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:
Then He also said to his disciples, “A rich man had a steward who was reported to him for squandering his property. He summoned him and said, ‘What is this I hear about you? Prepare a full account of your stewardship, because you can no longer be my steward.’ The steward said to himself, ‘What shall I do, now that my master is taking the position of steward away from me? I am not strong enough to dig and I am ashamed to beg. I know what I shall do so that, when I am removed from the stewardship, they may welcome me into their homes.’ He called in his master’s debtors one by one. To the first he said, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He replied, ‘One hundred measures of olive oil.’ He said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note. Sit down and quickly write one for fifty.’ Then to another he said, ‘And you, how much do you owe?’ He replied, ‘One hundred kors of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note; write one for eighty.’ And the master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently. “For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth, so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones; and the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones. If, therefore, you are not trustworthy with dishonest wealth, who will trust you with true wealth? If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another, who will give you what is yours? No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
Let us meditate now with the commentary of St. Augustine on these words of the Evangelist St. Luke:
“Thus that servant saw that his master would order him to go out of the administration; I thought about his future and said to himself: My master will expel me from the administration. What must I do. I cannot dig, I am ashamed to beg. Work separates him from work; from the other, shame; but in those difficult situations he lacked no decision. I know, he said, what I have to do. He gathered all the debtors of his master and presented them signed contracts. Say, how much do you owe? He answers – a hundred measures of oil. Sit down quickly and put fifty. Take your guarantee. And to another: You, how much do you owe? A hundred measures of wheat. – Sit down and put at once eighty. And take your contract. He was thinking this way: when my master would expel me from the administration, they will receive me, and the need will not force me to dig or to beg.
Why did Jesus Christ the Lord propose this parable? He was not pleased with that dishonest servant; he cheated his master and took away things, which were not his. Besides stealing in hiding, he caused him damages in order to prepare for himself a place of rest and peace for the time when he had to abandon the administration. Why did Christ suggest this parable? Not because that servant would have committed a fraud, but because he was worried about the future, so that the Christian who lacks the determination upon seeing even the ingenuity of the dishonest one being praised should be ashamed. Indeed, He continued thus: Behold that the children of darkness are more clever than the children of the light. They commit frauds providing for their future. What future life was that steward taking precautions? For that life from which he had to leave when they would order him. He was worried about a life that ends, and you are not concerned about what is eternal? Therefore, do not love dishonesty, but what He says: Make friends; make friends with money of iniquity.
(…) Therefore, what do we have to do? What did our Lord command? Make friends with the money of iniquity, so that they may also receive you in the eternal tabernacles when you would start becoming weak. It is easy to understand from these words that one has to give alms, that one must give to the needy, because it is Christ who receives in them. He Himself said: When you did it to one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me”. (Mt 25:40), (Sermon 359A, 9-11).
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:
- “He (the unfaithful steward), was worried about life that can come to an end, and you, are you concerned about eternal life?” (Sermon 359A, 9).
- How do you show your concern for eternal life?
- In the world that seeks after material things, what place does your hear occupy?
- “And the master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently. For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light”. (Lk 16:8).
- How are your commitment and concern for the things of God?
- What does “to act with shrewdness” mean to you? How can you apply it to your spiritual 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
- Contemplate the unfaithful steward calling all the debtors of his master and signing the new receipts, showing his saga-city. Ask the Lord that you may have the shrewdness and wisdom for seeking the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.
- Consider how Christ invites you to enter into your heart and see if you are prepared to give accounts to God of your life. Try to see what is good in you and ask for forgiveness for the evil that you have done. The unfaithful steward was astute. In your silent reflection on your inner self in the presence Christ ask the Lord for light and power to be able to do what you have to do in order to prepare your inner self as God wants it.
Think about everything that you can share with those who surround you of the experience that you have had of God, especially with regard to being shrewd with the things that concern eternal life, as the men of world do with the things of the earth. The following 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
“Prudence is the love which with sagacity and wisdom, chooses the means in order to be able to surpass every kind of obstacles”. (De Mor. Eccl. et De Mor. Manich. 1, 15, 25).