The Second Sunday in Advent The Gospel Math. 11 v.2. Sunday Meditation: A Plaine Path-way To Heaven Thomas Hill 1634
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.
Saint John the Evangelist in a vision, heard an Angel with a loud voice utter these words: If any man adore the beast, and his image; and shall carry hi character in his forehead,or in his hand: this man shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mingled with pure wine in the cup of his wrath &c.
The forehead is the seat of shamefastness.
Those that here are said to carry the character, or mark of the beast,that is, of the devil, in their forehead; are such, as not ashamed of their public sins: but rather glory and boast thereof,as the filthy Sodomites did.
Now the sin which most usually (next unto drunkenness) men are not to commit publicly, and be not ashamed of it,when they have committed it; is lascivious, and lecherous talk: in such sort, as if they thought it a credit for them to excel therein: and as if they did it of purpose to strive, who could enkindle one another soonest with that dangerous fire; or defile one another most, with that carnal filth, which we ought to avoid most carefully, lest (as the wise man sayth of pitch) the more we touch it,the more we be fouled with it.
Of this St. Paul warneth us,saying: Fornication, and all manner of uncleanness,let it not be so much as named amongst you, as it becommeth saints.
God himself taught us, whom we have occasion to speak thereof,how modestly,and sparingly to speak: when even of the honest act of matrimony his wonted manner of expressment is with such reverent,and decent terms.
Now if it be so detestable a sin to boast of uncleanness in talk, and common conversation: much abominable is it to live publicly in wicked carnality and dishonestly without shame of men, orcare of scandal.
This was the case of Herod, who cast St. John the Baptist in prison,from whence the saint sent his message to our Savior, of which the gospel treateth.
Herod, though professing the true religion of the people of God, yet was not ashamed to keep his own brothers wife, in public incestuous manners,his brother yet living: for which his shameless dishonestly, holy St. John, out of his zeal to Gods honor reprehended this prince, and lost his life for his zeal,and gained the crown of martyrdom.
Herod, that in his wicked life,carried the character of the beast in his forehead, professing himself publicly one of the Devils servants: had his sentence accordingly, to drink of the wrath of God, mingled with the wine of his carnal pleasure.
Let us, then devoutly pray that our Lord preserve us from the like: and not stick stoutly, with St. John, to reprehend it in other; especially such as are preachers, & pastors of souls, though it cost them their lives: for Gods honor, and our neighbors salvation requireth this zeal at our hands.