LECTIO DIVINA: Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C
Lk. 12:13 – 21.
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 he touched by them.
Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.” He replied to him, “Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?” Then he said to the crowd, “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.” Then he told them a parable. “There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest. He asked himself, ‘What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?’ And he said, ‘This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones, There I shall store all my grain and other goods and I shall say to myself, “Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!” But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’ Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God.” +
Let us now meditate with the commentary of St. Augustine on these words of the Gospel according to St. Luke.
Rightly did God rebuke that rich man full of vanity. He did it to warn us that we should imitate the action of someone who experiencing a time of abundant harvest, the abundance disturbed him more the scarcity. He thought for himself and said: What shall I do? Where will I store the harvest? And after so much difficulties and anxieties, he believed that he finally discovered what to do. But it was a vain decision: it was from avarice not from prudence. I will destroy –he said- my old barns, that are small, and I will build bigger ones and I will fill them. Then I will say to my soul: My soul, you have many goods, satisfy yourself and rejoice. (God) tells him: You fool, it is there that precisely you think you show yourself wise. What did you say, you fool? “I say to my soul: you have many good, satiate yourself.” This very night you soul will be taken; this which you have prepared, for whom will it be? What does it profit a man to gain the whole world if he suffers the loss of his soul? (Mt.16:26) Therefore, a man’s riches serve as ransom for his soul (Prv. 13:8). That vain and foolish man did not possess these riches, He was not rescuing his soul with alms; he was storing up perishable fruits. He who perishes –I repeat- was storing up perishable fruits, not giving anything to the Lord towards whom he must migrate. What face will he show on judgment day when he begins to hear: I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat (Mt. 25:42)? So, did he desire to fill his soul with superfluous and excessive banquets; full of pride he despised many people and many empty bellies of the poor. He did not know that the stomachs of the poor were more secure than his deposit boxes. What he hid in his deposit boxes could be stolen by thieves; If on the other hand he had hidden it in the stomach of the poor, it would have been digested by the earth, but he would have deposited it with greater security in heaven. Therefore: man’s riches are the ransom of his soul (s. 36, 9).
St Augustine also comments that the Christian should heed these words of the Gospel knowing that the Word of God is to be heard in order to put it into practice, not to forget it: “What then does the Lord say? Since he considered himself one way or another wise because he discovered what to do, he tells him: Fool, you fool who believes yourself wise; fool who says to your soul: You have abundant goods stored up for many years. Today your soul shall be demanded of you. The soul to whom you said: You have abundant goods, shall be demanded of you today and it lacks everything. Despise these goods and let it be good so that when it is demanded, it may come out secure. For, what more evil than a man who desires many goods but himself does not want to be good? You who does not desire to be what you desire to possess, don’t deserve to possess it. Do you, perhaps want a bad farm? Certainly not, you want a good one. O perhaps you want a bad wife? No, you want a good one. Or, finally, do you want a bad mantle or a bad pair of shoes? Why would you only have a bad soul? On this occasion he did not say to the fool that he was dreaming vanities, that he was constructing barns, blind to see the stomach of the poor; he did not say: “Today your soul will be thrown into hell;” he told him nothing of this, but: “It will be demanded of you. I do not say where your soul will go; only one thing is certain, that you like it or not, it will have to get out of this place where you store so many things. Look, you fool, you thought of filling up new and bigger granaries, as if there is nothing else to do with your wealth.” But perhaps that man was not yet Christian. Let us hear him, brothers, we the believers to whom the Gospel is read; we, who adore him who said these things, whose sign we bear on the forehead and in the heart. It is of great importance where a man carries the sign of Christ, if only on the forehead, or on the forehead and in the heart” (s. 107, 6 – 7). +
With the tex, 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. “God said to him: You fool, this very night you shall die; what you have accumulated, for whom shall it be?” (Lk. 12:20)
- For you, what is the meaning of life?
- How can you share what you are and what you have in order not to be a “fool”?
b. “The soul to whom you said: You have abundant goods, shall be demanded from you today and it lacks every good. Despise these goods and let it be good, so that when it is demanded from you, it may come out secure” (s. 107, 6).
- If you were to die today, what accounting would you give to God?
- How can you live with prudence?
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 demands an accounting from the fool, and how everything he possesses cannot accompany him to the other world. Contemplate and consider the vanity of material things. Put you trust and your heart in God.
b. Contemplate Christ on the Cross. He is the example of total surrender for
love of God and of mankind. Contemplate and ask that you be not a fool,
that you be able to live your life with wisdom learning in the school of the
Cross to die to self in order to give life in God.
Think of everything that you can share with those around you about the experience you had with God, especially as regards not being a fool, and to learn to use what we have for the benefit of others. 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.
“He who likes to boast of wisdom is a fool. Let him be humble that wisdom may come upon him and enlighten him” (en. Ps. 126, 4).
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, God, forever and ever. Amen (en. Ps. 150:8). +