LECTIO DIVINA: First Sunday of Advent, Cycle B
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.
33 Be watchful! Be Alert! You do not know when the time will come. 34 It is like a man traveling abroad. He leaves home and places his servants in charge, each with his work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch. 35 Watch, therefore; you do not know when the lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. 36 May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. 37 What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’ “
Let us now meditate with the commentary of St. Augustine on these words of the Gospel according to St. Mark.
The first says: “Let us watch and pray, because the Lord will come soon.” The second says: “Let us watch and pray because this life is short and uncertain, even though the Lord will delay in coming.” The third says: “Let us watch and pray because this life is short and uncertain and we do not know when the Lord will come.” The Gospel says: Pay attention. Be vigilant and pray, because you do not when the time will come (Mk. 13:33). Please, don’t we hear that the third says what we heard the Gospel say? Because of the desire for the kingdom of God, the three want that the first be the truth (will come soon). But the second denies it (he will delay), while the third denies nothing, confesses that he does not know which of the two tells the truth. If what the first had predicted comes true the second and the third will be happy with him, since the three love the appearance of the Lord (2 Tim 4:8). They will rejoice that he whom they love has arrived sooner. If the Lord does not appear and what the second said is true, it is to be feared that the delay perturbs those who had believed the first and they begin to believe, not that the Lord will delay, but that he will not come at all. Now you see what will be the ruin of souls. If they have a faith so strong that they pass to the opinion of the second, and they wait with fidelity and patience for the Lord who delays, the shame, insults and ridicules of the enemies will abound so that many weak ones will depart from the Christian faith, announcing that the kingdom promised to them is false, it was false that the Lord would come soon. Those who think like the second, that the Lord will delay, and discover that this is false because the Lord has soon arrived, whoever had believed him, they will not be perturbed in their faith, rather they will rejoice with unexpected joy.
Therefore, he who believes that the Lord will come soon, responds better to the desires, but his error brings more serious consequences. I wish that were true, since it will cause many troubles if it were not. On the other hand, he who says that the Lord will delay and nevertheless, believes, hopes, and loves his coming, even though he errs as regards the delay, he errs happily, because he will have greater patience, if he delays, and greater happiness, if he does not delay. Those who love the coming of the Lord listen to the first more gladly, but believe the second more securely. The third, who confesses his ignorance, tolerates what the second says and errs in nothing, since he neither affirms nor denies. That is what I am, and, please, do not scorn me (ep. 199, 53-54).
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. “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come” (Mk. 13:33).
- What does “Be vigilant” mean for you?
- How do I prepare myself for the coming of the Lord?
b. “Watch, therefore; you do not know when the lord of the house is coming … May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping” Mk. 13:35-36).
- What does this statement of St. Augustine suggest to you: “Let no one of us be asleep at the hour of receiving the lord, that we may not wake up startled at the time of giving account” (en. Ps. 33:2).
- Pray with these words: “Be watchful and pray.”
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. Experience and contemplate in your interior how Christ returns to establish his kingdom. Contemplate his glory and splendor. Verify what accounting will you give to God.
b. Contemplate in your hands the talents you have received from God and how you used them to flourish. Contemplate the accounting you give to Christ, of what you have done with what God gave you.
Think of everything that you can share with those around you about the experience you had with God, especially as regards living vigilant while waiting for the return of the Lord. The following points can help you 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 was 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 u 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).
Therefore, be righteous of heart, that you may displease God in nothing. I do not say that you do not pray. Pray when you can in affliction (s. 15A,9).