LECTIO DIVINA: 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C
Lk. 13:22 – 30
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, 40) Amen.
With heart well disposed, with serenity, read slowly the following words, savoring them and allowing yourself to be touched by them.
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 gate, 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 evil doers!’ 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 now meditate with the commentary of St. Augustine on these words of the Gospel according to St. Luke.
“Certainly few are going to be saved. You remember the question that the Gospel a little while ago has asked us. The Lord was asked: ‘Will only a few people be saved?’ What did the Lord reply to this? He did not say: “There will not be few, but many shall be saved.” He did not say that. Then, what did he answer to the question if only a few will be saved? ‘Strive to enter the narrow gate.’ Having heard the question: Will only a few people be saved? The Lord confirmed what he
heard. Through a narrow door few people enter. The Lord himself said in another place: Narrow and constricted is the path that leads to eternal life and few enter it. Wide and spacious is the path that leads to perdition, and many walk through it (Mt.7:13-14). Why do we feel happiness before the multitudes? Listen, you few. I know that you are many who hear me, but few who obey me. I see the threshing floor, but I seek the grain. While you thresh, the grain is almost invisible, but the time of winnowing will come. Few then are the people who will be saved in comparison to those who will be lost. But these few constitute a great mass. When the winnower comes bringing in hand the winnowing fork, he will clean the threshing floor, gathering the wheat in the barn, and the chaff he will burn in the unquenchable fire (Mt. 3:12). The chaff does not mock the wheat. He tells the truth, he deceives no one. Be many among the many, but knowing that in comparison to a class of multitude, you are few. Because from this threshing floor will come out a mass so great that it fills the barns of heaven. Thus he does not contradict who said that there are a few who enter by the narrow gate and many those who perish in the wide road. Would he be contradicting who in another occasion said: Many will come from the east and the west? ‘Many will come,’ but certainly few. Few and many. Well then, will some be few and others will be many? No, but the same few who are many, are few in comparison to the condemned, and many in the company of the angels. Listen, most beloved, listen to what is written: ‘After these things I saw a multitude that no one could count, from every tongue and nation and people, who came with white clothes and palms in their hands’ (Ap. 7:9). This is the multitude of saints. When the threshing floor has been cleared of the crowd who suffered the shipwreck, that of bad and false Christians, when they had been separated from the chaff destined to the eternal fire, i.e., those who oppress and do not touch – a certain woman who touched the edge of Christ’s garment, while the crowd oppressed her (Lk. 8:42-44)-; when the few shall have been separated from all those who will be condemned, how clear will be the voice with which he would say to this multitude standing at his right, purified, without fear that something evil be mixed, and without fear that nothing good be lost, at the point of reigning with Christ; with what confidence has he to say: I have known that the Lord is great” (s. 111, 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.
a. “Strive to enter by the narrow gate, because I tell you ‘Many shall try to enter but will not be able’” (Lk. 13:24).
- What for you is to enter the narrow gate?
- St. Augustine said: “If you want to enter the narrow gate, close the doors of the desire and the fear. The tempter uses them to demolish the soul” (s. 313A,2). What does this mean for you?
b. “Lord, open for us! And you will begin to say: We ate and drank with you, (…) But he will tell you: I do not know where you are from” (Lk. 13:25).
- What does it imply that Jesus knows you and knows who you are?
- Jesus says, “I do not know where you are from”, where are you from, from the City of God, or from the city of the world? What distinguishes them is the ‘love’.
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.
a. Contemplate the narrow road, and Christ who invites you to advance through him. While you walk, feel the power of God’s grace that sustains you and ask for perseverance along this road.
b. Contemplate how you persevere in Jesus. Contemplate how you live in him and he lives in you. Therefore, to the question ‘where are you from?’ the answer should be ‘I am in Christ’. I remain in him. Make your moment of contemplation a moment of: you remaining in Christ and Christ remaining in you.
Think of everything that you can share with those around you about the experience you had with God, especially as regards entering by the narrow gate, and being always in Christ and being his own. The following points can help you share with your community the experience of the lectio divina on the 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 dominant sentiment during this moment of prayer?
G. Final Reflection of St. Augustine.
“Pay no attention to those who walk along wide roads; they are many, and who can count them? Few are those who walk along the narrow road. But I will tell you: use the balance, weigh; you see how much chaff you raise up with few grains” (en. Ps. 39,6).
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 you deign to hear our petitions according to your goodwill, 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 and 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). +