LECTIO DIVINA: XXIV Sunday in Ordinary Time, 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.
Now Jesus and his disciples set out for the villages of Caesarea Philippi. Along the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” They said in reply, “John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others one of the prophets.” And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said to him in reply, “You are the Messiah.” Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him. He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days. He spoke this openly. Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. At this he turned around and, looking at his disciples, rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” He summoned the crowd with this disciples and said to them, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.”
LET US MEDITATE NOW WITH THE COMMENTARY OF ST. AUGUSTINE ON THESE WORDS OF THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. MARK.
Remember that, when Jesus himself asked his disciples: Who do people say that the Son of Man is?, they answered him with the opinions of others: they said: Some say that you are Elijah, others John the Baptist, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets .These were the words of strangers, not those of the disciples. See that the disciples had to answer the same question. Now, who do you say that I am? You gave me the opinions of others; I want to hear what you believe. Then Peter speaks, one for all, since he is the unity among all: You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. He is no longer any one of the prophets, but the Son of the living God, who fulfills the prophets and the creator of the angels: You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Peter heard what for him was an honor to hear from that voice: Blessed are you, Simon, son of John because it has been revealed to you neither by flesh or blood, but by my Father who is in heaven. And I say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not conquer it. I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and everything that you bind on earth shall remain also bound in heaven, and everything you loose on earth shall remain also loosed in heaven. The faith, not the man, merited to hear these words. In fact, the man in himself, what was he but what the psalm says: every man is a liar?
Finally, in continuation to these words, he announced his passion and death. Frightened, Peter says to him: Far be it from you, Lord; such a thing will not happen. Then the Lord answers him: Get behind me, Satan. Is Peter Satan? What happened to those words: Blessed are you, Simon, son of John? Is Satan perhaps blessed? To be blessed is a work of God: to be Satan, of man. Finally, the Lord himself explained why he called him Satan: ‘You are thinking not as God does, but as man.’ How then is he blessed? Because flesh and blood did not reveal it to you, but my Father who is in heaven. How then is he Satan? Because you do not think as God does. When you were thinking like God, you were blessed; but now you think as man does. See the ups and downs that happens in the soul of the disciples, like the rising and the setting of the sun; as soon as he was standing, so soon was he lying prostrate; as soon as he was full of light, so soon was he in darkness; enlightened by God, he was darkened by himself. From where did the illumination come? Go near to him and you will be enlightened. From where was the darkness? He who tell lies, he speaks from his own self. The Son of God had said it, the Life had said it, and he feared that Life would die, being such that Life absolutely cannot die. And the Son of God had come to die. If he had not arrived at death, from where would we receive the life? (s. 232, 3-4).
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. “And you, who do you say that I am?” (Mk. 8:29).
•Beyond the theories and from what you know by memory, from your experience, ‘Who is Christ for you?’
•How do you “say” in your life ‘who is Christ for you?’
b. “Whoever wants to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (Mk. 8:34).
•How is your following of Jesus?
•From your point of view, in what consists the denying of the self?
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 asking the question on who the people say he is. Contemplate how the different apostles respond. Contemplate how Christ asks you directly: Who do you say that I am? Answer him looking at his eyes.
b. Contemplate how Christ comes to you and tells you: “Take up your cross and follow me.” Contemplate how he embraces his cross and invites you to embrace your own cross. Verify your own feelings and emotions.
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).
“No one can cross the sea of this world if he does not carry the cross of Christ. Many, even the sick of the eyes, embrace the cross. He who does not see the distance to where he is going, does not leave the cross; she will carry him” (Io. eu. tr. 2, 2).