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

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.]

One Response to “Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 13:18-23”

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

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