LECTIO DIVINA: 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C
Lk. 16:1 – 13.
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.
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 the 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 now meditate with the commentary of St. Augustine on these words of the Gospel according to St. Luke.
“Thus that servant saw that his master was going to fire him from the administration; he thought of his future and said to himself: ‘My master is going to expel me from the administration. What shall I do? I cannot dig, I am ashamed to beg. He is unable to work, shame repels him; yet in such dilemma he lacked no decision. Now I know, he said, what I will do. He called together the debtors of his master and showed them the signed contracts. –Tell me, how much do you owe? He says: one hundred measures of oil. –Quick, sit down and put fifty. Here’s your receipt. And to another: – You, how much do you owe? –A hundred measures of wheat. –Sit down and quickly write eighty. Here’s your contract. Thus he had thought: when my master expels me from the administration, they will accept me, and necessity will not oblige me neither to dig nor to beg.
Why did Jesus Christ the Lord propose this parable? He did not like that fraudulent servant; he defrauded his master and removed things that were not his. Besides he stole in secret, he did him harm to prepare his retirement and peace when he would have to leave the administration. Why did the Lord propose this parable? Not because the servant had committed fraud, but because he was a provider for tomorrow, to put to shame the Christian who lacks the determination to see that a fraudulent is praised for being genius. In fact he continued thus: See that the sons of darkness are wiser than the sons of light. They commit fraud looking into the future. Looking at what life did that steward take precautions? To that life that he would have to go into when they send him off. He was anxious for the life that will end, and you are not anxious for life eternal? Therefore, do not love the fraud, but what he says: Make friends, make friends with the money of iniquity.
What then are we to do? What the Lord commanded. Make friends with the money of iniquity, that they also may receive you into the eternal tabernacles when you begin to fail. It is easy to understand of these words that one must give alms, that one has to give to those in need, because in them it is Christ who receives. He himself said: When you did it to one of these my little ones, you did it to me” (Mt. 25:40) (s. 359A, 9-11).
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 affection 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. “He (the dishonest steward) was anxious for the life that ends, and you, are not anxious for eternal life?” (s. 359A, 9)
- How do you manifest your preoccupation for eternal life?
- In the world where you seek material things, where do you put your heart?
b. “The master praised the dishonest steward, because he acted wisely. For the sons of the world are wiser in their dealings than are the sons of light” (Lk. 16:8).
- How are your efforts and preoccupation for the things of God?
- What does it mean for you “to act wisely?” How can you apply it to your spiritual life?
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 dishonest steward calling the debtors of his master and signing the new receipts, showing his cleverness in worldly affairs. Ask God to give you the cleverness and the wisdom to seek the kingdom of God and his justice.
b. Contemplate how Christ invites you to enter your own heart and see if you are prepared to give God the accounting of your life. Try to see the good that is in yourself and ask forgiveness for the evil you have done. The dishonest steward was astute. In your silent contemplation of your interior in the presence of Christ, ask the Lord for light and strength to do what you ought to do in order to prepare an interior according to God.
Think of everything that you can share with those around you about the experience you had with God especially as regards being clever and wise about the things that concern eternal life, as do the worldly men about the things of this earth. 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.
“Prudence is the love that with cleverness and wisdom chooses the means to overcome all kinds of obstacles” (mor. 1, 15, 25).
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). +