The Sunday Within The Octave Of The Ascension GOSPEL St. John 15:26-27 & 16:1-4 The Saturday Meditation:
St. John 15:26-27 and 16:1-4
At that time, Jesus said to His disciples: When the Paraclete cometh, whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceed eth from the Father, He shall give testimony of Me: and you shall give testimony, because you are with Me from the beginning. These things have I spoken to you, that you may not be scandalized. They will put you out of the synagogues: yea, the hour cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doth a service to God. And these things will they do to you, because they have not known the Father, nor Me. But these things I have told you, that, when the hour shall come, you may remember that I told you of them.
As the Holy Ghost at Pentecost gave a very mighty testimony of Christ unto the disciples, that he was God, and the Saviour of the world: So did the disciples give an evident testimony of the same to the world, according to these words of Christ: The holy Ghost when he commeth, shall give testimony of me.
This testimony of theirs did not consist so much in their preaching the Gospel to the world, as in their persons, what they were, to wit, poor-seely illiterate men, and of the paucity or fewness of them, to wit, twelve in number, and of the quality of their doctrines, to wit a doctrine contrary and repugnant to the sweet pleasures and delights of the world, teaching poverty,and contempt of the world, chastity, prayer, fasting and other austerity & perfection of life; & to whom were they sent? to wit into all parts of the world, and to all the Princes and Potentates of the world.
That these men should convert so many Nations and Kingdoms, together with their kings and Governors, this was the thing that gave testimony to the world that Christ was very God. And Although Christ wrought many miracles,that gave sufficient testimony he was God, yet none so much as this.
This was that which Christ alluded unto here in these words (And you shall give testimony of me) making the chief force of the sentence in this word (You) as if he should, You that are such poor- seely illiterate men, you that are so few, you that are to preach such harsh and ungrateful doctrine to the world, you that are contemptible men in this world, you shall give testimony of me, sayth Christ,that I am God: and such weak contemptible persons did Christ chose as St.Paul sayth of purpose, to confound and convert them that were wise, them that were strong, that is to say, them that were wise, them that were learned, them that were rich, them that were potent, them that were princes and Potentate of the world.
And as it was a might miracle for such men to plant the Catholic religion in the world, so was it a great miracle,and as evident a confirmation of the other, that it was not dissolved all this while,to wit sixteen hundred years (for so long is it since it was planted throughout the world:) for as Gamaliel argued of it, if it be of man, it will quickly have an end, if of God, it will not be dissolved, do men what they can:but the Catholic Religion hath continued sixteen hundred years and cannot be dissolved; therefore it is of God.
Another point to be considered is, in that Christ foretold them of nothing but of afflictions and persecutions,yea and death itself, that they were to expect in the preaching thereof, it is an evident sign, they were not drawn by any worldly motive to preach the Gospel of Christ,but by the mere force and operation of the holy Ghost, by which they were so so confirmed that all the afflictions and persecutions of the world , could not daunt them, not deter them from giving testimony of Christ, that he was God, and the son of the true living God.
Which courage and strength of the disciples, could proceed from none but God. We see earthen vessels or bricks, before they be baked in the fire, they are quickly brused and bowed hither and thither, and put quite out of fashion, and dust and straws will cleave unto them; but being baked, they are strong and admit no such inconveniences.
Such weak ones were the Apostles before the coming of the holy Ghost upon them: but after they were baked in the fire of the holy Ghost, they were so confirmed in grace that they feared not to suffer any thing for Christ,yea they rejoiced at it and esteemed it a matter if great dignity & glory so they might plant the Gospel of Christ: They feared not those that could kill the body,and afterwards had no further power, but him that after death could cast body and soul into hell fire.
As when a man passeth over a river in a small boat if another standing on the shore, give it a great push in the setting forth, he seemeth as if he would overturn the boat, & drown him that is in it, but indeed he helpeth him forward, and setteth him quickly on the other side where he would be: So did the Apostles esteem all their persecutions, & afflictions but a push of their enemies,which hurt them not, but helped them quickly over the river of this world into heaven.
This did they esteem their persecutors, and this did their persecutors unto them, as Christ here sayth,because they knew not him nor his Father, wherein he seemed, in some part to excuse them; but what will he say of those persecutors of his people, for this cause, that know him, and his Father,and cannot plead ignorance, for what they do?
A Plaine Path-Way To Heaven By Fr.Thomas Hill 1634