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A Meditation On The Incarnation Of Christ, Sermons On The Life And
Passion Of Our Lord And Of Hearing And Speaking Good Words. -Thomas A Kempis

JESUS, being wearied with His journey: sat on the well. The most patient Jesus deigned to be wearied for us. He did not use a carriage or a chariot or a horse, when He walked the earth: but in the name of the Lord He went on foot. Once we read He mounted an ass, and for a short space rode on an ass: rather as a pattern of humility than for the enjoyment of ease: not to gain honour: but to fulfil the word of the prophet. He showed therefore a good example to holy preachers and religious persons, that they travel not with pomp on horseback; nor incur heavy expenses on their journey: lest they scandalize seculars, and give rise to complaints in their monasteries. Give heed here, religious brother, to Jesus wearied with His journey: not passing along to walk about for recreation. And if it is necessary to take recreation, go not out into the public places nor a long distance: lest by thy wandering thou give offence to others. But turn aside into the portion of the lot of the saints, where thou mayest hear the word of God: or behold examples of holiness. He spends an evil recreation: who loses joy of conscience. He is very empty within and possessed of little devotion: who is found willingly ready to wander abroad. Esau, a man skilled in hunting, while he tarries outside in the field: is deprived of his hereditary rights. But Jacob, a simple man and abiding in the tent, while he humbly obeys his mother, and restrains his feet from wandering: with wondrous readiness receives his father’s blessing. The skilful one is deceived in his ways, placing his hope in bow and quiver: the simple man, intent on God, the man without plaint, was aided in his need. They are wont to be slow for excursions and worldly business: who have a more diligent care for their interior. But slothful minds are dissipated daily: and are brought to loss of mastery over themselves by frequency of cares, or the violence of troubles. He, who wishes to be cured of this wandering, and to recover the light of the heart: let him be earnestly on the watch: ponder the end of his days, and the hour of the severe judgement.

Learn also in this act of Jesus: that virtue is to be exercised with discretion. For to be wearied in the community toil, at the call of charity, or the mandate of obedience: is a sign of virtue and of no little merit. But to pause at a befitting time, and refresh the body with food, or instruct the soul by sacred reading: is the discreet ruling of both inner and outer man. Weariness then for the Saviour’s name should be bearable, and not shunned by the devout: since multitudes almost beyond number weary themselves for the world. But let the toil be discreet, lest it break down our weakness: or render us unfit for things divine. For what is moderate: endures better. It is right well lawful at times to go and sit a while for the renewal of one’s strength: and to be mindful of one’s own weakness. For Jesus Himself after the weariness of the journey sat on the well: awaiting food, and humbly asking for a drink of water.

In this place of the well we should also consider the doctrine of Jesus, profitable for the moral life. It teaches thee what thou shouldst do when thou givest over toiling: and what kind of recreation is to be sought. For, even if thou canst not labour longer, it is not becoming to give ear to idle stories, or take pleasure in sleep: or wander about through the offices. What then? Thou shouldst sit on the well; seek the comfort of the spirit: and with the Samaritan woman eagerly beg the gifts of saving wisdom. Look into the streams of holy Writ, and turn over what thou hast read; that thou mayest renew thy soul, cast off sloth: avoid idleness, and acquire fresh compunction. Let the tongue be silent without: that the mind may be nourished within. Weary not of praying often: and meditating on the loving Jesus. Learn to pass from material to interior things: and to rise from creatures to the praise of the Creator. For thus also did Jesus Himself, For taking occasion of this earthly well, and the question of the woman, who happened to come: He began to preach the word of salvation, and to pour out a stream of heavenly grace. She sought the water of the well: but carried away rejoicing the doctrine of life from the heavenly torrent. So refreshed and delighted was she with the discourse of the most sweet Jesus: that, forgetting her pitcher, she ran to tell her townspeople the wonderful works of God. And this is a sign of a great grace gained; when a man, reading, praying and meditating, is so touched: that unmindful of present ease, he burns wholly in the love of the fountain of life. Of which holy David with thirsting breast thus sings, “My soul hath thirsted after God, the living spring.”

Again, when the disciples, coming from the city, urged Jesus to eat: He showed that the bread of obedience, which most agreeably nourishes the soul subject to God, is to be preferred to all bodily food. There is indeed no drink sweeter than heavenly grace; which cleanses the defiled, waters the parched: and refreshes the tempted. Nor is any more delicious food tasted, or richer banquet placed before the eyes of the lover, than the fulfilment of the will of Heaven: as the most obedient Jesus Himself saith, “My meat is: to do the will of Him that sent Me.” For to seek the good pleasure of God in what is to be done, is sweet above all else to the lover: and nourishes the obedient disciple well and refreshes with spiritual joy because of the merit of obedience. Thus Elias penetrating the vast wilderness, and willingly remaining by himself, instructed by the angel arose and eat: and while he fulfilled the command of the angel: he walked in the strength of that food unto the mount of God. For true obedience leads with little toil to the summit of perfection, to the mount of eternal rest: where there is full refreshment from all heat and toil, and possession of entire blessedness in the presence of the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, with the enjoyment of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

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