LECTIO DIVINA: 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A


Mt. 16:13-20.

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.

B. Lectio.

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

          13 When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But you, who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. 18 And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the neither world shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven,; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Then he strictly ordered his disciples to tell no one that he was the Messiah.

C. Meditatio.

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

          “The Lord had asked his disciples what the people say about who he was, and they told him of the opinion of others, that claimed he was John the Baptist, others said he was Elijah, or Jeremiah or ones of the prophets, he put the question to them: And you, who do you say that I am? And Peter, he alone in the name of the others, one for the many, said: You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Wonderful and very correct answer! For this he merited to hear: Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal it to you, but my Father who is in heaven. Since you said to me, now I say to you; you spoke before, now you listen; you proclaimed a confession, now receive a blessing. Therefore, I also say to you: You are Peter; given that I am the rock, you are Peter, because the rock does not derive from Peter, but Peter from the rock, as Christian is from Christ and not Christ from Christian. Upon this rock I will build my Church; not upon Peter, which you are, but upon the rock which you have confessed. I will build my Church: I will build you, who, upon answering as you did, have become the figure of the Church. This and other things he heard because he had said: You are Christ, the Son of the living God. Remember, he had also heard: Flesh and blood has not revealed it to you, i.e., human reason, weakness, or inexperience, but my Father who is in heaven. Then, the Lord Jesus began to predict his Passion, and to show them how much he had to suffer from the hands of the impious. Seeing this, Peter was frightened and feared that, if Christ were to die, the Son of the Living God would also perish. Certainly, Christ, the Son of the living God, the good of the Good, God of God, the living of the living, the source of life and the true life, had come to defeat death and not perish by death. After all, Peter, being human, and as I reminded you, full of human affection for the human Christ said: God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you!  And the Lord repels such words with just and adequate answer. As he had given him the merited praise for his previous confession, so also now does he give him the merited correction for this fear. Get behind me, Satan, he tells him. Where did this word go: Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah? Distinguish when he praises him from when he corrects him; distinguish the cause of the confession and of the fear. That of the confession: Flesh and blood has not revealed it to you, but my Father who is in heaven; the cause of the fear: You do not appreciate the things of God, but those of men. Should we not like then that he tells his apostles: It is better that I go? Because if I do not go, the Paraclete shall not come to you. If this human form does not withdraw from your carnal sight, your will never be capable of  perceiving, understanding or thinking something divine” (s. 270, 2).

D. 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.

          a. “And you, who do you say that I am?” (Mt. 16:15)

  • Who is Christ for you?
  • What consequences does this have in your life?

b. “I will build my Church: I will build you, you who upon answering like this have become the figure of the Church” (s. 270, 2).

  • How does Christ build you in your interior?
  • What does it mean to you to be a part of the Church that Christ builds?

c. Pray with this phrase: “You are my salvation” (conf. 1, 5).

E. 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.

a. Contemplate how Christ asks his disciples what the people say who he is, and the replies that various disciples give. Later contemplate how Christ again asks them about his own identity, and at this time it is Peter who answers. Contemplate this answer of Peter and with him tell Jesus while you contemplate: “You are the Son of the living God”. Contemplate and adore.

b. Contemplate how Christ asks you who he is for you. Contemplate the answer that you give to Christ, above all what Christ tells you after you have answered. Contemplate your dialogue with Christ. Contemplate your dialogue with Christ, and when you tell him who he is for you, allow yourself to be gazed upon be him and look him to the eyes. Contemplate and adore.

F. Communicatio.

Think of everything that you can share with those around you about the experience you had with God, especially about who is Christ for you. The following points can help you 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 permit, 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, one God, forever and ever. Amen (en. Ps. 150:8).

          “Say to my soul, I am your salvation” (conf. 1, 5).

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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.