The Sixth Sunday After Pentecost The Gospel Marc.8.v.1 Wednesday Meditation
GOSPEL Mark 8:1-9
In those days again, when there was great multitude and they had nothing to eat; calling his disciples together, he saith to them: "I have compassion on the multitude, for behold they have now been with me three days and have nothing to eat. And if I shall send them away fasting to their home, they will faint in the way: for some of them came from afar off." And his disciples answered him: "From whence can any one fill them here with bread in the wilderness?" And he asked them: "How many loaves have ye?" Who said: "Seven." And he commanded the people to sit down on the ground. And taking the seven loaves, giving thanks, he broke and gave to his disciples for to set before them. And they set them before the people. And they had a few little fishes: and he blessed them and commanded them to be set before them. And they did eat and were filled: and they took up that which was left of the fragments, seven baskets. And they that had eaten were about four thousand. And he sent them away.Wednesday Meditation
To sustain, may likewise signify here, to preserve & continue with Christ; & so another Evangelist, that writeth this same passage, St. Matthew, doth express it, to wit, that Christ said, I pity this multitude of people, for behold they have now persevered with me three days.
Perseverance in well doing, doth crown the work, without which it is vain to begin, and of our working our salvation (as St. Paul termeth it) or our cooperation thereunto, by the assistance of Gods grace (so far as is required of our part) Christ telleth us, that, not he that beginneth it, but he that perseveres to the end shall be saved.
It is a thing to be infinitely deplored to see how fickle and unconstant we be, in the service of God, and in performing our good purposes therein.
Many begin well, but few persevere in well doing, especially if we take perseverance in that sense, that holy St. Bernard doth, namely that he that doth not profit in virtue more and more, or goeth not forward (as the Prophet David termeth it) from virtue to virtue, or one degree of virtue to another, goeth backward; we often bend our bows to fight with the enemies of our souls, but with the children of Ephraim we turn our backs in the day of battle, or are quickly overcome; and this happen most to the rich, and such as abound with worldly wealth, and delights for as when two wrestle together, to throw down one another, if the one be in his clothes, and the other naked, he that is in his clothes hath a great disadvantage, above him that is naked, because he that is in his clothes, can hardly take hold of him that is naked to throw him down, but he that is naked may easily take hold of the others clothes, and so cast him down.
Worldly goods and the inordinate love thereof (which is seldom separated one from another) are as it were certain clothes or garments put on close about us, whereby in time of temptation or trial in our duty to God, we are easily overthrown.
And therefore religion persons entering int a particular combat, or colluctation, as St Paul termeth it, or wrestling, not only against flesh and blood, but against all the arts & wiles of the devil, do wisely strip themselves of those garments of worldly goods that they may stand and persevere in their fight.
The same happeneth to them that serve God more for fear then for love, because fear lasteth no longer then there is imminent danger, when that is pst perseverance is at an end, but the love of God is always present, In him we live, move, and subsist, as St. Paul saith, therefore as long as we live, move, and subsist, we should always love him, and if we always love him we always serve him: for Christ saith, if we love him, we will keep his commandments: the proof of our love t God is the performance of his service; love cannot be idle,if it be, it is not love; love will not say. Lord, Lord and not do the will of her Lord.
The love of God is twofold, speculative and practical.
The speculative loveth God with an internal act of the will, which none indeed can chose but do, because it is natural unto our will to love that which is good, as the proper object thereof, and much more that which is infinite good, as God is, and not only good absolutely in it self, but relatively unto us, and not a small good but ur principal good, of whom doth consist all our good, which is the greatest motice of love that can be.
The practical love is to do the will of God, and to exercise our internal speculative love by external acts.
Here we may easily deceive ourselves, thinking we love God virtuously and meritoriously, by loving him speculatively with acts of internal love, which kind of love is commonly natural, and weak, deserving no merit at all; The true love of God, and that which is meritorious in his sight, is the practical love, of which the Holy Scripture sayth, Is as strong & able t overcome all difficulties in his service, as death overcometh all things; or strong as death, that is to say, persevered in the service of God even unto death, and in all difficulties, though as hard and harsh unto nature as death it self: or the love of God is as strong as death, in that it maketh us to mortify our worldly & fleshly delights, & inclinations, which is a mortal death.
Wherefore if we would try our love to God what is is, we must measure it by our external actions, not comparing them with those which others do, and we cannot do, but by those we can & do not; for as St. Paul sayth, so the will be prompt, and ready, God accepteth it, according to that we have, not according to that we have not, neither is it sufficient that our will be prompt & ready, to do good unto some particular persons only, according to what we can (for that may be out of self love, or some other sinister respect) but ti all the love of God (which is charity) being an universal Veriture, and respecting all.