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:
On a Sabbath He went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees, and the people there were observing Him carefully. He told a parable to those who had been invited, noticing how they were choosing the places of honor at the table. “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not recline at table in the place of honor. A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited by him, and the host who invited both of you may approach you and say, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then you would proceed with embarrassment to take the lowest place. Rather, when you are invited, go and take the lowest place so that when the host comes to you he may say, ‘My friend, move up to a higher position.’ Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” Then He said to the host who invited Him, “When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment. Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
Let us meditate now with the commentary of St. Augustine on these words of the Evangelist St. Luke:
About humility St. Augustine points out the following: “Hence the Lord Himself says through His own mouth: He who exalts himself will be humbled and he who humbles himself will be exalted. Here we understand, with reason, that He talks about not of that humility with which everybody is humbled by confessing his sins and not attributing to himself righteousness, but of that with which one is humbled by some tribulation or depression that his pride deserves or with which his patience is exercised or is tested; so a little later he says this Psalm: Before I was humiliated, I committed a crime; and the Book of Wisdom: bear the pain and have patience in humility, because gold and silver are purified with fire, and good men, in the furnace of tribulation. By saying good, He offered hope that may console in humility. Our Lord Jesus Christ, by predicting to His Disciples that they had to be humiliated by their persecutors, He did not leave them without hope, but He gave it to them for their consolation, by telling them: With your patience you will save your souls” (En, in Ps. 118, 15, 1).
On the humility that will happen to the proud, those who have exalted themselves, St. Augustine comments: “Every impious and unfaithful exalts his heart, because he does not want to believe in God. But this exaltation prepares the unbelievers the humiliation for the Day of Judgment, because then he will be humiliated when he did not want; since there are glasses of wrath that are prepared for perdition. Let them become conceited now, let them speak, let them throw themselves on the faithful, let them laugh at them, let them mock the Christians, let them say:”The things that they say about the Day of Judgment are tales of an old woman. This conceit of theirs is a preparation for humiliation. When the Judge shall have come about whose coming is now announced they laugh at, then the one who has now become conceited will be humbled, not with benefit, but with punishment. Now he does not humble himself, but he is preparing to be humiliated; that is to say, he is preparing for the condemnation, he is preparing to be a victim” (En. in Ps. 134, 20).
It is interesting that the invitation the St. Augustine makes of helping the poor in consonance with the last part of the Gospel today. St. Augustine comments: “(…) Christ says (…) When you prepare a banquet, invite the blind, the handicapped, and the weak, those who have nothing to pay you; and you will be rewarded on the resurrection of the just; call them, feed them; eat with them, be happy when they eat, because they are fed with your bread, and you with the justice of God. That no one may say to you: A command of Christ to give to the servant of God exists, but not to give to the beggar”. Such thing does not exist, on the contrary, the impious is the one who says these things. Give to this, but more so to that, since that asks, and through the voice of the one who ask recognize to whom to give. With regards to the other, the less he asks, the more you have to be watchful, to anticipate the one who has to ask. Or perhaps now he may not ask you, but on day he will condemn you. Therefore, my brothers, be diligent. In this, because you will run into the need for many servant of God; with as much as you want to find. But since the excuse pleases you, for which reason you say: “We did not know it”, that is why you do not find them” (En. in Ps. 103, 3, 10).
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:
- “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted”. (Lk 14:11).
- How do you live humility in your life?
- What does the phrase of St. Augustine: Make yourself more humble through piety the more you become powerful (Letter 153, 4, 11) suggest to you?
- “When you prepare a banquet, invite the blind, the handicapped, the weak, those who do not have how to pay you. and you will be rewarded at the time of the resurrection of the just; call them, feed them; eat with them, be happy when they feed themselves, because they feed themselves with your bread, and you with the justice of God” (En. in. Ps. 103, 3, 10).
- How do you live mercy?
- What concrete gestures and acts of mercy have you done and can do in your life?
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:
- Consider your smallness and your poverty, and how everything comes from God. Be aware that every good that is in you, comes from God and is a gift of God so that you may serve your brothers. Praise God for all the benefits that He has given you, be grateful for the gifts and ask the wisdom to make them fruitful. Praise and give thanks.
- Reflect on how Christ invites you to give and share what you have received. Be grateful for all that you have received and ask him for the wisdom to be able to share what He has given you.
Think about everything that you can share with those who surround you of the experience you have had of God, particularly with regard to humility and to know how to be merciful to others. The following points can help you as a guide in your 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
“Nothing is more excellent than the way of charity, and only the humble walk through it”. (En. in Ps. 141, 7).