Third Sunday After Pentecost The Gospel Luc.15.v.1. Friday Meditation: A Plaine Path-way To Heaven Thomas Hill 1634
HEMESSEN, Jan Sanders van
The Prodigal Son
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.
We may see by the joy that isin heaven for the conversion of one sinner, and by the leaving of ninety nine sheep in the wilderness at hazard, to seek one that was strayed away, how loath God is to loose one of his sheep, which he hath bought, not with the corruptible price, as St. Peter sayth, of gold or silver, but with the precious blood of the son of God, & therefore how much we should fear to loose our own souls, or the souls of others by our ill example, or not help to save a soul to the uttermost of our power, if it were but out of equity and justice, to render unto God that which is his own, that which he hath so dearly bought; but being not only for that, but for our own loss, the loss of our souls, that is to say, the loss of the unspeakable joys of heaven, and incurring of the perpetual torments of hell; the greatness of which loss we may gather by greatness of the price, and the love of him that paid it,not for any interest of his own,but for mere love and compassion towards us: how should we not fear and tremble, if we love ourselves, to come within the least hazard or danger thereof in the world, that is to say, of one venial sin, least one should draw on another, and that another, and soon after another, till that be verified in us that the wise man Solomon warneth us of, saying: He that neglect little things,by little and little falleth away quite; considering also the seemly, and foolish nature of a sheep, where unto a sinner is here justly compared.
For if you lose a jewel,you may find it in the place where you lost it, it goth no further; if any domestic living thing, it will return home one time or other, as Pigeons, Comes, & Deer, as wild as they are; but a sheep straying away goeth further & further,and never findeth the way home again, unless he be sought; & he must have a great deal of seeking in hills and valleys, woods, and groves, hedges and ditches, and the like: So a sinner, and yet such is the boundless mercy, and love of God towards him, that he never is weary of seeking him: Oh that we had but the nature of a dog, that being lost a hundred miles off, will find the way home again!
Or that being like sheep in not returning home of ourselves when we are lost, we would be like them also in bleating at least (as they will do) that being lost, we may bleat, and cry out unto God, the Shepherd of our poor souls, with the Prophet David and say: O Lord I have gone astray like a sheep that is lost, seek thy servant, who hath not yet quite forgotten thy commandments.
Here a question may be asked,how God is said to leave ninety nine just ones, that he may seek one sinner, he never leaving any, much less the just,unless they first leave him? He leaveth them no otherwise, then as a Prince that having had a favorite, whom he hath much advanced, and afterwards taketh another into his favor, may be said to have left the first, though we dwell in his Court still, and be never so well left.
So the just that are almighty Gods first favorites,he may be said to leave them, because he taketh new ones, to wit, publicans and sinners into his favor, & show more tender signs of love unto them, as the Father did in the Gospel (Luc.15.v.31) towards his prodigal son at his return home, more then he did to his eldest son that had served him obediently, and faithfully all his life time: but as he said to his eldest son who repined thereat, Give me leave, son, to make much of thy younger brother, who was lost and now I have found him again, was dead and now is alive, behold all that I have is thine: So almighty God sayth unto a just man, that marveleth at the grace and favors of God,towards his prodigal son, a converted sinner, Thou art my eldest son, all that I have is thine, give me leave to make much of thy younger brother, a penitent sinner, who was lost & now I have found him again, was dead and now is alive: Thy reward shall be far greater in heaven then his,unless he arise to very great fervor and devotion as Peter,Paul,Matthew, & Mary Magdalen did,which is but rare to find.
Besides,this Comfort thou hast, that whereas non shall be saved, but those that preserve to the end, thou by thy habit and custom of justice art like to persevere; the sinner by his custom and habit of sin doth easily fall away.