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the Temple and only left it at evening, we may perhaps conclude that He spent a considerable time in cleansing the Temple from all profane abuses; and also that He devoted a long time to the work of healing the blind and the lame.
Our little day is passing fast away. For a short while longer we can help Him in His Divine work of curing the lame and the blind : of cleansing and beautifying God's house—His sanctuary, His altar, and also His own house in our souls.
We are surrounded by those who sit in darkness, and by those who are not walking in the way of God's commandments.
Are we making use of our marvellous opportunities? Are we daily becoming more clean of heart ourselves ? Are we converting any of those who have gone astray, from the error of their ways ? Are we covering the multitude of our sins by helping souls to salvation ?
B. In the day-time-in the Temple.--At night—in the Mount that is called Olivet.
Once more contemplate our Blessed Saviour's poverty. In Jerusalem He has not whereon to lay His head.
Had you been living in Jerusalem would you have offered Him a lodging? Alas, even many of the chief men also believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, or entertain Him. Are we more brave against human respect than they ? He does not now pass by our door to go at sundown to Bethany, but He says to us, As long as you did it to one of these My least brethren you did it to Me (St. Matt. xxv.). Bring the needy and the harbourless into thy house ; when thou shalt see one naked cover him and despise not thy own flesh (Isaias lviii.).
C. At night in the Mount.
Neither must we forget how our Blessed Saviour, though so weary, yet when night comes finds His refreshment in praying for us. For night and day, He is always living to intercede for us (Hebrews vii.).
Forget not the kindness of thy Surety (Ecclus. xxix.). For He hath given His days and His nights and His life for thee.
THE ROAD FROM BETHANY. TUESDAY MORNING.
And when they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig
tree dried up from the roots. And the disciples seeing it wondered, saying: How is it presently withered away? And Peter, remembering, said to Him: Rabbi, behold the fig-tree which Thou didst curse is withered away (St. Matt. xxi.; St. Mark xi.).
This morning again, Jesus goes to Jerusalem not by the path over Mount Olivet as on Palm Sunday, but by the lower road round the base of the Mount, as yesterday.
The fig-tree which Thou didst curse is withered away.
Say not, the Holy Ghost warns us, Say not : I have sinned, and what harm hath befallen me ? For the Most High is a patient rewarder (Ecclus. v.). After sin, we can still buy and sell and eat and drink; and we think that no great harm is done. But wait a very little while and the delusion shall be dispelled. At the judgment it becomes manifest that the supernatural life of faith, hope, and charity is gone; and then the Christian men or women—no matter what their natural gifts of body and soul may be, no matter what their position in this world has been—are in the eyes of our Lord as worthless as this dried-up fig-tree. Their sentence is : Depart from Me, accursed.
STATION II. And Jesus answering saith to them : Have the faith of God.
Amen, I say to you, that whosoever shall say to this mountain, Be thou removed and be cast into the sea ; and shall not stagger in his heart, but believe that whatsoever he saith shall be done; it shall be done to him (St. Mark xi. 22, 23). A. Have the faith of God.
Our Lord might have spoken to the Apostles of the coming rejection of the Jews prefigured by this withered tree. He prefers to inculcate a lesson useful to themselves : Have the faith of God; not only the usual degree of faith necessary for salvation; but the vivid faith which enables Apostles to work even greater wonders than their Master wrought (St. John xiv.).
B. We may learn from His example not to waste time in blaming the absent who hear not, but speak what is useful to those who are present and listening.
Luther and Latimer, and others like them, in their sermons loved to inveigh loudly and in coarse language against rulers, ecclesiastical and secular. St. Ignatius of Loyola strongly impresses on his sons that such abuse of absent magistrates and rulers does no good to the hearers, but very great harm to them and to many more besides. The priest in the pulpit is to speak words salutary to those who make it a duty to come to hear him.
Therefore I say unto you : All things whatsoever you ask
when ye pray, believe that you shall receive : and they shall come to you (St. Mark xi.).
Here we have one disposition necessary for successful prayer-strong hope. Observe the difference between faith and hope. I may believe to a certain extent that God is good and very good, but yet allow the father of lies to persuade me that my case is exceptional; that God's goodness and mercy is not adequate to the greatness of my unworthiness. Here hope is wanting. Hope believes that even in my case God will be good and will hear, and will forgive, and will bless, and will love. If any of you want wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men abundantly and upbraideth not: and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea, which is moved and carried about by the wind. Therefore let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord (St. James i.).
We must then pray on with persevering importunity, asking, seeking, knocking; and if a cloud of desolation comes over us and we are tempted to give up our prayer as useless, we must remember the golden rule: Make not haste in the time of clouds. We must not cut short prayer, but rather prolong it.
STATION IV. And when you shall stand to pray: forgive, if you have ought
against any man ; that your Father also, who is in Heaven, may forgive you your sins. But if you will not forgive, neither will your Father, that is in Heaven, forgive you your sins (St. Mark xi. 25, 26).
A. This lesson our Lord taught early in His Public Life, in the Sermon on the Mount. He repeated it later on when He promised His Apostles the power of loosing and binding, and, in answer to St. Peter's practical question, He taught us all that we must forgive not only seven times, but seventy times seven times. Now in these closing days, when every word becomes more impressive, He again, quite unexpectedly, reminds us all of this most important truth, that whenever we pray we must forgive from our hearts ; otherwise our prayer will not be heard. Man to man reserveth anger, and doth he seek remedy of God ? He hath no mercy on a man like himself, and doth he entreat for his own sins ? He that is but flesh, nourisheth anger, and doth he ask forgiveness of God? Who shall obtain pardon for his sins ? (Ecclus. xxviii.). Therefore before we can obtain other blessings, we must secure for ourselves grace to forgive all ; and to forgive entirely from our hearts, not in words only. Perhaps the quickest way of arriving at this necessary disposition is to begin by praying earnestly for those who seem to have wronged us. At first, we seem scarcely to mean what we say--as if the words were only lip words and our hearts were far away—but as we persevere grace grows.
at last to be able to ask blessings for our supposed enemy heartily, and then we find that the blessings are coming abundantly to ourselves.
B. There are five special times when we should make acts of forgiveness: (1) In the moment when we think we are wronged; (2) When we go to pray; (3) When we go to the altar to offer our gifts and receive Holy Communion; (4) When we go to the sacred tribunal to ask for absolution; (5) At night-time before we go to rest. Let not the sun go down upon your anger (Ephes. iv.).
THE TEMPLE. TUESDAY MORNING.
STATION I. And they come again to Jerusalem (St. Mark xi.). And it
came to pass, that as He was teaching the people in the Temple and preaching the Gospel, the Chief Priests and the Scribes with the Ancients met together (St. Luke xx.).
A. As we have seen already, it is very early in the morning. The people gather soon after daybreak, in order to be ready for Jesus. His enemies are as active out of hatred and envy as the people are through veneration and love. The Priests and Rulers are astir with the dawn, and are closeted in council on the Mount of Evil Counsel, or at the palace of the Priests, to see if they possibly can devise any plan for destroying Jesus,
On this day they will put forth all their strength to effect His ruin, and to-day He will utter, one after another, His strongest warning words to awaken their consciences and move them to repentance.
Can we see anywhere a more striking picture of the fatal power which we allow Satan to exercise over by his lies? Here are the wise men of Jerusalem, the men who beyond all on earth have had opportunities of learning wisdom, spending hours and days in conspiracy to do away with their one true friend, their Creator and