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One reason is to teach us all not to trust too much to the first hasty impressions on our short-sighted minds. How many false religions, and what numberless blasphemies against revelation, have their origin in the prevailing habit of pronouncing hastily and oracularly, “My judgment must be true. I think this text means black. Therefore it must be so." “But have you studied Holy Scripture much?”
" No.” “ Have you gone through an education in order to understand God's Word ?" - No.” Have you collated book with book ? Have you consulted masters ? " “No, nothing of all this." "Then, is there not at least a possibility of your being mistaken?” If once a man can be brought to modesty of mind, and will say humbly, “I may be wrong," he will scarcely become a heretic or sceptic.
Moreover, when our Lord speaks He always speaks truth; but He has told us by His Prophet, My thoughts are not your thoughts (Isaias lv.). With God words have often a true meaning which we do not at once discern. Thus what our Lord calls “ peace” is not what this world calls peace. So too time with us, and time with God, are things widely different. One day with the Lord is as a thousand years; and a thousand years as one day (2 St. Peter iii.). One night of pain here is exceedingly long to the sufferer. Whereas St. Paul, who had seen a glimpse of the eternal home, speaks of present tribulations as light and momentary (2 Cor. iv.).
We continually give to things names which God does not give them. You that call evil good and good evil, that put darkness for light and light for darkness, that put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter (Isaias v.).
So therefore, as the dead shall rise again, the death of a just man, such as Lazarus, can only be in the mind of our Lord a short sleep.
STATION IX. Then, therefore, Jesus said to them plainly: Lazarus is dead
(v. 14) A. From these words we learn that though He is beyond Jordan, His eye is seeing all that goes on in the sick-chamber at Bethany, and He hears every word. The message brought to Him was, “ Lazarus is sick”. Jesus now says, without any fresh tidings, Lazarus is dead. We must try to believe more and more firmly, and to rejoice in our belief, that our Lord sees every work and every thought of ours. If I ascend into Heaven, Thou art there: if I descend into Hell, Thou art present. And I said: Perhaps darkness shall cover me. But darkness shall not be dark to Thee, and night shall be as the light of day: the darkness thereof and the light thereof are alike to Thee. My bone is not hidden from Thee, which Thou hast made in secret. Thy eyes did see my imperfect being, and in Thy book all shall be written (Psalm cxxxviii.). Again, when the sinner says: Darkness compasseth me about, and the walls cover me, and no man seeth me. Whom do I fear? For the Most High will not remember my sins, the Holy Ghost answers: And he knoweth not that the eyes of the Lord are far brighter than the sun, beholding round about all the ways of men, and the bottom of the deep; and looking into the hearts of men, into the most hidden parts. For all things were known to the Lord before they were created : so also after they were perfected He beholdeth all things (Ecclus. xxiii.).
And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you
may believe, but let us go to him (v. 15). A. We now see the reason why our Blessed Saviour, notwithstanding the pleadings of His Sacred Heart, tarried two days before setting out for Bethany: in order to help forward the imperfect faith of His disciples. He would raise the dead rather than heal the sick. He intends this to be a very great and striking miracle which shall arouse men's minds and bring grace to many. Therefore, for the good of many, He permits Mary and Martha to suffer for a little time longer; but no doubt speaks meanwhile words of comfort to their hearts in secret. Who is like the Lord our God ? (Psalm cxii.). The Lord is faithful in all His words, and holy in all His works (Psalm cxliv.). Yet a little, and a very little while, and He that is to come, will come, and will not delay (Hebrews x.).
Thomas, therefore, who is called Didymus, said to his fellowdisciples: Let us also go that we may die with Him (v. 16).
Thomas was called Didymus either because he was a twin, or the descendant of some one who was a twin, and so the name was handed down as a family name.
A holy writer observes that on this occasion he showed for our Lord a strong affection, as of a twin brother; for the others, as we see in verse 8, were alarmed at the idea of our Saviour's going again into Judea.
A. Let us also go, that we may die with Him. Thomas did not then realise how strong a grace is needed to strengthen a martyr for death. He afterwards learned the truth of our Lord's teaching: The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.
Are we then to undervalue such good desires as those of St. Thomas ? Far from it. For if the flesh is weak, and if its cowardice sometimes prevails even when the spirit is willing, it will reign supreme and unopposed if we do not at least go as far as good desires. Good desires begin the work. If we persevere in prayer, the good desires grow, till at last they are strong enough for the work they have to do, which is to bear away by holy violence the grace of perseverance and the eternal possession of the Kingdom of Heaven. True, if good desires are not nursed and strengthened, they become blighted blossoms,
and the proverb says that Hell is paved with such blighted good wishes; but if all good desires were valueless, the Angel of God would not have come to Daniel bringing such glad tidings, because thou art a man of desires (c. x.).
Every good desire helps the work of the Church. If we say from our hearts, Thy Kingdom come, this desire helps the spread of grace, according to its fervour. If we say, “Eternal light shine upon them,” this cry is heard, and full value is given to it. With what contrition shall iwe mourn in Purgatory that we did not multiply and intensify our good desires! At all hours, in all places, we had at our command this way of giving alms to the living and the dead ; and we may say, giving alms also to our God, for if we give peace to men, we always give at the same time glory and joy to God.
THE STONE OF CONFERENCE."
STATION I. Jesus, therefore, came and found that he had been four days already in the grave.
Now Bethania was near Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off (vv. 17, 18).
A. Lazarus died on the day that the message arrived. Jesus stayed after that two days; and now travels slowly, spending two days between the Jordan and Bethania, a distance of about forty miles.
Contemplate our blessed Saviour travelling on foot, with His disciples around Him, carrying with Him all His possessions—"all," being very little. He said to them:
” Take nothing for your journey ; neither staff, nor scrip, nor bread, nor money, neither two coats (St. Luke ix.). Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes (St. Luke x.). Be not solicitous therefore, saying : What shall we eat ? or what shall we drink ? or wherewith shall we be clothed ?
1 The stone on which our Lord stood when speaking with Martha and Mary. See page 50.
Why so ? Because your Father in Heaven knoweth that you have need of all these things. Behold the birds of the air, for they neither sow, nor do they reap, nor gather into barns : and your Heavenly Father feedeth them. Are you not of much more value than they? (St. Matt. v.).
B. Later on, at the Last Supper, He put this question to them: When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, did you want anything? They answered: Nothing (St. Luke xxii.). Why not? Because the Christian apostolic poverty to which they were called, and which they are practising, is not a starvation poverty, but, in reality, a rich poverty. Needy, St. Paul writes, yet enriching many: having nothing, yet possessing all things (2 Cor. vi.). It is only a special covenant of trust in God, by which men bind themselves to give up house, and lands, and money, and lucrative trades, and professions, in order to devote themselves to God's work; and our Lord, on His part, undertakes to provide for them abundantly by an exceptional providence, a hundred-fold in this life, besides the eternal life to come. It is therefore merely a great act of trust in God; and our Father in Heaven is filled with infinite joy when His children will so trust Him. For He is accustomed to be much mistrusted. As our Blessed Lord was a Man acquainted with infirmity (Isaias liii.), so is He also acquainted and most familiar with every form of mistrust. For Satan is always busy, and most successful, night and day, in whispering calumnies against our good God; and therefore, if we may express a great truth in our colloquial language, our Lord is most thankful for small mercies, and
every little act of trust delights Him. What is almsgiving but an act of trust ? Do we really give, when we
? have God's solemn promise that all is to come back again, shaken together, pressed down, and flowing over ? (St. Luke vi.). Do we call it giving when we are to get all back with such interest ? Surely not. Almsgiving is in truth only
? lending, at immense interest, and on most excellent security. Where then is the merit of almsgiving? It is an act of