The Third Sunday in Advent The Gospel John 1. 19-28. Tuesday Meditation: A Plaine Path-way To Heaven Thomas Hill 1634
John 1. 19-28 GOSPEL
At that time the Jews sent from Jerusalem priests and Levites to John, to ask him: Who art thou? And he confessed, and did not deny; and he confessed: I am not the Christ. And they asked him: What then? Art thou Elias? And he said: I am not. Art thou the Prophet? And he answered: No. They said therefore unto him: Who art thou, that we may give an answer to them that sent us? What sayest thou of thyself? He said: I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the Prophet Isaias. And they that were sent were of the Pharisees. And they asked him, and said to him: Why then dost thou baptize; if thou be not Christ, nor Elias, nor the Prophet? John answered them, saying: I baptize with water: but there hath stood one in the midst of you, whom you know not. The same is He that shall come after me, who is preferred before me: the latchet of whose shoe I am not worthy to loose. These things were done in Bethania, beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
Consideration for Tuesday
As Saint John was the Forerunner, and harbinger of Christ, to prepare his ways in his first coming into the world when he took his holy humanity for us in the womb of the blessed virgin: so now also in these days of advent, doth he exercise the very same office in all the service of the Church; which so aptly accommodated to our instruction the history of saint Johns forerunning: that every gospel (which is the chiefest part always of the service) seems to be in very deed the cry of saint John, calling us to prepare the ways of our Lord, by which he may willingly come to be lodged in our souls. So also the sermons, and exhortations of preachers in this time, that do understand the intent, and scope of holy Church in the service of advent, (as they ought to do) are nothing else but an explication, and application of saint Johns voice in the desert, proclaiming unto us, prepare the ways of our Lord. And all good motions, and inspirations, which by attentive assistance at holy service, and wholesome sermons, are stirred up inwardly in our souls, are the preparations to make way for Christ to come unto us. If we hearken to these Precursors or Harbingers of Christ, but put not their ways, and cries in execution, deferring them, and delaying them from time to time we do then as it were detain them in bonds and in prison, as Herod did saint John the Baptist, If we harken not to them at all, or not only defer their admonitions but contemn them, and reject them: then we do as it were behead saint John Baptist with Herod. For good motions, or inspirations, are the heads of good deeds, and if we cut them off, we behead, and kill all hope of good works, as it were in their infancy, or first budding, and beginning.
Blessed indeed be they, that stifle their sins in their infancy, that is in the first springing, when they do but begin to have their motive: Daughter of Babylon, (saith the prophet, to be understood speaking to a sinful soul) Blessed are they that take thy little ones, that is the first motions, and suggestions of sin and dash them against the rock, which is Christ Jesus. But the daughter of Jerusalem, the soul that intended to prepare in her a lodging for Christ, is happy, and blessed, if she nourish up her little ones, that is her good motions, and desires inspired by grace, and conceived by prayer, and attentive consideration of Christ forerunners, his preachers, and of his divine service, and bringeth them carefully to effect. And here may also the pastors, and governors of souls learn a worthy lesson. Saint John might have taken upon him with great show of probability those glorious titles, of the Prophet, of Christ, or Elias, as indeed he had the spirit, and virtue of Elias; but he chose a far meaner title in the judgment of the Jews who would in manner have enforced more upon him; and styled himself only the voice of a crier, that summoned men to prepare the ways of our Lord.
So ought all good pastors, and directors of souls; to refuse all other titles, & only acknowledge that which is properly theirs, and pleases God most, to be lively loud voices sounding cheerfully the preparation of Christ ways. But as the Jews,when they perceived Saint John by his own profession, to be neither Christ, nor Elias, nor the long expected Prophet, demanded of him, how then he presumed to Baptize: so ought the pastors and guides of souls, if they be neither Christ by imitation of charitable suffering for their charge, nor Elias in zeal of they spiritual good, nor Prophets in preaching, and instructing their flock: fear this question, that may be made them: why then doest thou take so high a function upon thee?