LECTIO DIVINA: 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C
27th Sun. in Ord. Time C.
Lk. 17:5 – 10.
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.
And the Apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” The Lord replied, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.
Who among you would say to your servant who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here immediately and take your place at table’? Would he not say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat. Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink. You may eat and drink when I am finished’? Is he grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded? So should it be with you. When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.’” +
Let us now meditate with the commentary of St. Augustine on these words of the Gospel according to St. Luke.
“Nevertheless, not even when they were incredulous, did the mercy of the Lord abandon them, but that he rebuked them, he nourished them, he perfected them and crowned them. For they also were conscious of their weakness, as we read in certain passage of the Gospel they told him: Lord, increase our faith. Lord, they say, increase our faith. The first important thing for them was the knowledge, i.e., to know of what they were lacking; the great ease, to know from whom they were asking it. Lord, -they say- increase our faith. See, if they were not bringing their hearts as to the fountain and they were knocking that it may be opened to them and he may fill them. He wanted that they knock at the door, not to reject those who do it, but to exercise the desirous ones. (…) Let us live as he commands, and when we vacillate in this life, let us invoke him as his disciple invoked him saying ‘Lord, increase our faith.’ Peter also trusted, but he doubted; nevertheless, he was not despised nor did he sink, but that being helped, he came out floating” (en. Ps. 80, 1, 6).
It is difficult to perceive what relation these words have with what was said to the Lord: ‘Lord, increase our faith,’ if we do not understand it as referring to the faith in faith (Rom. 1:17), i.e., meaning that they had to pass from this faith in which one serves God to that faith in which they enjoy God. Since faith will be increased when, in the first place, one believes in the words of those who preach, and then in the realities already manifest. But that contemplation brings the highest rest that is assured in the kingdom of God; on the other hand, this supreme rest is the reward for the fatigue suffered in serving the justice connected with the service of the Church. Therefore, even if the servant plows the fields, pastures the flocks, i.e., is dedicated to the businesses of this secular and earthly life, or this to the service of foolish men as though they were a foolish flock, it is indispensable that, once these works are finished, he returns home, i.e., he integrates in the Church; that he also works here serving his Lord while he eats and drinks, since he also, when he was hungry, sought fruits from the fig tree (Mt. 21:18-19), feeling thirsty, he asked for a drink from a Samaritan woman (Jn. 4:7); that he eat and drink then is the acknowledgement and the faith of the Gentiles who serve him, i.e., that his servants proclaim” (qu. eu. 2, 39, 2).
“We are useless servants; we did what we had to do. We have nothing more to do; we have arrived at the goal of the race, we took part in a noble competition, the crown of justice awaits us (2 Tim. 4:7-8). This whole passage can be applied to that ineffable enjoyment of the truth. The more can it all be applied the less possible it is to say something worthy about her. In fact, she is light for those who are enlightened, rest for those who have struggled, homeland for those who return to her, food for the needy and crown for the conquerors. Finally, though they are many, according to the distinct portions of creation, the transitory and temporal goods that entice the error of the unbelievers, the piety of the sons will find them simultaneously more consistent and eternally stable in the Creator of all things” (qu. eu. 2, 39, 4).
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. “The apostles said to the Lord: ‘Increase our faith’ (Lk. 17:5).
- How is your faith?
- What does this statement of St. Augustine mean to you: “Lord, –they say- increase our faith. The first useful thing for them was the know- ledge, i.e., to know what they lack”? (s. 80, 1)
b. “Thus it is also for you, when you have done what you were commanded to do, say: ‘We are useless servants; we have done what we ought to do’” (Lk 17:10).
- Why do you believe that the servants are called ‘useless’?
- What means can you use to know what you have to do, i.e., the will of God?
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 Christ in front of you and ask the same petition of the apostles: ‘Lord, increase my faith.’ Contemplate how Christ hears you and puts into your heart a grain of faith. Contemplate, adore, be thankful for the gift of faith.
b. Contemplate diverse moments of your life when you did good things in favor of others and do not stop saying interiorly: “I am a useless servant, I did only what I ought to do.” In this way you grow in humility and be conscious that everything is a grace from God. Be thankful and truswt.
Think of everything that you can share with those around you about the experience you had with God, especially as regards asking for an increase of faith and acknowledging that we are useless servants for we do only that which we ought to do. 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 in my spiritual life, in my community life?
- What has been my dominant sentiment during this moment of prayer?
G. Final Reflection of At. Augustine.
“It is better to thank God for a small gift than to appropriate thanks for a great gift” (ep. 27, 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). +