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:
And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” The Lord replied, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to [this] mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. “Who among you would say to your servant who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here immediately and take your place at table’? Would he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat. Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink. You may eat and drink when I am finished’? Is he grateful to that servant be-cause he did what was commanded? So should it be with you. When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.’”
Let us meditate now with the commentary of St. Augustine on these words of the Evangelist St. Luke:
“However, not even when they were unbelievers did the mercy of the Lord abandon them, but that He censured them, nourished them, perfected and crowned them. Because they likewise aware of their weakness, as we read in a certain passage of the Gospel, said to Him: Lord, increase our faith. Lord – they said to Him-, increase our faith. The first thing that is useful for them was knowledge, that is, to know that they are limited; the great joy, to know from whom they asked it. Lord – they say to Him -, increase our faith. See if they did bring their hearts as if to the fountain and knocked so that it would be opened to them and that they may be filled. He wanted that someone may knock at His door, not in order to reject those who did it, but to train those who desired to do so (…). Let us live as He commands and, when we doubt in this life, let us invoke Him as His Disciples invoked Him, saying Lord, increase our faith. Peter also trusted, but doubted; however, he was neither despised nor did he sink, but that, aided, he went afloat”. (En. in Ps. 80, 1, 6).
It is difficult to perceive what connection do these words have with what is said to the Lord: Lord, increase our faith, if we do not understand them as referred to from faith to faith (Rom 1:17), that is, signifying that they had to pass from this faith in which God is served to that in which they take pleasure in God, Because faith will grow when one believes, in the first place, in the words of those who preach, and later on in the already actual realities, But that contemplation involves supreme peace, which is given in the Kingdom of God; on the other hand, that supreme peace is the reward of the hardships suffered while serving justice, linked to the service of the Church. Therefore, even if the servant may plow the field, may feed the sheep, that is, he may be dedicated to the affairs of this earthly and secular world or may be at the service of the foolish men as if they were stupid flock, it is indispensable that, once these works are done, he returns home, that is, that he integrates into the Church; that he likewise work here by serving the Lord while he eats and drinks, since He likewise, when He felt hungry, looked for firs in the fig tree (Mt 21:18-19), and driven on by thirst, He asked the Samaritan woman for a drink (Jn 4:7), therefore let him eat and drink, because, the knowledge and faith of the Gentiles who serve Him, that is, that His servants proclaim” (Queast. Evang. 2, 39, 2).
We are unprofitable servants, we did what we had to do. There is nothing more to do, we have reached the end of our race, we have taken part in a noble competition, the crown of justice awaits us (2 Tim 4:7-8). This whole passage can be applied to that ineffable enjoyment of the truth. And the whole of it can be more applicable the less possible is to say something worthy of it. Indeed, it is the light for those who are enlightened, rest for those who have fought, Fatherland for those who return to it, food for the needy and crown for the conquerors. Finally, however much there may be, according to the distinct parts of creation, the transitory and temporal goods the error of the unfaithful may desire, the piety of the children must simultaneously be found more consistent and eternally stable in the Creator of things” (Queast. Evang. 2, 39, 4).
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:
- “And the Apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith”. (Lk 17:5).
- How is your faith?
- What does what St. Augustine says: “Lord, – they say to Him -, increase our faith. The first useful thing for them was knowledge, that is, to know what they lack”? (Sermon 80, 1), mean to you?
- “So should it be with you. When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.’” (Lk 17: 10).
- Why do you believe that the servants are called “unprofitable”?
- What means can you use in order to know what you have to do, that is the will of God?
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 Christ who is in front of you and make the same petition of the Apostles: Lord, increase my faith. Consider how Christ hears you and puts in your heart a grain of faith. Reflect on, worship and give thanks for the gift of faith.
- Think about the different moments of your life during which you have done good things for others and do not stop repeating in yourself: “I am only an unprofitable servant, I have only done what I had to do”. In this way you will grow in humility and you will become aware that everything is grace of God. Be grateful and have trust.
Think about everything you can share with those who surround you of the experience that you have had of the Lord, particularly with regard to the petition that He may increase our faith and to acknowledge that we are unprofitable servants who do only that which we had to do. 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
“It is better to give thanks to God for a little gift than to claim for oneself the thanks for a great gift”. (Letter, 27, 4).