LECTIO DIVINA: 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A

means to be light link 2

Mt. 5: 13-16.

  1. 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.

  • Lectio.

With heart well disposed, with serenity, read slowly the following words, savoring them and allowing yourself to be touched by them.

          13 Jesus said to his disciples: “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. 14 You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. 16 Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”

  • Meditatio.

Let us now meditate with the commentary of St. Augustine on these words of the Gospel according to St. Matthew.

          “With much coherence the Lord continues: You are the salt of the earth, showing that they are to be considered foolish those who, seeking abundance and fearing the scarcity of temporal goods, lose the eternal goods that cannot be given nor taken away by men. Therefore,: If the salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned?; i.e., if you, by whom it can be said nations must be founded,  for fear of temporal persecutions, would lose the kingdom of heaven, who would be the men through whom you would be freed from error, since the Lord has chosen you precisely to eliminate the error of the others? Therefore, the insipid salt is no longer good for nothing, but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. Since he who suffers persecution is not trampled underfoot by men, but he who, fearing persecution, becomes foolish. Only an inferior can be trampled underfoot; but he is not inferior who, even though the body may suffer much on earth, nevertheless fixes his heart in heaven.

          You are the light of the world. Just as he said before: salt of the earth, now he says: light of the world. By ‘earth’ is not meant the soil that we tread with our feet, but the sinful men who live on the earth, because the Lord has sent forth the apostolic salt to season them and extinguish their stench. Nor by ‘world’ is meant the sky and the globe, but the men in the world who love the world to whom the Lord has sent the apostles to enlighten them. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden, that is, founded on illustrious and great justice, also symbolized by the mountain where the Lord is teaching.

          Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a bushel basket, but on a lampstand. How can we interpret this? Shall we accept that it was said this way ‘under a bushel basket’ that we may understand only the hiding of a light, as if to say, no one lights a lamp and then hide it? Or can bushel basket also symbolize some other thing, since to put the lamp under a bushel basket is to consider the good of the body more important than to proclaim the truth, to a point that one does not proclaim the truth because he fears inconvenience not only concerning bodily things but also temporal things?” (s. dom. m. 1, 16-17).

  • 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.

  1. “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt becomes insipid, with what can it be seasoned?” (Mt. 5:13).
  2. How do you put into action your mission to be “salt of the earth”?
  3. How could you recover your seasoning?
  • “A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden” (Mt. 5:14).
  • How is God’s building activity in your heart?
  • Is it perceptible in your words and actions that God is building a city in your heart?
  • Pray with the phrase: “Help me to give the flavor of Christ to the world and to my life.”
  • 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.

  1. Contemplate how Christ enlightens your heart with his own light and tells you: “You are the light of the world.” Feel how this flame lights up, feel its warmth and ask God that it may never be put out.
  2. Contemplate your own heart, and see in it how God is building his city in you. Feel how at each moment new buildings are constructed. Feel being loved because built by God. Contemplate and be thankful.
  • Communicatio.

Think of everything that you can share with those around you about the experience you had with God, especially as regards your being the salt of the earth and the light of the world. 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 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, 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).

“Look what this city is. It is built singing, founded on faith; it rises with hope and is completed with charity” (s. 27,1).

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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.