LECTIO DIVINA: 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle 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. 128,4) Amen.
With heart well disposed, with serenity, read slowly the following words, savoring them and allowing yourself to be touched by them.
1 When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 He began to teach them saying:
3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.
6 Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be satisfied.
7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every
kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me.
12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.
Let us now meditate with the commentary of St. Augustine on these words of the Gospel according to Matthew.
If someone with faith and seriousness would examine the discourse that Our Lord Jesus Christ pronounced on the mountain, as we read it in the Gospel of St. Matthew, I think that he would find the definitive form of Christian life, in what refers to correct morality. And we do not say it lightly, rather we deduce it from the very words of the Lord. Thus he concludes the sermon in such a way that everything that pertains to the right knowledge of Christian life is present. Because he speaks thus: Everyone, who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice, is like a man who builds his house on rock. (…) But he did not only say he who listens to my words, rather he added he who listens to these words of mine, indicating these words, that the Lord pronounced on the mountain, teach the manner of life of those who would like to live by them, and can rightfully be compared to someone who built on rock. By this he wanted to say that in the discourse are contained all the norms that regulate Christian existence (…).
But let us listen to him who says: Blessed are the poor in spirit, because theirs is the kingdom of heaven. We read that it has been written of him who desires the goods of the earth: All is vanity and a chase after the wind (Eccl. 1:14). Well then, presumption of spirit means arrogance and pride. Common folk says that the proud people certainly possess a great spirit, it is because sometimes the wind is also called spirit. Thus in the Scripture we read: the fire, hale, snow, ice, spirit of the tempest. Who can ignore that the proud are considered inflated, as if they were dilated by the wind? Hence the Apostle affirms: Knowledge inflates, charity edifies. That is why in the biblical text the poor in spirit are also meant the humble and those who fear the Lord, that is, those whose spirit is not inflated. And the beatitude should not begin any other way, since it must arrive at achieving highest wisdom. Therefore, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, because, in contrast it is written that the beginning of all sin is pride. Therefore, the proud desire and love the kingdoms of the earth: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (s. dom. m. 1, 1.3).
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.
- “In the biblical text the humble and those who fear the Lord are considered the poor in spirit” (s. dom. m. 1, 3).
- How is humility transformed into a way of happiness and of blessedness?
- For you, what does “fear of the Lord” mean?
- “Blessed are the clean of heart for they shall see God” (Mt. 5:8).
- St. Augustine says: “A clean heart is a simple heart” (s. dom. m. 1, 8).
What does this phrase suggest to you?
- Why is it important to have a clean heart?
- Pray with the phrase: “Lord, make me simple, purify my heart” (s. dom. m. 2, 2, 9).
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.
- Contemplate Christ seated on the mountain proclaiming the Beatitudes. Listen to them coming out of the lips, try to contemplate only one of them, the one that calls your attention. Contemplate and love.
- Enter into your interior and contemplate your own heart. Ask why it is blessed, and contemplate that reality. Possibly it is blessed because it is humble, because it is simple, because it hungers and thirsts for justice, because it is pure…. Contemplate and adore God, who has made your heart so.
Think of everything that you can share with those around you about the experience you had with God, especially regarding the beatitudes. The following points can help you as guide to share with your community the experience of the lectio divina on this 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 predominant 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 your increase our faith, govern our mind, 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, one God, forever and ever. Amen (en. Ps. 150:8).
“A pure heart is the same as a simple heart, and just as it is necessary to have healthy bodily eyes to see the natural light, so too one cannot see God if the means to see him is not purified” (s. dom. m. 1,2,9).