ON THE GOSPEL FOR ST. BARTHOLOMEW, LUKE vi. 12, &c.
Consider first, how our Lord, designing to make choice of his twelve apostles, by way of preparation for this great work, went out into a mountain to pray, and there passed the whole night in the most earnest and fervent prayer. Learn from hence, my soul, in all thou takest in hand, to begin with prayer, in order to draw down the blessings of heaven upon thy undertakings; learn also of thy Saviour to be fervent and earnest in thy prayers: learn to retire with him as often as thou canst, for thy private devotion, from the noise and distractions of the world. Recollection, solitude, and the silence of the night are great helps to devotion. O! what oughtest thou not to do, to secure the salvation of thy own soul, when the Son of God has passed even whole nights in prayer for the love of thee? He stood not in need of prayer for himself; but has given us an example, to teach us how much we ought to take to heart upon all occasions this execise of fervent prayer.
Consider 2ndly, the fruits of this night’s prayer, in the great things our Lord performed the next morning; which we may reduce under three heads. 1. His choice of his twelve apostles. 2. His divine sermon on the mount. 3. The many miracles he wrought when as the gospel informs us, ‘a very great multitude of people came to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases; and a virtue went out from him, and healed them all,’ v. 17, 18, 19. Contemplate, my soul, all these wonders of divine grace, wrought in consequence of the prayer of that night. See a company of poor, weak, illiterate fishermen, wonderfully advanced on a sudden to be the great pillars and founders of the church of God, and prime ministers of his kingdom upon earth. Bow thyself down, and embrace the heavenly law, published on this occasion by the Redeemer, in that admirable sermon in which with a most amiable simplicity, joined with a wonderful authority, he has laid down all the fundamentals of Christian morality; and do thou also learn to approach in spirit to his feet with his disciples, to receive of his doctrine, and to be healed by him of all thy diseases. O! ever remember, that the true way of all good, and the source of all light, grace, and benediction, is to go up with him to the mountain and to converse with God by recollection and prayer.
Consider 3rdly, what we read herein the gospel ‘that all the multitude sought all to touch our Lord: for virtue went out from him and healed all,’ verse 19. If virtue went out from our Lord to heal the corporal diseases of all them that touched him, whilst he was here visibly present, during his mortal life, can we suppose he has either less power or less goodness, to heal the spiritual maladies of such as properly apply to him, now he has entered into his glory, after shedding his precious blood for us? No certainly; but as ‘all power is given him in heaven and earth,’ so virtue never ceases to go out from him, in favour of all that spiritually approach to him, and that seek to keep him company in their own interior; and how much more in favour of them that verily and indeed touch him, and receive him within their house, by means of their holy Communion. O let us always endeavour to keep close to him, and his virtue will always be with us.
Conclude to go up with Christ, upon all occasions to the mountain, by retirement and prayer. In all dangers let this be thy refuge. Run thither to be delivered from all thy evils. Here thou shalt meet with thy sovereign good.