Translated by Fray Emilio Larlar, Jr., OAR
A. Invocation to the Holy Spirit
Let us invoke the Holy Spirit with the words of St. Augustine.
Come Holy Spirit, by whom every pious soul who believes in Christ in order to make himself a citizen of the City of God is made holy! (En. in Ps. 45, 8). Come Holy Spirit, grant that we may receive the promptings of God, place in us Your fire, illumine us and raise us up to God (Sermon 128, 4).
With a willing heart, and with sincerity, read slowly the following words, savoring them and allowing them to have an impact on you:
Someone in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.” He replied to him, “Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?” Then he said to the crowd, “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.” Then he told them a parable. “There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest. He asked himself, ‘What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?’ And he said, ‘This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones. There I shall store all my grain and other goods and I shall say to myself, “Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!”’ But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’ Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God.”*
Let us meditate now with the commentary of St. Augustine on these words of the Apostle St. Luke:
“With reason did God reprimand that rich man full of vanity. He did it in order to admonish us that we may not imitate the way of acting of that one to whom, having a season of abundance of fruits, the abundance bothers him more than scarcity. He thought to himself and said: What will I do? Where will I store my harvest? And after so much difficulties and anxieties, at the end he believed to have found what to do. But it was a vain decision: It was an idea of avarice, not of prudence. I will destroy – he said – my old warehouses, which are small, and I will build bigger ones and I will fill them. Then I will say to my soul: My soul you have many possessions, be satisfied and rejoice. (God) tells him: You fool; you are precisely where you think to show yourself as wise. What did you say, you fool? “I say to my soul: You have many possessions be satisfied, rejoice”. This very night your soul will be taken from you; this that you have prepared, for whom will it be? What does it profit a man to gain the whole world if it is to the detriment of his soul? (Mt 16:26). Therefore, his riches are the ransom of the soul of man (Prov 13:8). These riches that vain and foolish man did not possess them. He did not ransom his soul with alms; he stored perishable fruits. The one who was going to die – I repeat- gathered perishable fruits, not giving anything to the Lord to Whom he had to emigrate. What face will he put on at judgment when he begins to hear: I was hungry, you did not give me to eat (Mt 25:42)? Because he wanted to satisfy to the full his soul with superfluous and excessive banquets; full of pride, he despised so many hungry stomachs of the poor. He did not know that the stomachs of the poor are surer than his warehouses. What he kept in his warehouses perhaps the robbers might steal; if, on the contrary, if had hidden them in the stomach of the poor, it would be digested on earth, but he would keep it with more security in heaven. In conclusion: His riches are the ransom of the soul of man (Sermon 36, 9).
St. Augustine also comments that Christian must hear these words of the Gospel knowing that the Word of God is heard in order to put it into practice, not to forget it: Therefore, what does the Lord say? Since he considered himself again and again as wise for having encountered what to do, He tells him: Fool; you fool who believe to be wise; you fool who have said to your soul: You have many possessions stored for many years. Today your soul will be demanded of you. The soul to which you said: You have many possession will be demanded of you and it is devoid of any good. Despise these possessions and let it be good itself, so that, when they demand it of you, it may come out secure. Because what is there more wicked than a man who wishes to have many goods and he himself does not wish to become good? You who do not wish to be what you wish to have, you do not deserve to have it. Do you perhaps want to have a bad farm? Certainly not; you want it good. Or perhaps you want to have a bad wife. No, you want her to be good. Or, to conclude, do you want to possess a bad cloak or bad shoe? Why do you want to have only a bad soul? On this occasion He did not say to the fool who was dreaming of vanities, who built granaries, not being able to see the stomach of the poor; He did not say: “Today your soul will be carried away to hell”; He did not say anything of this, but: “It will be demanded of you. I do not say where your soul will go; one thing certain is that, whether you like it or not, it will leave this place where you keep so many things. Look, you fool; you thought of filling up new and bigger granaries, as if nothing else could be done with riches” But perhaps that one was not yet a Christian. Let us hear it, brothers, we, the believers, to whom the Gospel is read; we, who adore the One who told us these things, whose sign we carry on our forehead and have it in our heart. It is of great importance where man carries the sign of Christ, if only on the forehead, or on the forehead and in the heart” (Sermon 107, 6-7).
Let us pray now from the bottom of our heart with the text. I suggest to you the following phrases and questions that may arouse in you the dialogue with God, and, at the same time, may elicit affections and sentiments in your dialogue with God. Do not pass to the other phrase or question if you can still continue dialoging with God in some of them. It is not a matter of finishing this list, but of helping you to pray with those points that are most applicable to your personal experience:
- But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?” (Lk 12:20).
- What is the meaning of life for you?
- How can you share what you are and have in order not to be a “fool”?
- “The soul to which you said: You have abundant possessions, will be demanded of you today and lacks all good. Despise these goods and that it may be good itself, so that, when they demand it, it will come out secure”. (Sermon 107, 6).
- If today you were to die, what ac-count would you give to God?
- How can you live with prudence?
I propose to you some points of affective inner contemplation. Once again, there is no need that you follow everything, but that you choose what is more applicable to your personal experience:
- Contemplate how God asks an accounts of the foolish man and how everything that he had cannot go with him to the other world. Consider and ponder on the vanity of material things. Put your trust and love on God.
- Consider Christ on the Cross. He is the example of a total giving to God and to men for love. Reflect and ask that you may not be a fool, that you may live your life with wisdom learning in the school of the cross to die to yourself in order to give your life in God.
Think about everything that you can share with those who surround you of the experience that you have had of God, particularly with regard to not to become a fool, by learning how to use what we have for the benefit of others. The following points can help you as a guide in sharing with your community the experience of the lectio divina on this text:
- What have I discovered about God and about myself during this moment of prayer?
- How can I, in these moments of my life, apply this text of the Scriptures? What lights does it offer me? What challenges does it present to me?
- To what does this text of the Scripture concretely commit me in my spiritual life, in my community life?
- What has been my predominant feeling in this moment of prayer?
G. Final Prayer of St. Augustine
“He who wishes to claim for himself wisdom is a fool. Let him be humble so that wisdom may come upon him and enlighten him”. (En. in Ps. 126, 4).