LECTIO DIVINA: 4th Sunday of Easter, Cycle B
Translated by Fray Dunstan Huberto Decena, OAR
A. INVOCATION OF 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 THE HEART WELL DISPOSED, WITH SERENITY, READ SLOWLY THE FOLLOWING WORDS, SAVORING THEM AND ALLOWING YOURSELF TO BE TOUCHED BY THEM.
I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the
am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A hired man who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them. This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me. Just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd. This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have the power to lay it down and the power to take it up again, This command I have received from my Father.”
LET US MEDITATE NOW WITH THE COMMENTARY OF ST. AUGUSTINE ON THESE WORDS OF THE GOSPEL AC- CORDING TO ST. JOHN.
“Here I discover all good shepherds in only one. Good shepherds are not lacking, but they are found in only one. Those who are divided are many. Here only one is proclaimed, because unity is encouraged. In truth, if here shepherds are not spoken of, it is not because the Lord has not found someone to entrust his sheep. Thus
he entrusted them because he found Peter; furthermore, he encouraged unity in Peter himself. There were many
apostles yet only to one is it said: Feed my sheep. Let it be far from me to say good shepherds are now lacking; let it
be far from me to think that they will be lacking; be it far from his mercy not to generate them or establish them as such. Indeed, if there are good sheep, there must also be good shepherds, since from good sheep come out good shepherds. But all good shepherds are in one, they form a unity. They pasture, it is Christ who pastures. The friends of the Groom do not prefer their own voice, but they enjoy the voice of the Groom. Therefore, it is he himself who pastures when they pasture. He says: “It is I who pasture,” because in them his voice is found, in them his charity. He wanted that Peter himself, to whom he entrusted his sheep, as if he were his alter ego, form a unity with him, and in this way to entrust the sheep to him. For thus Christ would be the Head and Peter would represent the Body, i.e., the Church, and as such Groom and Bride the two would be only one flesh. Therefore, upon entrusting to him the sheep, what does he ask him beforehand in order not to entrust them to another person distinct from him? Peter, do you love me? And he answered: I love you. Again: Do you love me? And he answered: I love you. And a third time: Do you love me? And he answered: I love you. He made sure of the Charity to consolidate the Unity. Therefore, he himself being only one, pastures in these; and these pasture forming part of him who is only one. He does not speak of the shepherds, he speaks of himself. The shepherds glory in themselves, but whoever glories, let him glory in the Lord. This is to pasture for Christ, to pasture in Christ, to pasture with Christ and not pasture oneself outside of Christ. He did not think on the lack of shepherds, as if the prophet would announce these bad times coming, when he said: I myself will pasture my sheep, as though saying: I have no one to entrust them. I fact, when Peter was still alive, and when the apostles themselves were still in this flesh in this life, then the Only One Shepherd in whom all form a unity said: I have other sheep who are not of this fold; these also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd. Therefore, let everyone be in the Only One Shepherd, let everyone proclaim the one voice of the Shepherd, in such a way that the sheep hear and follow their Shepherd, not this or that other, but the Only One. Let all proclaim, united in him, only one voice; let them not have different voices. I beg you, brothers, proclaim the same and let there be no divisions among you. Let the sheep hear this voice far from division, purified of all heresy, let them follow their Shepherd who says: My sheep hear my voice and they follow me (s. 46, 30).
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 am the Good Shepherd, I know my sheep and my own know me” (Jn. 10:14).
•For you, what does it mean that the Good Shepherd knows you? How does it make you feel?
•How is your knowledge and experience of the Good Shepherd who knows and loves you?
b. “If there are good sheep, there are also good shepherds, because good sheep come out of good shepherds” (s. 46, 30).
•Why is it important for you to pray for vocations to the priesthood?
•The shepherds of the Church also need prayers. How is your prayer for those who pasture in the name of God?
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 Christ who calls you to follow him. He is the Good Shepherd who leads you to the eternal pastures. Contemplate and open your ears to listen to his voice. Repeat in your heart: “You are my Good Shepherd.”
b. Contemplate how Christ as the Good Shepherd leads you to eternal life. Make of your contemplation a moment of prayer of trust and surrender into the hands of the Good Shepherd. You can repeat in your heart the phrase: “Lord, I totally trust in you.”
THINK OF EVERYTHING THAT YOU CAN SHARE WITH THOSE AROUND YOU ABOUT THE EXPERIENCE YOU HAD WITH GOD, ESPECIALLY CONCERNING THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST AND THE UNIVERSAL JUDGMENT. 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?
G. FINAL PRAYER OF ST. AUGUSTINE
Turning towards the Lord: Lord God, Father Almighty, with a 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 by your power you may drive away the enemy from all our thoughts and actions; that you may 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, God, forever and ever. Amen (en, Ps. 150:8).