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For I have not spoken of Myself, but the Father Who sent
Me, He gave Me cominandment what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that His commandment is Life Everlasting. .. Even as the Father said to Me, so do I speak (vv. 49, 50).
A. Our Blessed Saviour, the Eternal Wisdom, with profound humility of Heart speaks nothing from Himself, only what His Father has commanded ; and we, who have so little wisdom, are ever inclined, in our insane pride, to speak and act on our own impulse.
B. All false religions would cease to be, if those who teach adopted this rule of our Lord: “I speak nothing of Myself, but only what My Father hath commanded ”, All who have care of children, and all in authority, have great need to fix this word in their hearts by meditation : The words that I speak to you, I speak not of Myself (St. John xiv.).
C. I know that His commandment is Life Everlasting. How blessed shall we be if we thoroughly persuade ourselves that God's commandment is Life Everlasting, that every word of God is the bread of life for our souls, both here and hereafter! Blessed is the man who hath not walked in the council of the ungodly, nor stood in the way of sinners, nor sat in the chair of pestilence. But his will is in the Law of the Lord, and on His Law he shall meditate day and night (Psalm i.). Let not the book of this Law depart from thy mouth ; but thou shalt meditate on it day and night, that thou mayest observe and do all things that are in it; then shalt thou direct thy way and understand it (Josue i.).
MOUNT OF OLIVES. THE NIGHT AFTER PALM SUNDAY,
These things Jesus spoke, and He went away and hid Him
self from them (St. John xii. 36). In the day-time He was teaching in the Temple; but at
night going out He abode in the mount that is called
Olivet (St. Luke xxi. 37). Leaving them, He went out of the city into Bethania, and
remained there (St. Matt. xxi. 17). A. After crying out with a loud voice His parting earnest word of warning, He went away and hid Himself from them.
It was easy for Him, as has been said, to hide Himself. Whenever He pleased their eyes were held and they could not recognise Him. Surrounded, then, by His chosen ones He passes away unnoticed. Contemplate Him with His Blessed Mother and His Apostles, and other faithful followers, walking tranquilly through the midst of His enemies who see not because He so wills. They know not whither He is gone, and He by going hinders many sins that His presence would have occasioned among His implacable enemies.
“O Jesus, Hidden God, have mercy on us, that we may see Thee, for our eyes also are held.”
B. At night He abode in the mount that is called Olivet.
Where, then, did He pass the night? Some interpreters think that He spent this night and the three following in the Garden of Gethsemani, preparing for His Sacred Passion by prayer.
We know that He passed the whole night in the prayer of God (St. Luke vi.) before He selected His twelve Apostles. The occasion is now more solemn, and He would naturally wish to teach His future martyrs to prepare for their conflict by long and earnest prayer.
“Merciful Lord Jesus, give us grace ever to remember that even when the spirit is willing, the flesh is weak, and that if we pray not, we shall enter into temptation.”
C. Consider how easy it is to devote the night hours to any work that we love, and how unwilling we are to watch when we love not. When we read how the Saints spent nights in prayer, we must remember that love for Jesus Christ had become in them a strong passion. To those who have used holy violence, and torn down the veil between their souls and Jesus, His conversation hath no bitterness, nor His company any tediousness, but joy and gladness (Wisdom viii.).
What could the heart of our Blessed Lady do during these holy nights but watch with her Son, wishing what He wished, weeping when He wept, rejoicing at what consoled Him ?
D. Contemplate our Saviour during these night hours. He has around Him the olive-trees, the corn-fields, and the vines; and, as has been said, they give consolation to His afflicted Heart, for He is thinking how souls will be gathered to Him through the wheaten bread and the juice of the grape; and how His dying servants will be soothed, and sanctified, and purified from the remnants of sin by the olive oil. Thou waterest the hills, O Lord, that Thou mayest bring bread out of the earth, and that wine may cheer the heart of man, that he may make the face cheerful with oil, and that bread may strengthen man's heart (Psalm ciii.). But bread and wine and oil are to do better and holier work than this.
“ Attendite.” O stay a little while, and watch the Sacred Heart of Jesus planning to become as bread and wine and oil for His people, and often asking His angels, His Holy Mother, and His eternal Father, What is there that I ought to do more to My vineyard that I have not done to it? (Isaias v.).
E. When we are angry and resentful, we are not planning to become bread or wine or oil to our neighbours, but by wrangling to roar at them as enraged beasts do, or to sting them cunningly as venomous serpents do, or to bite as dogs do. Beware of dogs, St. Paul writes. Without are dogs, St. John writes (Apoc. xxii.). They allude to those who with venomous tongues malign the children of the Church.
The Holy Ghost tells us that sinners go about not acting like bread and wine and oil towards their neighbours, but spreading infection by their words. Their throat is an open sepulchre (Psalm xiii. 3). Martha did not wish her brother's grave to be opened, lest the stench of corruption might be perceived. We can understand the force of the Psalmist's comparison by the mischief so often caused in our days by bad drains. We might write the similitude in this way :
" Their throat is like a bad drain”. Large sums are spent to get rid of a defective drain. Every one understands that no pains must be spared. It is a matter of life and death. Meanwhile there is above ground, in the drawing-room and dining-room, a bad drain continually spreading poison ; one who by tale-bearing, detracting, calumniating and backbiting the absent, is every day and every night destroying the good name of a neighbour, poisoning the souls of listeners, and dishonouring grossly God the Father Who created, and God the Son Who redeemed, by thus wantonly multiplying sins.
F. We must think how we can imitate the Sacred Heart of our Lord, and plan to become good bread and wine and oil to our neighbour. By instructing others we feed and strengthen them. By cheering them and bringing back hope to their hearts we do the work of good wine. By soothing sorrow, by allaying anger, and bringing quarrels to an end we act as the oil of olives.
G. In the night He abode in the mount that is called Olivet.
Thou hast appointed darkness and it is night, the inspired Psalmist writes. In it shall all the beasts of the woods go about. The young lions roaring after their prey and seeking their meat from God. The sun ariseth and they are gathered together, and they shall lie down in their dens. Man shall go forth to his work and to his labour until the evening (Psalm ciii.).
Man then is to be abroad by day, and the wild beasts by night. The night is man's time for repose ; repose for the body, repose for the soul; for the body through sleep, and for the soul through intercourse with Jesus Christ our Lord. The stillness and darkness is created to favour sleep and to assist prayer. In the day-time the Lord hath commanded His mercy (works of mercy and charity), and a canticle to Him in the night (Psalm xli.).
But the unseen spirits of darkness labour incessantly to spoil God's plans, and induce men to desecrate the sacred night-time.
H. If with perseverance we contemplate Jesus watching by night and praying for us, we shall find that a virtue comes out from Him to us. We shall get grace to cut down sleep to what is necessary and useful for us. We shall win grace to pray when we wake at night or are sleepless, for the Holy Souls and for sinners, and to turn to our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. Some, after being in bed for a little while, rise to pray for a few minutes to secure a blessing on the night, and grace to rise promptly in the morning. St. Ignatius wishes those who make his Exercises in full for thirty days, frequently to make a meditation at midnight. And many holy religious of both sexes carry out our Lord's wish for a canticle to Him in the night by breaking their sleep to chant their 'nocturns.
I. Some commentators think, and apparently with reason, that after praying for some time in the Garden to which He so often resorted, our Lord went on with His disciples to Bethany. This view seems more correct, for St. Matthew and St. Mark state clearly that He went out to Bethania. If so, observe to what a laborious life He trains His followers: since the night is far ad