the commentary of St. Augustine on these words of the Gospel according to St. Luke.
As regards the ten lepers healed by the Lord with the words: ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests’ we can ask many questions that rightly disturbs those who investigate. Not only what refers to the number: What does it mean that they were ten but that only one of them showed himself grateful? Investigating it is a personal fancy … It is more important to answer the question why he sent them to the priests and they were healed while on the road. Because there is no other case that he sent to the priests the beneficiaries of bodily health, except the lepers. He had also cleansed a leper to whom he said: Go, and show yourself to the priests and offer for yourself the sacrifice that Moses commanded to serve as witness to them (Lk. 5:13-14). A follow-up question is: what kind of spiritual cleanliness has to be understood in those whom he reproached for their ingratitude? In the physical level, it is easy to see that a man can have leprosy, and nevertheless be not healthy in spirit; but, as regards the meaning of this miracle, the consideration of how the ungrateful can be considered clean, disturbs him who examines it.
Therefore, one must examine the meaning of the leprosy itself. For those who saw it disappear from their body are not said to be healed, but cleansed. In fact, leprosy is a problem of color, not of health, or of the integrity of the senses or of the members. Thus it is not absurd to think of lepers as individuals who, not possessing knowledge of the true faith, they profess diverse doctrines of error. They are not those who at least hide their ignorance, but those who expose it to the light of day as if it were a consumed expertise and make a show of abundance in speech. Of course, there is no doctrine, however erroneous it may be, that does not possess a fragment of truth. According to this, the mixture of truth and lie without order or arrangement in a debate or any human conversation, as being visible in the color of one same body, signifies the leprosy that modifies or speckles the human bodies as if you use make up of naturally or artificially procured colors. These persons are very much to be avoided in the Church. So much so that if possible, they have to call on Christ with loud shouts from a great distance, like these ten who stayed at a distance and shouted with a loud voice: Jesus, Master, have pity on us. This is what should happen to them. It is not clear to me that no one has recourse to the Lord demanding health of body giving him the title Master. Thus I am inclined to think that leprosy is a sign of all false doctrine that a competent master manages to eliminate (qu. eu. 2, 40. 1 – 2).
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. “Jesus, Master, have pity on us” (Lk. 17:13).
- What “leprosies” are there in your spiritual life?
- Make your own the petition of the lepers and repeat in your interior from the heart: “Jesus, Master, have pity on me.”
b. “Where are the other nine? Had no one returned to give thanks to God, except this stranger?” (Lk. 17:17-18)
- How do you give thanks for the gifts and benefits from God?
- Pray in your interior giving thanks to God for all the benefits he has granted you. Repeat in your interior from the heart: “Thank you, Lord.”
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 the scene of the lepers remaining at a distance and asking healing from Jesus. Contemplate how along the road they were cleansed, and how only one happily returns to thank Jesus. Contemplate the scene of how this Samaritan thank Jesus. Contemplate and be grateful.
b. Contemplate and imagine that you are the leper, and how you ask Jesus to clean and purify you of your “leprosy”. Contemplate the power of Jesus acting on you and thank him for the gift you have received. Put in him all your preoccupations, fears and sins, and experience the peace in your heart. Contemplate and be grateful.
Think of everything that you can share with those around you about the experience you had with God, especially as regards recognizing the gifts of God and knowing to be grateful for them. 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.
When you wish to petition God in your habitat, you must clean it; in order that God may hear you, clean your interior habitat” (s. 53A, 11).
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). +