LECTIO DIVINA: II Sunday of Advent, 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.
The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God. As it was written in Isaiah the prophet: “Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way. A voice of one crying out in the desert: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.’” John the Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. People of the whole Judean countryside and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins. John was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He fed on locusts and wild honey. And this is what he proclaimed: “One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
Let us now meditate with the commentary of St. Augustine on these words of the Gospel according to St. Mark.
“You must be just with yourself, including to punishing yourself; since the first justice of man is to punish yourself for being evil, and thus God will be good to you. And this first justice of man opens the road to God to come to you. Open to him the road by confessing your sins. John acted in this way when he was baptizing with the water of penitence, and he wanted that those who repented of their past actions would come to him, and he said to them: Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. If you, O man, were pleased with your sins, now be displeased with what you were, so that you may be what you were not. Prepare the way of the Lord; let this justice precede by the acknowledgement of your sins; he will come to visit you, since he will put his feet on the road; he now has somewhere to put his feet, and a way to approach you. On the contrary, before confessing your sins the road was blocked for God to arrive at you. He had no path to come to you. Confess your life and you will open the road, and Christ will come to you, he will put his feet on the road; and thus he will instruct you so that you may follow his footprints” (en. Ps. 84:16).
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. “A voice of one crying out in the desert: Prepare the way of the Lord” (Mk. 1:3)
- What does “prepare the way of the Lord” mean?
- How can you concretely ‘prepare the way of the Lord” in your life?
b. “What does prepare the way mean if not: “Have thoughts of humility”? Receive from John the Baptist the example of humility” (s. 293, 3).
- What does ‘to have thoughts of humility’ mean?
- How can you imitate the example of John the Baptist?
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 John the Baptist, and how he preaches forcefully and convincingly the word of God. Contemplate and ask for the same enthusiasm and conviction for your life.
b. Contemplate how Christ through his Spirit straightens the pathways of your heart. Contemplate what he has to remove to make them straight and plain for him.
Think of everything that you can share with those around you about the experience you had with God, especially about preparing the way for the Lord. 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).