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

Cornelus a Lapide’s Commentary on Matthew 13:24-30

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 8, 2012

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.

Another parable he proposed to them, & c.  The Syriac adds, enigmatically. This means it is done in the kingdom of Heaven in the same way that it is done in a field—when a man sows his seed, and his enemy sows tares over it. Wherefore Mark 4:26 has: So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the earth, &c. For the whole parable is compared with the whole of the things signified, not part with part: for otherwise the sower would not be like to a kingdom but to a king, the King of Heaven.

Mat 13:25  But while men were asleep, his enemy came and oversowed cockle among the wheat and went his way.

While men slept, &c. That is to say by night, whilst men were sleeping, his enemy came unknown to everyone. He was envious of the prosperous crops of his rival, and in order to ruin them, he sowed tares among them. The expression, while men slept, adds to the elegance of the parable: for those who are envious are accustomed to frame such plots against those who sleep.

Symbolically: S. Jerome and S. Augustine understand this sleeping to mean negligence and carelessness on the part of bishops and pastors of the Church. Or they understand it of the death of the Apostles, on which the heretics took occasion to sow the tares of their heresies and wickednesses. Hence let pastors learn to watch over their flocks. “The life of mortals is a watch.” For as Augustine says, “To sleep more than to watch is the life of dormice rather than of men.”

Cockle, the Hebrew Gospel reads, הרולים charulim i.e., nettles, thistles. The word in Greek is zizania, a word peculiar to the Gospels, unknown to Cicero and Demosthenes, and signifying every kind of worthless and noxious weed. All impurity in seed is called zizania, as S. Augustine says. Tertullian (de prescript. hæret. c. 31) interprets zizania to mean wild oats. “In the parable,” he says, “The Lord first sowed his good seed, and it was afterwards that the devil sowed the spurious seed of his barren crop.” Whence he gathers that the fact of heresy being later in time is a mark of falsehood. Hence too (l. de arima c 16.) he calls the sower of cockle “the nocturnal interpolator of evil seed.”

Zizania then, or cockle (also translated as tares) are whatsoever is injurious to the crops, or inimical to wheat, as darnel, for instance. Hear Pliny (l 18. c. 17.) “I should reckon darnel and thistles and thorns and burrs, no less than brambles, among the diseases of the crops rather than among the pests of the ground.” Some are of opinion that zizania is a Syriac word. Others derive it from the Chaldee zyz, an appearance, a figure. For it has the appearance of nourishing corn, but is not. The Germans call zizania, droncacert, because it makes people drunk: it also gives vertigo and stupefaction to those who eat it. Hence zizania signifies mystically heretics and sinners, especially those who corrupt others by word or example, as SS. Augustine, Chrysostom, and Gregory teach. For zizania injure the wheat, and choke and kill it, because they draw away nourishment from it, and so as it were corrupt and strangle the wheat. This is Christ’s second parable of the tares, by which He tacitly rebukes the Scribes and Pharisees, His adversaries, who sowed the tares of their false accusations over the seed of the Word of God, i.e., His preaching of the Gospel, by saying that Jesus was opposed to Moses, that He had a familiar spirit, and so on; by which they inferred that Jesus was not the Messiah, but a magician and an impostor. By this means they turned away the people from Him and His Gospel, and choked and destroyed the good seeds and desires of faith and piety which Christ had scattered in their hearts. Therefore they were tares, i.e., the evil seed of the devil

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

When the blade was sprung up, &c. For the first sprouts of zizania and of wheat are alike, so that one cannot be discerned from the other; but when they are grown up, they are easily distinguished.

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.

Servants of the good man of the house, &c. Lest…you root up the wheat also together with it. For the cockle are intertwined and interwoven among the roots of the wheat, so that if you were to pull up the former, you must root up the latter also. This parable Christ will expound, verse 31.

One Response to “Cornelus a Lapide’s Commentary on Matthew 13:24-30”

  1. […] Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Matthew 13:24-30. […]

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