Anthony_Sermons - (SECOND CLAUSE)


(A sermon on how God sees us in three ways: I will see you again.)

9. There follows, thirdly:

But I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice. And your joy no man shall take from you. (Jn 16,22)

Note that God sees us in three ways. First, by conferring grace. So he said to Nathanael: When thou wast under the fig tree, I saw you. (Jn 1,48)

Those exiled from paradise had clothing of fig-leaves, which make the flesh itch. A man is ‘under the fig tree’ if he chooses to live in the shade of idle talk and the itching of the lustful flesh. God ‘sees’ him when he confers grace on him. Secondly, he ‘sees’ when he conserves the grace he has given. So Genesis says:

The Lord saw all the things that he had made; and they were very good. (Gn 1,31)

All the things God makes in us, when he infuses grace, are good. But when he ‘sees’ us by keeping it in us, then they are very good, that is, perfect. Thirdly, he will see us when he takes us to himself. So he says,

I will see you again, and your hearts shall rejoice.

The heart is the source of heat, and the origin of the blood, and it is the principle of emotions in matters pleasurable and offensive; and, overall, the movements of every sense begin from it and return to it. The spiritual power remains ultimately in the heart. Death takes place in all other members before the heart, which is the first and last thing to move in us. Because the heart is an organ superior to the others, the Lord says: Your heart shall rejoice; just as life proceeds from it, so also does joy.

(A sermon on the glory of eternal blessedness, and on the brightness of the heavenly Jerusalem: The angel showed me a river of water of life.)

10. And your joy no man shall take from you. There is a concordance to this in the last part of the Apocalypse:

The angel showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the midst of the street thereof. (Ap 22,1-2)

The river denotes perpetuity, the water of life fullness, the clear crystal brightness, the throne of God and of the Lamb the glorified humanity of the God-man. This is your joy,

which no man shall take from you.

Concerning the river of perpetuity, the Lord says in Isaiah O that thou had hearkened to my commandments: thy peace had been as a river. (Is 48,18)

A river has waters that flow continually. O man, if you will attend to the commandments of God, you will rejoice, secure in perpetual peace. Of the fullness of living water, the Psalm says:

For with thee is the fountain of life. (Ps 35,10)

It is an unfailing fountain, a fountain that satisfies all, and whoever drinks of it shall never be thirsty. Of brightness, the Apocalypse says:

The city hath no need of the sun, nor of the moon, to shine in it;

for the glory of God hath enlightened it, and the Lamb is the lamp thereof- (Ap 21,23)

meaning the Son of God. His throne is the humanity in which the divinity humbled itself. From it proceed perpetual light, the living water of eternal satisfaction and the crystalline splendour of divine brightness. They flow in the midst (in the community) of the street of the city, the heavenly Jerusalem; because God will be all in all (cf. 1Co 15,28), and all will receive the same penny, all will share the same reward. They all give thanks to the Incarnate Word, because by him they are made everlasting, fulfilled, glorified and blessed.

We ask you, then, Lord Jesus, that in the seven days of the ‘little while’ of this life, you will make us to conceive the spirit of salvation, and give birth in sadness of heart to the offspring of eternal life; so that we may be made fit to drink from the river of the water of life in the heavenly Jerusalem, and rejoice with you. Grant this, you who are blessed, glorious, to be praised and loved, sweet and immortal for ever and ever. Let every creature say, Amen. Alleluia.

(A moral exposition of the Gospel: A woman when she is in labour hath sorrow; in the prologue of which something is said about the nature of little crows, and of the penitent soul: A woman forsaken.)

11. A woman, when she is in labour, hath sorrow. Isaiah says:

The Lord hath called thee as a woman forsaken and mourning in spirit. (Is 54,6)

The Lord, by the inspiration of his grace and the preaching of the Church, calls the woman (the sinful soul, soft and effeminate) to penitence. She is forsaken by the devil and taken up by God. So she says:

My father (the devil) and my mother (carnal desire) have left me: but the Lord hath taken me up. (Ps 26,10)

Those whom the devil forsakes, Christ takes up.

It is said that a raven does not feed its young unless it first sees black feathers growing. Meanwhile, the young ravens survive by exuding from their mouths a froth which attracts flies. The chicks suck inthe froth with the flies, and are marvelously fed. So Job says:

Who provideth food for the raven, when her young ones cry to God,

wandering about, because they have no meat? (Jb 38,41)

And the Psalm says:

Who giveth to beasts their food: and to young ravens that call upon him. (Ps 146,9)

If the raven sees white plumage growing on her young, she abandons them and casts them out of the nest.

The raven is the devil, and the raven’s children are sinners living in mortal sin, who imitate the blackness of their parent. The prophet Nahum says:

The faces of them all are as the blackness of a kettle. (Na 2,10)

A kettle gets blackened by fire and smoke. ‘Faces’ means works, by which a man is known as by his face, for By their fruits ye shall know them (Mt 7,16). The works of sinners resemble the blackness of the kettle, blackened by the fire of devilish temptation and the smoke of carnal desire. So Jeremiah says:

Their face is now made blacker than coals. (Lm 4,8)

Sinners are children of the devil; but when by the brightness of grace they receive remission of sins, the devil forsakes them and the most loving Lord takes them in the arms of his mercy.

So the words are apt, A woman forsaken and mourning in spirit. She says, in the Lamentations of Jeremiah:

He hath made me desolate, fed with sorrow all the day long. (Lm 1,13)

She is desolate, deprived of the comfort of temporal things; and fed with sorrow, with a fine confection of three choice ingredients- contrition, confession and satisfaction- and the balm of divine mercy, prepared by the apothecary, the Holy Spirit, as an electuary for the penitent soul. The Lord refers to the penitent in today’s Gospel, A woman, when she is in labour, hath sorrow, etc.

Because the Lord proposes a likeness to a woman in labour, and her sorrow, to teach us how to be sorry for sin and bring forth good works: we will consider first how, according to Natural science,5 man is conceived in his mother’s womb, how he is formed and carried for nine months, and how he is brought forth in pain. Then we will draw some moral lessons from these facts.

(On the same subject, something is said about how a human being is conceived in the mother’s womb, and what follows, and how these things are to be understood in a moral sense.)

12. A woman conceives with pleasure and gives birth with pain.

(a) After impregnation, she grows heavy and her eyesight is dimmed. In some women this happens earlier- after ten days- and in others later. After impregnation, pregnant women lose their appetite when hair begins to grow on the baby’s head.

(b) The heart is the first organ to be formed, and internal organs are formed before the exterior members. The upper part of the body takes shape first, and appears greater, while the lower part is smaller. The heart has to be formed before the other organs because it is the principle of movement, and the organ that exercises most control. Life proceeds from it.

(c) The heart is situated in the upper part of the body, towards the front. Being the most important organ, it occupies naturally a place of honour.

(d) The heart, of all the inner organs, cannot feel pain or much weakness. This is as it should be, because if the chief part should fail it could not help the rest of the body. The others members draw strength from the heart, not the heart from them.

(e) There is no bone in the heart, except for horses and one kind of cow, and that is because of the size of their bodies. Nature provides a bone for support in these cases, as bone does in general.

(f) After the heart is made, the upper body is formed. The first parts of the embryo to take shape are the head and eyes. The parts below the umbilicus- thighs and legs- are very small, because the lower parts exist only to serve the upper.

(g) The heart has to contain the principle of the senses and other animal powers. That is why it is formed first. Because the heart is hot, and the veins flow out of it, nature puts a cold organ in opposition to the heart, the brain. So after the heart is formed, the head comes next. The head is bigger than the other parts, because from its beginning the brain is large and moist. That is why infants cannot hold their heads up for long, because of the weight of the brain. All the other members receive, first, size and shape; then, colour and refinements of hardness and softness. An artist first draws an outline, and then colours it in to complete his work.

(h) If the little body is to become a male, the expectant mother’s colour is better, and her womb is carried forward. There is movement from the fortieth day. The other sex, female, moves from the ninety-first day, and after conception the mother’s face is pale, and she finds it slow and wearisome to walk. For either sex, things get more uncomfortable when the hair of the baby begins to grow, and sickness increases for some months at full moon, a time which is also harmful to those who have given birth. If the pregnant woman eats more salty foods, the new-born baby will lack nails.

(i) And note that all four-legged animals are stretched out in the womb, and animals that have no legs lie sideways, like fish (for whales and dolphins carry their offspring in the womb). Other fish lay eggs in the water, and that is why they have little affection for their young, having laboured little on them. So Habbakuk says:

Thou wilt make them as the fishes of the sea,

and as the creeping things that have no ruler. (Ha 1,14)

(j) All two-legged animals (birds and men) are curled up before birth. They are curled up in egg or womb, with their noses between their knees and their eyes upon their knees. There is a resemblance to the posture of prayer, with bended knee and eyes full of tears from pious meditation.

(k) Their ears are external. All animals to begin with hold their heads high, but when they grow old and approach death their heads hang down. The higher part of the body is larger than the lower, and so like a pair of scales the heavier weight inclines to the earth.

(l) The hands of the unborn human are held across the ribs; and when it is born, the hand goes straightway to the mouth.

(m) When a woman is near to delivering her womb, and at the moment of maturity, it is very suitable for her to hold her breath, because a certain yawning can hold up childbirth with fatal delay. This chiefly happens to women who do not have a large rib-cage, because they cannot easily hold their breath in. This disposition can be made worse in many women, at the time they become pregnant. This happens when a leisured life causes much superfluity in them. In working women, pregnancy does not show up as in

other women, and she may give birth quickly, because her work uses up excess fat. Work encourages heavy breathing, so that at the time of birth she is able to hold her breath in, and if she does this the birth is light and easy; but if not, then on the contrary it is painful, difficult and sorrowful: A woman, when she is in labour, hath sorrow.

13. Morally. The woman is the soul. The grace of the Holy Spirit is like a husband making her pregnant with blessed offspring, namely a good will and intention, and the spirit of salvation. Isaiah says:

In thy presence, O Lord, we have conceived and been as it were in labour, and have brought forth the spirit of salvation. (cf. Is 26,11)

(a) When she has been made pregnant, the soul grows heavy, being afflicted on account of her sins. aher sight grows weak and dim, because the shine of temporal things is overcast for her. Job says:

Let the stars be darkened with the mist thereof. (Jb 3,9)

The stars of worldly glory are obscured with mist of penance. In pregnancy the appetite grows weaker and more fastidious, and the soul, heavy with God’s grace, likewise loses the appetite for evil, and frets over her past sins. So the Bride, in the Canticles, says:

Tell my Beloved that I languish with love. (Ct 5,8)

A man who languishes loses his appetite, and picks at his meals; so the soul which languishes with love for her Spouse is little inclined to evil, and scorns her former vices.

(b) The heart is formed first of all organs. In the heart, humility is to be noted, which chooses to make it her chief dwelling. The Lord says:

Learn of me, because I am meek and humble of heart. (Mt 11,29)

This has to be the first formed among the virtues, because it gives shape to what is out of shape. From it comes the motive force of all good work, having great dominion over the rest as the mother and root of all virtues. So Solomon says:

A living dog is better than a dead lion. (Qo 9,4)

The Gloss says here that the humble publican is better than the proud Pharisee: the more he humbled himself the more he was exalted. Blessed Bernard6 says: "The deeper you lay the foundation of humility, the higher the building rises." Humility is nobler than the other virtues, and by its nobility it bears things ignoble and wrongful. Its proper place is ‘above’, in the eyes, and ‘in front’, in bodily demeanour. So it is said of the humble

publican that;

He would not so much as lift his eyes towards heaven; but struck his breast, saying: O God, be merciful to me a sinner. (Lc 18,13)

(c) Just as the heart cannot feel pain or weakness, true humility cannot feel pain from an injury, or weakness in the face of another’s prosperity. This is as it should be, because if humility were to be undermined, the structure of the other virtues would be cast down. St Gregory7 says, "A man who tries to acquire virtue without humility is like a man trying to carry dust in a wind."

(d) There is no bone in the heart (except in the hearts of horses and cows). The horse represents the arrogant hypocrite, and the cow the lustful man. In the pretended humility of the hypocrite there is the bone of pride and possessiveness. He takes pride in the plumage of the ostrich, he would steal the praise of another’s holiness. In the unstable humility of the lustful there is the bone of self-excuse and obstinacy. These two animals, horse and cow, can be understood as all kinds of vices.

14. (e) There follows: After the heart is formed, etc. After humility is formed in the human mind, then the upper and lower parts become distinct. The upper part is of greater dignity and is formed first, and in it appear the head and the eyes. The ‘upper part’ means the contemplative life, in which appears (as it should appear) the ‘head’ of charity. As it is said in Canticles: His head is as the finest gold (Ct 5,11). Gold is pure and bright; charity should be pure as regards God, and should give light to our neighbour.

The eyes, too, appear: knowledge of eternal happiness. The ‘lower part’ is the active life, which should serve contemplation, for the lower exists only for the sake of the upper, as the Apostle says:

The man was not created for the woman, but the woman for the man, (cf. 1Co 11,9)

because the contemplative life is not instituted for the active, but the active for the contemplative.

(f) Just as the brain, a cold organ, is placed in opposition to the heart, to temper its heat, so the contemplative life which consists in compunction of mind is placed in opposition to the active life; so that by its prayer and tears of compunction it may temper the fervour of labour and the heat of temptation, and that activity may be based on humility of heart.

And as the size of the head exceeds that of the other members, so the grace of contemplation is more sublime, being nearer to God who is contemplated. Alas! How many ‘infants’ (those of unstable mind) try to bear this great head, but cannot hold it up for long, because of its size! Only ‘Abraham’, the just man, can climb the mountain of the contemplative life with ‘the boy’, purity of mind. The servants remain in the valley of

worldly delights, waiting with the ass, the little she-ass of tardiness.

And as all the members have their dimensions, markings, colour, hardness and softness: so all the virtues must have their bounds, so that as they go by the royal road they may not stray to right or left. Cruelty should not justify itself under the pretext of justice, nor should carelessness and sloth hide under the cloak of mercy. They should be marked with the sign of the Lord’s Passion, so that whatever we do virtuously, we should be wholly marked with the blood of the Lord’s cross. Their colours should not be blurred, but true: lest vice deceive the soul by being tinted with the colour of virtue. St Isidore8 says, "Some vices put on an appearance of virtue, and so they more perniciously deceive their followers, covering themselves with a veil of virtue." And the Philosopher9 says, "There are no more cunningly concealed snares, than those hiding under the appearance of duty." "The Trojan horse deceived, because it counterfeited the form of Minerva." Virtues should also have hardness and softness: wine and oil, rod and manna, blows and breasts, iron and ointment.

15. (g) There follows: If the little body is to become a male, etc. ‘Male’, here, stands for work that is strong in virtue; ‘female’ for that which is weak. When the soul conceives a virtuous work, it is of a good disposition, arranging everything rightly and properly, and of a good ‘colour’, pleasing to God and edifying to neighbour. Pharaoh (the devil) would like to drown this ‘male’ in the river of Egypt, love of this world. In the first book of Kings Anna says of this ‘male’:

O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt give to thy servant a man-child, I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life. (1S 1,11)

She asked for the male sex, not the female. She knew that Pharaoh had ordered that all females should be reserved for him. The ‘female sex’ represents the work of a weak mind. When the wretched soul conceives this, its face grows pale, being overcast by love of earthly things; and it goes with slow and faltering steps, negligent and luke-warm, lacking strength and held back from good work. This is ‘the daughter of the king of Egypt’ who beguiled the wisdom of Solomon, and turned away his heart to follow foreign gods (cf. 1R 11,3-4). Alas! How many wise men today have grown luke-warm and enfeebled in mind, to follow mortal sin! As many your mortal sins, so many the gods you adore! Blessed Bernard10 says, "If you would be wise, but be not so to yourself, then you lack wisdom."

When ‘hairs’ (superfluous thoughts) arise in the mind, it brings about much discomfort; because, as Solomon says:

Perverse thoughts separate from God. (Sg 1,3)

And if the pregnant woman eats salty foods, the baby’s nails do not grow. Salt makes the ground sterile. Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt. The Lord said that salt which had lost its savour should be thrown out. Here, ‘salt’ means vainglory, which makes all works

sterile. If the soul that is about to bear the offspring should eat the salt of vainglory, her work will lack ‘nails’- final perseverance and heavenly glory.

(i,j) Birds and men are curled up in the womb (or egg), with noses between knees, eyes upon knees, and ears outside. The ‘nose’ is discretion, the ‘knees’ are tears of sorrow and penitent affliction, the ‘eyes’ are illumination of the mind, and the ‘ears’ obedience to what is commanded. ‘Birds’ and ‘men’ signify the intention of a good will, which ‘flies’ in contemplation and ‘works’ in action. Job says: Man is born to labour, and the bird to fly (Jb 5,7). His ‘nose’ should be ‘between his knees’, so that he should proceed discreetly by the middle way, in compunction of mind and affliction of body. His ‘eyes’ should be ‘on his knees’, so that he does everything cheerfully, with an enlightened conscience, because the Lord loves a cheerful giver (2Co 9,7).

(k) His ‘ears’ should be ‘outside’, so that he obeys freely. As St Gregory11 says, "Obedience contains all the other virtues, and by containing them preserves them."

(l) This child of the soul should stretch its hands across its ribs. The ribs which protect the inner organs are lowliness and contempt for the world which protect the other virtues. The soul should stretch her ‘hands’ (her works) over them, and take firm hold, so as to say with Abraham:

I will speak to my Lord, whereas I am dust and ashes; (Gn 18,27) and with David:

After whom dost thou come out, O king of Israel? After whom dost thou pursue?

After a dead dog? After a flea? (1S 24,14-16) and with the Apostle:

The world is crucified to me, etc. (Ga 6,14)

And when it is born, its hands go straightway to its mouth. Whoever is mindful of his birth should likewise put his hand on his mouth, lest he sin with his tongue; for as Solomon says:

He that keepeth his lips, keepeth his soul. (cf. Pr 21,23)

(m) When a woman is on the point of being delivered, at the moment of full-term: The woman’s ‘hour of birth’ is, for the penitent soul, the time of confession, in which she should be sorry, and emit bitter groans, saying with the Prophet: I

I have laboured in my groanings. (Ps 6,7)

Note that there are four things to consider in a woman giving birth: the pain, the labour, the joy of giving birth, and the duty of the mid-wife. Likewise, these things are to be considered in the penitent, who is represented as ‘a woman in labour1.

(A sermon on confession, in which the soul should labour like a woman giving birth: Be in pain and labour.)

16. The prophet Micah says of the pain and labour:

Hast thou no king in thee, or is thy counsellor perished,

because sorrow hath taken thee as a woman in labour?

Be in pain and labour, O daughter of Sion,

or as a woman that bringeth forth:

for now thou shalt go out of the city and shalt dwell in the country and shalt come even to Babylon.

There shalt thou be delivered:

there the Lord will redeem thee out of the hand of thy enemies. (Mi 4,9-10)

Jesus Christ is the king that rules the soul, lest she go astray; the counsellor who counsels her to hope for mercy, saying, Be in pain, O daughter of Sion (O soul), with the pain of contrition and the labour of satisfaction, so that the penalty may be proportionate to the fault. For now thou shalt go out of the city (the congregation of the saints), as happens to penitents at the beginning of Lent, for the leper used to dwell apart, outside the camp (cf. Lv 13,46). And dwell in the country of dissimulation, where the prodigal son wasted his father’s substance in luxurious living (cf. Lc 15,83). You will dwell there, I say, so that you may recognise your own unlikeness to God, and receive again that likeness according to which you were made. And come even to Babylon, the confession of sin, so that being ashamed of it you may acknowledge it, and acknowledging weep for it, and weeping receive grace. There shalt thou be delivered, because (as St Augustine12 says) "If you confess, God will forgive." There the Lord will redeem thee out of the hand of thy enemies, because shame for sin drives out the devil.

Concerning the joy of spiritual birth, the lord says in Luke:

There shall be joy in heaven over one sinner that doth penance; (Lc 15,7)


Rejoice with me, because I have found the groat which I had lost; (Lc 15,9) and Gabriel said of John:

Many shall rejoice in his nativity. (Lc 1,14)

Genesis tells how Abraham made a great feast on the day of Isaac’s weaning (Gn 21,8). When the sinner is ‘weaned’ and separated from the milk of worldly ways and carnal desire, ‘Abraham’ (God the Father) makes a great feast in heaven. So it says in Luke:

It was fit that we should make merry and be glad; for this my son was dead and is come to life again; he was lost, and is found. (Lc 15,32)

Of the midwife’s duty (that is, the diligence of priests) Job says:

His obstetric hand brought forth the winding serpent. (Jb 26,13)

Midwives stand by to assist in delivery. Priests are ‘midwives’ who should help and serve sinners to confess: that is the meaning of ‘his obstetric hand’. The priest is the Lord’s hand, by which he draws out the ‘serpent’ (the old man) from the sinner, so that afterwards he may bring the new man to birth. It is said that in some regions women give birth by producing a toad before their child: certainly a penitent does! By confession he first puts off the old man, and then he gives birth to the new man in himself. And if he wants the birth to be safe, easy and smooth, he should take care not to ‘yawn’.

Someone ‘yawns’ if he confesses the story of his sin tepidly and as if asleep. Someone ‘yawns’ if he does not confess the sin he meant to confess, impeded by shame. So Isaiah says:

The children are come to birth, and there is not the strength to bring forth. (Is 37,3)

This happens when one’s sin is on one’s lips, but for embarrassment it is not disclosed in confession, so that the unhappy soul dies. If she would go through the pain and labour, without a doubt she would have joy at the birth.

But slackness and lukewarmness lead to a great excess of bad thoughts gathering in her, so that her disposition gets worse, and she strains to give birth. St Jerome13 says, "There is always something to be done. If the hand stops, the field of our heart will be occupied by the thorns of evil thoughts." And St Isidore:14 "Lust burns more fiercely when it finds idleness." There is, in truth, pain and labour in the soul of a real penitent, but this makes the birth light and easy. Labour consumes the excess, and it comes out

of those who perspire freely. So the Lord said in Genesis:

In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread. (Gn 3,19)

Your ‘face’ is whatever shows the intention of your mind. In the face of a true penitent there shows the pain of contrition, and tears of bitterness flow like the sweat of the body; and in that is the penitent’s food and refreshment.

So the words are well said; A woman, when she is in labour, hath sorrow; but when she hath brought forth the child, she remembereth no more the anguish for joy, the joy of eternal glory. Isaiah says:

The former distresses are forgotten

and they shall not be in remembrance,

and they shall not come upon the heart.

But you shall be glad and rejoice for ever. (Is 65,16-18)

To that joy, from the sorrows of this world, may he deign to lead us, who with the Father and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

1 BERNARD, In canticis sermo 13,7; PL 183.837-838
2 cf. CICERO, De officiis, II,12
3 ascribed to SOCRATES
4 cf. GREGORY, Moralia, V,11,22 and IN,7,1; PL 75.690-691 and 603-604
5 Most of the information that follows is drawn from Aristotle, Historia animalium, VII;
De partibus animalium, III; and De generatione animalium, II
6 More likely AUGUSTINE, De Scripturis, sermo 49,1,2; PL 38.441
7 GREGORY, In Evangelia hom. 7,4; PL 76.1103
8 ISIDORE, Sententiarum II,35,1; PL 83.636
9 CICERO, In Verrem, act. 2, I,15; Pro Muraena 37,78
10 BERNARD, De consideratione, II,3,6; PL 182.745
11 GREGORY, Moralia XXXV,14,28; PL 76.765
12 AUGUSTINE De Scripturis, sermo 113,2; PL 38.649
13 cf. GLOSSA ORDINARIA on Prov 24.27
14 ISIDORE, Synonymorum II,18; PL 83.849

Copyright in this translation belongs to the author, Revd Dr S.R.P. Spilsbury


(The Gospel for the fourth Sunday after Easter: I go to him that sent me; which is divided into three clauses)


(First, a sermon for the prelate of the Church, on how he should labour in the field of the faithful: The husbandman waiteth.)

1. At that time, Jesus said to his disciples: I go to him that sent me, and none of you asketh me: Whither goest thou. (Jn 16,5)

James says in the canonical Epistle:

The husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth; patiently bearing till he receive the early and latter rain. (Jc 5,7)

The farmer tilling the ground is the preacher, who in the sweat of his brow and with the hoe of the word cultivates the field- the souls of the faithful. The word ‘field’ can indicate any area of work. It may be sown, or forested with trees, or given over to flocks, or even made colourful with flowers. There is always something to do in the soul, lest what Solomon warns of in Proverbs should happen: I passed by the field of the slothful man... and behold, it was all filled with thorns (cf. Pr 24,30-31). The prickly thorns of evil thoughts very quickly spring up where there is sloth and idleness; so the soul should be sown with the trees of virtue, the flocks of eternal life should graze there and it should be made bright with all sorts of flowers, the examples of the saints. If that is how the field is cultivated, the Lord will say of it:

Behold, the smell of my son is as the smell of a plentiful field, which the Lord hath blessed. (Gn 27,27)

So, the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth; and the preacher who cultivates the Lord’s field waits for the fruit of his earth, eternal life. Through Jeremiah, the Lord promises the preacher:

If thou wilt be converted, I will convert thee;

and if thou wilt separate the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth. (Jr 15,19)

If you will be converted (or if, as St James says, You convert a sinner from the error of his way (Jc 5,20)), I will convert you by the infusion of grace; and if you separate the precious (the soul, which I have purchased with my precious Blood) from the vile (sin, vilest of all things), you will be as my mouth, because through you I will judge the wicked in the regeneration. Meanwhile, all is to be done patiently: so he adds, patiently bearing till he receive the early and latter rain. The early rains are those that come when growth is beginning; the latter, those when growth is complete. If the preacher endures patiently and joyfully when he experiences various trials, he will receive the early rain of grace here below, and the latter rain of glory hereafter. This is what our Lord refers to when he says in today’s Gospel: I go to him that sent me.

2. There are three things to note in this Gospel. The first is the return of Jesus Christ to his Father, beginning: I go to him that sent me. The second is the conviction of the world of sin and justice, continuing: When he is come he will convince the world, etc. The third is the inspiration of the Spirit of Truth, adding: I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when he, the Spirit of Truth, comes, he will teach you all truth. On this and next Sunday the canonical Epistles are read. The Introit of this Sunday’s Mass is: Sing to the Lord a new song; and the Epistle of blessed James is read: Every best gift; which we will divide into three parts and concord with the aforesaid three clauses of the Gospel. The first is: Every best gift; the second is: You know, my dearest brethren; the third is: Wherefore, casting away all uncleanness, etc.

Anthony_Sermons - (SECOND CLAUSE)