LECTIO DIVINA; Fourth Sunday of Advent, Cycle C
Translated by Fray Hubert Dunstan M. Decena, OAR
- Invoking the Holy Spirit
We invoke the Holy Spirit using the words of St. Augustine.
Come, Holy Spirit, by whom every devout soul, who believe 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).
With the heart well disposed, with serenity, read slowly the following words, savoring them and allowing yourself to be impressed by them.
39 Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, 40 where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, 42 cried out in a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43 And how does this happen to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”
Let us now meditate with the commentary of St. Augustine on these words of the Gospel according to St. Luke.
The words of Elizabeth, the mother of John, are undoubtedly these: Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. The Evangelist observes that in order to say that she must be filled with the Holy Spirit. Without doubt she knew by revelation what the child’s leaping for joy meant, that is: that the mother of the One, whose precursor and herald he would be, had come. It was, therefore, possible that the meaning of such a new miracle be known by the elders, though the baby would not know it. As the Evangelist narrates it, he does not say “she believed”, but “the child leaped in my womb.” Neither did Elizabeth say: “the child in my womb leaped in faith,” but “He leaped for joy”. This leaping was unusual and new, because it happened in the womb and at the arrival of the one who was to give birth to the Savior of men. That is why it was marvelous and worthy to be counted among the great miracles. Therefore, this exultation, or should we say, response to a greeting offered to the Mother of the Lord, as usually happens in miracles, was a divine act in the child, not a human act of the child” (ep. 187,23).
Elizabeth was hidden during five months. On the other hand, she is visited by Mary, Mother of the Lord, on the sixth month, and the infant leaps in her womb as if he were already beginning to manifest the prophecy from the first coming of the Lord, when he condescended to appear with humility in the womb; that is, not yet so clearly for the world to proclaim that it is manifest. (By leaping in the womb, John is already prophesying that the Lord has come, but this is not yet seen by the world since both babies are still in the womb.) What we believe will happen in the second coming of the Lord when he comes on glory, a coming in which Elijah is awaited as precursor, in the same way that John was his. See why the Lord says: Elijah has already come but they treated him as they pleased; and if you want to know it, Elijah who was to come is John the Baptist himself, because this has already come with the same spirit and the same power, as in the function of a herald who goes before, that also will come. For this reason it is said that by the same spirit with which the father, his prophet, was filled, so also the precursor of the Lord will be filled with the spirit and power of Elijah. Finally, Mary, after having spent three months with Elizabeth, returned home. With this number it seems to me that the faith in the Blessed Trinity is signified and the baptism in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, by which humankind is purified thanks to the coming of the Lord in humility, and is even exalted by the future coming in glory” (diu. qu. 58, 3).
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.
- “Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and cried out in a loud voice: ‘Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb’” (Lk 1:32).
- How important is the Holy Spirit in your life?
- In your point of view, why is Mary blessed among women?
- “At the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy” (Lk. 1:44).
- What place does joy occupy in your life?
- What is the source of your joy? How do you manifest your joy?
I propose to you some points for affective interior contemplation. Once again you do not need to follow all of it, rather you can choose what fits your personal experience.
- Contemplate Elizabeth receiving the greeting of Mary and experiencing in her womb the leap of joy of her son caused by the presence of the Savior. Contemplate and adore.
- Contemplate Mary at the moment of the Annunciation. Like her, see in your heart what God manifests to you in prayer (Lk. 2:19).
Think of everything that you can share with those around you about the experience you had with God, especially about joy for the presence of Christ. 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 predominant 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 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).