Ninth Sunday After Pentecost The Gospel Luc.19. v. 41. Friday Meditation: A Plaine Path-way To Heaven Thomas Hill 1634
GOSPEL Luke 19. 41-47.
At that time, when Jesus drew near to Jerusalem, seeing the city, He wept over it, saying: If thou also hadst known, and that in this thy day, the things that are to thy peace: but now they are hidden from thy eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, and thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and straiten thee on every side; and beat thee flat to the ground, and thy children who are in thee; and they shall not leave in thee a stone upon a stone, because thou hast not known the time of thy visitation. And entering into the temple, He began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought, saying to them: It is written, “My house is the house of prayer.” but you have made it a den of thieves. And He was teaching daily in the temple.
The cause hereof Christ doth not here express in words but by way of a fact, and example, signifying covertly as much, that it may stick in our memory better then words, & make a firmer impression in our mind; which Christ out of his Fatherly goodness, did us oftentimes, and especially in matters which concern us much, where of this is one.
The fact is this: Christ coming to Jerusalem went into the Temple first, to give us an example that when we travel abroad,and come to Towns and Cities, first to visit the Church, the house of prayers, if we can conveniently do it: and he being in the Temple seeing there people buying & selling, he drove them out of the Temple & said, My house is the house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves, because they rob God and his temple, of that honor due unto them; & because buyers and sellers oftentimes are little better then thieves, dealing unjustly,and fraudulently with one another, which is a kind of theft, and in this worse then theft, because thieves think they do ill, and therefore have remorse and sorrow for it, at least when it is past, but the other think it is good purchase, & never repent them of it, unless it be that they have deceived no more.
Another Evangelist relateth this same fact more at large, and sayth, That Christ overthrew the Tables of the money changers, and made a whip of cords,and whipped them, and the buyers and sellers out of the Temple; and this he did as it were in great anger and fury as it might seem to the people,in so much that he was fain to make his Apology, and excuse himself saying to the people, have you not heard that it is written, The zeal of thy house, O Lord, hath eaten me, meaning that, that place of Scripture was spoken of this fact of his, and that he did it out of zeal: by which fact was signified how much the abuse of his temple displeased God, it being the house of prayer, for obtaining pardon of our former sins, and not to come thither to add more unto them.
Now,to come to that which I principally intended, the cause of so great sin of the Jews, & of the destruction of their glorious City, and Temple In that Christ went into the Temple and cast out, or rather whipped out in such a fury the buyers and sellers, and overthrew the Tables of the money changers and told them, the Temple was a house of prayer and service of God, but they had made it a den of thieves, he did by that fact covertly signify unto them, that the peoples neglect of the service of God in the Temple,being the place of prayer and worship of God, & obtaining mercy and grace to keep his commandments, was the cause of all their sins, whereby they deserved those punishments, and loss of their Temple.
And surely if the Jews were whipped out of the Temple for buying and selling such things in the Temple, that is to say, in some spare and vacant rooms of the Temple,as were needful to the sacrifices and oblations of the temple, and that especially for those that came from afar, and could not be else where provided; what may we think Christ would now do, if he should come into our Churches, Chapels, or Oratories, & find us carry ourselves so profanely and unrespectively,as some women, and young maids do, and those of the better sort, & therefore should give others good example, to squat down upon their heels as soon as ever they come in, and there to sit all the time of the presence of Christ in the holy Mass, scare kneeling up at the time of the elevation; and young lusty strong men,and those of the better sort also, who should give better example to others, to lie all along at their ease upon their Elbows, over a stool or form, as the women sit down upon their heels, & especially if they do it for no necessity, nor altogether for their ease, but to bring in their fantastical new fashions into the Church, as well as abroad.
What would Christ do, if he came into our Churches and places of prayer,and saw the pride of apparel and fantastical fashions they bring thither to be looked at, and admired, the idle words, profane gestures, laughter,gazing at one another, and distracting themselves, as if they were not distracted enough besides, and that not in out-corners or places of the Church,but even in the heart thereof, and these do presume to receive the Blessed Sacrament, forsooth, every Sunday,and holy day,and thereby look to be accounted virtuous people, though they do that also more for vanity, fashion and emulation, then for any true devotion, contemning those that do not receive as often as they do.