The Second Sunday in Advent The Gospel Math. 11 v.2. Tuesday Meditation: A Plaine Path-way To Heaven Thomas Hill 1634
REMBRANDT Harmenszoon van Rijn
Gospel St. Matthew, 11. 2-10.
At that time, when John had heard in prison the works of Christ, sending two of his disciples, he said to Him: Art thou He that art to come, or look we for another? And Jesus making answer, said to them: Go and relate to John what you have heard and seen. The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead rise again, the poor have the gospel preached to them: and blessed is he that shall not be scandalized in Me. And when they went their way, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John: What went you out into the desert to see? A reed shaken with the wind? But what went you out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Behold they that are clothed in soft garments are in the houses of kings. But what went you out to see? A prophet? Yea I tell you, and more than a prophet. For this is he of whom it is written: Behold I send My angel before Thy face, who shall prepare Thy way before Thee.
The reason why Herodias induced her falsely-usurped husband to this execrable act, was the malice which she bore unto St.John Baptist, because he rebuked Herod for keeping his own brothers wife: St. John said boldly unto him,It is not lawful for thee to have thy brothers wife.
Hence we may learn, in how dangerous a case great person are, who commonly cannot endure to hear of their faults but think they must be foreborne for their greatness sake; whereas indeed it is contrary, and may be proved plainly enough even out of these words of St. John: It is not lawful for thee, that art a king, as of he should say, thou maist least do it, then inferior persons: since thou ought to be a pattern,and an example of goodness, and virtue unto others; thy example will do more good, or more harm, then a thousand of thy subjects.
For this cause the scripture sayth, that mighty men, if they be offenders, especially in public crimes,shall be mighty punished.
And this is true; not only in kings, and in great Lords, but also in all manner of superiors, and masters of households or families; who are as it were little kings of Lords in their degree.and place.
It is also worse for great persons to offend, then for those that be of meaner rank: because few are found that dare freely tell them their faults, as St John did to Herod. Nabuchodonosor the Chalden King, when he was at the height of his pride, and wickedness no man daring rebuke him: in midst of his feasting and jollity, when he presumed to drink wine in the holy vessels which his father had sacrilegiously taken out of the temple of God: their appeared unto him to his exceeding terror, a hand writing on the wall over against him a sentence, in these mysterious words, Mane, Thekel, Phares, which is in English; thou art numbered, thou are weighed, thy Kingdom is divided.
After which sentence expounded here by Daniel, he was disposed of his kingdom, and slain by the Medes, and Percians that very night.
His great glorious father, before him attributing to his own strength, and not to God, the majesty, and power of his kingdom: was by divine judgement transformed in shape, and sense into the likeness of a wild beast, and cast out of his kingdom; and so remained the space of seven years, until he came to know himself better, & acknowledge the power of almighty God.
Mighty offenders were these: & mightily punished.
Let then all great persons, and superiors think with themselves, that although no mortal man dare rebuke them for their faults: yet all mighty God writes them their sentence, &doom,if they had grace to see, & consider so much; which sentence because they would not in due season hear from the mouth of men; they shall one day hear of it from the mouth of Christ our Lord, in his dreadful judgment, whether they will or no.