LECTIO DIVINA: Christ the King

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Mt. 25:31-46.

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.

          31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, 32 and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34 Then the king will says to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 When did we see you ill or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ 41 Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ 44 Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and did not minister to your needs?’ 45 He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ 46 And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

C. Meditatio.

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

          “ Let no one fear to give it to the poor; let no one think that the hand that he sees is the one receiving. The one who receives is the one who commanded you to give. And this is not a fruit of an impulse or simply a human conjecture; listen to him who advices you and at the same time gives you assurance in the Scripture: I was hungry –he says- and you gave me food. And after enumerating the services, when they replied to him: When did we see hungry? he answered: When you did it to one the least of my brothers, you did it to me. The poor begs, but the Rich receives; you give to him who consumes and he who gives back receives. And he does not give back only what he received, he wants to take it as loan with interest, he promised to give back more than what you give him. Your avarice is active, consider yourself a usurer. If you were so in reality, the Church would reproach you, the Word of God would condemn you, all your brothers would curse you as a cruel usurer who desires to gain profit from the tears of others. Be a usurer, no one prevents you. You want to give to a poor who will weep at the time of pay back; give to the proper person, that is, that person who also exhorts you so that you receive what he promises.

          Give to God and summon him to judgement. Even more, give to God and you will be summoned to receive. Undoubtedly you were searching for your debtor on earth; he also was searching, but for a place where to hide himself from your presence. You had come before the judge to tell him: “Command that this debtor of mine be summoned to judgment.” After hearing these words the debtor goes away and does not even think of greeting you, even though perhaps when he was in need, you saved him by your loan. You have then someone to give. Give to Christ, by your own initiative, he himself summons you to judgment that you may receive; he summons you so that you are surprised that he had received something from your hands. In fact, to those on his right he willingly will say: Come, blessed of my Father. Whither? Come, receive the kingdom that is prepared for you from the foundation of the world. Why this? I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me to drink; I was naked and you clothed me; I was a stranger and you welcomed me; sick and in prison, and you visited me. And they: Lord, when did we see you? What does this mean? The debtor summons to judgment and the creditors excuse themselves? The faithful debtor does not want to defraud them. Do you doubt that you will receive? It was I who received, and you do not know it? And he explains how he received it: “When you did it to one of my least brothers, you did it to me.” I did not receive directly, but through my brothers. What was given to them, arrived to me; rest assured, you did not lose it. On earth you were looking at those who were least capable to give back; in heaven, you have someone capable to do so. I –he says- have received; I will give back” (s. 86, 3-4).

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. “I assure you that each time you did it to one of these my humble brothers, you did it to me” (Mt. 25:40).

  • In the final judgment, why will you be judged on love?
  • What hinders you to recognize the presence of Christ in those around you?

b. ”Let no one fear to give to the poor;  let no one think that the person whose hand he sees is the one who receives. The one who commanded you to give is the one who receives.

  • How are your works of charity and mercy?
  • Why is it Christ who receives what we give?

c. Pray with this statement: “Lord, let me recognize your presence in all those who surround me.”

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 at the last judgment place on his right those who performed mercy and on his left those who did not know to recognize his presence in the needy. Contemplate how the just go into eternal life, to the eternal happiness of God. Contemplate also the dramatic moment in which the condemned are thrown away from God to eternal damnation. Contem- plate and consider your own life, and ask God to stay always at his right to be able to reign with him. Contemplate and adore.

b. Contemplate and imagine that you find yourself in the presence of Christ, in the moment of the Last Judgment. Contemplate how Christ judges you for your works. Contemplate the good works that accompany you at that moment, many times when you helped Christ in the needy. Contemplate the sentence that Christ pronounces over you. Contemplate, praise and love.

F. Communicatio.

Think of everything that you can share with those around you about the experience you had with God, especially about the works of mercy and the Last Judgment. 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 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 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).

          “Fear the Christ from above and be benevolent with the Christ from below. Above you have Christ the generous, below you have Christ the indigent. Here he is poor, and is in the poor” (s.123, 40).

          Ad unius Dei laudem atque dilectionem (doctr. chr. 2, 38, 57).

(“Towards the praise and love of the one God”.)

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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.