LECTIO DIVINA XXXI Sunday in Ordinary Time, 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.
28 One of the scribes, when he came forward….asked him, “Which is the first of all the commandments?” 29 Jesus replied, “This first is this: ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! 30 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher. You are right in saying, ‘He is One and there is no other than he.’ 33 And ‘to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself’ is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.’ 34 And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And no one dared to ask him any more questions. +
Let us now meditate with the commentary of St. Augustine on these words of the Gospel according to St. Mark.
So then, the love of God consists in this: that we observe his precepts. You have already heard it: ‘The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” See that he did not want you to get lost in many pages. On these two precepts depend the whole law and the prophets. What two precepts? ‘You shall love the Lord with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind,’ and ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two precepts depend the whole law and the prophets. Thus, possess the love and be secure. Why do you fear to do something bad to someone? Who is there who does evil to someone he loves? Love, it is impossible that you do not do good. Perhaps you correct him? It is love that does it, not cruelty. You hit him, perhaps? You do it seeking to maintain discipline because love does not permit love to abandon him in-disciplined. And sometimes, it appears like a diverse and contrary fruit, in such a way that, in some cases, the hatred condescends and the charity is seen severe. One such hates his enemy, but pretends to be a friend. If he sees him do something bad, he praises him; he wants him unpunished, that he goes like a blind man by the precipices of his appetites, from which he perhaps may not return; he praises him, since the sinner is praised when he follows the desires of his soul; he anoints him with the ointment of adulation. See that he hates him but praises him. The other sees his friend do the same and calls his attention; if he does not listen, he says harsh words to him, reprimands him, quarrels with him; sometimes it is necessary to quarrel. See how hatred condescends while charity quarrels. Pay no attention to the words of one who flatters nor to the apparent severity of one who corrects. Examine the source, look for the root from which behavior proceeds. One flatters to seduce, the other quarrels to correct.
Therefore, brothers, I do not need to expand your heart. Obtain from God that you love one another, to love all men, including your enemies, not because they are already brothers, but that they may become brothers. Acquire from God always to burn with fraternal love, now toward a true brother, now toward an enemy, so that loving him as a brother, he may truly become a brother. Always when you love a brother, you love a friend. Now he is with you, now he is also associated with you in the Catholic unity. If you live a holy life, you love someone who from an enemy has become a brother. But you love someone who as yet does not believe in Christ, or, if he believes, he believes like the demons; you reprehend its emptiness. You love him, and you love him with fraternal love; he is not yet your brother, but for that do you love him, that he may become such. That is why, all our fraternal love is love for Christians, love for all the members of Christ. The rule of charity, my brothers, its strength, its flowers, its fruits, its beauty, charm, pasture, its drink, its food, its embraces knows no satiety. If such is its delight when we are still pilgrims, how much more shall we enjoy it in the fatherland? Then let us run, my brothers, let us run and let us love Christ/ (ep. Io. tr. 10, 7 – 8)
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. “Obtain from God to always burn in fraternal love, now toward a true brother, now toward the enemy, so that loving him as a true brother, he may become a real brother” (ep. Io.tr. O, 7).
- How can you obtain the fact of burning with fraternal love?
- What does it mean for you to love your enemies?
b. “If it delights us so when we are still pilgrims, how much more will we
enjoy it in the fatherland? Let us run then, my brothers, and love Christ” (ep. Io. 10, 7-8).
- How do you live the fact of being a pilgrim of heaven and of living the commandment of love?
- What do these words of St. Augustine mean for you: “Let us run, and let us love Christ?
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 the scribe approaching Jesus and asking him about the most important commandment. Contemplate how Jesus responds serenely and finally how Jesus points out that the same scribe is not far from the kingdom of heaven. Contemplate the love with which Jesus himself responds to the question. Contemplate and learn what is the principal commandment of the Christians.
b. Contemplate how Christ invites you to fulfill the two commandments of love. Contemplate how Christ himself is present in all the persons that surround you, so that in loving the neighbor you are loving Christ himself. Contemplate, love and allow yourself to love.
Think of everything that you can share with those around you about the experience you had with God, especially as regards the two principal commandments of the Law. 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 mat 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, God, forever and ever. Amen (en. Ps. 150:8). “He who loves God it is logical that he obeys what God commands, since the measure of love are the works, and, consequently, he will love the neighbor since this is the commandment of God” (trin. 8, 7, 10).