Translated by Fray Hubert Dunstan Decena, OAR
A. Invoking the Holy Spirit
We invoke the Holy Spirit using the words of St. Augustine.
Come, Holy Spirit, by whom every devout soul, who believes in Christ, is sanctified to become a citizen of the City of God! (en. Ps. 45:8) Come, Holy Spirit, grant that we receive the motions of God, put in us your flame, enlighten us and raise us up to God (s. 128,4).
With the heart well disposed, with serenity, read slowly the following words, savoring them and allowing yourself to be touched by them.
Jesus said to his disciples: “As it was in the days of Noah, so will it be at the coming of the Son of Man. In those days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day that Noah entered the ark. They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away. So will it be also at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be out in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left. Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So, too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”
Let us now meditate with the commentary of St. Augustine on these words of the Gospel according to St. Matthew.
Without doubt, you have heard that the hour of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. If the master of the house had known –the Lord says- at what hour the thief would come, truly I say to you that he would not permit him to bore his wall. Now you say: “Who knows when he will come, since he will come like thief?” You do not know what hour he would come; be always vigilant, so that if you do not know when he would come, he would find you prepared when he comes. Perhaps you do not know when he will come in order to be always prepared. The master of the house whom the hour will catch by surprise; that master of the house symbolized the proud. Be not like the master of the house on whom that hour will suddenly come upon. You say: “Then, what will I be?” What you heard in the Psalm: I am poor and afflicted. If you are poor and afflicted, you will not be the master of the house whom the hour surprises unprepared. Masters of the house, who presume of their own covetousness and wallow in the pleasures of the world, become conceited and rise up against the humble and do injury to the saints who know the narrow road that leads to life. Upon these proud people that hour will suddenly come, for thus were the people who lived in the time of Noah, of whom you had heard what was said in the Gospel when it said: Thus will the coming of the Son of Man be, as in the days of Noah. They ate and drank, men and women married; they planted, built, until Noah entered the ark, and “the flood came and carried them all away.” Then what? All those who do this will perish? No, but only those who presume these things, those who prefer these things to God, those who are readily prepared to offend God for these things. On the contrary, those who do not use all these things, or use them as though they were not using them, those who give attention to the One who gave them than to those they were given, those who see in them consolation and mercy, and who are not preoccupied with the gifts so as not to fall away from the Giver, being such, the hour will not come upon them like a thief finding them unmindful. To these the Apostle said: “You are not in darkness, so that like a thief that day will overcome you, since all of you are sons of the light and sons of the day (en. Ps. 120, 3).
With the text, let us now pray from the depths of our heart. I suggest the following phrases and questions that can awaken in you dialogue with God, and at the same time can give rise to affections and sentiments in your dialogue with God. Do not move to the next phrase or question if you can still continue dialoguing with God in one of them. It is not a matter of exhausting the list, but of helping you to pray with some points that better fit your personal experience.
- “Who knows when he will come, since he will come like a thief? You do not know at what time he will come; be always vigilant” (en. Ps. 120,3).
* For you, what does it mean to keep watch?
* With what concrete acts do you manifest that you are vigilant, waiting for the Lord?
- “The master of the house whom the hour will catch by surprise; that master of the house symbolized the proud. … Masters of the house who presume of their covetousness and wallow in the pleasures of the world, are conceited and rise up against the humble” (en. Ps. 120, 3).
- Why is humility important?
- How can one avoid pride?
- Pray with this phrase: “Help me, Lord, to be prepared for your coming.”
I propose to you some points for affective interior contemplation. Once again, you need not follow all of it, rather you can choose what fits your personal experience.
- Contemplate how Christ returns in the midst of the clouds of heaven and convokes all men. Consider the account you have to give of your life.
- Contemplate Christ, Lord and Judge of History, and adore his infinite majesty. Say within your heart: “You are my salvation” (conf. 1, 5).
Think of everything that you can share with those around you about the experience you had with God, especially concerning the second coming of Christ and the universal judgment. The following points can help you as guide to share with your community the experience of the lectio divina on this text.
- What have I discovered about God and about myself in this moment of prayer?
- How can I apply this text of Scripture at this moment of my life? What light does it give me? What challenges does it put before me?
- What concrete commitment does this text of Scripture ask of me in my spiritual life, in my community life?
- What has been my predominant sentiment during this moment of prayer?
G. Final Prayer of St. Augustine
Turning towards the Lord: Lord God, Father Almighty, with pure heart, as far as our littleness permits, allow us to give you our most devoted and sincere thanks, begging with all our strength from your particular goodness, that by your power you may drive away the enemy from all our thoughts and actions; that you may increase our faith, govern our mind, give us spiritual thoughts and bring us to your happiness, through your Son Jesus Christ, our Lord, who with you lives and reigns, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever. Amen (en. Ps. 150:8). +
“The judgments of God are mysteriously just and justly mysterious (ciu. 20, 19, 4).