TWENTIETH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST THE GOSPEL JOHN 4.V.46-53 SATURDAY MEDITATION: A PLAINE PATH-WAY TO HEAVEN THOMAS HILL 1634
GOSPEL (St. John 4:46-53)
He came again therefore into Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine. And there was a certain ruler, whose son was sick at Capharnaum. He having heard that Jesus was come from Judea into Galilee, sent to him and prayed him to come down and heal his son: for he was at the point of death. Jesus therefore said to him: "Unless you see signs and wonders, you believe not." The ruler saith to him: Lord, come down before that my son die. Jesus saith to him: "Go thy way. Thy son liveth." The man believed the word which Jesus said to him and went his way. And as he was going down, his servants met him: and they brought word, saying, that his son lived. He asked therefore of them the hour wherein he grew better. And they said to him: "Yesterday at the seventh hour, the fever left him." The father therefore knew that it was at the same hour that Jesus said to him: "Thy son liveth." And himself believed, and his whole house.SATURDAY MEDITATION
Having spoken somewhat of Prayer by the way, in the former Meditation, we will say somewhat more in this, not of Prayer, but of an especial condition thereof, Perseverance, and taking opportunity thereof, this King ministering Occaſion of both, by his importunity with Christ, to go to his house, and taking his opportunity when Christ was in his journey, & therefore might the more easily be won to go a little out of his way, who accounted it neuer out of his way to do good.
His importunity, and Perseverance in his Sute, though after a commanding fashion yet it should seem supplied his want of faith, and won Christ not only to grant his request in substance of curing his ſonne, though not in circumstance of going to him, but alſo to convert him & all his houſhold, which was a far greater benefit of the two.
To shew how great the virtue of perseverance in prayer is, I will only add vnto this example, a Parable which Christ proposed to that purpose.
After that Christ, had set down a form of prayer, called our Lord's Prayer, and said, we ought to Pray always, he propoſed this parable.
There was, sayth he, a Judge in a certain City, that did neither fear God nor man, there was a certain Widow in that City that came to him and said: Revenge me of my adversary, and he would not for a long time.
At last he said within himself, thus: I fear not God, nor man, yet because this widow is troublesome unto me (for she plied him very importunately, as it should seem a long time) l will revenge her, least; she tax me at last . And Christ having proposed this parable, concluded thus.
Mark what the Wicked judge sayth: and shall not God revenge his elect that cry unto him day and night? and can he have patience at it? I say unto you, he will revenge them, and that quickly.
No doubt Christ could have found other comparisons to haue expressed this, then to have compared himself to a wicked Judge; & did make comparison another time to this purpose of one friend coming to another, to borrow - bread at an unreasonable time, to wit, at midnight when he & all his household were in bed, & told him he would not rise, yet through his importunity, and perseverance, he arose and gave him; and likewise he compared himself to a Father to the like Purpose: but here he would compare himself to a wicked Judge, a monster, that neither cared for God nor man, to show the wonderful force of perseverance in prayer, & confidence in God's benignity & mercy; & St. James speaking of the powerfulness of Prayer, with God, sayth not, the prayer of a just man, but, the continual prayer of just man awayleth much; as if the continuance in prayer were more then the prayer.
For though we cannot fell a tree at one stroke, yet with many we may: much prayer though not fervent may be equal to little though more fervent.
The opportunity this King took, was when Christ was travailing upon the way to another place, thinking he might get him to go with him the sooner: whereby we may learn, to observe opportunity of times, & places or prayer, I mean holy days, holy times, holy places, and also when we may be freest from distractions, & the like.
And of holy times S. Paul exhorteth the Corinthians thus: Receive not the grace, or favour of God in vain for God sayth, In an acceptable time I have heard thee, & in the day of salvation I have holpen thee: Behold now is an acceptable time, now is the day of salvation.
These words our holy Mother the Church applieth unto the holy time of Lent, a grace & favor of God, as all other holy days & holy times are; whereunto S.Paul did allude in his wordes aforesaid, which we must got let pass in vain without making profit thereof, if we will follow his Counsaile.
In that this King went himself in person, & sent not another, we may learn not to content ourselves with the prayers of the Church, though they be ours, or with the particular prayers of others whom we procure to pray for us, and not pray also ourselves, nor to be the less careful to live well, but to pray also ourselves, and to live well, that the common prayers of the Church, and of others in particular, may be the sooner heard in our behalf.
Christ was not so honoured & esteemed in Iudea as he was in Galilee, and therefore he went out of Judea into Galilee, and loved more to be in Galilee then in Judea; not because he was more honoured there, but because where he was more honoured and respected, there they more willingly heard his doctrine, and profited thereby.
A preacher that leadeth a good life and giveth good example, all places are Galilee vnto him, because the people do honour and respect him wheresoever he preacheth, and are willing to hear and obey his doćtrine: but he must not love his own honour for his honour, but for the peoples profiting in goodness thereby.
This king desired that Christ would go his house to cure his sonne, the ArchMaster of the Synagogue desired the like for his daughter, there was no difference but that this King came himſelfe to Chriſt, which kings vſe not to do, but for to shew more honour and reſped to whom they go and left his sonne when he was at the point of death, which parents will be loath to do, but upon great confidence in whom they go to, and was importunate, for which he was the more to be commended: there was no other difference, I say, between this King, & the Maiſter of the Synagogue, but that, wherein this King seemed to have the better, and yet Christ went presently with the Master of the Synagogue, but the King he reprehended his incredulity, saying, Unless ye see signs and wonders, yee will not believe, he demanding neither sign nor wonder.
Here let them that think well of themselves for their virtue and good works, think humbly of themselves, and fear as Job did all their, works, seem they neuer so good, because we cannot dive so deeply into our intentions or works, as he that made us, can and will.
There it a way, saith the scripture, that seem to man right, which to God iſ not, but at last leadeth to death.
Lastly this king believed, and all his household by his means.
Happy is that man who so carrieth himself that being converted converteth others: For he that converteth a sinner from the error of his life, sayth S. James, must know, that he saveth his soul, and covereth a multitude of sins.