TWENTY SIXTH AND LAST SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST THE GOSPEL MATT. 24. V. 15. SUNDAY MEDITATION: A PLAINE PATH-WAY TO HEAVEN THOMAS HILL 1634
GOSPEL Matt. 24:15-35
At that time, Jesus said to His disciples: "When therefore you shall see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place: he that readeth let him understand. Then they that are in Judea, let them flee to the mountains: And he that is on the housetop, let him not come down to take any thing out of his house: And he that is in the field, let him not go back to take his coat. And woe to them that are with child and that give suck in those days. But pray that your flight be not in the winter or on the sabbath. For there shall be then great tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the world until now, neither shall be. And unless those days had been shortened, no flesh should be saved: but for the sake of the elect those days shall be shortened. "Then if any man shall say to you, 'Lo here is Christ,' or 'there': do not believe him. For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets and shall shew great signs and wonders, insomuch as to deceive (if possible) even the elect. Behold I have told it to you, beforehand. If therefore they shall say to you, 'Behold he is in the desert': go ye not out. 'Behold he is in the closets': believe it not. For as lightning cometh out of the east and appeareth even into the west: so shall also the cowling of the Son of man be. Wheresoever the body shall be, there shall the eagles also be gathered together. "And immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun shall be darkened and the moon shall not give her light and the stars shall fall from heaven and the powers of heaven shall be moved. And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven. And then shall all tribes of the earth mourn: and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with much power and majesty. And he shall send his angels with a trumpet and a great voice: and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the farthest parts of the heavens to the utmost bounds of them. "And from the fig tree learn a parable: When the branch thereof is now tender and the leaves come forth, you know that summer is nigh. So you also, when you shall see all these things, know ye that it is nigh, even at the doors. Amen I say to you that this generation shall not pass till all these things be done. Heaven and earth shall pass: but my words shall not pass."
Immediately before this gospel St.Matthew related how when Christ sat upon the mount Olivet with his disciples, they bid him behold the City of Jerusalem,and the goodly buildings thereof; but Christ answered, the time should come when it should be so utterly destroyed that there should not be left one stone upon another, they suspecting as it seem she meant it also of the day of doom, came to him, and asked him, when it should be destroyed, and when the day of doom should be, and what sign he would give them thereof? and hereupon followed this gospel, wherein Christ gave them divers signs of the day of doom, and divers admonitions against it came.
The beauty, amplitude, and glory of Jerusalem, and the lamentable destruction thereof, was a figure of the world, and of the final destruction thereof at the day of doom, with all the beauty, variety & glory of the same; but so much more lamentable then that, by how much more the thing figured is then his figured, or the substance then its shadow: & that the destruction of Jerusalem was a figure of the destruction of the world, it appeareth in that Christ being demanded of Jerusalem, left that, and answered of the destruction of the world.
The affliction of Jerusalem when it was destroyed was so wonderful great,as nothing greater in the world: yet of the destruction of the world Christ sayeth, there never was the like tribulation from the beginning of the world unto that day, nor never shall be.
As the tribulation of the destruction of Jerusalem was a figure of the tribulation of the day of doom; so may the tribulations of the day of doom be a figure of the tribulations & pains of Purgatory. for the greatness thereof,as appeareth by the piteous cry of a soul in Purgatory unto us here alive, have pity upon me, have pity upon me, at least yee that be me friends; as also out of the piteous expostulation of Job with almighty god, in the person of a soul in Purgatory, in the Lessons of the Dirge, accommodated to that purpose by the Church; only the souls in Purgatory know their pains shall have an end, & after that everlasting felicity in heaven, whereof the very dilation (they being stripped out of the world and separated out of their bodies, and consequently out of all the pleasures and delights thereof, the vision of God being the Center of a separated soul) is as great a pain,as the other, and therefore one cause why the tribulations of the day of doom are so great, is, that the elect might be purged suddenly, before their death, there being afterwards no more Purgatory, for nothing can enter into the kingdom of heaven that is defiled, till it be purged and made clean, and every ones work as St Paul sayth,must be tried by fire, whereof our fire is but a shadow.
Consider thereof the grievousness of our Purgatory after this life, prevent it as much as you can in this life, and second it with satisfactions to be done after your death.
Whereof we have very good means in these days in our poor miserable country, to wit store of poor necessitous Priests in prison for their Religion, who may offer up the sacrifice of the Mass, which both in regard of it self, as also of the Almes,is the most satisfacorious thing that can be done.
This is that of which Judas Machabeus said, it was a holy & holsom thing: this is that whereof St. John the Evangelist sayth in one sense,Blessed be the dead that die in our Lord, they shall rest from their labors, for their works do follow them, that is to say, such alms and prayers as they founded here, to be executed from them, and in their name after their decease, follow them, and free them from the pains of Purgatory, that they quickly be with God, the Center of their soul.