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

Archive for July 19th, 2013

This Week’s Commentaries and Posts: Sunday, July 21–Sunday, July 28, 2013

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 19, 2013

SUNDAY, JULY 21, 2013
Dominica IX Post Pentecosten ~ II. classis

Resources for Today’s Mass (Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms).

Last Week’s Posts: Sunday, July 14-Sunday, July 21.

MONDAY, JULY 22, 2013

Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Today’s 1st Reading (Exodus 14:5-18).

Update: My Notes on Today’s 1st Reading (Exodus 14:5-18).

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel  (John 20:1-2, 11-18).

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (John 20:1-2, 11-18). Includes verses 3, 4, 10.

Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (John 20:1-2, 11-18). Includes verses 3, 4, 10.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Today’s Gospel (John 20:1-2, 11-18).

St Augustine’s Tractates on Today’s Gospel (John 20:1-2, 11-18). On 1-18.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Today’s 1st Reading (Exodus 14:21-15:1).

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 12:46-50).

Navarre Bible Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 12:46-50).

Father Maas’ Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 12:46-50).

Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 12:46-50).


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Today’s 1st Reading (Exodus 16:1-5, 9-15, 31a).

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Today’s Responsorial (Psalm 78).

St Augustine’s Notes on Today’s Responsorial (Psalm 78).

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 13:1-9).

Father Maas’ Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 13:1-9). On verses 1-23. This post also covers the reading for Friday.

Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matt 13:1-9).

Navarre Bible Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 13:1-9).


Today’s Mass readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

R.D. Byles’ Commentary on 2 Corinthians 4:7-15. On verses 1-15.

Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 4:7-15.

Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 4:7-15.

Navarre Bible Commentary on 2 Corinthians 4:7-15.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Today’s Responsorial (Psalm 126).

St Augustine’s Notes on Today’s Responsorial (Psalm 126).

Pope Benedict XVI’s Commentary on Today’s Responsorial (Psalm 126).

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 20:20-28). On verses 17-28.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 20:20-28). On verses 17-28.

Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 20:20-28).

Navarre Bible Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 20:20-28).

FRIDAY, JULY 26, 2013

Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Today’s 1st Reading (Exodus 20:1-17).

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Today’s Responsorial (Psalm 19).

St Augustine’s Notes on Today’s Responsorial (Psalm 19).

St Thomas Aquinas’ Lecture on Today’s Responsorial (Psalm 19).

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Today’s Responsorial (Psalm 19).

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 13:18-23).

Father Maas’ Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 13:18-23). On verses 1-23.

Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 13:18-23).

St Augustine’s Sermon on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 13:18-23).


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Today’s 1st Reading (Exodus 24:3-8).

St Augustine’s Notes on Today’s Responsorial (Psalm 50).

St Thomas Aquinas’ Lecture on Today’s Responsorial (Psalm 50).

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 13:24-30).

Father Maas’ Commentary on Today’s Gospel (Matthew 13:24-30).

SUNDAY, JULY 28, 2013

RESOURCES FOR SUNDAY MASS (Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms). Usually posted in the evenings between Tuesday and Thursday.

Next Week’s Posts: Sunday, July 28-Sunday, August 4, 2013. Will move to top of the blog late Saturday or early Sunday.

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St Augustine’s Sermon on the Parable of the Sower (Matt 13:18-23)

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 19, 2013

1. BOTH yesterday and to-day ye have heard the parables of the sower, in the words of our Lord Jesus Christ. Do ye who were present yesterday, recollect to-day. Yesterday we read of that sower, who when he scattered seed, “some fell by the way side,”2 which the birds picked up; “some in stony places,” which dried up from the heat; “some among thorns, which were choked,” and could not bring forth fruit; and “other some into good ground, and it brought forth fruit, a hundred, sixty, thirty fold.” But to-day the Lord hath again spoken another parable of the sower, “who sowed good seed in his field. While men slept the enemy came, and sowed tares upon it.”3 As long as it was only in the blade, it did not appear; but when the fruit of the good seed began to appear, “then appeared the tares also.” The servants of the householder were offended, when they saw a quantity of tares among the good wheat, and wished to root them out, but they were not suffered to do so; but it was said to them, “Let both grow together until the harvest.”4 Now the Lord Jesus Christ explained this parable also; and said that He was the sower of the good seed, and He showed how that the enemy who sowed the tares was the devil; the time of harvest, the end of the world; His field, the whole world. And what saith He? “In the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, to burn them, but gather the wheat into My barn.” Why are ye so hasty, He says, ye servants full of zeal? Ye see tares among the wheat, ye see evil Christians among the good; and ye wish to root up the evil ones; be quiet, it is not the time of harvest. That time will come, may it only find you wheat! Why do ye vex yourselves? Why bear impatiently the mixture of the evil with the good? In the field they may be with you, but they will not be so in the barn.

2. Now ye know that those three places mentioned yesterday where the seed did not grow, “the way side,” “the stony ground,” and “the thorny places,” are the same as these “tares.” They received only a different name under a different similitude. For when similitudes are used, or the literal meaning of a term is not expressed, not the truth but a similitude of the truth is conveyed by them. I see that but few have understood my meaning; yet it is for the benefit of all that I speak. In things visible, a way side is a way side, stony ground is stony ground, thorny places are thorny places; they are simply what they are, because the names are used in their literal sense. But in parables and similitudes one thing may be called by many names; therefore there is nothing inconsistent in my telling you that that “way side,” that “stony ground,” those “thorny places,” are bad Christians, and that they too are the “tares.” Is not Christ called “the Lamb”? Is not Christ “the Lion” too? Among wild beasts, and cattle, a lamb is simply a lamb, and a lion, a lion: but Christ is both. The first are respectively what they are in propriety of expression; the Latter both together in a figurative sense.5 Nay much more; besides this it may happen that under a figure, things very different from one another may be called by one and the same name. For what is so different as Christ and the devil? yet both Christ and the devil are called “a lion.” Christ is called “a lion:” “The Lion hath prevailed of the tribe of Judah;”6 and the devil is called a lion: “Know ye not that your adversary the Devil walketh about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour?”7 Both the one and the other then is a lion; the one a lion by reason of His strength; the other for his savageness; the one a lion for His “prevailing;” the other for his injuring. The devil again is a serpent, “that old serpent;”8 are we commanded then to imitate the devil, when our Shepherd told us, “Be ye wise as serpents, and simple as doves”?9

3. Accordingly I yesterday addressed “the way side,” I addressed the “stony ground,” I addressed the “thorny places;” and I said, Be ye changed whilst ye may: turn up with the plough the hard ground, cast the stones out of the field, pluck up the thorns out of it. Be loth to retain that hard heart, from which the word of God may quickly pass away and be lost. Be loth to have that lightness of soil, where the root of charity can take no deep hold. Be loth to choke the good seed which is sown in you by my labours, with the lusts and the cares of this world. For it is the Lord who sows; and we are only His labourers. But be ye the “good ground.” I said yesterday, and I say again to-day to all, Let one bring forth “a hundred, another sixty, another thirty fold.” In one the fruit is more, in another less; but all will have a place in the barn. Yesterday I said all this, to-day I am addressing the tares; but the sheep themselves are the tares. O evil Christians, O ye, who in filling only press the Church by your evil lives; amend yourselves before the harvest come. “Say not, I have sinned, and what hath befallen me?”1 God hath not lost His power; but He is requiring repentance from thee. I say this to the evil, who yet are Christians; I say this to the tares. For they are in the field; and it may so be, that they who to-day are tares, may to-morrow be wheat. And so I will address the wheat also.

4. O ye Christians, whose lives are good, ye sigh and groan as being few among many, few among very many. The winter will pass away, the summer will come; lo! the harvest will soon be here. The angels will come who can make the separation, and who cannot make mistakes. We in this time present are like those servants, of whom it was said, “Wilt Thou that we go and gather them up?”2 for we were wishing, if it might be so, that no evil ones should remain among the good. But it has been told us, “Let both grow together until the harvest.”3 Why? For ye are such as may be deceived. Hear finally; “Lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.”4 What good are ye doing? Will ye by your eagerness make a waste of My harvest? The reapers will come, and who the reapers are He hath explained, “And the reapers are the angels.”5 We are but men, the reapers are the angels. We too indeed, if we finish our course, shall be equal to the angels of God; but now when we chafe against the wicked, we are as yet but men. And we ought now to give ear to the words, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall.”6 For do ye think, my Brethren, that these tares we read of do not get up into this7 seat?8 Think ye that they are all below, and none above up here? God grant we may not be so. “But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you.”9 I tell you of a truth, my Beloved, even in these high seats there is both wheat, and tares, and among the laity there is wheat, and tares. Let the good tolerate the bad; let the bad change themselves, and imitate the good. Let us all, if it may be so, attain to God; let us all through His mercy escape the evil of this world. Let us seek after good days, for we are now in evil days; but in the evil days let us not blaspheme, that so we may be able to arrive at the good days.

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Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 13:18-23

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 19, 2013

Mat 13:18  Hear you therefore the parable of the sower.

Our Redeemer now answers the second question proposed regarding the meaning of the parable, and points out four different descriptions of hearers. 1. Those hardened in sin. 2. Those who were light-minded, and inconstant in good. 3. Those engrossed with the embarrassments and pleasures of life. 4. Those well disposed to receive the Word. His disciples asked our Lord, “the parable” (Mark 4:10), to whom He replied: “Are you ignorant of this parable? and how shall you know all parables?” (Mark 4:13); that is to say, how shall you be able to understand other and more difficult parables, which it shall be your duty to explain to the people?

Mat 13:19  When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, there cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart: this is he that received the seed by the way side.
“When any one heareth the word of the kingdom” of heaven, or of the Gospel, “and understandeth it not,” that is, takes no pains to treasure it up, and by diligent meditation, to bury it deep in his heart, “the wicked one” (ὁ πονηρος) he, who by nature is “wicked”—St. Mark calls him, “Satan;” St. Luke (8:12)—“the devil”—“cometh and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart;” sinners of this description, having been addicted to long and inveterate habits of sin, have their hearts hardened against the impressions of Divine grace. When such sinners hear the Word of God, the devil, this wicked spirit, who dwells in the air, like a foul bird of prey, descends, and waging his fiendish war, by either drawing the attention of this wretched sinner to the objects of former indulgence, and distracting him by presenting a multitude of dissipating thoughts, leaves him no time for reflection on his miserable state; and thus, the fruit which meditation on God’s holy Word might produce, is lost. “This is he that received the seed,” &c., that is, such a person is aptly represented by “the seed” (which fell) “by the way side,” along the hard, beaten path. The seed, which was scattered, “is the Word of God” (Luke 8:11). The soil, or earth on which it fell, is the heart of man. This seed which is, in itself, the same, produces different effects, according to the difference of soil or earth; in other words, according to the difference of dispositions in the hearers. The manifest scope of the parable is to point out that our Lord Himself, is the sower or preacher of His heavenly Word, and that the same Word produces different fruits, according to the dispositions of those who receive it. There are several reasons, or points of analogy, between the Word of God and the seed which is scattered on the earth; and hence the parable is, so far, appropriate. The reading of this verse runs literally thus: “On every one hearing the Word of the kingdom and not understanding it, there cometh,” &c., παντος ακουοντος τον λογον βασιλειας, &c.

“This is he that receiveth the seed,” &c. Literally it is, “this is he that is sown by the way side.” The meaning is well expressed in our version, because “sown” (σπαρεις), means, to receive seed, just as we commonly say of a field, it is sown, or received seed. The meaning is, the seed sown by the road side, and elsewhere, suggests and represents to the mind, such and such hearers of the Word. For, it is not the seed precisely that represents the hearers, but the earth on which the seed, or “Word of God,” falls. This man is represented by the way side or beaten path that received the seed.

Mat 13:20  And he that received the seed upon stony ground, is he that heareth the word, and immediately receiveth it with joy.
Mat 13:21  Yet hath he not root in himself, but is only for a time: and when there ariseth tribulation and persecution because of the word, he is presently scandalized.

“He that receiveth the seed on stony ground,” literally, He that is sown in stony ground (σπαρεις), seminatus (see preceding verse), represented by the stony ground on which the seed was cast. “This is he that heareth the Word, and immediately,” &c. He is delighted with the Word of God, its beauty, its utility, rendering us just here, and happy hereafter. He tastes, to a certain extent, the joy described by the Psalmist, “justitiæ Dominirectæ lætificantes corda,” &c. (Psalm 18:9) This class of men make resolutions without end, and perform acts of fervent devotion; but, they want firm constancy of resolution and perseverance. They are not “firmly rooted and founded in charity” (Ephes. 3:17). But, “it is only for a time,” the Word takes root, or, as Luke has it (8:13), “they believe for awhile,” just as long as every thing prospers with them, and the shock of tribulation does not reach them; but the moment “tribulation” from within, or from their own household, or “persecution” from public authority, “because of the Word,” that is, in consequence of their having embraced the faith, assails them; the moment their temporal prospects and their earthly enjoyments are affected by their religious professions, and that the cross, which in some shape or other, must be borne by God’s elect, presents itself, then, “he is presently scandalized.” This “tribulation and persecution,” the dread of losing his position, his wealth, his worldly enjoyment, is become for him an occasion of sin, is become a “scandal,” or “stumbling block,” in his way; he deserts the faith, and the course of life which the Word he received pointed out to him. St. Luke (8:13), expresses it thus: “and in time of temptation they fall away.”

Mat 13:22  And he that received the seed among thorns, is he that heareth the word, and the care of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choketh up the word, and he becometh fruitless.

He who is represented by the land that received the seed among thorns, is he that not only heard the Word; but, unlike the first class of hearers, understood it; and, like the second class, represented by the stony ground (v. 20), gladly embraced the Word, and was delighted with it. But, as the sight of the cross, tribulation and persecution, turned the second class aside; so, in this third class of hearers, the fruit of the Word, after giving hopes of an abundant return, was destroyed, and prevented from reaching maturity, by the “care of this world;” that is, by excessive anxiety, arising from undue attention to the things of this earth; and by “the deceitfulness of riches.” “Riches” are deceitful; because, instead of conferring the happiness which they seem to promise, they are only the fruitful source of chagrin, bitterness, and sorrow. “They that will become rich, fall into temptations … and many unprofitable and hurtful desires,” &c. (1 Tim. 6:9, &c.)

In St. Mark (4:19), there are three causes assigned in connexion with “the thorns,” for choking up the Word of God—“cares of the world, deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts after other things.” So, also, in St. Luke (8:14)—“cares, and riches, and pleasures of life.” To the two causes assigned in this verse by St. Matthew, they add: St. Mark, “the lusts after other things;” St. Luke, “the pleasures of life.” Under these are comprehended, all carnal pleasures and worldly enjoyments prevailing in the world. The same is expressed by St. John, who traces all sin to “the concupiscence of the flesh, the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16).

St. Luke has, “and going their way, are choked,” &c., that is, following after riches, &c., they are choked by them, or, “going their way,” might mean, being impelled and driven on by riches, &c.

Mat 13:23  But he that received the seed upon good ground, is he that heareth the word, and understandeth, and beareth fruit, and yieldeth the one an hundredfold, and another sixty, and another thirty.

It is remarked, that as there is a threefold class of hearers, who receive the Word of God without fruit; so, there is also a threefold class who derive fruit in different degrees from it, according to the difference of dispositions with which they receive it. St. Luke makes no difference of degree. He only says of the good class, “that in a good, and very good heart, hearing the Word, they keep it, and bring forth fruit in patience;” εν ὑπομονη, in patience, means, the patient expectation of reaping fruit in due time. Similar is the phrase, “in patientia vestra, possidebitis animas vestras,” that is, by their patient endurance of evil, long-suffering, &c.

St. Luke distinguishes this deserving class very pointedly from the three preceding classes. Unlike the first, out of whose hearts the devil takes the word, this class “keep it.” Unlike the second, who receive it on a rock; this class receive it “in a good, and very good heart.” Unlike the third, who, receiving it “in thorns,” “yield no fruit;” this class “bring forth fruit in patience” (8:15).

“Yieldeth one, an hundred fold; and another, sixty,” &c. This difference of yield corresponds with the perfection, greater or less, of those who receive the Word; for, the fruit shall be proportioned to the dispositions of the hearers, and also to the perfection of the state they may have embraced. Hence, St. Jerome, here and Epistle to Ageruchia; St. Athanasius (Epist. ad Anman), assign the hundredth fruit to virgins; the sixtieth, to continent widows; the thirtieth, to chaste nuptials. St. Augustine assigns the hundredth to martyrs; sixtieth, to virgins; and thirtieth, to the married. By “fruit,” some understand good works, which remain, and are persevered in till the time of harvest—unlike the works of those who fall off, on account of persecution, or, owing to the thorns of care and worldly anxiety. Others understand by it, the fruit of merit, to be reaped in the life to come. Likely, it means both.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Catholic lectionary, Christ, Devotional Resources, Notes on the Gospel of Matthew, Notes on the Lectionary, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 13:18-23

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 19, 2013

Ver 18. “Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.19. When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.20. But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;21. Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.22. He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.23. But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”

Gloss., ap. Anselm: He had said above, that it was not given to Jews to know the kingdom of God, but to the Apostles, and therefore He now concludes, saying, “Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower, ye to whom are committed the mysteries of heaven.”

Aug., De Gen. ad lit., viii, 4: It is certain that the Lord spoke the things which the Evangelist has recorded; but what the Lord spake was a parable, in which it is never required that the things contained should have actually taken place.

Gloss, ap. Anselm: He proceeds then expounding the parable; “Every man who hears the word of the kingdom,” that is, My preaching which avails to the acquiring the kingdom of heaven, “and understandeth it not;” how he understands it not, is explained by, “for the evil one” — that is the Devil — “cometh and taketh away that which is sown in his heart;” every such man is “that which is sown by the way side.” And note that which is sown, is taken in different senses; for the seed is that which is sown, and the field is that which is sown, both of which are found here. For where He says “carrieth away that which is sown,” we must understand it of the seed; that which follows, “is sown by the way side,” is to be understood not of the seed, but of the place of the seed, that is, of the man, who is as it were the field sown by the seed of the Divine word.

Remig.: In these words the Lord explains what the seed is, to wit, the word of the kingdom, that is of the Gospel teaching. For there are some that receive the word of the Lord with no devotion of heart, and so that seed of God’s word which is sown in their heart, is by demons straightway carried off, as it were the seed dropped by the way side. It follows, “That which is sown upon the rock, is he that heareth the word, &c.” For the seed or word of God, which is sown in the rock, that is, in the hard and untamed heart, can bring forth no fruit, inasmuch as its hardness is great, and its desire of heavenly things small; and because of this great hardness, it has no root in itself.

Jerome: Note that which is said, “is straightway offended.” There is then some difference between him who, by many tribulations and torments, is driven to deny Christ, and him who at the first persecution is offended, and falls away, of which He proceeds to speak, “That which is sown among thorns.” To me He seems here to express figuratively that  which was said literally to Adam; “Amidst briers and thorns thou shalt eat they bread,” [Gen_3:18] that he that has given himself up to the delights and the cares of this world, eats heavenly bread and the true food among thorns.

Raban.: Rightly are they called thorns, because they lacerate the soul by the prickings of thought, and do not suffer it to bring forth the spiritual fruit of virtue.

Jerome: And it is elegantly added, “The deceitfulness of riches choke the word;” for riches are treacherous, promising one thing and doing another. The tenure of them is slippery as they are borne hither and thither, and with uncertain step forsake those that have them, or revive those that have them not. Whence the Lord asserts, that rich men hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven, because their riches choke the word of God, and relax the strength of their virtues.

Remig.: And it should be known, that in these three sorts of bad soil are comprehended all who can hear the word of God, and yet have not strength to bring it forth unto salvation. The Gentiles are excepted, who were not worthy even to hear it.

It follows, “That which is sown on the good ground.” The good ground is the faithful conscience of the elect, or the spirit of the saints which receives the word of God with joy and desire and devotion of heart, and manfully retains it amid prosperous and adverse circumstances, and brings it forth in fruit; as it follows, “And brings forth fruit, some a hundred fold, some sixty fold, some thirty fold.”

Jerome: And it is to be noted, that as in the bad ground there were three degrees of difference, to wit, that by the way side, the stony and the thorny ground; so in the good soil there is a three-fold difference, the hundred-fold, the sixty-fold, and the thirty- fold. And in this as in that, not the substance but the will is changed, and the hearts as well of the unbelieving as the believing receive seed; as in the first case He said, “Then cometh the wicked one, and carrieth off that which is sown in the heart;” and in the second and third case of the bad soil He said, “This is he that heareth the word.” So also in the exposition of the good soil, “This is he that heareth the word.” Therefore we ought first to hear, then to understand, and after understanding to bring forth the fruits of teaching, either an hundred-fold, or sixty, or thirty.

Aug., City of God, book xxi, ch. 27: Some think that this is to be understood as though the saints according to the degree of their merits delivered some thirty, some sixty, some an hundred persons; and this they usually suppose will happen on the day of judgment, not after the judgment. But when this opinion was observed to encourage men in promising themselves impunity, because that by this means all might attain to deliverance, it was answered, that men ought the rather to live well, that each might be found among those who were to intercede for the liberation of others, lest these should be found to be so few that they should soon have exhausted the number allotted to them, and thus there would remain many unrescued from torment, among whom might be found all such as in most vain rashness had promised themselves to reap the fruits of others.

Remig.: The thirty-fold then is borne of him who teaches faith in the Holy Trinity; the sixty-fold of him who enforces the perfection of good works; (for in the number six this world was completed with all its equipments;) [margin note: Gen_2:1] while he bears the hundred-fold who promises eternal life. For the number one hundred passes from the left hand to the right; and by the left hand the present life is denoted, by the right hand the life to come.

Otherwise, the seed of the word of God brings forth fruit thirty-fold when it begets good thoughts, sixty-fold when good speech, and an hundred-fold when it brings to the fruit of good works.

Aug., Quaest Ev., i, 9: Otherwise; There is fruit an hundred-fold of the martyrs because of their satiety of life or contempt of death; a sixty-fold fruit of virgins, because they rest not warring against the use of the flesh; for retirement is allowed to those of sixty years’ age after service in war or in public business; and there is a thirty-fold fruit of the wedded, because theirs is the age of warfare, and their struggle is the more arduous, that they should not be vanquished by their lusts.

Or otherwise; We must struggle with our love of temporal goods that reason may be master; it should either be so overcome and subject to us, that when it begins to rise it may be easily repressed, or so extinguished that it never arises in us at all. Whence it comes to pass, that death itself is despised for truth’s sake, by some with brave endurance, by others with content, and by others with gladness — which three degrees are the three degrees of fruits of the earth — thirty-fold, sixty-fold, and an hundred-fold.

And in one of these degrees must one be found at the time of his death, if any desires to depart well out of this life.

Jerome, vid. Cyp. Tr. iv. 12: The hundred-fold fruit is to be ascribed to virgins, the sixty-fold to widows and continent persons, the thirty-fold to chaste wedlock.

Jerome, Hieron. Ep. 48, 2: For the joining together of the hands, as it were in the soft embrace of a kiss, represents husband and wife. The sixty-fold refers to widows, who as being set in narrow circumstances and affliction are denoted by the depression of the finger; for by how much greater is the difficulty of abstaining from the allurements of pleasure once known, so much greater is the reward. The hundredth number passes from the left to the right, and by its turning round with the same fingers, not on the same hand, it expresses the crown of virginity. [ed. note: ~ This alludes to the method of notation by the fingers described by Bede (with reference to this passage of S. Jerome,) in his treatise ‘De Indigitatione,’ vol i. 131. The expression, ‘atque suos jam dextra computat annos,’ Juv. will occur immediately to the classical reader.]

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Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 20:20-28

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 19, 2013

Mat 20:20  Then came to him the mother of the sons of Zebedee with her sons, adoring and asking something of him.

“Then.” Most likely, after our Lord had spoken of His approaching Passion and Resurrection on His way to Jerusalem. The word may mean, about that time.

“Came to Him the mother of the sons of Zebedee.” Her name was Salome (Matt. 27:56; Mark 15:40).

He calls her, “the mother of the sons,” &c., rather than the wife of Zebedee, probably, because she might have been a widow at the time. Moreover, the following narrative directly concerned the sons of Zebedee, who were well known in the Gospel history. “With her sons,” James and John, the same who were present at the Transfiguration. “Worshipping Him.” Exhibiting profound veneration, with the view of gaining His good-will. “And asking something.” Making a general request at first, in order to bind Him by His promise to grant the particular request she wanted. Probably, she anticipated a refusal if she mentioned, in the first place, the particular thing she wanted.

St. Mark (10:35), says, that it was John and James themselves that addressed Him in very general terms, asking Him to grant whatsoever they would desire. However, there is no contradiction; for, they may be said to have asked themselves, what they employed their mother to ask on their behalf. It was likely, they availed themselves of their mother’s good offices in this matter, thinking it might be the most successful way of obtaining their request; and if there was anything deordinate or indelicate in it, the mother’s love and partiality for her children, would render it more excusable; and the claims of the mother, on the grounds of her having been among the pious females who attached themselves to our Lord (Matt. 27:55, 56), they imagined to be such as to render her a most successful intercessor. Some even say, she had claims of consanguinity on our Blessed Lord. This, however, is denied by others.

Mat 20:21  Who said to her: What wilt thou? She saith to him: say that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left, in thy kingdom.

Our Redeemer, before committing Himself to any, even general promise, wishes beforehand, to ascertain what she wanted, thereby leaving His followers an example of wisdom in such circumstances.

“She said: Grant that these my two sons,” &c. This strange petition, on the part of this mother, was occasioned, probably, by our Redeemer having said, that in the glorious manifestation of His reign, the Apostles would sit on twelve thrones, as assessors at judgment, and from His having said, on the present occasion, that He was to rise again, three days after His death. From this they at once concluded, that His glorious reign was nigh. It was the settled impression on the minds of the Apostles, that this glorious reign which they imagined would resemble, or, rather exceed, in external pomp and show, all earthly kingdoms, was near at hand (Luke 19:11; Acts 1:6). This accounts for the strange petition of the mother of the sons referred to here. Not unlikely, they apprehended that Peter might be preferred before them, notwithstanding the particular regard manifested towards them by our Lord. Hence, they wished to be beforehand in preferring this petition, to occupy the highest position in the new kingdom, next Himself, signified by sitting on His right and left (St. Chrysostom). It is disputed whether it was worldly pre-eminence, in His earthly kingdom, or spiritual pre-eminence, in His heavenly and eternal kingdom, they had in view. The opinion of St. Chrysostom, who maintains the former view, seems the more probable. Our Redeemer’s answer, which would seem to refer to His heavenly kingdom, is perfectly reconcileable with this; for, He turns the subject from earthly to heavenly and spiritual pre-eminence. The words in St. Mark (10:37), “in Thy glory,” may be understood, of the glory of His temporal kingdom, which alone they seemed at this time to appreciate.

Mat 20:22  And Jesus answering, said: You know not what you ask. Can you drink the chalice that I shall drink? They say to him: We can.

Our Redeemer, with His usual meekness, excuses the carnal and inordinate ambition of His two Apostles, on the ground of ignorance. Addressing themselves directly, since He knew their mother had spoken at their instance, He says, “You know not what you ask;” on several grounds—first, because they mistook the nature of the kingdom in which they sought pre-eminence. They took the kingdom of our Lord for an earthly, temporal kingdom. Again, they imagined themselves fit for it with their present dispositions, whereas they should become other men in order to be fit for it. Moreover, they mistook the means for gaining pre-eminence; they imagined that our Redeemer could bestow it on whom He pleased, on the grounds of friendship or preference, as happens in earthly kingdoms, without any regard to merit. Hence, it is, that in order to correct their erroneous notions, in the two former respects, He asks, “Can you drink?” &c.; and He corrects the latter erroneous notion, by saying, “To sit on My right hand … is not Mine, but for whom it is prepared,” &c.

“Can you drink the chalice?” &c. The word, “chalice,” the container for the thing contained, the portion of wine placed for each one at table, is frequently used in SS. Scripture, to denote the lot marked out for each one by Divine Providence, whether good and agreeable, as in Psa. 15:5; 22:5; or bitter and evil, as in Psa. 10:7; 74:9; Isa. 51:17–22; Jer. 25. Adopting this well-known form of speech, our Redeemer asks them, “Can you,” are you willing and prepared, have you sufficient strength and power of endurance, “to drink the chalice that I shall drink?” In other words, have you strength to share in the sufferings, the ignominy, the bitter death, that I have before me, as marked out in the decrees of my Eternal Father; and thus establish some claim, on the grounds of merit, to the pre-eminence you ask for? The metaphor of the “chalice,” as designating man’s destiny, is, according to some, derived from the ancient custom of giving men, condemned to death, a cup of poison, as in the case of Socrates; or, according to others, from the custom prevalent among the Jews, on the part of the master of the feast, of tempering the wine as he wished, and of assigning to each of his guests his portion—to some a better, to others a loss desirable portion.

The Greek adds, “and to be baptized with the baptism with which I am to be baptized.” St. Mark (10:38), has the same in the Vulgate version. The idea, conveyed in such baptism, is the same as that conveyed in the metaphor of the chalice. It refers to His sufferings and death, as in Luke (12:50), “I have a baptism,” &c. The metaphor of baptism, designating sufferings, is, probably, owing to the prevalent notion, that waters were expressive of suffering. Thus we find (Psa. 143:7), “Libera me de aquis multis;” also (68:3), “Infixus sum in profundi limo, veni in altitudinem maris et tempestas demersit me;” also (123:5), “Our soul hath passed through a torrent,” &c.

“They say to Him: We can.” According to some expositors, James and John understood what our Redeemer referred to. But, having foolishly ambitioned what they knew not, now owing to their avidity to obtain it, they are prepared to accept any conditions; and forgetful of their own weakness and cowardice, of which the apprehensions they felt already on going to Jerusalem should have convinced them, they rashly assert, they are prepared for any sufferings. According to others, they knew not what our Redeemer meant, but they promised, from an impulse of ardent love, to join our Redeemer in any sufferings He might undergo.

Mat 20:23  He saith to them: My chalice indeed you shall drink; but to sit on my right or left hand is not mine to give to you, but to them for whom it is prepared by my Father.

“My chalice, indeed, you shall drink.” St. James was put to death by Herod; St. John, after being scourged, like the other Apostles, by the Jews, was cast, by the orders of Domitian, into a cauldron of boiling oil, which would have caused death, had he not been miraculously saved. He was afterwards exiled into Patmos (St. Jerome).

The words might be regarded, not so much as a prediction of future suffering, as a concession on the part of our Redeemer as if He said: “I can grant you to drink of My chalice, but to sit at My right hand, I cannot grant you.” The drinking of His chalice, and the sitting at His right hand, seem to be antithetical, the granting of one contrasted with the refusal of the other (Maldonatus).

“But to sit at My right hand … is not Mine to give you.” Some lay stress on the word “you,” as if He said, I can give it to others who may merit it, according to the disposition of My Father, but to you, irrespective of merit, and in your present dispositions, I cannot give it. This interpretation would not leave the shadow of objection to the Arians against our Lord’s Divinity, the comparison instituted being, not between the power of the Father and that of the Son; but, between the persons who may be worthy or unworthy to receive pre-eminence from either the Father or the Son, who always act in concert and harmony.

Although the word, “you,” is not in the Greek; still, some of the Fathers, who adopt the Greek reading, interpret the passage in the above sense, warranted by the Vulgate (St. Chrysostom, Cyril, Theophylact, &c.), thus: it is not mine to give, after the manner or from the motives you suppose, viz., favouritism, friendship, or consanguinity.

“But, to them for whom,” &c. The words, “it shall be given,” or some such, are understood to complete the sense, thus: “but it shall be given to them … by My Father,” whose providence has awarded it solely to merit. Our Redeemer does not say, it is not Mine to give it; but it belongs to My Father to do so. No; He only says, it is not Mine to grant it to any but those for whom it is prepared by My Father; thereby insinuating, that He was still the bestower of it; but, only on conditions determined by His Father, as in Luke 22:29; Apoc. 3:21. Although all external works, such as granting the pre-eminence in question, be common to the Trinity; still, by appropriation, certain external effects are ascribed to the several Persons of the Trinity. Power to the Father; wisdom to the Son, &c. Hence, the granting of pre-eminence being an act of power, may, by appropriation, be attributed to the Father. “Not mine,” might also mean, “not mine,” as man, without reference to My Father’s providence and ordination. The meaning will be quite clear, if “but” (αλλα) be interpreted, “except” (ει μη), as in Mark 9:8; 2 Cor. 2:5, &c.

Mat 20:24  And the ten, hearing it, were moved with indignation against the two brethren.

Although, probably, at some distance from our Redeemer and the mother of the sons of Zebedee, the ten other Apostles understood, however, from our Redeemer’s reply, what the conversation referred to; subject still to carnal affections and ambitious notions (for the Holy Ghost had not yet descended on them); they may have each of them expected for himself this pre-eminence. Our Redeemer, with His usual meekness, quietly bore with this outburst of carnal indignation without any severe expression of censure.

Mat 20:25  But Jesus called them to him and said: You know that the princes of the Gentiles lord it over them; and that they that are the greater, exercise power upon them.

He adduces two examples of a very dissimilar nature, in order to correct their false notions and cure their pride—the one derived from the conduct of earthly princes, whose principles being quite opposite to theirs, they should not, therefore, follow or adopt; the other (v. 28), from His own conduct, whom they should imitate, as their Divinely appointed model.

“The princes of the Gentiles,” who know not God, and, unlike the princes among the Jews, confined by the law of God within certain bounds, are governed by no law, save their own capricious wills; men, whose conduct is the opposite of what you should follow.

“Lord it over them.” The Greek word (κατακυριευουσιν) signifies, to exercise authority against “them,” that is, the Gentile peoples subject to their control, whom they rule tyrannically with a high hand, not for the good of their subjects, which should be the end of all authority, but for their own selfish purposes, to gain honour or emolument.

“And they that are the greater” (ὅι μεγαλοι), the magnates vested with power. “Exercise power upon them,” practise tyranny, and unlawfully domineer over their subjects. In these words, our Redeemer wishes to convey to His Apostles, that, in thus expressing indignation, arising from inordinate ambition, they are only following the perverse example of Gentile rulers. In this there is no argument against the stern exercise of authority, civil or ecclesiastical, whenever the good of the community requires it. St. Paul inculcates obedience to civil rulers, even on the grounds of conscience. (Rom. 13) We find the same Apostle exercising spiritual authority against a scandalous sinner. (1 Cor. 5) He also expresses His readiness to repress every disobedience, and exercise power unto edification. (2 Cor. 13) St. Peter exercises authority, with effect, in the case of Ananias and Sapphire. What our Redeemer censures here, is the tyrannical exercise of power, with the vain display of authority, on the part of rulers, over their subjects. This is plainly denoted by the Greek, for, “exercise power” and “lord it.” It is the same that St. Peter prohibits in the rulers of the Church, in regard to their spiritual subjects (1 Peter 5:3).

Mat 20:26  It shall not be so among you: but whosoever is the greater among you, let him be your minister.

“It shall not be so among you; but whosoever will be the greater among you, let him be your minister.” In these words, is conveyed a line of conduct, the opposite of what is referred to in the words of the preceding verse, “and they that are greater, exercise power upon them.”

Mat 20:27  And he that will be first among you shall be your servant.

“And he that will be first among you … your servant.” In these words is conveyed the opposite of what is conveyed in the words, “the princes of the Gentiles lord it over them.” The idea conveyed in vv. 26, 27, is the same. There is a great diversity of opinion as to their scope and meaning. Some, with St. Jerome, hold, that the words express the mode in which we should exercise preeminence and primacy, not in the Church, but in the sight of God, and this mode is, the practice of humility and submission. The more humble we are, the higher we are in God’s sight. If any man wishes to be exalted, and to obtain pre-eminence in the sight of God, let him practice humility, and act as if he were the servant of others. From the whole context, however, it would rather seem, that the scope of our Lord is to show, not how pre-eminence and primacy are to be obtained, and sought for; but rather, how those who hold the first place of pre-eminence in the Church, should show and exercise the authority conferred on them. For, He places before them an example of persons who actually enjoy power, whose conduct in exercising power they should not imitate; and He next subjoins His own Divine example, which they should imitate, in the exercise of authority. Hence, the words mean: whosoever amongst you means to obtain pre-eminence, let him, when he obtains it, so exercise it as to be the minister and servant of all, that is, let him act with such meekness, as if those placed under him were his masters; and let him refer everything to the advantage and salvation of his people, and not to his own honour or emolument. Our Redeemer, while pointing out the manner of exercising authority and pre-eminence, employs language which would apparently apply to the manner of seeking, or, the way of arriving at power; because, this was most applicable to the circumstances of the Apostles, who ambitioned pre-eminence and power.

Mat 20:28  Even as the Son of man is not come to be ministered unto, but to minister and to give his life a redemption for many.

Our Redeemer proposes Himself, who was the first in His kingdom, the prince and founder of the Ecclesiastical hierarchy, as the model whom His Apostles and all vested with power, should imitate. “Even as the Son of man is not come to be ministered unto, but to minister.” Similar are His words (Luke 22:26, 27). He came not to seek His own glory, or honour, or emolument; but, the glory of His Father, and the advantage and salvation of others, going among them, doing good, ministering to their temporal and spiritual wants, with the greatest meekness and humility. And He showed how much He had the salvation and good of others at heart, when He “gives His life,” by undergoing the most ignominious death, “a redemption” (λυτρον), a ransom, a price of atonement, or redemption, which, owing to the union of the Divine Person with human nature, thus imparting infinite value to the acts performed, through His assumed nature, was not only sufficient, or abundant, but a superabundant price. By His ignominious death, He disarmed the wrath of His Father, outraged by sin, and rescued us from the power of the devil, to whom God handed us over as slaves, to be tormented. “For many.” The word, “many,” means, all mankind, who are many. St. Paul (1 Tim. 2:6) says, “He gave Himself a redemption for all.” The word, “many,” frequently bears this meaning (v. 16; Rom. 5:19; Isa. 53), “multorum peccata tulit.” And St. Paul expressly states, that Christ died for all (2 Cor. 5:14; 1 John 2:2), “a propitiation for the sins of the whole world.” Or, if we take “many” in a limited sense, so as not to embrace all; then, the words will mean, that, although He died for all, in the sense that He wished to save all, and for this end furnished them with sufficient graces; still, this did not actually profit all unto salvation, but only the just, who persevered and died in grace. These though not comprising all, are many.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 13:1-9

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 19, 2013

Mat 13:1  The same day Jesus going out of the house, sat by the sea side.

“The same day,” may either mean, the same time, about the period at which the events recorded in the preceding chapter, took place—a sense, in which the word, “day,” is often used in the SS. Scripture—or, taken strictly, the day, or evening of the same day. There being no reason for departing from this strict and literal signification of the word, this latter meaning is preferable.

“Going out of the house,” wherein He lodged at Capharnaum, and in which the message referred to (12:47), was conveyed to Him.

“Sat by the sea side,” the Sea of Galilee or Lake of Genesareth, near Capharnaum, called “Sea,” par excellence, as being a very large body of water, surrounded, as we are informed, by the most delightful scenery.

Mat 13:2  And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went up into a boat and sat: and all the multitude stood on the shore.

In consequence of the vast crowds that followed Him from the neighbouring towns and villages to hear His doctrine, our Redeemer retired to the sea coast, and entering a boat, which He used for a pulpit, He addressed the multitudes on the shore.

Mat 13:3  And he spoke to them many things in parables, saying: Behold the sower went forth to sow.
Mat 13:4  And whilst he soweth some fell by the way side, and the birds of the air came and ate them up.
Mat 13:5  And other some fell upon stony ground, where they had not much earth: and they sprung up immediately, because they had no deepness of earth.
Mat 13:6  And when the sun was up they were scorched: and because they had not root, they withered away.
Mat 13:7  And others fell among thorns: and the thorns grew up and choked them.
Mat 13:8  And others fell upon good ground: and they brought forth fruit, some an hundred fold, some sixty fold, and some thirty fold.

“Many things.” Most likely, He spoke much more than is here recorded. For, if every thing which Jesus did, was written, “the world itself would not be able to contain the books that should be written” (John 21:25).

“In parables.” By a Scripture “parable,” is meant, according to Primate Dixon (“Introduction to SS. Scriptures,” vol 1, Dissert. xii. c. iii), “a continued and well arranged narrative of some possible, but fictitious event, applied to the illustration of some sacred truth.” “Parable” and “Proverb” differ in this: that the former is a continued narrative; the latter is always brief. The former expresses the comparison; in the latter, when a comparison exists, it is only implied. The Greek word for “Parable,” occurs only in the three first Evangelists. St. John, in every instance, terms them, not παραβολαι (parables), but παροιμιαι, (proverbs). Both words are often interchanged and used as convertible terms, and identified. The Hebrew word for both is the same, Marshah. Hence, the Septuagint translators of the Book of Solomon, render it, παροιμιαι, Proverbs; and the same word is afterwards rendered by them, παραβολαι, parables. This latter they did, when there was a comparison expressed, and the narrative longer. “Parable” and “Proverb” are, moreover, identified in this: that both, at least, in their origin, were obscure, and hard to be understood. Again, although a proverb conveys no comparison, it is sometimes, a figurative form of expression. For example, “Desire, when it cometh, is a tree of life.” They resemble each other in this respect also, that, a “proverb” is but a condensed parable; it is the essence and substance, of a parable.

The parables of the New Testament always refer to events, that are in accordance with the laws and ordinary course of Nature; events, that often occurred, and were, probably, in many instances, suggested by what was actually occurring before the eyes of the person who uttered them. Thus, for instance, our Redeemer, in the parable of the “Sower,” might be looking at some sower in an adjoining field.

“Applied to the illustration of some sacred truth.” In this, it differs from a Fable the moral of Which is always intended to illustrate some maxim, of human prudence. The Parable is always intended to illustrate some high spiritual maxims.

The venerable and learned authority already quoted, observes: The Parable appears to bear the same relation to the Simile, that the Allegory bears to the Metaphor; and, hence, in Scripture, the Parable is generally introduced by some such form as, “The kingdom of heaven is like unto,” &c., from which it would appear, that the Parable is but a prolonged Simile.

It was common with the people of the East, and well suited to the natural temperament of Eastern nations, to employ parables for the purpose of conveying and illustrating abstract moral truths. St. Jerome tells us, this was quite usual among the people of Palestine particularly. “Familiare est Syris et maxime Palestinis ad omnem Sermonem suum parabolas jungere” (St. Jerome).

Hence, our Redeemer, accommodating Himself to the prevalent usages and manners of the people, frequently employs parables to convey and illustrate His heavenly doctrines. This method of illustrating moral truths, was attended with many advantages. Besides fixing the attention on the subjects treated of, and of exciting curiosity, it served to impress more vividly on the minds and imaginations of the hearers, the abstract truths illustrated through the medium of sensible images, and of objects familiar to them; and thus served as a most powerful help to memory. It was attended with another advantage—the only one referred to here by our Redeemer—“it protected the sacred Word from the disrespect with which the ill-disposed would have received it, had it been plainly announced” (Dixon, ibidem). “In the explanation of Scripture parables, two things must be principally attended to—1st. That in the parables, persons are not compared with persons, nor the parts of the parable with the parts of the thing signified, but the whole parable is compared with the whole thing which it illustrates. 2ndly. In the interpretation of parables, all things in the parables are not to be applied to the thing signified.… Some things are introduced in the parable, merely for the purpose of rendering the narrative consistent throughout; mere ornaments of the narrative” (loco citato.)

(First Parable.) “Saying.” St. Mark (4:3), says, He solicited their attention, saying, “Hear ye; Behold, the sower went forth,” &c. The evident scope of the parable, is to point out the fruit or effect produced by God’s Word—by the same seed, that was scattered on the good and bad soil—according to the different dispositions, whether good or evil, and in several degrees, on the part of the hearers.

Our Redeemer Himself explains the parable, in verse 18, &c.

Mat 13:9  He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

As it required great attention to understand this parable; and, moreover, no one could understand it, unless “it was given;” hence, our Lord, as was His wont, in treating of matters of importance, or of obscure and difficult subjects, solicits their attention to whom “it was given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.”

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Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 13:1-23

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 19, 2013

The same day Jesus going out. Jesus here describes the character of the Messianic kingdom in seven parables: first, that of the sower, vv. 1–23; second, that of the cockle, vv. 24–30; third, that of the grain of mustard seed, vv. 31, 32; fourth, that of the leaven, vv. 33; fifth, that of the hidden treasure, v. 44; sixth, that of the pearl, vv. 45, 46; seventh, that of the net, vv. 47–52. Vv. 34–43 contain an explanation of the second parable. The first two parables show the obstacles to the kingdom arising from within and from without; the second two show the efficacy of the kingdom as to its extent and its intensity; the third two parables illustrate the priceless value of the kingdom; the last parable points forward to the consummation of the kingdom [Thomas Aquinas]. Since the evangelist has shown the unfitness of the great mass of the people for the Messianic kingdom, it cannot surprise us that our Lord now employs a manner of speaking the more unintelligible to the multitudes, because they expect a Messianic kingdom far different from that described by Jesus. We may reasonably suppose that the evangelist has here placed together various parables spoken by Jesus on different occasions.

1. Parable of the sower. The same parable is related by Lk. 8:4–8 and Mk. 4:1–9; the second evangelist gives it in the same connection as the first. [A] Wording of the parable, α. “The same day” may signify the day on which the mother and the brethren of our Lord had come to see him, though it may also mean “at that time” generally [cf. Augustine, de cons. 2, 41, 88; some codd.]. β “Going out of the house” refers to the house of Peter in Capharnaum [cf. Mt. 8:14; 9:1]. γ. Jesus first “sat by the seaside,” and when “great multitudes were gathered together unto him,” “he went up into a boat and sat.” δ. The “multitudes stood on the shore,” though the Talmudic tradition that the disciples began to sit only after the time of Gamaliel I appears to be false [cf. Lk. 2:46; Acts 22:3; Aboth i. 4]. ε. “Parables” in a wider sense may embrace proverbial expressions and similitudes [cf. Jn. 10:6; 16:25, 29; Mt. 15:15; 24:32; Mk. 3:23; 4:30]; but in their specific meaning, they are fictions built up on the human life, and illustrating some practical or theoretic truth. Such parables occur even in the Old Testament [Judges 9:7 ff.; 2 Sam 12:2 ff.], and the Rabbinic teachers employed them frequently [Lightf. hor. hebr. ad h. l.; Ed. i. p. 580: Wünsche, p. 160], though they appear to have stated the truth before stating the parable, while our Lord follows the opposite course. ζ. The “many things” which our Lord spoke in parables renders it probable that he spoke more than one parable on this particular occasion [cf. Mk. 4:2, 33; Lk. 8:5]. η. The apparent carelessness of the sower may be explained by his sowing in one of the ways peculiar to the Jews [cf. Edersheim i. p. 586]; for they had two manners of sowing, one by hand, the other by means of an ox carrying a perforated sack of grain over the land that was to be sown. θ. There are three kinds of unprofitable seed, as there will be three degrees of fruitfulness. Jansenius, draws attention to the accuracy of statement according to which the seed fallen on stony ground springs up immediately, owing to the greater warmth; “they had no root” does not deny the presence of any root at all, but must be understood of the weakness of the root [cf. Schanz]. ι. “The thorns” are represented as growing up, so that in their progress they outgrow the wheat, κ. That Galilee was noted for its fertility is clear from Josephu, B. J. III. iii. 2; “an hundred-fold” harvest is known also in Gen. 26:12. λ. The importance of the parable is inculcated by the final admonition, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” [cf. Mt. 11:15]. μ. According to Mk. 4:10 and Lk. 8:9, the apostles asked for an explanation of the parable, while the first gospel insists on their asking the reason why Jesus spoke to the people in parables; this difference is fully in accordance with the different scope of the gospels. For since the teaching in parables was common [1 Kings 4:32; Ecclus. 39:2], the second and third evangelists need not explain this fact to their readers; but the first evangelist had to state why our Lord addressed the multitudes in parables, while he spoke to his disciples in plain language, ν. In answer our Lord calls attention to the difference between the disposition of the multitudes and the disciples: the former have proved themselves unworthy of knowing the mysteries, i. e. the true nature and the divinely appointed properties of the kingdom of God; for they have failed to acknowledge the divine legate in spite of his countless signs and miracles [cf. Mt. 11:7–24; 12:1–45]. The apostles have accepted the person of the Messias, and therefore they will be assisted to understand his mission and kingdom [cf. Rom. 11:25; 16:25; Eph. 1:9; 1 Pet. 1:12]. ξ. Our Lord illustrates this further by what occurs every day in business life: the wealthy become easily wealthier, and the poor easily lose their little property. In the present case, the Jewish multitudes are the poor, possessing only a natural desire after the Messianic goods [cf. Chrysostom], or the blessings of Abraham with the advantages of the law and the prophets [cf. Hilary, Origen, cat. Theophylact, Paschasius, Opus Imperfectum, Calmet]; since they have failed to invest these goods properly, they will lose them in the present Messianic crisis, ο. But this poverty is owing to the fault of the Jews themselves; for though they see the truth theoretically, they do not see it practically, either through malice, as happens on the part of the leaders, or through neglect, as is the case on the part of the multitudes [cf. Chrysostom, Opus Imperfectum, Theophylact, Euthymius, Maldonado, Schegg, Weiss, Keil].

π. “The prophecy of Isaias” [Is. 6:9] was directed to the contemporaries of the prophet; but the gospels and Acts too [Mk. 4:12; Lk. 8:10; Jn. 12:39, 40; Acts 28:26, 27] point out that its fulfilment extends to the Jews of our Lord’s time. The Greek verb for “fulfilled” used in this passage means properly “wholly fulfilled,” and is still further emphasized by its position in the sentence. In the text of the prophecy we must notice its beautifully inverse order of the members: “heart … ears … eyes …; eyes … ears … heart.” The citation follows the Greek version rather than the Hebrew text, for the latter reads: “Hearing hear ye, and understand not; and seeing see ye, and know not. Make fat the heart of this people, and make their ears heavy, and close their eyes, lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and they be converted and healed.” The main difference between the Greek version and the Hebrew original consists in this, that the former emphasizes more the wickedness of the people, while the latter insists on the divine decree of rejection. The evangelist may have employed the Greek version because he wished to show the guilt of the Jews, or because our Lord himself had quoted the Septuagint, or again it may be supposed that St. Matthew cited the Hebrew original, but that his Greek translator substituted the Septuagint version, since the Hebrew wording of the passage was not necessary for the argument. Our Lord continued to instruct the multitudes though their conversion as a body had become hopeless, because he was anxious to win over those individual souls that had not yet fully shared the guilt of the mass.

[B] Explanation of parable, [a] “Your eyes” and “your ears” form a strong contrast with those of the multitudes, since they see and hear what all the “prophets and just men” have desired to see and hear; this longing of many is expressed in the inspired language of the Old and the New Testament [cf. Is. 45:8; 64:1; 9:6; 11:1 ff.; 35:1 ff.; 60:1 ff.; Jer. 23:5; 23:30, 31; Ps. 44:12; Ez. 34:23; Os. 2:19; Micah. 5:1; Haggai 2:8; etc.; Jn. 8:56; 1 Pet. 1:10–12; etc.]. This predilection shown to the disciples was well calculated to increase their love for their Master and their esteem of their vocation.

[b] Though it would be impious to explain the parable differently from the way in which it has been explained by our Lord himself, a few words of additional comment may not be wholly useless [cf. Hilary]. In general it may be supposed that this parable prepared the disciples for a partial failure of their future preaching.

[c] “The seed by the wayside” represents the word or message of the kingdom [Mt. 4:23; 24:14; Acts 1:3; 28:31] announced, hut not understood, and carried away by the wicked one; the want of understanding may result from sin, or inordinate affections, or neglect of divine things, or flippancy, or carelessness, or slowness of mind. “The wayside” means, therefore, a mind open to worldly thoughts [Opus Imperfectum], or dried up by bad imaginations [Rabanus].

[d] The seed fallen on stony ground represents the message of the kingdom that is joyfully received, but not allowed to penetrate the innermost sources of our thoughts and affections, so that it fails in time of trial and temptation; while, therefore, the first class of converts lose their faith without suffering any external difficulty, the second class lose their faith in time of moderate persecution [cf. Mt. 5:10–12; 7:13; 10:16–22], for they are “presently scandalized.”

[e] As those that hear the word of the kingdom, but do not follow it, are represented by the wayside; and those that hear the word, and receive it, but fall off forthwith, are signified by the stony ground; so are those that hear the word, and receive it, but do not bear fruit, represented by the thorny ground. The thorns are not the world and riches, because they in themselves are indifferent, but the care of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches [Chrysostom]. Riches really contain two opposites in them, pleasure and pain, care and satisfaction; the one is properly expressed by the “care of the world,” the other by the “deceitfulness of riches.” Both are rightly compared to thorns, because they impede all spiritual fruit, even as thorns choke the fruit of the field; again, both wound and tear the human heart, as thorns wound and tear the human body [Salmeron, Jansenius, Gregory, Dionysius]. Since, then, spiritual fruitfulness and spiritual [if not actual] poverty are correlated, we understand the difficulty of attaining to real spiritual fruitfulness.

[f] To these three classes our Lord adds a fourth, consisting of those that are noted for their fruitfulness; “the good ground” may be good by nature, but it may also have become good by cultivation, in our case, by the removal of inordinate affections; the degrees of disposition and fruitfulness remind one of 1 Cor. 15:41, 42; cf. Tostatus [qu. 18 in c. xviii.].

[g] While, therefore, the doctrine on merit and its different degrees is certainly implied in the parable, its exact application is less certain: Augustine [qu. in evang. i. 9] Paschasius, St Bruno, Thomas Aquinas, see in the three degrees of fruitfulness a representation of martyrs, virgins, and common Christians; Jerome, Alb. Rabanus, speak of virgins, widows, and married people; Theophylact of great ascetics, cenobites, and seculars; Opus Imperfectum of those dead to the world and at the same time suffering infirmities, of those dead to the world, and those detached from riches; St Bruno of the contemplatives, of those leading a mixed life, and those leading an active life; Dionysius of the perfect, of advancers, and beginners; Barradas, Jansenius, Maldonado, Lapide, of the very good, the middling good, and those that are passable; Bed. of those persevering to the end, of those perfect in their works, and the believers in the Holy Trinity.

[h] While the seed may be identified with the word of our Lord and the preaching of the apostles [Chrysostom], the reception of the seed in the soil, its need of rain and sunshine, and its gradual development are rightly regarded as the stages and needs of the spiritual life [Chrysostom, Euthymius, Tostatus qu. 9]. Dion, is not justified in inferring from this parable the small number of the elect, since it cannot be supposed that one fourth of the seed fell on the way, another fourth on rocky soil, a third fourth among thorns, and only the last fourth bore its proper fruit.


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