MEDITATION For The Third Sunday After Pentecost: Of The Pastor, Which Sought For The Lost Sheep
THE XLVIII. MEDITATION
Of the Pastor, which sought for the lost sheep.
The Pharisees, murmuring against Christ our Lord, because he received sinners, he laid before them this present parable. What man amongst you is there, who having a hundred sheep, and if he loos one of them, doth not leave the ninety nine in the desert, and go after that which was lost until he find it.
THE I. POINT.
1. Upon this first part of the parable, is to be considered: who this Pator is: what she these be: which is he that is lost: & how his pastor seeketh, and findeth him. 1. This man is JESUS Christ our Lord, who descended from heaven, to be the Pastor of men, and who with admirable providence, and with great vigilancy governeth his sheep, knoweth them very particularly, and market them with the mark of his grace, and charity, goeth before them showing them the example of a holy life, healeth them of the scabs, and disease of their sins, kept them from the infernal wolves, giveth them the selected pasture of doctrine, and Sacraments, the love which he beareth them being so great, that he made himself meat, and feedeth, them with his proper body and blood, veiled under the forms of bread and wine, and lastly for their good gave his own life.
O good Pastor, good by excellency, blessed are the sheep which are under thy government, governed by thy providence, and countergarded by thy protection; I give thee humble thanks, for that thou tookest this office upon thee, and for the care, wherewith thou dost fulfill the same: fulfill it with me most completely, for if thou dost govern me, nothing shall be wanting unto me.
2. The hundred sheep in general, are all the faithful of the Church, but more particularly they are the just, signified by the number of a hundred, which is a number of perfection, whom almighty God kept counted, & knoweth full well those which are his. These sheep, whilst they are under the subjection of their pastor, do know him full well, by faith and contemplation, hearing his voice, obeying what he commandeth, following his steeps, imitating his virtues, receiving the food of doctrine, and Sacraments, which he giveth unto them, without diverting themselves to any other contrary to him, rejoicing to be fed with such divine pastures, giving unto him all their wool, by offering to his service all they substance, giving him the milk of their breasts, by offering unto him all the affection of they hearts, and all the contentments of the body, forsaking them all to serve him, giving him their young ones and Lambs, by offering unto him their works, for his honor and glory: and if it be needful, they will give him their own flesh, and blood, yea and their life also, which they will gladly loose for the love him. So that like as the Pastor, giveth himself wholly to them, even so do they give themselves wholly to him, each of them saying. My beloved me, and I to him.
O sovereign Pastor, set upon my heart the mark of thy sheep, and take what soever I have for thy holy service, since thou givest all thou hast for my contentment.
3. Thirdly the sheep which looseth herself, is the sinner, which strayeth from the company of the just, and from the subjection, and onedience of her Pastor, not for the lack of a Pastor, but through her own pernicious liberty: for the Pastor, holdeth no sheep in his flock, against her will. But wherefore then doth she stray, and lose herself? because she wanteth the properties of a loyal, and faithful sheep, that is to say, because she knoweth not her Pastor, nor the goods which she enjoyeth in him, nor maketh any account, of being under his protection, and in the company of the just. Moreover she maketh herself deaf to hear his voice, and it is a grief unto her, to hear his commandments: she grudgeth, to follow the steps of her Pastor, because they are cragged and sharp with crosses and mortification. She loatheth the pastures of doctrine and Sacraments, and lusteth after the pasture of the world, and of the flesh: briefly, she will retain for herself, her will, her mile, and her lambs, ordering her goods, dignities, offices, and all her works for her own honor, and utility, loving herself with a self, and disordered love, refusing to offer ought of all this to almighty God. For these causes, or for part of them, she strayeth and wandreth from the fold, exposing herself to the peril of eternal damnation, falling into the mouths of the infernal wolves, who go raging, to rent her in pieces and devour her.
O accursed sheep, whom his pastor forsakeeth. O wretch that I am, who so long time have lived like a wandering sheep, following my fantasies and fulfilling mine own will, contrary to the will of almighty God! O how many sheep are there in the world which stray in this amend, everyone walking his own way, whose sheep coat hereafter shall be hell! O most pitiful pastor, recall them with the whistle of thy divine inspirations, and vouchsafe to open they interior eyes, to the end they amy see their error, before the time of remedy be utterly past, Amen.
4. Ponder fourthly, the infinite charity of the Pastor, who left the ninety nine sheep, in good security in the desert, and went to seek the lost sheep, and rested not until he had found him. For this cause he came from heaven down into earth, to call and seek sinners, and in this exercise, spent the three lsat years of his life, suffering excessive labors, and persecutions, even to the enduring of death, with most terrible torments: and albeit it is true, that he died for the whole hundred sheep, because in virtue of his death, all men received whatsoever supernatural good is granted unto them, yet did he seek, with more anxiety after the strayed sheep of his own time, not omitting sundry means whereby to find them.
O soveraigne pastor, how dear do these sheep cost thee, thou having no necessity at all to them. For although they should all have been lost, what loosest thou? Wouldest thou peradventure clothe thyself with their wool, sustain thee with their milk, or enrich thee with their lambs? and if thou desires to have sheep, hast thou not others a great deal better, in thy Kingdom of heaven, which behave themselves faithfully in thy service? but thy charity, (o my God) is cause of all this, and because it behoveth them, to be under thy government, thou says that it behooveth thee to bring them tothy fold. Et ills operetta me adducere, them also I must bring to my fold. Gather them therefore (o Lord) together, and bring them to thy obedience, that as thou art one, and a most perfect Pastor, so thy flock may be one, and a most perfect flock, Amen.
5. I will also ponder the manner how even at this present also, Christ our Lord, doth seek this lost sheep until he find her, seeking her, by heavenly inspirations, and illustrations with interior touches of the heart, some whiles moving the tongues of the preachers to call her, and persuade her to penance: sometime speaking also unto her, by the means of spiritual books, of good examples, or of chastisements, imposed upon others: yea a thousand means doth he invent to seek her, never resting until he find her. And when I feel, any of these inspirations within my soul, I am to imagine, that Christ our Lord, doth come to seek me, and acknowledging his divine presence, I must endeavor to obey whatsoever he shall command me, to return with him unto the fold from whence I am fled.
Venerable Luis de la Puente