Third Sunday After Pentecost The Gospel Luc.15.v.1. Thursday Meditation: A Plaine Path-way To Heaven Thomas Hill 1634
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.
This man that the parable speaketh of, is the man Christ Jesus the good Shepherd. He had at the creation of mankind, a flock of a hundred sheep, to wit, Angels, distinguished into nine several Orders, ranks or degrees, one above another; signified by the number of ninety nine,& mankind signified by the number of one, which made up the hundred.
Having lost one,to wit, mankind, the second person in Trinity, the son of God, who is also the same God with his Father, left the ninety nine, to wit the Angels in heaven, and descended into the earth, put on the habit of a shepherd, our Humanity, and sought this one sheep, by preaching the Gospel, and confirming it by miracles, such as no man ever did the like,nor none but God could do; and having found him, brought home to the fold of the holy Catholic Church, upon his shoulders, by the merits of his death and passion upon the cross, suffering the punishment due to our sins upon the same.
Being come home to heaven again by his glorious Ascension, he called his friends, and neighbors, to wit, his Angels, who are his friends, because they do his will, according to that Christ said to his apostles, If you do my will, you are my friends: they are his neighbors,because they are nearest unto him in his glory,always beholding the face of God, and attending upon him, according to that of St. Paul: Are not all of them (meaning Angels) administering spirits, sent in ministry for them that shall receive the inheritance of salvation? & according to that of Christ, where he sayth, that the Angels of little ones, always behold the face of God in heaven.
The Angels and Saints in heaven make great joy at the finding of every lost sheep,that is to say, at the conversion of every sinner; yea as much as at their own facility,out of the perfect charity they have, which loveth another as much as himself; and it may be said to be greater joy which they have of one sinner converted,then of ninety nine just ones,because it increaseth their joy, being a new joy added thereunto.
The other parable of the woman, that had ten groats, and lost one, is to the same sense, only changing the shepherd into a woman,the hundred sheep,into ten groats,the leaving the ninety nine sheep,and seeking the one that was lost,into none groats,seeking one that was lost; the rest is all a like.
The woman may also aptly signify the wisdom and goodness of God the Father,that sought mankind,being lost by sin; the Candle, Christ Jesus, who said of himself, I am the light of the world.
Or the woman may signify our Blessed Lady the glorious Virgin Mary,who with Christ as it were a Candle in her hands, sought sinners that were lost, in that she assisted Christ that did seek them,in bearing Christ into the world,in doing the offices of a Mother unto him,in being the principal Advocate and mediatrice of intercession, as a most merciful mother, between Christ her son and them, she having this Office conferred upon her not only as she was the mother of Christ, but especial Commission from Christ, hanging upon the cross, as it were by his will and testament, when he said to her of St.John, both of them standing under the cross: Woman behold thy son,that is to say, All my beloved disciples, and children, as he is, with thy motherly intersession, as if they were thine.
And as for these publicans and sinners that came unto Christ, for as much as Christ sayth, No man can come unto him, unless his Father draw him, to wit, by his holy grace, though they seemed here to come unto Christ, and to seek unto him, yet it was he indeed that by his preventing grace sought them, and drew them unto him, and so found them out that were lost, and having found them, made much of them, and rejoiced thereat.
Blessed be Christ, that out of the coming of these sinners unto him, took occasion to comfort other sinners, though as bad as these, with this sweet parable to draw them to come unto him,and to hear & obey him as they did, be their sins never so great, considering that Christ said, He came not to call the just, but sinners, unto repentance, that there may be the greater joy in heaven.