The Second Sunday After Easter The Gospel John 10 v.11 Monday Meditation: A Plaine Path-way To Heaven Thomas Hill 1634
MURILLO, Bartolomé Esteban
Christ the Good Shepherd
At that time Jesus said to the Pharisees: I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd giveth his life for his sheep. But the hireling, and he that is not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and flieth: and the wolf catcheth, and scattereth the sheep: And the hireling flieth, because he is a hireling: and he hath no care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know mine, and mine know me. As the Father knoweth me, and I know the Father: and I lay down my life for my sheep. And other sheep I have, that are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd. Jn 10:11-16.
Christ after these words, I am the good shepherd, said, I give my life for my sheep: though he gave his life for all, yet he sayth not here I give my life for all, which had been a more ample benefit to have gloried in, if he had sought his own glory, but he said, I give my life for my sheep. That is to say, for those which be good sheep, which is least: and St. Mark sayth, speaking of the blood of Christ in the blessed Sacrament relateth that Christ said of it: This is my blood of the new Testament which shall be poured out (not for all but) for many; as if he would make a distinction between all, and many: and the like sayth St. Matthew: He died for all the world sufficiently, as Divines distinguish, that is to say: his death was sufficient in it self for all the world & a thousand worlds more (if there were so many) but effectually or efficaciously for those only that be his sheep, that is, for those that he foreknew would be his by a true Catholic faith and good life.
Which dependeth partly of themselves to make their redemption which was sufficient in it self efficacious: these Christ calleth his sheep, the rest, if they want a true faith, as heretics dom they are compared here unto wolves, if good works, unto goats in another text, and Christ foreknowing what every one would be, did offer up his death and passion for his sheep, not for the wolves nor goats: only this is our comfort, we may if we with the grace of God, which is never wanting, of wolves or goats become sheep, as St. Paul and St Mary Magdalen did, for as St. John sayth, Christ hath given power, to as many as believe (aright) in him, to be made the sons of God, which is all one with the sheep of Christ.
Now to discern whether we be of the number of the sheep of Christ or no, which he efficaciously died for as aforesaid, and shall be saved, we must consider whether we have the properties of sheep or no.
Sheep are very obedient and tractable to their shepherds, and this doth Christ note in them in another place and commend unto us for a principal good property, that they will follow their shepherd wheresoever he goethm as shepherds use to go before their sheep in that country where Christ made this example to wit in the land of Judea, or they will easily go driven before as they use here in our country, & if If they scatter abroad they will easily come together with a whistle or the like.
Such obedience must we have if we will be sheep to our governors & pastors if they do once hear his whistle or voice. And Christ sayth in this Gospel, those that be sheep will quickly know his voice, for his voice is the doctrine of the Catholic or universal Church, which is so plain and easy to be known, that as the prophet Esay sayth very fools cannot miss it; yea if by nothing else yet by the very name Catholic, for God never permitted any company of religion to have that name but were so indeed: and this it should seemGod did, that none be they never so simple need to fail in the choice of their faith.
That the Prophet Esay meaneth the Catholic Church (for his words are not plain) I prove thus: Either he meaneth The holy Scriptures or holy Church (for he calleth it a holy way not the Scriptures for they are hard to understand as St. Peter testifyeth, and experience teacheth, for all heretics err mistaking the sense of the Scripture, which I suppose they do not of purpose, but through the hardness and sundry senses thereof.
Therefore he meaneth the holy Catholic Church, which may be as easily known as the kings high-way.
Another property of sheep is, they are very timorous: blessed is the man sayth the Scripture, that is always fearful, that is to say, at all times and in every place.
Another is, when they run together they are frighten at nothing more then at their own noise, which maketh them runneth faster and faster.
Nothing should fear us, and make us run faster in the way to heaven then the noise of our own wicked thoughts words and deeds in our conscience, if we consider them well.
Sheep when the shepherd leadeth them to the pasture, by the way as they go they take but here & there a little snap or mouthful as they go, till they come to their pasture where they are to sill themselves.
We are pilgrims or Travelers in this world, we are not to glut and satiate ourselves in the pleasures and delights thereof. I shall be satiated saith the prophet David unto God, when thy glory shall appear, that is to say, I must not satiate myself here, but keep my stomach hungry for heavenly delights: blessed be they that hunger for they shall be satiated.
Lastly to omit other properties of sheep which we should imitate, these being sufficient, if we have them; Sheep will feed more hungerly and eagerly towards the end of the day, towards the evening : so ought we, howsoever we have done in our life before, in old age and especially towards the time of our death to feed earnestly, and hungerly of the food of our souls, which God hath provided us, as Prayer, Almes, Fasting, deeds of charity, spiritual and corporal, & above all frequent of the blessed Sacrament of the Altar, with the other wholesome Sacrament of Penance, to prepare us worthily thereunto.
Happy is he sayth Christ whom our Lord God shall fins at last so doing.
If we have these properties, then are we of those sheep for whom Christ our good shepherd saith here, he giveth his life.