LECTIO DIVINA: XXXIII Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A
Translated by Fray Dunstan Huberto 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) Amen.
With heart well disposed, with serenity, read slowly the following words, savoring them and allowing yourself to be touched by them.
It will be as when a man who was going on a journey called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one – to each according to his ability. Then he went away. Immediately the one who received five talents went and traded with them, and made another five. Likewise, the one who received two made another two. But the one who received one went off and dug a hole in the ground and buried his master’s money. After a long time the master of those servants came back and settled accounts with them, The one who had received five talents came forward bringing the additional five. He said, “Master, you gave me five talents. See, I have made five more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’ Then the one who had received two talents also came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two talents. See, I have made two more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’ Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering where you did not scatter; so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground. Here it is back.’ His master said to him in reply, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant and gather where I did not scatter? Should you not then have put my money in the bank so that I could have got it back with interest on my return? Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten. For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’
Let us now meditate with the commentary of St. Augustine on these words of the Gospel according to St. Matthew.
“That I exhort you, that I tell you, brothers; I also warn you fraternally; God commands it and I warn you because he warns me. He frightens me who does not allow me to silent. He claims back what he gave me, because he gave it to me that I may share it, not that I keep it. If, on the contrary, I keep and hide it, he will tell me: You wicked and lazy servant, why did you not put my money in the bank, so that at my return, I would have claimed it with interests? And, what will it serve me not having lost anything of what I received? That is nothing for my Master. He is greedy, but the greed of God is our salvation. He is greedy, he seeks his coins, he collects his image. You should have deposited the money in the bank, so that on my return, I would have claimed it with the interests. And if perhaps forgetfulness impedes me from warning you, the temptations and tribulations that we suffer, will remind you. Certainly you have heard the word of God. Blessed be the Lord and his glory, since you have gathered and you hang on the word of one who gives you the word of God. Do not fix your eyes on my body by which means it is brought out to you. The hungry pay no attention on the receptacle of little value but on the quality of the food” (s. 125, 8).
To emphasize that everything comes from God, and that we need to use his gifts to make them increase, St. Augustine comments: “Let him understand that everything has been given to him, they do not proceed from him. For, what does he have which he has not receive? And if he has received it, why does he glory in it as though he did not receive it? Therefore, give the money of the Lord; let him look after the neighbor in the same way as he experiences that they have looked after him. Let him not think that it is sufficient not to lose what he received, lest they tell him: Wicked and lazy servant, you should have deposited my money, so that at my return, I would claim it with the interests; otherwise they take away what he had received and throw him out into the darkness outside. If those who can keep whole what has been given to them should fear such harsh punishment, what hope is there for those who squander it in impious and sinful manner?” (s. 351,4).
On the statement of the Gospel “to everyone who has, more will be given … but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away” (Mt 25:29), St. Augustine comments: “Well then, only charity uses well, and tolerates it all, and does not break the unity; rather it is the strongest bond. The servant in the Gospel also received his talent, and by talent is here understood any gift from God: but he who has will be given, and to him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. What he has not cannot be taken away; but this servant lacks something, and thus he deserves to be deprived of what he has: he lacks charity to use well the gifts, and everything else will be taken away, because without charity they profit nothing” (Simpl. 2, 1, 10).
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. “Lord, you gave me five talents; see, I have gained five more” (Mt. 25:20)
- What talents have you received from God?
- How do you use the gifts received from God?
b. “Why is it that he who has will be given more, but he who has not even what he has will be taken away? (Mt. 25:29)
- How will you interpret this statement?
- What do you have that God wants to give you in abundance?
c. Pray with this statement: “Grant me, O Lord, to return to you a gift multiplied.”
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 how God puts many talents and gifts in your own hands. Contemplate how God generously deposits them in your hands, one by one. Then, you yourself contemplate every one of the gifts you have received from God. Consider what these gifts are and contemplate how you make these gifts of God productive. Observe how they increase and multiply, and thank God. Contemplate and be grateful.
b. Contemplate the man who received only one talent and hid it, and how he could not give his master a good accounting. Contemplate how he is thrown out, and how what he had was given to the one who already had much. Contemplate now how God wants that your faith grow. You already have faith, but you must work to let it grow abundantly. Contemplate how God gives you faith. Contemplate how your faith grows by means of your everyday life and by your works of charity. Contemplate and adore God who gives more to him who already has.
Think of everything that you can share with those around you about the experience you had with God, especially about multiplying the gifts of God. The following points can help you 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 dominant 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 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 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, one God, forever and ever. Amen (en Ps. 150:8).
“O man! Let your heart rather be the ark of God where the riches of God are found deposited, where your mind, minted with the image of your emperor, is the coin of God” (en. Ps.63:11).
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