Third Sunday After Pentecost The Gospel Luc.15.v.1. Sunday Meditation: A Plaine Path-way To Heaven Thomas Hill 1634

MASTER of Female Half-lengths 
Madonna and Child 
c. 1530

GOSPEL Luke 15: 1-10 
At that time, the publicans and sinners drew near unto Jesus to hear Him: and the Pharisees and Scribes murmured, saying: This man receiveth sinners and eateth with them. And He spoke to them this parable, saying: What man is there of you that hath a hundred sheep, and if he shall lose one of them, doth he not leave the ninety-nine in the desert, and go after that which was lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, lay it upon his shoulders rejoicing an coming home, call together his friends and neighbors, saying to them: Rejoice with me because I have found my sheep that was lost? I say to you that even so there shall be more joy in heaven upon one sinner that doth penance, more than upon ninety-nine just who need no penance. Or what woman having ten groats, if she lose one groat doth not light a candle and sweep the house, and seek diligently until she find it? And when she hath found it, call together her friends and neighbors, saying: Rejoice with me because I have found the groat which I had lost? So I say to you, there shall be joy before the Angels of God upon one sinner doing penance.

Sunday Meditation 

Fowlers to catch birds with their net, do use many cunning inventions: amongst which one is, they do not appear themselves in their own likeness, but take a live bird of the Kind of those they would catch,and tie it within the compass of their net, where unto other birds of the same kind will resort, and so they catch them in their net;  otherwise if they appear in their own likeness they fright them away and lose their labor.

Almighty God when he did cast the net of the law of Decalogue or ten Commandments upon the mount Sinai, to catch the people in obedience thereof, he did it with great Majesty & terror, with terrible lightning, thunders & smoke in his own likeness, that is to say like a God of Majesty and terror: but the people were much frightened thereat,and said unto Moses; Speak thou unto us,and we will hear thee: (because he was a bird of their own feather) let not God speak unto us, least we die.

Wherefore when God was to give us the new Law, he sent his only begotten Son to preach & proclaim it unto us, not in the terror and Majesty of a God as he did before, but in the form and likeness of a man, calling himself the Son of man, to catch men in the net of his obedience, conversed lovingly & familiarly with men, taught, and instructed them as a man, cured the sick and diseased,confirmed his doctrine with miracles, did good unto all, harm unto none: & though the people for his doctrine,life,and miracles,could not but esteem him as a Prophet and a most good man,and a man of God, yet still a man, and a bird of their own feather, & though indeed he was no sinner but purity itself, and impeccable,yet as St. Paul sayth, he appeared in the likeness of the flesh of sin; that is to say, with all the infirmities of man, sin only excepted, as if he were a sinner: by which art or invention he caught so many men as St.Peter did fishes till his net was ready to break again, which was so many as to make up the number of the Catholic or Universal Church throughout all the world; whereas in the net of the old Law he could catch but the Nation of the Jews only, & hardly them, nor them neither to bring them to any perfection; for as St.Paul sayth, the old law brought nothing to perfection.

Amongst the rest came unto his net these publicans & sinners here in this Gospel, who came unto him not as the Scribes and Pharisees oftentimes did, to catch him in his speech, as the Gospel sayth, and to be catched of him: they came to him as the sick unto the physician, as the guilty unto their Patron, as sinners unto a man of mercy, as unclean unto a lavatory, as straying sheep unto their shepherd, as the blind to one that was able to make them see. hereby we may learn that forasmuch as the son of God to catch men, hath not only put on the similitude & likeness of a man, but hath left in his place to preach his word, and to administer Sacraments of salvation unto us, pastors, mortal & frail men as we are, sinners as we are, such as St. Paul saith, that being subject to the same infirmities we are, know how to compassionate us, and deal gently, familiarity, and lovingly with us, birds of our our own feather, not to be frighted from them with any vain and frivolous worldly pretense whatsoever, but to come unto them, as the Publicans and sinners here did unto Christ, sincerely to hear the word of God, and receive the Sacraments of our souls health and salvation, not with a mind to catch them, or to carp at them in their speeches, thereby to excuse or defer our obedience to God: but to be watched of them un the net of obedience, knowing that though birds be caught by fraud to be killed, an therefore have cause to shun the net as much as they can: yet men are watched in the net of obedience to God, to be preserved from the death of the soul, into everlasting life, and therefore have reason to be caught, to offer themselves to be caught, to concur as much as they can to be caught, it being their their ready way to salvation, so to be caught.

Concerning our confession of sins to a Priest to have absolution, some are frightened to confess their sins unto a Priest, because he is a man as they are, a sinner as they are, but this should animate and induce them thereunto the more: so doth St. James the Apostle seem to reason in these words of his, Confess your sins one to another, that they may be forgiven you, as if he should say: For as much as God hath given such power unto mortal men as you are, sinners as you are, to forgive sins; think not much to confess your sins to such, nor stick at it,as we would stick more to confess our sins to some great Prelate then an ordinary priest; neither when St. James biddeth us to confess our sins one to another, can those words (one to another) be understood of one that is no Priest, for that commonly we ought not to do, for defaming ourselves; & if we should do it, yet thereby we could have no remission of our sins, for such as are no priests have no such commission, as Priests have.

And as men may learn hereby to come more cheerfully & confidently to confession to their pastors, so pastors may learn here of Christ the chief Pastor, not only to receive penitent sinners when they come unto them, but also to seek them out, as the shepherd in the Parable did one straying sheep, leaving ninety nine the while to themselves, & not only to seek them, but having found them to accommodate themselves unto them, & beare with them as much as they may without sin, to conserve and keep them from going astray again, how soever others do murmur at them, as the Pharisees did here at Christ, for receiving publicans and sinners and eating with them; or the other ninety nine just ones, for leaving them alone to seek one sinner, & seeming to make more of him when they have found him, then of them, as the elder good Son did at his Father, for receiving and making much of his prodigal brother: whereat St. Paul was so good, that to win people to Christ, he made himself to the Jews a Jew, & to the Gentiles a gentile, and in a word, to all men, all things, meaning so far as he could without sins, howsoever others barked against him.




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