LECTIO DIVINA: 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B
Translated by Fray Dunstan Huberto Decena, OAR
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, 40) Amen.
With heart well disposed, with serenity, read slowly the following words, savoring them and allowing yourself to be touched by them.
On leaving the synagogue he entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John. Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever. They immediately told him about her. He approached, grasped her hand and helped her up. Then the fever left her and she waited on them. When it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons. The whole town was gathered by the door. He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove out many demons, not permitting them to speak because they knew him.
Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place where he prayed. Simon and those who were with him pursued him and on finding him said, “Everyone is looking for you.” He told them, “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.” So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee.
Let us now meditate with the commentary of St. Augustine on these words of the Gospel according to St. Mark.
Christ, on becoming man, was weak and being weak he prayed. Thus by what we heard when the Gospel was read, we know that he retreated to the desert away from his disciples; these followed him and found him. Thus separated from them he was praying there, and the disciples on finding him said to him: ‘The people are looking for you.’ To which he replied: ‘Let us go to the other places and villages to preach there, since it is for this that I have come.’
But if you consider the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, who prays? To whom does he pray? Why does he pray? Is it God who prays? An equal prays to an equal? What motives does he have to pray, he, who is always blessed, always omnipotent, always immutable, eternal and co-eternal with the Father? Let us thus think that he himself thundered through John, as by means of a certain cloud of his, and said: In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God .The Word was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life and this life was the light of the human race, the light shines in darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. In what has been said up to this point we find neither prayer nor motives to pray, neither occasion nor desire to pray. But given a little while after he adds: ‘And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us,’ now you had a Majesty to whom you direct your prayer and a humanity that prays for you. In fact, the Apostle has said this even after the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, he writes: Who is seated at the right hand of God and who also intercedes for us. Why does he intercede for us? Because he has deigned to be Mediator. What does it mean: ‘to be Mediator between God and men’? He is not so between the Father and men, but between God and men. And what is ‘God’? Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And what are men? Sinners, impious, mortals. Between the Trinity and the human weakness and iniquity a mediator has been established a man without sin but is weak, in such a way that, being sinless he unites you with God, and being weak he is found closer to you. And that is why, that a mediator between God and man may exist, the Word became flesh, i.e., the Word became man, since men are categorized with the word “flesh”. From this it is said: “and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” All flesh means all men. The Apostle also says: our battle is not against flesh and blood (i.e., against men), but against the principalities and powers and the rulers of the world of darkness….I have brought out these examples as proof that you may know that to men the word “flesh” is used. That is why the passage: “and the Word was made flesh,” you must interpret in the sense that “the Word became man” (en. Ps. 29:2, 1).
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. “At dawn, when it was still dark, he got up and went out to a solitary place and there he prayed” (Mk 1:35).
- In your life, do you feel the necessity of pray, to open your heart to God?
- What do these words of St. Augustine mean to you? “You have a Majesty to whom to direct your prayer and a humanity that prays for you” (en. Ps. 29, 2, 1)?
b. He tells them: “Let us go to another place, to the nearby villages, that I may also preach there; for this purpose have I cone” (Mk 1:38).
- How do you proclaim the message of Christ?
- What do you think of these words of St. Augustine: “Let your proclaiming for the Lord be like living for the Lord” (ep. 140, 29, 7)?
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 in late afternoon, as the Gospel of Mark presents him: healing the sick who approach him. Allow yourself to be impressed by the scene, and contemplate that you also approach Christ that he may heal your physical and spiritual illnesses.
b. Contemplate Christ at dawn praying to the Father, with confidence and infinite surrender. Contemplate the position of his body, of his hands and above all contemplate the profound love that Jesus lives in those moments. Let the example of Christ be engraved in you, as you contemplate the scene.
Think of everything that you can share with those around you about the experience you had with God, especially as regards prayer, and the healing of your illnesses and personal wounds. The following points can help you share with your community the experience of the lectio divina on the 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).
Therefore, my people, choose such a priest for whom you will not find yourself obliged to pray, but of whom you can be sure of his prayer for you. This is our Lord Jesus Christ, the only priest, the only mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ” (en. Ps. 36:2, 20).