Septuagesima Sunday The Gospel Mat. 20 v.1. Monday Meditation: A Plaine Path-way To Heaven Thomas Hill 1634
GOSPEL Matt. 20:1-16At that time, Jesus spoke to His disciples this parable:"The kingdom of heaven is like to an householder, who went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. And having agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour, he saw others standing in the marketplace idle. And he said to them: 'Go you also into my vineyard, and I will give you what shall be just.' And they went their way. And again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did in like manner. But about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing, and he saith to them: 'Why stand you here all the day idle?' They say to him: 'Because no man hath hired us.' He saith to them: 'Go ye also into my vineyard.' And when evening was come, the lord of the vineyard saith to his steward: 'Call the labourers and pay them their hire, beginning from the last even to the first.' When therefore they were come that came about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. But when the first also came, they thought that they should receive more: And they also received every man a penny. And receiving it they murmured against the master of the house, Saying: 'These last have worked but one hour. and thou hast made them equal to us, that have borne the burden of the day and the heats.' But he answering said to one of them: 'friend, I do thee no wrong: didst thou not agree with me for a penny? Take what is thine, and go thy way: I will also give to this last even as to thee. Or, is it not lawful for me to do what I will? Is thy eye evil, because I am good?' So shall the last be first and the first last. For many are called but few chosen."
This Sunday being three weeks before lent, the Church invite us to labor in Gods vineyard this Lent, and to that purpose appointed this gospel to be read, and peculiar name, to witt, Septuagesima Sunday because it is seventy days before Easter,and the next, Sexagesima as being Sixty days; & the next Quinquagesima being fifty days before Easter, which serve to prepare us for the worthy keeping of Lent.
Consideration for Monday
The occasion of this parable was this.
A certain man in the gospel came to Christ, and asked him what he should do to gain life everlasting?
Christ answered: keep the commandments, he replied, that he had always done it; but, as it seemed, he desired more perfection: wherefore Christ said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go,and sell all thou hast, and give to the poor, and follow me, and thou shalt have life everlasting.
Saint Peter hearing, this said privately unto Christ. Behold Lord, we have forsaken all we have, and followed thee. But alas, all that we had, were but a few poor nets and tacklings, which are nothing to the wealth of this rich man; what shall we have? shall we have nothing like so much?
Christ answered, when the Son of man shall come in judgment you shall sit upon twelve seats, and judge the twelve tribes of Israel; which is more: signifying hereby, that he will not reward men according to the measure of there works, but according to the love.
And devotion of their hearts, and therefore the prophet David calleth him the God of his heart, that is to say, that respecteth his heart more then his works, as he did the poor widow that gave but two mites.
And to describe this point more to the life, Christ proposed this parable to show that as he that came last into the vineyard, to wit as the eleventh hour, and labored but one, had equal wages with them that came early and labored all the day.
So they that come late to the true faith and service of God, shall have the same wages, as they that come sooner, to wit everlasting salvation, if they come with a true & sincere heart to the honor and glory of God as well as to their own good!
A certain and undoubted sign whereof is this, if he that cometh late is sorry he was not called sooner, that he might do God the more honor, and service; and resolveth to persevere in the service of God to the end, and labor so much the more diligently, by how much the latter he came.
For although God might do what he pleaseth, as the parable saith, the Master of the vineyard might, and might give his wages without these respects to such as serve God only for their own salvation, and for fear of damnation; yet it is like he doth it for those respects aforesaid; as it is probable those laborers in the vineyard, that were hired late,did for gratitude (as well as their own good) that the Master would be so good as to give them as much as the rest.
And surely if those that come late to the service of God do not work so much the harder for gratitude, and the greater honor of God: yet in prudence they are to do it, that, as Saint Peter saith, they may by good works make their election, and vocation sure: that they be not prevented or intercepted by any impediments; especially by death.
Wherefore if we come late to the service of God, yea if we come never so early, (for all our life time is little enough) let us not loiter nor be idle nor procrastinate the time, to serve God,but as Saint Paul counsel us, let us make hast to enter into the Kingdom of heaven, least the door be suddenly shut upon us, as it was upon those five foolish Virgins in the gospel; we being more foolish then they, having their example, this parable, and the counsel of Saint Peter, and Saint Paul, as aforesaid, for our instruction.
Neither let us murmur or repine that the last should be first, and the first last: that is to say, that the last have as much as the first: for every one is sure to have this due at the hands of God, who rewards according to the heart which man cannot discern; neither is there any thing at all due unto us in rigor,but out of the free promise of God, and if God would be so benign, and courteous, as to give us the Kingdom of heaven for a matter of nothing: shall we be so un-courteous, and clownish as to do nothing for him again?