MEDITATIONS ON THE PASSION OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST: They Parted My Garments Among Them, And For My Coat They Did Cast Lots. ~ Fr. Francois Coster S.J.
The they said amongst themselves, let us not cut, but let us cast lists for it, whose it shall be; that the Scriptures might be fulfilled, saying: they parted my garments among them, and for my coat they did cast lots. Therefore dividing his garments, they cast lots upon them, which part everyone should take.
Consider first the consultation of the Soldiers about the dividing & casting of lots for his garments. The council was good (let us not cut it) but the advice was wicked (let us cast lots whose it shall be) Thou earnest first, that God is present at the council of the wicked, that he may restrain their malice, as he infatuated the council of Achitopell. Secondly, that the effect of our Lord’s prayer didi here appear, when the garment without seam remained whole: whereby is signified, that the Church shall never be divided by any malice of man, but that it shall continue to the end of the world whole, and entire under the one visible head, neither shall the gates of hell prevail against it. For although the outward garments of our Lord may be divided, that is to say, divers companies and societies of men may be distinguished by divers laws. fashions, and customs; yet the coat without seam being next to the body of our Lord, to wit, the Catholic Church, woven all over throughout, spread over the universal world, and orderly distinguished with several offices in several members, agreeing in the Communion of Saints, woven as it were with divers threads, shall never loose his wholeness and integrity. There shall fall from it certain small boughs or branches, like withered leaves from trees; but the Coat of our Lord shall be purged, and not violated thereby. take thou heed, least thou fall from this unsealed Coat of Christ, but remain in it as an excellent piece of workmanship; and because this Coat was begun to be woven in the womb of the Virgin Mother, (for there the Son of God joined human nature to himself, and espoused the Church, ) do thou commend it to the same mother, by whose prayers and help it may remain untouched and uncorrupt.
Consider secondly their twice casting lots for his garments, to wit, Fist, for the parts of his garments, and afterwards, for his Coat without seam. Whereby is declared, First, that Christ himself, and all things belonging unto him, were subject to the will & scoffing of wicked men. Secondly, that wicked men do obtain the coat of Christ, that is to say, the cure of souls, and also part of his garments, that is, the external goods of the Church, not worthily, but by chance and fortune, and possess them by other means, then by the will of our Lord the true owner of them: for they thinking of nothing less then of him crucified, divide & take away his goods, himself looking upon them, and holding his peace. Thirdly, that according to St. Ambrose the parts of the garments of our lord, that is to say, his divine gifts and graces, are distributed and given to every one by lot, that is to say, by the secret council of God, and nt by our own election; but the Coat, that is, Faith, is given whole to every man. If perhaps thou be a Clergy man, called into the service of our Lord, gather under the cross of our Lord that part of his inheritance, which is given unto thee. Take heed of seeking many parts and benefices, & use that part before him crucified, which thou hast received: for he beholdeth thee, and observeth how thou doest administer his goods. Consider thirdly, that the Prophets long before did prophesie of this casting of lots for his garments: that thou mayest learn , First that this casting of lots for his garments was a better of great moment, which so many ages before, Holy men, & Kings fore-saw & lamented. Secondly, of what things the ancient Prophets and Holy men did frame their meditations even before the coming of the Messias, to wit, of the poverty, nakedness, & reproaches of our Lord, that thou being exercised i the same thoughts and cogitations, might be incited to compassion and imitation. Consider fourthly, that these Vestments and holy Reliques of our Lord were permitted to remain in the custody of wicked men, that thou mayest know, first that all men, which are called to holy offices, are not Holy men and acceptable to God; secondly, that holiness is offered to all men in this life. Pray thou unto God, to impart some f his Sanctity unto thee, and suffer it never to be taken from thee.