|Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost|
he Epistle of St. Paul to the Ephesians, v. 15-21. See, brethren, how you walk circumspectly: not as unwise, but as wise: redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore become not unwise, but understanding what is the will of God. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is luxury; but be ye filled with the holy Spirit. Speaking to yourselves in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual canticles, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to God and the Father: being subject one to another, in the fear of Christ.
he Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ, According to St. John, iv. 46-53. At that time there was a certain ruler whose son was sick at Capharnaum. He having heard that Jesus was come from Judea to Galilee, went to Him, and prayed Him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. Jesus therefore said to him: Unless you see signs and wonders, you believe not. The ruler saith to him: Lord, come down before that my son die. Jesus saith to him: Go thy way; thy son liveth. The man believed the word which Jesus said to him, and went his way. And as he was going down, his servants met him; and they brought word, saying, that his son lived. He asked therefore of them the hour wherein he grew better. And they said to him: Yesterday, at the seventh hour, the fever left him. The father therefore knew, that it was at the same hour that Jesus said to him, Thy son liveth; and himself believed, and his whole house.
God permitted the son of the ruler to fall sick, that he, being thereby led to seek assistance from Christ, might obtain faith and salvation. In like manner, in order to convert sinners, He often permits manifold evils and misfortunes to come upon them, either in their own persons, or in their children, their goods. If God sends upon us failure of crops, inundation, hail, famine, war, sickness, death of those we love, He thereby designs nothing else than to move us at least to abandon sin and to turn to Him. God, indeed, sometimes sends afflictions upon the pious and innocent, or allows them to be vexed and tormented by wicked men, but He does this only to try their patience and love for Him; to detach them from the world; to set them on their guard against sin; and to give them opportunity for gaining the greatest merits; for "to them that love God, all things work together unto good" (Rom. viii. 28). Such were the designs of God in regard to Job, Tobias, and others; and how profitable to them were these trials from God! But can we compare ourselves with these pious men when, instead of turning our trials to advantage by patience, we rather consider as our enemies those whom God makes use of to sanctify us?
How much good may not the example of a father of a family accomplish! Hardly had this ruler received the faith, when his whole household was converted and believed in Jesus Christ. Thus fathers and mothers of families, by their good example, their piety, their zeal in prayer, their frequent receiving of the holy sacraments, by their meekness, their moderation, their modesty, may do incalculable good to their dependents and the inmates of their houses. Would that they might reflect on this! "For if they have no care for their own, and especially those of their own house, they have denied the faith and are worse than the infidel" (I. Tim. v. 8).
Consolation in Sickness.
To console ourselves in sickness, let us bethink ourselves that God has sent us sickness for the good of our souls; that we may thereby attain a knowledge of our sins, and make satisfaction for them; or, if we suffer innocently, we may exercise ourselves in patience, charity, humility, and such like virtues, and so increase our merits. When ill let us employ a competent physician and use the remedies he may prescribe. But before all else, let us betake ourselves to God, give ourselves up unreservedly to His will, pray Him to enlighten the physician, and bless the means employed for our recovery, and subdue our inclinations if the perscription of the physician does violence to our former habits. For how otherwise should medicine have its proper effect?
Ejaculation of St. Augustine. - O Lord, here burn, here wound, only spare me in eternity!
ON THE CARE OF THE SICK.
All who have charge of the sick should before all think of the soul, and to that end call upon Jesus to come in the Blessed Sacrament, before the sick person is past the point of receiving Him with devotion. Therefore, parents, children, relatives, and friends, if they truly love the sick, should seek to induce him to receive the Blessed Sacrament in time. At the beginning, and during the progress of the sickness, we should endeavor to encourage the patient to resignation and childlike confidence in God; should place before him the Saviour, suffering and glorified, as a pattern and consolation, should pray with him, to strengthen him against desponding thoughts and the temptations of the devil; should sign him with the sign of the cross, sprinkle him with holy water, and, before all, pray for a happy death.
But in caring for the soul the body is not to be neglected. We must call in time a skilful physician, give the sick person his medicines at the appointed times, keep everything clean, observe particularly the prescribed limit as to eating and drinking, and not permit the patient to have his own will, for he might often desire what would be hurtful to him. In general we should do what, in like case, we would wish to have done for ourselves, for there is no greater work of charity than to attend a sick person, and particularly to assist him to a happy death.