LECTIO DIVINA: XIX Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A
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.
Then he made the disciples get into the boat and precede him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When it was evening he was there alone. Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore, was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it. During the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them walking on the sea. When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified. “it is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear. At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter said to him in reply, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” After they got into the boat, the wind died down. Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying, “Truly , you are the Son of God.”
LET US MEDITATE NOW WITH THE COMMENTARY OF ST. AUGUSTINE ON THESE WORDS OF THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. MATTHEW.
“Walking on the furious waves symbolized, for St. Augustine, to trample on the heads of the proud, and similarly the Church trampled on them, since Peter is the Church. But he did not dare to walk on the waters by himself. What does he say? Lord, if it is you, command me to walk on the waters. Jesus was walking o the waters by his own power; Peter by the command of the Lord. He says: Command me to go to you. Jesus answers: “Come.” Thus, also the Church tramples on the heads of the proud. But, as Peter personified the Church, he carries in his person the human weakness. In order that something be fulfilled: when it seemed that I would stumble… he wavered on the sea, and exclaimed: Lord, save me, I am sinking! Then what the Psalm said was fulfilled: “Your mercy, Lord, sustains me.” As the Gospel says: And Jesus extends his hand, saying: “Man of little faith, why did you doubt?” It is amazing how God tests men. Our own dangers make us more attractive to the one who saves us.” (en. Ps. 93:22)
In another text, St. Augustine again comments on this Gospel passage with another detail: “As human praise does not tempt the Lord, but men, on the other hand, are shaken in the Church by human praise and honors to the point of almost sinking, thus Peter wavered on the sea, knocked down by the violence of the storm. For, who does not fear the words: Those who call you successful induce you to error and confuse the pathways for your feet? And since the spirit fights against the desire for human praise, it will be good that, when in such danger, one have recourse to prayer and supplication, lest the captive of praise drag him away and reproach submerge him. Shout, Peter, you who waver in the waves and say: Lord, save me. The Lord stretches out his hand, and though in tone of reproach, say to him: (Man ) of little faith, why did you doubt? Why did you not glory only in the Savior, fixing your eyes only on him to whom you direct your steps? Nevertheless, he takes him out of the waves and does not allow him to perish someone who confesses his weakness and seeks his help. Once the Lord was received into the boat, faith was confirmed, all wavering eliminated, and the tempests of the sea calmed down, to direct themselves to the land stable and secure, and all adore him saying: Truly, you are the Son of God. This is eternal happiness, to acquire which one knows and loves Truth in all clarity, the Word of God and the Wisdom by whom all things were created and his sublime mercy” (en. Ps. 75, 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. “Lord, save me.” (Mt. 14:30).
•How can you apply these words of Peter to your own life?
•Why do you need to be saved?
b. “Men are often shaken in the Church by human praises and honors to the point of sinking, that is why Peter wavered on the sea” (en. Ps. 75, 10).
•What importance do human praises have for you?
•What is the origin of the desire to excel and receive praises?
c. Pray with this phrase: “Lord, save me.”
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 how the disciples saw Jesus at a distance walking on the water and became very afraid. Contemplate also how you also at some difficult moments you wavered in faith and felt fear. Contemplate Christ and put all your fears in his hands, experience peace and serenity in your heart.
b. Contemplate how Christ walks on the waters and it is you who goes out of the boat to meet him. Contemplate how you walked secure on the water, and how as you advance you feel the strong wind and begins to sink. Contemplate how Jesus with powerful hands does not allow you to sink. Contemplate this scene, Jesus sustaining you with his powerful hand in front of the storm and the many adversities that threaten you. Contemplate, adore and trust.
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 piritual life, in my community life?
• What has been my predominant 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).
“’Lord, I am perishing, save me!’ Say: ‘I am perishing,’ that you may not perish. Because only he who died for you in the flesh can save you from death of the flesh.”