Septuagesima Sunday The Gospel Mat. 20 v.1. Saturday Meditation: A Plaine Path-way To Heaven Thomas Hill 1634
GOSPEL Matt. 20:1-16
At 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 Saturday
The Master of the vineyard paid the laborers their wages at the end of the day.
Here we may learn two profitable lessons.
The one that the devil also hireth laborers to serve him, but his fashion is to pay them their wages before hand, giving them pleasures,and worldly delights in this short and transitory life, but maketh them labor, and toil in torments,and punishments forever in the next; of whom the Prophet David saith,And he shall labor forever,and yet live to the end. But our good God setteth his servants to lobar,and take pains in this short, and transitory life, and payeth them with the penny of everlasting rest, and felicity in the next; he keepeth his best wine till last: but the devil (that he may the more easily win them to his Service) craftily give us the best first, (whereby he deceives almost all that drink of his cup) and the dregs at last, of which the prophet David saith, all the sinners of the earth do drink.
The other lesson is, by the paying the wages at the end of the day, is signified that none shall have it but those that continue and preserver to the end: None shall be saved saith Christ, but he that preserverth to the end. It is a principal slight of the devil to entice men to give over their work at last, that so they may loose (as the Proverb saith, both their labor and cost.
So he went about to persuade Christ himself by the mouth of the people (even at the last when he was upon the cross to consummate all) that if he were the Son of God,he should then descend, and save himself, and they would believe him. He hearken not unto them, but fulfilled the works of our redemption.
Of which devout St. Bernard maketh Christ answer thus: Because I am the son of God and must consummate my fathers will, therefore I will not descend. The like answer may we make the tempter, if at any time he tempt us, to give over our good works before we have finished, because of the difficultly thereof (as commonly that is his pretense) we may answer him,because we would be the sons of God by imitation,we will not; or because it is difficult or hard therefore we will not give it over,least shunning a less difficulty,we fall into a greater.
A certain holy man had a vision of the pains of hell, and purgatory: where upon,he gave himself to incredible austerity of life.
And when anybody asked him (as many did)why he afflicted himself so much:he would answer,I have see greater. The avoiding of the difficulty, and hardness of purgatory is a motive why we should sustain difficultly,and hardness here.