The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 13:24-30

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 2, 2011

Mat 13:24  Another parable he proposed to them, saying: The kingdom of heaven is likened to a man that sowed good seed in his field.
Mat 13:25  But while men were asleep, his enemy came and oversowed cockle among the wheat and went his way.

The cockle. As the former parable showed the partial and unequal fruitfulness of the seed, so does the present illustrate the danger that we must guard against in the kingdom itself. This warning was necessary in order to remove the impression prevalent in the synagogue, that material membership would be a sufficient security of salvation.

When Jesus says, “The kingdom of heaven is likened to a man,” we must understand his words as drawing a parallel between what happens in the Messianic kingdom on the one hand, and the good seed oversowed with cockle on the other.

The cockle is oversowed, because error supposes truth [Chrys.].

While men were asleep” does not refer to the carelessness of superiors [as many commentators have thought], because error sprang up even in the time of the apostles, and Judas went astray when Jesus himself was alive; for
the same reasons it cannot refer to the death of the apostles [as others have thought], as if error had sprung up only after their time; but the phrase refers, without implying any blame[cf. Cajetan, Jansenius, Lapide, etc] , to the secrecy of the enemies’ proceeding, sowing the bad seed during the night time [cf. Job 4:13; 33:15].

Mat 13:26  And when the blade was sprung up, and had brought forth fruit, then appeared also the cockle.

The cockle is apparently the “darnel” or “bastard-wheat,” the lolium album of the Latins, the Zuwan of the Arabs, the stalk of which resembles wheat so closely that one can hardly be distinguished from the other till the “blade”
springs up; the roots of the two intertwine so that the one cannot be removed
without injury to the other. To sow cockle in this manner over the field of an
enemy is a manner of revenge still well known in the East [cf. Virg. Georg. i. 153; Stanley, Sinai and Palestine, p. 4 J 9] .

Mat 13:27  And the servants of the good man of the house coming said to him. Sir, didst thou not sow good seed in thy field? Whence then hath it cockle?
Mat 13:28  And he said to them: An enemy hath done this. And the servants said to him: Wilt thou that we go and gather it up?

Mat 13:29  And he said: No, lest perhaps gathering up the cockle, you root up the wheat also together with it.
Mat 13:30  Suffer both to grow until the harvest, and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers: Gather up first the cockle, and bind it into bundles to burn, but the wheat gather ye into my barn.

The servants of the good man” are not blamed by the master for their want of vigilance, and, on their part, they show the greatest readiness for work; some think that our Lord applied the term to the angels, but the angels [verse 39] are distinguished from the servants; others identify the servants with the zealous faithful, but others again appear to be right in maintaining that in the parables we ought not to be anxious about minutiae after discovering their main purpose. According to the last view the servants are
introduced not on account of themselves, but on account of our Lord’s words, “suffer both to grow until the harvest.” For then the separation can be easily effected, because the cockle can be known by its size and color, and its union with the wheat is no longer so close as to involve the latter’s vitality.

The inference of the reformers that error and sin must be allowed full liberty is first against the words of St. Paul [1 Cor 5:13, 6], then against the practice of the reformers who did not extend this liberty to Catholics [cf. Calvin’s “de haereticis iure gladii coercendis“], nor to their own sects; thirdly, it is not demanded by the present passage, which forbids the gathering of the cockle only “lest perhaps . . . you root up the wheat also”. St. Thomas enumerates four reasons why the had must not be destroyed for the sake of the good: first, the good are tried by the bad [1 Cor 11:19]; secondly, because the bad
may themselves become good; thirdly, because many are only apparently bad, but really good; fourthly, many wicked are of great power and influence,
so that their ruin involves that of many others.

Religious war is excluded by this teaching according to Orig. in cat. Chrys.; but Augustin’s different opinions on this question may be seen in his ep. ad Vincent. 93 [al. 48] ; ep. ad Bonifac. 185 [al. 50] ; ep. ad Donat. 100 [al. 127].

It may be of interest to notice that some commentators explain the field in this parable as representing the world, not the church; but the warning that there would be good and bad in the world appears nugatory; the world can hardly be said to be sowed with good seed and oversowed with cockle; the wish to extirpate all the cockle in the world seems hardly reasonable.

One Response to “Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 13:24-30”

  1. […] Father Mass on Matt 13:24-30 for Sunday Mass, Feb 6 (Extraordinary Form, 5th Sunday After Epiphany). 12:15 AM EST. […]

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