Tenth Sunday After Pentecost The Gospel Luc.18. v. 9. Tuesday Meditation: A Plaine Path-way To Heaven Thomas Hill 1634
The Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple
At that time, Jesus spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves as being just and despised others. Two men went up to the temple to pray, the one a Pharisee and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and began to pray thus within himself: ‘O God, I thank You that I am not like the rest of men, robbers, dishonest, adulterers, or even like this publican. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I possess.’ But the publican, standing afar off, would not so much as lift up his eyes to heaven, but kept striking his breast, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me the sinner!’ I tell you, this man went back to his home justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted.
This noble virtue was wanting to some that this Gospel speaketh of, namely them that did trust and confide in themselves,as though they were just, and did despise others in comparison of themselves, that is to sat: some, that for a little shadow of virtue which they apprehended to be in themselves, did think better of themselves them there was cause, and contemned others in comparison of themselves: being like unto them that have such weak brains, that a very little wine will make them drunk: such there are many that perceiving any little spark of external virtue in themselves,as if they pray a little more then ordinary, of fast, or give alms, or frequent the Sacraments, presently they are puffed up with pride, and a great opinion of their own virtues, and small estimation and contempt of others in comparison of themselves.
Wherefore our divine Master Christ,that he might show us how far these are from that Virtue, and Righteousness which they do arrogate to themselves, proposed this parable of two men which went up to the Temple to pray, where we will meet with them by the way, and ask them,what conceit they have of the Temple & whether their prayers may not as well be heard at home in their chamber as there?
First they will tell us, that Solomon the builder of the Temple, praying in the Temple said this: O Lord my God, vouchsafe to hear the prayer which thy servant pours forth in thy presence: where Solomon seemeth to say, that to pray in the Temple, is to pray in the presence of God, where God doth exhibit his presence more then in another place, by reason whereof they that came thither to pray, as it here said that these two did and perform it well as one of them did, to wit the Publican, they might have confidence, that God would hear them rather there,then in another place: and this was a thing that Solomon requested of God when he built the Temple, that whosoever did pray there, or if he could not come thither,if he did worship God,or pray looking towards the Temple, his prayer should be the sooner heard; and this was the reason why Daniel having three windows to his chamber, and one of them looking towards the Temple, used to pray at that window; and when they they took him keeping his chamber while they were at their Idolatrous service, because he would not be at it,they found him praying at that window that looked towards the Temple; whose prayers as it seemed had good effect, that being carried away and cast into the Lions den to be devoured, the Lions would not touch him, & therefore he was advanced so highly into the kings favor, that he was made the second man next to the king.
We having heard these men tell us this of the Temple, we will tell ourselves, that if the Jews might be so confident in their prayers made in the Temple that they should be heard,and that they were there in the presence of God more then in other places; we that are Christians may much more think the same of our Churches, whereof the Temple was but a Type,or shadow,where besides the consecration and dedication thereof, Christ our faithful Mediator and Advocate unto his Father, is truly & really present in the Blessed Sacrament, and Sacrifice of the Mass,and especially if we be present there, with that devotion as the place requireth, and our frailty will admit; which if we be not, there is small hope of having our prayers, or Service accepted, but rather think we may offend God more then if we prayed in another place.
And that as king Assuerus said unto Aman his great favorite, when he found him sitting upon his bed with Queen (not intending any ill to her, but making his moan for the kings displeasure against him) What, quoth the King, finding him thus, I think he will violate my wife also in my presence, and in my house, which he spake by the way of amplification,because these circumstances to offend one in his own presence,and in his own house, do aggravate the offence very much: So God may say unto them that come to pray, & serve him in the church, and do it not with that devotion, reverence & attention as they ought, What? I think they come to offend me,even in the Church, in my presence, in my own house of prayer.