LECTIO DIVINA: Palm Sunday, Cycle B
Translated by Fray Dunstan Huberto Decena, OAR
Lk. 22:14 – 23:56
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 Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Luke. (Lk. 22:14 – 23:56)
N- When the hour came, Jesus took his place at table with the Apostles. He said to them,
J- “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer, for, I tell you, I shall not eat it again until there is fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”
N- Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and said,
J- “Take this and share it among yourselves; for I tell you that from this time on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
N- Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying,
J- “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.”
N- And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying,
J- “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you. “And yet behold, the hand of the one who is to betray me is with me on the table; For the Son of Man indeed goes as it has been determined; but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed.”
N- And they began to debate among themselves who among them would do such a deed. Then an argument broke out among them about which of them should be regarded as the greatest. He said to them,
J- The Kings of the Gentiles Lord it over them and those in authority over them are addressed as ‘Benefactors’; but among you it shall not be so. Rather, let the greatest among you be as the youngest, and the leader as the servant. For who is greater: the one seated at table or the one who serves? Is it not the one seated at table? I am among you as the one who serves, It is you who have stood by me in my trials; and I confer a kingdom on you just as my Father has conferred one on me, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom; and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. “Simon, Simon, behold satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed that your own faith may not fail; and once you have turned back, you must strengthen your brothers.”
N- He said to them,
O- “Lord, I am prepared to go to prison and to die for you.”
N- But he replied,
J- “I tell you, Peter, before the cock crows this day, you will deny three times that You know me.”
N- He said to them,
J- “When I sent you forth without a money bag or a sack or sandals, were you in need of anything?”
C- “No, nothing,”
N- they replied. He said to them,
J- “But now one who has a money bag should take it, and likewise a sack, and one who does not have a sword should sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me, namely, He was counted among the wicked; and indeed what is written about me is coming to fulfillment.”
N- Then they said,
C- “Lord, look, there are two swords here.” But he replied,
J- “It is enough!”
N- Then going out, he went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. When he arrived at the place he said to them,
J- “Pray that you may not undergo the test.”
N- After withdrawing about a stone’s throw from them and kneeling, he prayed, saying,
J- “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done.”
N- And to strengthen him an angel from heaven appeared to him. He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground. When he rose from prayer and returned to his disciples, he found them sleeping from grief. He said to them,
J- “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not undergo the test.”
N- While he was still speaking, a crowd approached and in front was one of the Twelve, a man named Judas. He went up to Jesus to kiss him. Jesus said to him,
J- “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”
N- His disciples realized what was about to happen, and they asked,
C- “Lord, shall we strike with a sword?”
N- And one of them struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said in reply,
J- “Stop, no more of this!”
N- Then he touched the servant’s ear and healed him. And Jesus said to the chief priests and temple guards and elders who had come for him,
J- Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs? Day after day I was with you in the temple area, and you did not seize me; but this is your hour, the time for the power of darkness.”
N- After arresting him they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest; Peter was following at a distance. They lit a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat around it, and Peter sat down with them. When a maid saw him seated in the light, she looked intently at him and said,
O- “This man too was with him.”
N- But he denied it saying,
O- “Woman, I do not know him.”
N- A short while later someone else saw him and said.
O- “You too are one of them”;
N- but Peter answered,
O- My friend, I am not.”
N- About an hour later, still another insisted,
O-“Assuredly. this man too was with him, for he also is a Galilean.”
N- But Peter said,
O- My friend, I do not know what you are talking about.
N- Just as he was saying the cock crowed, and the Lord turned and looked at Peter; and Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.” He went out and began to weep bitterly. The men who held Jesus in custody were ridiculing and beating him. They blindfolded him and questioned him, saying,
C- “Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?”
N- And they reviled him in saying many other things against him. When day came the council of elders of the people met, both chief priests and scribes, and they brought him before their Sanhedrin. They said,
C- “If you are the Christ, tell us,” but he replied to them,
J- “If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I question, you will not respond. But from this time on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.”
N- They all asked,
C- “Are you then the Son of God?”
N- He replied to them,
J- “You say that I am.”
N- Then they said,
C- “What further need have we for testimony? We have heard it from his own mouth.”
N- Then the whole assembly of them arose and brought him before Pilate. They brought charges against him, saying,
C- “We found this man misleading our people; he opposes the payment of taxes to Cesar and maintains that he is the Christ, a king.”
N- Pilate asked him,
O- “Are you the king of the Jews?”
N- He said in Reply,
J- “You say so.”
N- Pilate then addressed the chief priests and the crowds,
O- “I find this man not guilty.”
N- But they were adamant and said,
C- “He is inciting the people with his teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee where he began even to here.”
N- On hearing this Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean; and upon learning that he was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod who was in Jerusalem at that time. Herod was very glad to see Jesus; he had been wanting to see him for a long time, for he had heard about him and had been hoping to see him perform some sign. He questioned him at length, but he gave him no answer. The chief priests and scribes, meanwhile, stood by accusing him harshly. Herod and his soldiers treated him contemptuously and mocked him, and after clothing him in resplendent garb, he sent him back to Pilate. Herod and Pilate became friends that very day, even though they had been enemies formerly. Pilate then summoned the chief priests, the rulers, and the people and said to them,
O- “You brought this man to me and accused him of inciting the people to revolt. I have conducted my investigation in your presence and have not found this man guilty of the charges you have brought against him, nor did Herod, for he sent him back to us. So no capital crime has been committed by him. Therefore I shall have him flogged and then release him.”
N- But all together they shouted,
C- “Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us.”
N- -Now Barabbas had been imprisoned for a rebellion that had taken place in the city and for murder. Again Pilate addressed them, still wishing to release Jesus, but they continued their shouting.
C- “Crucify him! Crucify him!
N- Pilate addressed them a third time.
O- “What evil has this man done? I found him guilty of no capital crime. Therefore I shall have him flogged and then release him.”
N- With loud shouts, however, they persisted in calling for his crucifixion, and their voices prevailed. The verdict of Pilate was that their demand should be granted. So he released the man who had been imprisoned for rebellion and murder for whom they asked, and he handed Jesus over to them to deal with as they wished. As they led him away they took hold of a certain Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country, and after laying the cross in hum, they made him carry it behind Jesus. A large crowd of people followed Jesus, including many women who mourned and lamented him. Jesus turned to them and said,
J- “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep instead for yourselves and for your children for indeed, the days are coming when people will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed.’ At that time people will say to the mountains, ‘Fall upon us!’ and to the hills,‘Cover us!’ For if these things are done when the wood is green what will happen when it is dry?”
N- Now two others, both criminals, were led away with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him and the criminals there, one on his right, the other on his left. Then Jesus said,
J- “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”
N- They divided his garments by casting lots. The people stood by and watched; the rulers, meanwhile, sneered at him and said,
C- “He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God.”
N- Even the soldiers jeered at him. As they approached to offer him wine they called out,
C- “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”
N- Above him there was an inscription that read, “This is the king of the Jews.” Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying,
O- “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us.”
N- The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply,
O- “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.”
N- Then he said,
O- “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
N- He replied to him,
J- “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
N- It was now about noon and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon because of an eclipse of the sun. Then the veil of the temple was torn down the middle. Jesus cried out in a loud voice,
J- “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”;
N- and when he had said this he breathed his last.
(HERE ALL KNEEL AND PAUSE FOR A SHORT TIME.)
N- The centurion who witnessed what had happened glorified God and said
O- “This man was innocent beyond doubt.”
N- When all the people who had gathered for this spectacle saw what had happened, they returned home beating their breasts; but all his acquaintances stood at a distance, including the women who had followed him from Galilee and saw these events. Now there was a virtuous and righteous man named Joseph who, though he was a member of the council, had not consented to their plan of action. He came from the Jewish town of Arimathea and was awaiting the kingdom of God. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. After he had taken the body down, he wrapped it in a linen cloth and laid him in a rock-hewn tomb in which no one had yet been buried. It was the day of preparation, and the Sabbath was about to begin. The women who had come from Galilee with him followed behind, and when they had seen the tomb and the way in which his body was laid in it, they returned and prepared spices and perfumed oils. Then rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment.+
Let us now meditate with the commentary of St. Augustine on these words of the Gospel according to St. Luke. (N.B. For cycle B the Liturgy has Mk. 14—15. But St. Augustine has no commentary on Mk., thus it is decided to use Lk. 22-23 and meditate on St. Augustine’s commentary of the Passion according to St. Lk.)
With all solemnity the passion of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior is read and celebrated, his Blood washed away our sins. The objective is that this devoted annual practice may renew our memory and since many faithful attend, the proclamation of our faith may reach greater glory. The solemnity itself demands that I deliver a sermon of the passion of the Lord, as he grants it to me. Since he suffered for his enemies, Our Lord deigned to leave us an example of patience for our salvation, useful for the discourse of this life, in such a way that we do not refuse to suffer the same for the truth of the Gospel, if he so wills it. But, since what he suffered in this mortal flesh he suffered voluntarily and not for necessity, it is correct to believe that he also wanted to symbolize something in each one of the events that happened and remained written over his passion.
In the first place, the fact that after being sentenced to crucifixion, he himself carried his cross, he left us an example of continence and, himself going in front, he indicated what he has to do whoever wants to follow him. He also made identical exhortation when he verbally said: Whoever loves me, let him take up his cross and follow me. Carrying one’s own cross, in a certain way, is to govern one’s mortality.
The fact of being crucified on Calvary, meant that in his passion pardon for all sins took place, of which the Psalm says: My evil deeds have multiplied more than the hairs of my head. With him were crucified two men, one on each side. With this he showed that some he will have to his right and others to his left. They will be at his right those of whom it is said: Blessed those who suffer persecution for justice’s sake; to his left, on the other hand, those of whom it is said: Even though I give my body to the flames, if I do not have love, it serves me nothing.
The inscription placed above the cross, on which was written: King of the Jews, manifested that not even after having put him to death, could the Jews achieve that their king be not the one, with his evident and sublime power, to give to each one what his deeds deserve. For this reason it is sung in the Psalm: He established me king over Sion, his holy mountain.
That the inscription was written in three languages: Hebrew, Greek and Latin, indicated that he was to reign not only over the Jews, but also over the gentiles… Joseph and Nicodemus gave him burial. According to some who verified the etymology of the name, Joseph means “increased” As regards Nicodemus, a Greek name, many know that it is a composite of “victory” and “people” because “nikos” means victory and “demos” people. Who was increased in dying but the one who said: Unless a grain of wheat dies, it remains one alone; but if it dies, it multiplies? And who upon dying conquered the people who persecuted him but he who after rising, will be its judge? (s. 218, 1-6, 15).
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 gives rise to affections and sentiments in your dialogue with God. Do 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. “Abba! (Father), You can do all things; take away this chalice from me. But not as I will, but as you will” (Lk. 22:42/ Mk. 14:36).
- In what moments of your life have you been in a situation like that os Jesus?
- In this difficulty, how is your confidence in your Abba, Father?
b. “And someone passing by returning from the fields, Simon the Cyrenian, the father of Alexander and Rufus, they forced him to carry the cross” (Lk.22:26/ Mk. 15:21).
- What significance does the figure of Simon the Cyrenian has for you?
- The allusion to the fact that Simon the Cyrenian was the father of Alexander and Rufus makes us see that the family of Simon the Cyrenian had been converted to Christ, after Simon had encountered Jesus. What testimony to Christ do you give to others?
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 praying in the Garden of Olives, see his affliction and at the same time his confidence in the Father. Praying beside him, accompany him in his solitude and share in his confidence in God as he faces the cross.
b. Contemplate the Cyrenian who helps Christ to carry the cross. Identify yourself with him, and make your prayer a moment of contemplation on the passion of Christ.
Think of everything that you can share with those around you about the experience you had with God especially for letting Christ gaze at you and carrying your cross together with Jesus. 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 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 out 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).