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:
He passed through towns and villages, teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” He answered them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough. After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door, then will you stand outside knocking and saying, ‘Lord, open the door for us.’ He will say to you in reply, ‘I do not know where you are from.’ And you will say, ‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets. Then he will say to you, ‘I do not know where [you] are from. Depart from me, all you evildoers!’ And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves cast out. And people will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south and will recline at table in the kingdom of God. For behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”
Let us meditate now with the commentary of St. Augustine on these words of the Evangelist St. Luke:
“Certainly there few who are saved. Remember the question that Gospel has raised a short while ago. The Lord was asked: Are there few who are saved? What did the Lord answer to this? He did not say: “There are few, but many are those who will be saved”. He did not say that. What did He answer, therefore, to the question if there are few who are saved? Strive to enter through the narrow door. Having heard the question: Are there few who are saved? the Lord confirmed what He heard. Few enter through the narrow door. The Lord Himself said in another place: Narrow and constricted is the road that leads to life, and few enter through it. Wide and spacious is the one that leads to destruction, and many are those who walk through it (Mt 7:13-14). Why are we happy in the face of the multitudes? Hear me those who are few. I know that there are many of you who listen to Me, but few obey Me. I see the threshing floor, but I am looking for the grain. When the threshing is being done, the grain is scarcely seen, but the time of winnowing will come. Therefore, few are saved in comparison with the many who are lost. But these few have to make up a great mass. When the winnower comes bringing in his hand the winnowing fan, he will clean his threshing floor, gathering the grain in the barn, and the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire (Mt 3:12). Let not the chaff mock the wheat. He is speaking the truth, He does not deceive anyone. Be many among many, but knowing that in comparison with certain class of many you are few. Because from this threshing floor must come a mass so great that it may fill the granaries of heaven. Because the one who said that few are those who enter through the narrow gate and many are those who perish in the wide road does not contradict Himself. Would the one who said in other occasion: Many will come from the East and the West contradict Himself? Many will come, but certainly few. Few and many. Therefore, will some be few and others many? No, but the same few who are many are few in comparison with the condemned and many in the company of the angels. Listen, beloved, hear what is written: After these things, I saw a multitude that no one could count, of every language, nation and people, who came with white vestments and palms in their hands (Ap 7:9). This is the multitude of the Saints. When the threshing floor had be cleansed of the crowd who have suffered shipwreck, that of the bad and false Christians, when the chaff destined for eternal fire has been separated, that is, those who pressed and do not touch – a certain woman touched the tassel of Christ, while the crowd pressed on Him (Lk 8:42-44); – when all those who will be condemned had been separated, how would the voice not be clear with which this multitude standing at the right may say, purified without fear the mixture of someone who is evil and without fear that not a good man be lost, at the point of reigning with Christ; with what greater trust he has to say: I have known that the Lord is great” (Sermon 111, 1);
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:
- “Strive to enter through the narrow door, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough”. (Lk 13: 24).
- What is entering through the door for you?
- St. Augustine said: “If you wish to enter through the narrow door, close the doors of desire and of fear. The tempter uses them to defeat the soul”. (Sermon 313A, 2). What does it mean for you?
- “Lord, open the door for us… And you will say, We ate and drank in Your company, (…) Then He say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from”. (Lk 13:25).
- What does it entail that Jesus may recognize and know you?
- Jesus says, “I do not know where you are from”. Where are you from, from the City of God or the City of the World? What distinguishes them is love.
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:
- Reflect on the narrow road, and on Christ who invites you to advance through Him. While you are walking, feel the power of the grace of God which is that which sustains you and ask for perseverance in this road.
- Contemplate how you remain in Jesus. Consider how you live in Him and He lives in you. Therefore, to the question, where are you from? You must respond I am and I live in Christ. I remain in Him. Make your moment of contemplation a moment of permanence in Christ and of Christ in you.
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 entering through the narrow door and of being always with Christ, of being of His. The following points can help you as a guide, in sharing the experience with your community 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
“Do not pay attention to those who walk through the wide roads; they are many, and who can count them? Few are those who walk through the narrow way. But I will tell you: use the balance, weigh; see how much straw you raise with few grains”. (En. in Ps. 39, 6).