The Third Sunday in Advent The Gospel John 1. 19-28. Sunday Meditation: A Plaine Path-way To Heaven Thomas Hill 1634
John 1. 19-28 GOSPEL
At that time the Jews sent from Jerusalem priests and Levites to John, to ask him: Who art thou? And he confessed, and did not deny; and he confessed: I am not the Christ. And they asked him: What then? Art thou Elias? And he said: I am not. Art thou the Prophet? And he answered: No. They said therefore unto him: Who art thou, that we may give an answer to them that sent us? What sayest thou of thyself? He said: I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the Prophet Isaias. And they that were sent were of the Pharisees. And they asked him, and said to him: Why then dost thou baptize; if thou be not Christ, nor Elias, nor the Prophet? John answered them, saying: I baptize with water: but there hath stood one in the midst of you, whom you know not. The same is He that shall come after me, who is preferred before me: the latchet of whose shoe I am not worthy to loose. These things were done in Bethania, beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
Consideration for Sunday
The Epistle of this Sunday exhorted us to joy and gladness of spirit, giving us the true cause why we should rejoice in these words: Rejoice always in our Lord, I say again rejoice; let your modesty be known to all men, for our Lord is nigh. And the beginning of the Gospel telleth us how carefully we should seek our Lord that is so nigh: as the Jews did (if they had persevered to seek) when they sent Priests and Levites to ask John, who art thou? because they knew by all circumstances that our Lord was neigh: and were persuaded, that either John was he, or else knew where he was.
Let us in like manner ask ourselves, who is this, that is coming tour peculiarly this Advent, and is so near at hand? because Christmas day, the day of our dear Lord is nigh at hand.
Our faith will presently answer our thoughts, and tell us, that we know, it is Christ our Savior, the Redeemer of the world. But it is necessary also, we should know, who we ourselves are that go forth as it were to meet him, and to entertain him this time of Christmas; we must therefore demand of ourselves everyone, who art thou? We have an answer ready, that we are men. creatures endued with reason, with understanding and judgment to guide ourselves. Let us then ask farther, what kind of men we are? Whether we be nor such men as the prophet David discribeth: Man (saith he) when he was created in honor, understood not himself, he was compared unto beasts, and became like unto them: knowing the rule of reason, and yet following his unruly sensuality. But though we be such as are guided by reason in our desires and actions; yet that is not sufficient to make us worthy to meet our Savior Christ. The name Christ, signify, anointed by his heavenly father with the oil of grace above all others, and that that is above all pleasure.
We also are anointed with grace in our baptism, but in a certain measure by participation of Christ, and with hallowed oil in token thereof, and for that cause called Christians, or the anointed of God. So then, if we ask, who are fit, this holy time, and worthy to go meet our Lord Christ, we answer, that own but Christians. But neither is this enough to make us worthy to meet him: But as Christ cometh tour in our similitude and likeness; so must we go and present our selves to him in his similitude and likeness; not in that natural similitude only, wherein God hath created us: but by sincere imitation of his gracious perfections and virtues: especially of lowliness and humility, which is lively represented unto us this Christmas in his incarnation, and Nativity, and in the manner of it, more wondrous then the heart of man can imagine. In this we must play the painter: who drawth in a picture one thing like to the image of another, and as that is their trade and profession; so also must we be spiritual painters, and paint our souls with the likeness and colors of Christ our Lord and master, which are his virtues and perfections, And this must we do, not only now at this feast of Christmas: but it must be our work, our trade & profession all the feasts and holy times of the year, in which our holy mother the Church doth expose unto us Christ our Savior, as our pattern to imitate. But particularly this advent let us begin with a new fervor so to do, and prepare the ways of Christ: to come unto us this new year.
And where can we better learn how to do this then of Saint John the Baptist, Precursor, and forerunner, of Harbinger of our Lord, who was sent to prepare his way before him. Who being demanded of these ambassadors sent by the Jews, who he was? answered: a voice of one crying in the wilderness, prepare the ways of our Lord. He saith not. I have a voice; but, I am a voice; meaning that not only his words and his cry, but his apparel, his diet, and all he did, was a voice that did preach penance and the coming of Christ. So must we: not profess only with our voice but with our apparel, our diet, our actions, our conversation and carriage, that we are Christians, and prepared in good earnest to the entertainment of Christ; especially with true humility, the best smoother of his ways, which Saint John here practiced in a high degree, as is seen in the discourse of this gospel.