FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY GOSPEL MT.8.23 THE SATURDAY MEDITATION
GOSPEL (Matt. 8:23-27)
At that time, Jesus entered into the boat, and his disciples followed him: And behold a great tempest arose in the sea, so that the boat was covered with waves, but he was asleep. And they came to him, and awaked him, saying: "Lord, save us, we perish." And Jesus saith to them: "Why are you fearful, O ye of little faith?" Then rising up, he commanded the winds, and the sea, and there came a great calm. But the men wondered, saying: "What manner of man is this, for the winds and the sea obey him?"
Christ foreseeing his disciples weakness, and that it was necessary, he should to reprehend them for it: he took them, a part from the company, and went into a ship with them, where he might privately do it: and there he rebuked them for their weakness of faith, and called them men of little faith; which peradventure if he had done before the people, they would have been scandalized there at, thinking, if his especial disciples, that followed him, and knew him best, but did weakly believe in him; they might be the better excused therein, (as the nature of scandal is, to make another mans errors, or ill example, an excuse or cloak for our own): wherefore Christ to avoid the scandal of the people, that were with him upon the land, (as there was a great multitude,) took them into the ship, and there rebuked them privately for their weakness of faith, that having seen him do so many miracles before, did not believe he could save them now, and that as well asleep as awake
Likewise he did it in honor of priesthood, he being to confer that dignity upon them, as he did at his at supper, saying unto them, do this, you see me do, that is to say, consecrate my body, as a sacrifice to God: learning a lesson unto us, not to rebuke or reprove priests or spiritual persons publicly, or to speak by way of detraction, of their faults, and imperfections behind their backs, where they are not known, where by many may be scandalized or stumbled in their religion, thinking the very tree of religion it self cannot be good, if it bring forth such ill fruits, especially in them that should be the salt of the earth and light of the world, as well by their lives as doctrine.
Of this Conſtantine the most Christian Emperor hath this most, worthy sentence.
If I saw (saith he) with my own eyes the priest of God or any clothed with a religious habit, to sin, I would take of my cloak, and cover him, that he should not be seen of others.
And Saint Paul warn us to be wary how we rashly, and lightly accuse a priest: Which he forbidden to do under two or three witnesses.
Also Christ rebuked his disciples privately to teach priests, especially those that be ghostly fathers and pastors of people, not to rebuke or tell them of their faults publicly to their disgrace, nor over harshly: but privately, and gently, when by they may win them to amendment, and not loose then by austerity, and rigor, as oftentimes it falleth out.
Whereof Saint Paul doth admonish us in these words: brethren, saith he, of a brother be over taken with some fault, you that are spiritual, that is to say, of more perfection, instruct him in the Spirit of levity, considering thy self, that thou mayst likewise be tempted.
And the general rule of all kind of persons is, that which which Christ give us with his own mouth: if our brother offends us, to go, and admonish him privately between our selves, if he hear us, saith Christ, he have gained our brother, by which words (We have gained our brother ) it appeareth, our end, and mark we should shoot at, is to gain our brother.
If he hear us not, we may admonish him before two or three witnesses: if he hear us not so we may tell the Church, that is to say, we may deal publicly with him: but all must be to this end, to win or gain our brother, which commonly is better done by fair, and private means, then by the contrary.
A Plaine Path-Way To Heaven By Fr.Thomas Hill 1634