First Sunday After The Epiphany Which Is The Sunday Within The OCTAVES Thereof GOSPEL Luc.2.42 The Thursday Meditation
Luke 2. 42-52 GOSPEL
When Jesus was twelve years old, they going up into Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast, and having fulfilled the days, when they returned, the Child Jesus remained in Jerusalem, and His parents knew it not. And thinking that He was in the company, they came a day’s journey, and sought Him among His kinsfolk and acquaintance. And not finding Him, they returned into Jerusalem, seeking Him. And it came to pass that after three days they found Him in the Temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, hearing them and asking them questions. And all that heard Him were astonished at His wisdom and His answers. And seeing Him they wondered. And His mother said to Him: Son, why hast Thou done so to us? Behold Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing. And He said to them: How is it that you sought Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business? And they understood not the word that He spoke unto them. And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them. And His mother kept all these words in her heart. And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and grace with God and men.
They lost Jesus in the way thinking he had been in the company. That is to say, is being the custom for men to go with men, and women with women, and children with either of both; our blessed lady, and St Joseph observed this godly custom, by reason whereof when they returned from the Temple; our blessed lady missing her little son, thought he had been with the men in the company of St. Joseph: and Joseph missing him, thought he had been with the women in the company of his mother; but he tarried behind in Jerusalem unawares to them both.
This separation of men and women also in the Church, a traverse being drawn between them, Saint Augustine, Saint Ambrose, and other fathers of their time, labored to bring into use, and stood much upon it; used it is in some Catholic countries, and to be wished, it were used generally in all Churches of any great resort; then peradventure women would not be so much in curious dressing, and painting themselves to be seen, and desired of men, nor men so much provoked.
Abraham brought a place to bury in which had a double grotto, or vault in it separated one from another, the one to bury men, the other women. There he buried Sara his wife, and brought it upon occasion of her death. It seemed to Abraham a decent thing for men, and women to lie separate even, after they were dead: much more in the Church, where they are to apply themselves only to serve God, without distractions of mind, which they can hardly do, being together as the vanity, and iniquity of these days are.
It conduceth much to doing well, to shun the occasions of doing ill. When the Serpent, which was Satan, had asked Eve, why they did forebear to eat of every tree of paradise: she answered, of the tree that stunted in the midst of paradise, God hath forbidden to eat (or to touch it) where God did not forbid to touch it, but only to eat thereof; but Eve understood well, that God forbidding to eat of it, forbid also implicitly or indirectly to touch it: touching it being a great temptation, to eat it; yea her curious beholding it how fair, and delightful it was to her eye, was the occasion of her eating it, and consequently the original of a so great a monster as original sin, and of all the mysteries proceeding thereof.
The sons of God; saith the Scripture, seeing the Daughters of men that they were fair: chose them wives of whom they listed: that is to say, men that professed God, and were commanded not to marry with them that did not profess God as they did; giving themselves, over curiously to, and fix their eyes upon the beauty of women, married where they were forbidden, where they list, (as the text saith.)
Or thus: men that confessed God, and knew the law of matrimony, giving themselves over curiously to behold the beauty of women, fell in love with them, and being in love would have whom they list for their wives, though other mens wives against their husband wills, (as wicked Herod had his brothers wife), and of this little occasion of curious beholding of others mens wives, or others, whom men were forbidden to marry, came upon the whole world the universal drowning thereof.
Behold of how small occasion, how great mischief do proceed” and pray continually, as King David did after he had tried a woeful experience thereon, in curious beholding Urias his wife naked, Turn away my eyes O Lord that they behold not vanity, and think, as he pronounced of the daughter of Babylon (which may signify a soul subject to sin) happy is he that can dash out the brains of her children, as it were against a stone, when they are little ones, that is to say: that can prevent sin with rejecting the very first motions, and occasions thereof: which unless we do, we shall hardly avoid the sin itself.