SIXTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST THE GOSPEL LUC. 14. V. 1. SUNDAY MEDITATION: A PLAINE PATH-WAY TO HEAVEN THOMAS HILL 1634
GOSPEL - Saint Luke 14:1-11
At that time, when Jesus went into the house of one of the chiefs of the Pharisees on the Sabbath day to eat bread, they watched Him. And behold, there was a certain man before Him who had the dropsy: and Jesus answering, spoke to the lawyers and the Pharisees, saying: "Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day?" But they held their peace: but He taking him, healed him, and sent him away. And answering them, He said: "Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fall into a pit, and will not immediately draw him out on the sabbath day?" And they could not answer Him these things. And He spoke a parable also to them that were invited, marking how they chose the first seats at the table, saying to them: "When thou art invited to a wedding, sit not down in the first place, lest perhaps one more honorable than thou be invited by him and he that invited thee and him, come and say to thee: Give this man place: and then thou begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when thou art invited, go, sit down in the lowest place: that when he who invited thee cometh, he may say to thee: Friend, go up higher. Then shalt thou have glory before them that sit at table with thee: because every one that exalteth himself shall be humbled and he that humbled himself shall be exalted."
We read in the old Testament that for some kind of sins especially Idolatry amongst the Jews,and not only Idolatry itself, but for persuasion and inducing thereunto, if any such were found in a City; not only the City should be destroyed by fire, man, woman, and child, but all the cattle, goods, & household stuff should be brought into the midst of the streets, and set on fire, and that City should not be reedified, and built again, but should be as anathematized, or accursed to God: and this was not only the command of God for terrification sake, but divers examples thereof.
We might think this to be a most cruel and barbarous penance, but that we know, that God punished all the world, not only with grievous corporal punishment, but with damnation of their souls for eating of one forbidden apple, as also he doth daily, though he hath redeemed us, again, for one mortal sin unrepentant, & yet we are to think (as the truth is) that he doth punish us short of our desert,and reward us far beyond.
Hereby we may gather, how infinite great and good a thing God is, whose offense requireth such a horrible penance, and what a foul and ugly Monster sin is, that bringeth forth such a huge and hideous hurt, that we may learn both to love and fear God, and hate the devil, who is the author, and executioner of sin.
Likewise we may infer of these premises, that if sin be so pernicious a thing in itself, as to deserve the ruin of body and soul, and all things else belonging unto either of them, it will easily deprave, and poison our good deeds, if it be mingled therewith, be it but one little drop, that is to say, but one ill circumstance, and especially our intention, which in moral actions,is the chief of all.
Which Christ therefore compared unto leaven wherefore never so little, sowreth a whole lump of dough; and biddeth us, beware of the leaven of the pharisees,which was by Christ his own interpretation, no greater matter then Hypocrisy,doing their good deeds for vainglory,and praise of men.
If sin be so contagious and poisonous as that a little dram of vainglory, will infect the whole lump of our good works,what will other worser circumstances do.
It is not enough to do good for a good end, and with all other good circumstances that belong thereunto.
Our works to make them good, must have all the good circumstances that belong unto them, but to make them bad, any one circumstance is enough.
This Pharisee here inviteth Christ to his table, an act of singular piety and devotion in St. Martha, & St Matthew who did it with all good circumstances that might be: but in this Pharisee a sinful act, because he did it to an ill end, to wit, to observe Christ, if he could entrap him in his words or deeds, and to that end invited other Pharisees to observe him (as the text sayth they did) & to bear witness against him, if occasion were offered; whereby he did not only loose the merit of his good work, but offended God thereby.