Fourth Sunday After Easter GOSPEL John 16. 5-14 The Friday Meditation: A Plaine Path-Way To Heaven By Fr.Thomas Hill 1634
GOSPEL John 16. 5-14.
At that time Jesus said to His disciples: I go to Him that sent Me: and none of you asketh Me: Whither goest Thou? But because I have spoken these things to you, sorrow hath filled your heart. But I tell you the truth: it is expedient to you that I go: for if I go not, the Paraclete will not come to you: but if I go, I will send Him to you. And when He is come, He will convince the world of sin, and of justice and of judgment. Of sin, because they believed not in Me: and of justice, because I go to the Father, and you shall see Me no longer: and of judgment, because the prince of this world is already judged. I have yet many things to say to you; but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will teach you all truth. For He shall not speak of Himself: but what things soever He shall hear He shall speak, and the things that are to come, He shall show you. He shall glorify Me: because He shall receive of Mine and shall show it to you.
As absence from the person or thing we love over much,together with prayer & other good employments is the most sovereign means to receive the grace & gifts of the holy Ghost commended unto us by Christ in his departure from his disciples, and their remaining in Jerusalem ten days, in prayer and expectation thereof, to wit, from the Ascension of Christ unto Pentecost or whitsontide, so is the presence of those persons we love overmuch, & idleness the greatest impediment thereunto or rather the way unto all manner of vice and dissolution of life.
Of the former the Scripture sayth thus; His breath (that is to say, the speeches of one that is ill given) maketh dead coals kindle; that is to say is able to en kindle him to evil that he converseth withal, though he were dead to it himself: and in another place his speech doth burn like fire, of which matter St. Gregory the great relateth a thing worthy to be noted.A certain Hermite that live in a wilderness in Egypt,a man for sanctity and holiness very famous, as there were many that lived in those deserts, a blessing to the Country for that Christ and our Blessed Lady and St. Joseph lived there seven years when they fled from the persecution of Herod that sought the death of the child this man I say as St.Gregory relateth, had converted a young maiden, an infidel, unto the Catholic faith, who being baptized and well instructed, was shut up in her chamber to live a solitary life, there she arrived unto that height of perfection, that she heard every day Angels singing,& making heavenly melody, and at last our Saviour Christ himself, did vouchsafe to visit her oftentimes and feed her with wonderful comfort, and her Ghostly Father did oftentimes hear it with his own ears; but because she was not wary & provident enough, but did admit of the company, and conference of a certain man, she was so solicited and tempted by him, that through the instigation of the Devil, she suffered herself to be deflowered and went away with him; the holy Hermite thinking she had been in her Cell, singing with Angels, as she was wont. She came at last unto that ruin of her soul, that she lived in a brothel house & got her living by the lewd use of her body: whereby we may see how the speech and conversation of the wicked may en kindle the coals of sin in the hearts of others, when it did so, and in so great excess in the heart of this holy Virgin, one would have thought had been sealed up to god, and safe enough though afterwards by the said holy Heremite she was converted again, and did great penance for her sins.
Oh what great reason had St. Paul to cry out unto us, He that standeth let him take heed he fall not: and for fornication in particular, he teacheth us this lesson only, fly sayeth he, from fornication, as if should say: the only remedy for that, is to keep ourselves far from the occasions thereof: of which the chiefest occasion is, the presence and conversation of that party where the danger is.
Of the other, to wit Idleness, and want of good employment Solomon asketh this question: who sayeth he, can find a strong or valiant woman? meaning a (man or) woman strong and valiant in resisting of sin: and after he had commended such a one very much in the person and figure of a woman, he adjoineth these words: she putteth her hands strongly and busily unto employments, and her fingers to the distaff, and spindle.
Supposing now that Solomon speaketh of a man, as well as of a woman,what valor is there in a distaff and spindle? is it not rather a womanish exercise,wherewith they upbraid effeminate men and such as have no valor, saying they are fitter to spin amongst women, then to be amongst men in manly exercises? Wherefore it is not meant that spinning is a valiant exercise, but that the hard following of that, or any other good employment, be it never so mean of slight to keep us out of idleness, will arm us,& make us strong & valiant against sin and the temptations thereof.
Hereby we may see what an effectual means to receive the grace and gifts of the holy Ghost, absence of those persons of things is, which we are apt to bare over great affection unto, especially if it be accompanied with prayer, where unto if we join continual employment in some good Exercises to keep us from idleness, we do by absence as it were, fly away from sin, upon the two wings of prayer & employment.
These three Christ here teacheth his disciples. The first by his departure from them: the other two by bidding them stay in Jerusalem ten days, in prayer and other good exercises, till the coming of the holy Ghost, that thereby they might prepare themselves to receive the grace and gifts thereof.