LECTIO DIVINA: Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, 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.
He said to them, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned, These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents [with their hands], and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God. But they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.
LET US MEDITATE NOW WITH THE COMMENTARY OF ST. AUGUSTINE ON THESE WORDS OF THE GOSPEL AC- CORDING TO ST. MARK.
“Where were the disciples sent to baptize as ministers: in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit? Where were they sent? He said, Go, baptize the nations. You have heard, brothers, how that inheritance came: Ask of me, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance, and the confines of the earth for your possession. You have heard how the Law came out from Zion and from Jerusalem the word of the Lord. because there the disciples heard: Go, baptize the nations in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Our attention was called when we heard: Go, and baptize the nations. In whose name? In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. That is the only one God, because they are not to baptize in the names of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit but in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Where you hear only one name, there is only one God, as it is said of the descendant of Abraham, and the Apostle explains: In your descendant all the nations of the earth will be blessed; he has not said “in your descendants” as in many, but as in only one, “and in your descendant” who is Christ. Thus, as the Apostle wanted to teach you that it is only Christ because there it is not said “in your descendants”, so also here, when it is said “in the name”, not “in the names” like there “in your descendant”, not “in your descendants”, it is proven that the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are only one God.
“But, the disciples say to the Lord, “Behold, we have heard in whose name we are to baptize; you have made us ministers and you have told us: “Go, and baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit; where shall we go?” “Where? Have you not heard? To my inheritance. You ask: ‘Where shall we go?’ To what I have bought with my blood.” ‘Then, to where?’ “To the nations.” The Apostles have been sent to the nations; yes, to the nations, to all languages. This was signified by the Holy Spirit distributed in languages, united in the dove. On the one hand, the languages are distributed; on the other, the dove unites. The languages of the nations came into agreement,… Is there anything more evident, my brothers? In the dove, unity; in the languages of the nations, society.
In fact, once the languages were confused by pride, then the language from only one became many. Indeed, after the deluge, certain proud men, intending to strengthen themselves against God, as though there could be something superior to God or more secure for pride, built a tower, such that no deluge may destroy it, if there would be one afterwards. In fact, they had heard and narrated that the deluge had destroyed all iniquity. They did not want to abstain from iniquity; against the deluge they needed the height of the tower; they built an elevated tower. God saw their pride and allowed them to enter into this error, of speaking and not understanding; by pride the languages multiplied.
If pride made the languages diverse, the humility of Christ has gathered together the different languages. The Church already reunites what that tower had dissociated. From only one language there arose many; let it not surprise you, pride did it. From the many languages arose only one; let it not surprise you, charity did it because even though the sounds of the languages are diverse, in the heart only one God is invoked, only peace is guarded (Io. eu. tr. 6, 9-10).
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. “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Good News to all creation” (Mk 16:15).
•What do these words of Christ mean for you?
•How do you collaborate with this missionary mandate of Christ?
b. “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mk 16:15).
•How does faith live out your baptism?
•To what does your faith in Christ commit you?
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 sends you to proclaim the Gospel. Contemplate how Christ desires that you be his witness. Contemplate Christ ascending into heaven and ask him to make you a witness of his love.
b. Contemplate how Christ ascends into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father in his glory. Contemplate the glory of Christ, his majesty and divinity. Listen in your interior Christ’s own voice inviting you to raise your eyes towards him and reminding you that your destiny does not end on earth, but that he invites you to go to heaven. Contemplate, adore, and fill your heart with the desire for eternal life with Christ.
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).