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Catena Aurea by St. Thomas Aquinas
1. The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side.
2. And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.
3. And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;
4. And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:
5. Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:
6. And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.
7. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:
8. But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.
9. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
CHRYSOSTOM. When He had rebuked him that told Him of His mother and His brethren, He then did according to their request; He departed out of the house, having first corrected His brethren for their weak desire of vainglory; He then paid the honour due to His mother, as it is said, The same day Jesus went forth out of the house, and sat down by the sea side.
AUGUSTINE. (De Cons. Ev. ii. 41.) By the words, The same day, he sufficiently shews that these things either followed immediately upon what had gone before, or that many things could not have intervened; unless indeed ‘day’ here after the Scripture manner signifies a period.
RABANUS. For not only the Lord’s words and actions, but His journeyings also, and the places in which He works His mighty works and preaches, are full of heavenly sacraments. After the discourse held in the house, wherein with wicked blasphemy He had been said to have a dæmon, He went out and taught by the sea, to signify that having left Judæa because of their sinful unbelief, He would pass to the salvation of the Gentiles. For the hearts of the Gentiles, long proud and unbelieving, are rightly likened to the swelling and bitter waves of the sea. And who knows not that Judæa was by faith the house of the Lord.
JEROME. For it must be considered, that the multitude could not enter into the house to Jesus, nor be there where the Apostles heard mysteries; therefore the Lord in mercy to them departed out of the house, and sat near the sea of this world, that great numbers might be gathered to Him, and that they might hear on the sea shore what they were not worthy to hear within; And great multitudes were gathered unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat down, and all the people stood on the shore.
CHRYSOSTOM. The Evangelist did not relate this without a purpose, but that he might shew the Lord’s will therein, who desired so to place the people that He should have none behind Him, but all should be before His face.
HILARY. There is moreover a reason in the subject of His discourse why the Lord should sit in the ship, and the multitude stand on the shore. For He was about to speak in parables, and by this action signifies that they who were without the Church could have no understanding of the Divine Word. The ship offers a type of the Church, within which the word of life is placed, and is preached to those without, and who as being barren sand cannot understand it.
JEROME. Jesus is in the midst of the waves; He is beaten to and fro by the waves, and, secure in His majesty, causes His vessel to come nigh the land, that the people not being in danger, not being surrounded by temptations which they could not endure, might stand on the shore with a firm step, to hear what was said.
RABANUS. Or, that He went into a ship and sat on the sea, signifies that Christ by faith should enter into the hearts of the Gentiles, and should gather together the Church in the sea, that is in the midst of the nations that spake against Him. And the crowd that stood on the sea shore, neither in the ship nor in the sea, offers a figure of those that receive the word of God, and are by faith separated from the sea, that is from the reprobate, but are not yet imbued with heavenly mysteries. It follows; And he spake many things unto them in parables.
CHRYSOSTOM. He had not done thus on the mount; He had not framed His discourse by parables. For there were the multitudes only, and a mixed crowd, but here the Scribes and Pharisees. But He speaks in parables not for this reason only, but to make His sayings plainer, and fix them more fully in the memory, by bringing things before the eyes.
JEROME. And it is to be noted, that He spake not all things to them in parables, but many things, for had He spoken all things in parables, the people would have departed without benefit. He mingles things plain with things dark, that by those things which they understand they may be incited to get knowledge of the things they understand not. The multitude also is not of one opinion, but of divers wills in divers matters, whence He speaks to them in many parables, that each according to their several dispositions may receive some portion of His teaching.
CHRYSOSTOM. He first sets forth a parable to make His hearers more attentive, and because He was about to speak enigmatically, He attracts the attention by this first parable, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow his seed.
JEROME. By this sower is typified the Son of God, who sows among the people the word of the Father.
CHRYSOSTOM. Whence then went out He who is every where present, and how went He out? Not in place; but by His incarnation being brought nearer to us by the garb of the flesh. Forasmuch as we because of our sins could not enter in unto Him, He therefore came forth to us.
RABANUS. Or, He went forth, when having left Judea, He passed by the Apostles to the Gentiles.
JEROME. Or, He was within while He was yet in the house, and spake sacraments to His disciples. He went therefore forth from the house, that He might sow seed among the multitudes.
CHRYSOSTOM. When you hear the words, the sower went out to sow, do not suppose that is a tautology. For the sower goes out oftentimes for other ends; as, to break up the ground, to pluck up noxious weeds, to root up thorns, or perform any other species of industry, but this man went forth to sow. What then becomes of that seed? three parts of it perish, and one is preserved; but not all in the same manner, but with a certain difference, as it follows, And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside.
JEROME. This parable Valentinus lays hold of to establish his heresy, bringing in three different natures; the spiritual, the natural or the animal, and the earthly. But there are here four named, one by the wayside, one stony, one thorny, and a fourth the good ground.
CHRYSOSTOM. Next, how is it according to reason to sow seed among thorns, or on stony ground, or by the wayside? Indeed in the material seed and soil of this world it would not be reasonable; for it is impossible that rock should become soil, or that the way should not be the way, or that thorns should not be thorns. But with minds and doctrines it is otherwise; there it is possible that the rock be made rich soil, that the way should be no more trodden upon, and that the thorns should be extirpated. That the most part of the seed then perished, came not of him that sowed, but of the soil that received it, that is the mind. For He that sowed put no difference between rich and poor, wise or foolish, but spoke to all alike; filling up his own part, though foreseeing all things that should come to pass, so that He might say, What ought I to have done that I have not done? (Is. 5:4) He does not pronounce sentence upon them openly and say, this the indolent received and have lost it, this the rich and have choked it, this the careless and have lost it, because He would not harshly reprove them, that He might not alienate them altogether. By this parable also He instructs His disciples, that though the greater part of those that heard them were such as perished, yet that they should not therefore be remiss; for the Lord Himself who foresaw all things, did not on this account desist from sowing.
JEROME. Note that this is the first parable that has been given with its interpretation, and we must beware where the Lord expounds His own teachings, that we do not presume to understand any thing either more or less, or any way otherwise than as so expounded by Him.
RABANUS. But those things which He silently left to our understanding, should be shortly noticed. The wayside is the mind trodden and hardened by the continual passage of evil thoughts; the rock, the hardness of the self-willed mind; the good soil, the gentleness of the obedient mind, the sun, the heat of a raging persecution. The depth of soil, is the honesty of a mind trained by heavenly discipline. But in thus expounding them we should add, that the same things are not always put in one and the same allegorical signification.
JEROME. And we are excited to the understanding of His words, by the advice which follows, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
REMIGIUS. These ears to hear, are ears of the mind, to understand namely and do those things which are commanded.
10. And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?
11. He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
12. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.
13. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.
14. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:
15. For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed: lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
16. But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.
17. For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.
GLOSS. (ap. Anselm.) The disciples understanding that the things which were spoken by the Lord to the people were obscure, desired to hint to Him that He should not speak in parables to them. And his disciples came to him, and said, Why speakest thou to them in parables?
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom, xlv.) Wherein it is worthy admiration, that the disciples who desire to learn of Him, know when they ought to ask Him, for they do not this before the multitude. This Matthew declares, when he says, And they came to him; (Mark 4:10) and Mark more expressly says, that they came to him when he was alone.
JEROME. We must enquire how they could come to Him at that time when Jesus was sitting in the ship; we may understand that they had at the first entered into the ship, and standing there, made this enquiry of Him.
REMIGIUS. The Evangelist therefore says, came to him, to express that they eagerly enquired of Him; or they might indeed approach Him bodily, though the space between them was small.
CHRYSOSTOM. And observe moreover their goodness, how great their thought for others, that they enquire about what concerns others, before what relates to themselves. For they say not, ‘Why speakest thou to us in parables?’ but to them. And he answered and said unto them, Because it is given to you to know the mystery of the kingdom of heaven.
REMIGIUS. To you, I say, who adhere to Me, and believe in Me. By the mystery of the kingdom of heaven, He intends the Gospel doctrine. To them, that is, to them that are without, and who would not believe on Him, the Scribes namely and Pharisees, and to the rest who continue in unbelief, it is not given. Let us then, with the disciples, come unto the Lord with a pure heart, that He may think us worthy to interpret to us the evangelic teaching; according to that, They who draw near to his feet, shall receive of his doctrine. (Deut. 33:3)
CHRYSOSTOM. In saying this, He does not imply any necessity or fate, but shews at once, that they, to whom it is not given, are the cause of all their own miseries, and yet that the knowledge of the Divine mysteries is the gift of God, and a grace given from above. Yet this does not destroy free will, as is manifest from what follows, for to prevent that either these should despair, or those be remiss, when they hear that to you it is given, He shews that the beginning of all lays with ourselves, and then He adds, For whoso hath, to him shall be given, and he shall abound; and whoso hath not, from him shall be taken what he hath. As much as to say, Whoso has the desire and the zeal, to him shall be given all those things which are of God; but whoso lacketh these, and does not contribute that part that pertains to him, to him neither are the things which are of God given, but even those things that he hath are taken from him; not because God takes them away, but because he hath made himself unworthy of those that he has. Wherefore we also, if we see any hearkening carelessly, and having exhorted him to attend, he do not heed us, let us be silent; for should we persevere in urging him, his sloth-fulness will be the more charged against him. But him that is zealous to learn, we draw onwards, pouring forth many things. And He well said according to another Evangelist, That which he seemeth to have; (Luke 8:18.) for, in truth, he has not even that he has.
REMIGIUS. He that has a desire to read, shall have given to him power to understand, and whoso has not desire to read, that understanding which by the bounty of nature he seems to have, even that shall be taken from him. Or, whoso has charity, to him shall be given the other virtues also; and from him who has not charity, the other virtues likewise shall be taken away, for without charity there can be nothing good.
JEROME. Or, To the Apostles who believe in Christ there is given, but from the Jews who believed not on the Son of God there is taken away, even whatever good they might seem to have by nature. For they cannot understand any thing with wisdom, seeing they have not the head of wisdom.
HILARY. For the Jews not having faith, have lost also the Law which they had; and Gospel faith has the perfect gift, inasmuch as if received it enriches with new fruit, if rejected it subtracts from the riches of ancient possession.
CHRYSOSTOM. But that what He had said might be made more manifest He adds, Therefore speak I unto them in parables, because seeing they see not, and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. Had this been a natural blindness, He ought to have opened their eyes; but forasmuch as it is voluntary, therefore He said not simply, ‘They see not,’ but, Seeing they see not. For they had seen the dæmons going out, and they said, He casts out dæmons by Beelzebub; they heard that He drew all men to God, and they say, This man is not of God. (John 9:16) Therefore because they spake the very contrary to what they saw and heard, to see and to hear is taken from them; for they profit nothing, but rather fall under judgment. For this reason He spake to them at first not in parables, but with much clearness; but because they perverted all they saw and heard, He now speaks in parables.
REMIGIUS. And it should be noted, that not only what He spake, but also what He did, were parables, that is, signs of things spiritual, which He clearly shews when He says, That seeing they may not see; but words are heard and not seen.
JEROME. This He says of those who were standing on the shore, and separated from Jesus, and who because of the dashing of the waves heard not distinctly what was said.
CHRYSOSTOM. And that they should not say, He slanders us as an enemy, He brings forward the Prophet declaring the same opinion, as it follows, That there might be fulfilled in them the prophecy of Isaiah, who said, With the hearing ye shall hear and shall not understand, and seeing ye shall see and shall not behold. (Is. 6:9)
GLOSS. (non occ.) That is; With the hearing ye shall hear words, but shall not understand the hidden meaning of those words; seeing ye shall see My flesh indeed, but shall not discern the divinity.
CHRYSOSTOM. This He said because they had taken away their own sight and hearing, shutting their eyes, and hardening their hearts. For not only did they not hear at all, but they heard obtusely, as it follows, The heart of this people is waxed gross, and they have heard hardly with their ears.
RABANUS. The heart of the Jews is made gross with the grossness of wickedness, and through the abundance of their sins they hear hardly the Lord’s words, because they have received them ungratefully.
JEROME. And that we should not suppose that this grossness of the heart and heaviness of the ears is of nature, and not of choice, He adds the fruit of their own wilfulness, For they have shut their eyes.
CHRYSOSTOM. Herein He points out how extreme their wickedness, how determined their aversion. Again to draw them towards Him, He adds, And be converted, and I should heal them; which shews that if they would be converted, they should be healed. As if one should say, If he would ask me I would immediately forgive him, this would point out how he might be reconciled; so here when He says, Lest they should he converted and I should heal them, He, shews that it was possible they should be converted, and having done penitence should be saved.
AUGUSTINE. (Quæst. in Matt. q. 14.) Otherwise; They have shut their eyes lest they should see with their eyes, that is, themselves were the cause that God shut their eyes. For another Evangelist says, We hath blinded their eyes. But is this to the end that they should never see? Or that they should not see so much as this, that becoming discontent with their own blindness and bewailing themselves, should so be humbled, and moved to confession of their sins and pious seeking after God. For Mark thus expresses the same thing, Lest they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them. From which we learn, that by their sins they deserved not to understand; and that yet this was allowed them in mercy that they should confess their sins, and should turn, and so merit to be forgiven. But when John relating this expresses it thus, Therefore they could not believe because Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, that they should not see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them, (John 12:39) this seems to be opposed to this interpretation, and to compel us to take what is here said, Lest they should see with their eyes, not as though they might come to see after this fashion, but that they should never see at all; for he says it plainly, That they should not see with their eyes. And that he says, Therefore they could not believe, sufficiently shows that the blindness was not inflicted, to the end that moved thereby, and grieving that they understood not, they should be converted through penitence; for that they could not, unless they had first believed, and by believing had been converted, and by conversion had been healed, and having been healed understood; but it rather shews that they were therefore blinded that they should not believe. For he speaks most clearly, Therefore they could not believe. But if it be so, who would not rise up in defence of the Jews, and pronounce them to be free from all blame for their unbelief? For, Therefore they could not believe, because he hath blinded their eyes. But because we must rather believe God to be without fault, we are driven to confess that by some other sins they had thus deserved to be blinded, and that indeed this blinding prevented them from believing; for the words of John are these, They could not believe, because that Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes. It is in vain then to endeavour to understand it that they were therefore blinded that they should be converted; seeing they could not be converted because they believed not; and they could not believe because they were blinded. Or perhaps we should not say amiss thus—that some of the Jews were capable of being healed, but that being puffed up with so great swelling pride, it was good for them at first that they should not believe, that they might understand the Lord speaking in parables, which if they did not understand they would not believe; and thus not believing on Him, they together with the rest who were past hope crucified Him; and at length after His resurrection, they were converted, when humbled by the guilt of His death they loved Him the more because of the heavy guilt which had been forgiven them; for their so great pride needed such an humiliation to overcome it. This might indeed be thought an inconsistent explanation, did we not plainly read in the Acts of the Apostles that thus it was. This then that John says, Therefore they could not believe, because he hath blinded their eyes that they should not see, (Acts 2:37) is not repugnant to our holding that they were therefore blinded that they should be converted; that is to say, that the Lord’s meaning was therefore purposely clothed in the obscurities of parables, that after His resurrection they might turn them to wisdom with a more healthy penitence. For by reason of the darkness of His discourse, they being blinded did not understand the Lord’s sayings, and not understanding them, they did not believe on Him, and not believing on Him they crucified Him; thus after His resurrection, terrified by the miracles that were wrought in His name, they had the greater compunction for their great sin, and were more prostrated in penitence; and accordingly after indulgence granted they turned to obedience with a more ardent affection. Notwithstanding, some there were to whom this blinding profited not to conversion.
REMIGIUS. In all the clauses the word ‘not’ must be understood; thus; That they should not see with their eyes, and should not hear with their ears, and should not understand with their heart, and should not be converted, and I should heal them.
GLOSS. (ap. Anselm.) so then the eyes of them that see, and will not believe, are miserable, but your eyes are blessed; whence it follows; Blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.
JEROME. If we had not read above that invitation to his hearers to understand, when the Saviour said, He that hath, ears to hear let him hear, we might here suppose that the eyes and ears which are now blessed are those of the body. But I think that those eyes are blessed which can discern Christ’s sacraments, and those ears of which Isaiah speaks, The Lord hath given me an ear. (Is. 50:4)
GLOSS. (ord.) The mind is called an eye, because it is intently directed upon what is set before it to understand it; and an ear, because it learns from the teaching of another.
HILARY. Or, He is speaking of the blessedness of the Apostolic times, to whose eyes and ears it was permitted to see and to hear the salvation of God, many Prophets and just men having desired to see and to hear that which was destined to be in the fulness of times; whence it follows; Verily I say unto you, that many Prophets and just men have desired to see the things that ye see, and to hear the things that ye hear, and have not heard them.
JEROME. This place seems to be contradicted by what is said elsewhere. Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it, and was glad. (John 8:56)
RABANUS. Also Isaiah and Micah, and many other Prophets, saw the glory of the Lord; and were thence called ‘seers.’
JEROME. But He said not, ‘The Prophets and the just men,’ but many; for out of the whole number, it may be that some saw, and others saw not. But as this is a perilous interpretation, that we should seem to be making a distinction between the merits of the saints, at least as far as the degree of their faith in Christ, therefore we may suppose that Abraham saw in enigma, and not in substance. But ye have truly present with you, and hold, your Lord, enquiring of Him at your will, and eating with Him.1
CHRYSOSTOM. These things then which the Apostles saw and heard, are such as His presence, His voice, His teaching. And in this He sets them before not the evil only, but even before the good, pronouncing them more blessed than even the righteous men of old. For they saw not only what the Jews saw not, but also what the righteous men and Prophets desired to see, and had not seen. For they had beheld these things only by faith, but these by sight, and even yet more clearly. You see how He identifies the Old Testament with the New, for had the Prophets been the servants of any strange or hostile Deity, they would not have desired to see Christ.
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 the 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.
AUGUSTINE. (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 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.
REMIGIUS. 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 dæmons 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 thy 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.
RABANUS. 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.
REMIGIUS. 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.
AUGUSTINE. (De Civ. Dei, xxi. 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 I 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.
REMIGIUS. 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;) (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.
AUGUSTINE. (Quæst. 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.) Or, 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. (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 virginitya.
24. Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:
25. But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.
26. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.
27. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field; from whence then hath it tares?
28. He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?
29. But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.
30. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xlvi.) In the foregoing parable the Lord spoke to such as do not receive the word of God; here of those who receive a corrupting seed. This is the contrivance of the Devil, ever to mix error with truth.
JEROME. He set forth also this other parable, as it were a rich householder refreshing his guests with various meats, that each one according to the nature of his stomach might find some food adapted to him. He said not ‘a second parable,’ but another; for had He said ‘a second,’ we could not have looked for a third; but another prepares us for many more.
REMIGIUS. Here He calls the Son of God Himself the kingdom of heaven; for He saith, The kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that sowed good seed in his field.
CHRYSOSTOM. He then points out the manner of the Devil’s snares, saying, While men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares in the midst of the wheat, and departed. He here shews that error arose after truth, as indeed the course of events testifies; for the false prophets came after the Prophets, the false apostles after the Apostles, and Antichrist after Christ. For unless the Devil sees somewhat to imitate, and some to lay in wait against, he does not attempt any thing. Therefore because he saw that this man bears fruit an hundred, this sixty, and this thirty-fold, and that he was not able to carry off or to choke that which had. taken root, he turns to other insidious practices, mixing up his own seed, which is a counterfeit of the true, and thereby imposes upon such as are prone to be deceived. So the parable speaks, not of another seed, but of tares which bear a great likeness to wheat com. Further, the malignity of the Devil is shewn in this, that he sowed when all else was completed, that he might do the greater hurt to the husbandman.
AUGUSTINE. (Quæst. in Matt. q. 11.) He says, While men slept, for while the heads of the Church were abiding in supineness, and after the Apostles had received the sleep of death, then came the Devil and sowed upon the rest those whom the Lord in His interpretation calls evil children. But we do well to enquire whether by such are meant heretics, or Catholics who lead evil lives. That He says, that they were sown among the wheat, seems to point out that they were all of one communion. But forasmuch as He interprets the field to mean not the Church, but the world, we may well understand it of the heretics, who in this world are mingled with the good; for they who live amiss in the same faith may better be taken of the chaff than of the tares, for the chaff has a stem and a root in common with the grain. While schismatics again may more fitly be likened to ears that have rotted, or to straws that are broken, crushed down, and cast forth of the field. Indeed it is not necessary that every heretic or schismatic should be corporally severed from the Church; for the Church bears many who do not so publicly defend their false opinions as to attract the attention of the multitude, which when they do, then are they expelled. When then the Devil had sown upon the true Church divers evil errors and false opinions; that is to say, where Christ’s name had gone before, there he scattered errors, himself was the rather hidden and unknown; for He says, And went his way. Though indeed in this parable, as we learn from His own interpretation, the Lord may be understood to have signified under the name of tares all stumbling-blocks and such as work iniquity.
CHRYSOSTOM. In what follows He more particularly draws the picture of an heretic, in the words, When the blade grew, and put forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. For heretics at first keep themselves in the shade; but when they have had long license, and when men have held communication with them in discourse, then they pour forth their venom.
AUGUSTINE. (Quæst. in Matt. q. 12.) Or otherwise; When a man begins to be spiritual, discerning between things, then he begins to see errors; for he judges concerning whatsoever he hears or reads, whether it departs from the rule of truth; but until he is perfected in the same spiritual things, he might be disturbed at so many false heresies having existed under the Christian name, whence it follows, And the servants of the householder coming to him said unto him, Didst thou not sow good seed in thy field? whence then hath it tares? Are these servants then the same as those whom He afterwards calls reapers? Because in His exposition of the parable, He expounds the reapers to be the Angels, and none would dare to say that the Angels were ignorant who had sowed tares, we should the rather understand that the faithful are here intended by the servants. And no wonder if they are also signified by the good seed; for the same thing admits of different likenesses according to its different significations; as speaking of Himself He says that He is the door, he is the shepherd.
REMIGIUS. They came to the Lord not with the body, but with the heart and desire of the soul; and from Him they gather that this was done by the craft of the Devil, whence it follows, And he saith unto them, An enemy hath done this.
JEROME. The Devil is called a man that is an enemy because he has ceased to be God; and in the ninth Psalm it is written of him, Up, Lord, and let not man have the upper hand. (ver. 19) Wherefore let not him sleep that is set over the Church, lest through his carelessness the enemy should sow therein tares, that is, the dogmas of the heretics.
CHRYSOSTOM. He is called the enemy on account of the losses he inflicts on men; for the assaults of the Devil are made upon us, though their origin is not in his enmity towards us, but in his enmity towards God.
AUGUSTINE. (ubi sup) And when the servants of God knew that it was the Devil who had contrived this fraud, whereby when he found that he had no power in open warfare against a Master of such great name, he had introduced his fallacies under cover of that name itself, the desire might readily arise in them to remove such men from out of human affairs if opportunity should be given them; but they first appeal to God’s justice whether they should so do; The servants said, Wilt thou that we go and gather them out?
CHRYSOSTOM. Wherein observe the thoughtfulness and affection of the servants; they hasten to root up the tares, thus shewing their anxiety about the good seed; for this is all to which they look, not that any should be punished, but that that which is sown should not perish. The Lord’s answer follows, And he saith unto them, Nay.
JEROME. For room for repentance is left, and we are warned that we should not hastily cut off a brother, since one who is to-day corrupted with an erroneous dogma, may grow wiser tomorrow, and begin to defend the truth; wherefore it is added, Lest in gathering together the tares ye root out the wheat also.
AUGUSTINE. (Quæst. in Matt. q. 12.) Wherein He renders them more patient and tranquil. For this He says, because good men while yet weak, have need in some things of being mixed up with bad, either that they may be proved by their means, or that by comparison with them they may be greatly stimulated and drawn to a better course. Or perhaps the wheat is declared to be rooted up if the tares should be gathered out of it, on account of many who though at first tares would, after become wheat; yet they would never attain to this commendable change were they not patiently endured while they were evil. Thus were they rooted up, that wheat which they would become in time if spared, would be rooted up in them. It is then therefore He forbids that such should be taken away out of this life, lest in the endeavour to destroy the wicked, those of them should be destroyed among the rest who would turn out good; and lest also that benefit should be lost to the good which would accrue to them even against their will from mixing with the wicked. But this may be done seasonably when, in the end of all, there remains no more time for a change of life, or of advancing to the truth by taking opportunity and comparison of others’ faults; therefore He adds, Let both grow together until the harvest, that is, until the judgment.
JEROME. But this seems to contradict that command, Put away the evil from among you. (1 Cor. 5:13) For if the rooting up be forbidden, and we are to abide in patience till the harvest-time, how are we to cast forth any from among us? But between wheat and tares (which in Latin we call ‘lolium’) so long as it is only in blade, before the stalk has put forth an ear, there is very great resemblance, and none or little difference to distinguish them by. The Lord then warns us not to pass a hasty sentence on an ambiguous word, but to reserve it for His judgment, that when the day of judgment shall come, He may cast forth from the assembly of the saints no longer on suspicion but on manifest guilt.
AUGUSTINE. (Cont. Ep. Parm. iii. 2.) For when any one of the number of Christians included in the Church is found in such sin as to incur an anathema, this is done, where danger of schism is not apprehended, with tenderness, not for his rooting out, but for his correction. But if he be not conscious of his sin, nor correct it by penitence, he will of his own choice go forth of the Church and be separated from her communion; whence when the Lord commanded, Suffer both to grow together till the harvest, He added the reason, saying, Lest when ye would gather out the tares ye root up the wheat also. This sufficiently shews, that when that fear has ceased, and when the safety of the crop is certain, that is, when the crime is known to all, and is acknowledged as so execrable as to have no defenders, or not such as might cause any fear of a schism, then severity of discipline does not sleep, and its correction of error is so much the more efficacious as the observance of love had been more careful. But when the same infection has spread to a large number at once, nothing remains but sorrow and groans. Therefore let a man gently reprove whatever is in his power; what is not so let him bear with patience, and mourn over with affection, until He from above shall correct and heal, and let him defer till harvest-time to root out the tares and winnow the chaff. But the multitude of the unrighteous is to be struck at with a general reproof, whenever there is opportunity of saying aught among the people; and above all when any scourge of the Lord from above gives opportunity, when they feel that they are scourged for their deserts; for then the calamity of the hearers opens their ears submissively to the words of their reprover, seeing the heart in affliction is ever more prone to the groans of confession than to the murmurs of resistance. And even when no tribulation lays upon them, should occasion serve, a word of reproof is usefully spent upon the multitude; for when separated it is wont to be fierce, when in a body it is wont to mourn.
CHRYSOSTOM. This the Lord spake to forbid any putting to death. For we ought not to kill an heretic, seeing that so a never-ending war would be introduced into the world; and therefore He says, Lest ye root out with them the wheat also; that is, if you draw the sword and put the heretic to death, it must needs be that many of the saints will fall with them. Hereby He does not indeed forbid all restraint upon heretics, that their freedom of speech should be cut off, that their synods and their confessions should be broken up—but only forbids that they should be put to death.
AUGUSTINE. (Ep. 93. 17.) This indeed was at first my own opinion, that no man was to be driven by force into the unity of Christ; but he was to be led by discourse, contended with in controversy, and overcome by argument, that we might not have men feigning themselves to be Catholics whom we knew to be declared heretics. But this opinion of mine was overcome not by the authority of those who contradicted me, but by the examples of those that shewed it in fact; for the tenor of those laws in enacting which Princes serve the Lord in fear, has had such good effect, that already some say, This we desired long ago; but now thanks be to God who has made the occasion for us, and has cut off our pleas of delay. Others say, This we have long known to be the truth; but we were held by a kind of old habit, thanks be to God who has broken our chains. Others again; We knew not that this was true, and had no desire to learn it, but fear has driven us to give our attention to it, thanks be to the Lord who has banished our carelessness by the spur of terror. Others, We were deterred from entering in by false rumours, which we should not have known to be false had we not entered in, and we should not have entered in had we not been compelled; thanks be to God who has broken up our preaching by the scourge of persecution, and has taught us by experience how empty and false things lying fame had reported concerning His Church. Others say, We thought indeed that it was of no importance in what place we held the faith of Christ; but thanks be to the Lord who has gathered us together out of our division, and has shewn us that it is consonant to the unity of God that He should be worshipped in unity. Let then the Kings of the earth shew themselves the servants of Christ by publishing laws in Christ’s behalf.
AUGUSTINE. (Ep. 185. 32 et 22.) But who is there of you who has any wish that a heretic should perish, nay, that he should so much as lose aught? Yet could the house of David have had peace in no other way, but by the death of Absalom in that war which he waged against his father; notwithstanding his father gave strict commands to his servants that they should save him alive and unhurt, that on his repentance there might be room for fatherly affection to pardon; what then remained for him but to mourn over him when lost, and to console his domestic affliction by the peace which it had brought to his kingdom. Thus our Catholic mother the Church, when by the loss of a few she gains many, soothes the sorrow of her motherly heart, healing it by the deliverance of so much people. Where then is that which those are accustomed to cry out, That it is free to all to believe? Whom hath Christ done violence to? Whom hath He compelled? Let them take the Apostle Paul; let them acknowledge in him Christ first compelling and afterwards teaching, first smiting and afterwards comforting. And it is wonderful to see him who entered into the Gospel by the force of a bodily infliction labouring therein more than all those who are called by word only. (1 Cor. 15:10.) Why then should not the Church constrain her lost sons to return to her, when her lost sons constrained others to perish?
REMIGIUS. It follows, And in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them. The harvest is the season of reaping which here designates the day of judgment, in which the good are to be separated from the bad.
CHRYSOSTOM. But why does He say, Gather first the tares? That the good should hare no fears lest the wheat should be rooted up with them:
JEROME. In that He says that the bundles of tares are to be cast into the fire, and the wheat gathered into barns, it is clear that heretics also and hypocrites are to be consumed in the fires of hell, while the saints who are here represented by the wheat are received into the barns, that is into heavenly mansions.
AUGUSTINE. (Quæst. in Matt. q. 12.) It may be asked why He commands more than one bundle or heap of tares to be formed? Perhaps because of the variety of heretics differing not only from the wheat, but also among themselves, each several heresy, separated from communion with all the others, is designated as a bundle; and perhaps they may even then begin to be bound together for burning, when they first sever themselves from the Catholic communion, and begin to have their independent church, so that it is the burning and not the binding into bundles that will take place at the end of the world. But were this so, there would not be so many who would become wise again, and return from error into the Catholic Church. Wherefore we must understand the binding into bundles to be what shall come to pass in the end, that punishment should fall on them not promiscuously, but in due proportion to the obstinacy and wilfulness of each separate error.
RABANUS. And it should be noted that, when He says, Sowed good seed, He intends that good will which is in the elect; when He adds, An enemy came, He intimates that watch should be kept against him; when as the tares grow up, He suffers it patiently, saying, An enemy hath done this, He recommends to us patience; when He says, Lest haply in gathering the tares, &c. He sets us an example of discretion; when He says, Suffer both to grow together till the harvest, He teaches us long-suffering; and, lastly, He inculcates justice, when He says, Bind them into bundles to burn.
31. Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which, a man took, and sowed in his field:
32. Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.
CHRYSOSTOM. Seeing the Lord had said above that three parts of the seed perish, and one only is preserved, and of that one part there is much loss by reason of the tares that are sown upon it; that none might say, Who then and how many shall they be that believe; He removes this cause of fear by the parable of the mustard seed: therefore it is said, Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like unto a grain of mustard seed.
JEROME. The kingdom of heaven is the preaching of the Gospel, and the knowledge of the Scriptures which leads to life, concerning which it is said to the Jews, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you. (Mat. 21:43.) It is the kingdom of heaven thus understood which is likened to a grain of mustard seed.
AUGUSTINE. (Quæst. in Ev. i. 11.) A grain of mustard seed may allude to the warmth of faith, or to its property as antidote to poison. It follows; Which a man took and sowed in his field.
JEROME. The man who sows is by most understood to be the Saviour, who sows the seed in the minds of believers; by others the man himself, who sows in his field, that is, in his own heart. Who indeed is he that soweth, but our own mind and understanding, which receiving the grain of preaching, and nurturing it by the dew of faith, makes it to spring up in the field of our own breast? Which is the least of all seeds. The Gospel preaching is the least of all the systems of the schools; at first view it has not even the appearance of truth, announcing a man as God, God put to death, and proclaiming the offence of the cross. Compare this teaching with the dogmas of the Philosophers, with their books, the splendour of their eloquence, the polish of their style, and you will see how the seed of the Gospel is the least of all seeds.
CHRYSOSTOM. Or; The seed of the Gospel is the least of seeds, because the disciples were weaker than the whole of mankind; yet forasmuch as there was great might in them, their preaching spread throughout the whole world, and therefore it follows, But when it is grown it is the greatest among herbs, that is among dogmas.
AUGUSTINE. (ubi sup.) Dogmas are the decisions of sects,1 the points, that is, that they have determined.
JEROME. For the dogmas of Philosophers when they have grown up, shew nothing of life or strength, but watery and insipid they grow into grasses and other greens, which quickly dry up and wither away. Brit the Gospel preaching; though it seem small in its beginning, when sown in the mind of the hearer, or upon the world, comes up not a garden herb, but a tree, so that the birds of the air (which we must suppose to be either the souls of believers or the Powers of God set free from slavery) come and abide in its branches. The branches of the Gospel tree which have grown of the grain of mustard seed, I suppose to signify the various dogmas in which each of the birds (as explained above) takes his rest. Let us then take the wings of the dove, that flying aloft we may dwell in the branches of this tree, and may make ourselves nests of doctrines, and soaring above earthly things may hasten towards heavenly. (Ps. 55:6.)
HILARY. Or; The Lord compares Himself to a grain of mustard seed, sharp to the taste, and the least of all seeds, whose strength is extracted by bruising.
GREGORY. (Mor. xix. 1.) Christ Himself is the grain of mustard seed, who, planted in the garden of the sepulchre, grew up a great tree; He was a grain of seed when He died, and a tree when He rose again; a grain of seed in the humiliation of the flesh, a tree in the power of His majesty.
HILARY. This grain then when sown in the field, that is, when seized by the people and delivered to death, and as it were buried in the ground by a sowing of the body, grew up beyond the size of all herbs, and exceeded all the glory of the Prophets. For the preaching of the Prophets was allowed as it were herbs to a sick man; but now the birds of the air lodge in the branches of the tree. By which we understand the Apostles, who put forth of Christ’s might, and overshadowing the world with their boughs, are a tree to which the Gentiles flee in hope of life, and having been long tossed by the winds, that is by the spirits of the Devil, may have rest in its branches.
GREGORY. (ubi sup.) The birds lodge in its branches, when holy souls that raise themselves aloft from thoughts of earth on the wings of the virtues, breathe again from the troubles of this life in their words and comfortings.
33. Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.
CHRYSOSTOM. The same thing the Lord sets forth in this parable of the leaven, as much as to say to His disciples, As leaven changes into its own kind much wheat-flour, so shall ye change the whole world. Note here the wisdom of the Saviour; He first brings instances from nature, proving that as the one is possible so is the other. And He says not simply ‘put,’ but hid; as much as to say, So ye, when ye shall be cast down by your enemies, then ye shall overcome them. And so leaven is kneaded in, without being destroyed, but gradually changes all things into its own nature; so shall it come to pass with your preaching. Fear ye not then because I said that many tribulations shall come upon you, for so shall ye shine forth, and shall overcome them all. He says, three measures, to signity a great abundance; that definite number standing for an indefinite quantity.
JEROME. The ‘satum’ is a kind of measure in use in Palestine containing one modius and a half.
AUGUSTINE. (Quæst. Ev. i. 12.) Or, The leaven signifies love, because it causes activity and fermentation; by the woman He means wisdom. By the three measures He intends either those three things in man, with the whole heart, with the whole soul, with the whole mind; or the three degrees of fruitfulness, the hundred-fold, the sixty-fold, the thirty-fold, or those three kinds of men, Noe, Daniel, and Job.
RABANUS. He says, Until the whole was leavened, because that love implanted in our mind ought to grow until it changes the whole soul into its own perfection; which is begun here, but is completed hereafter.
JEROME. Or otherwise; The woman who takes the leaven and hides it, seems to me to be the Apostolic preaching, or the Church gathered out of divers nations. She takes the leaven, that is, the understanding of the Scriptures, and hides it in three measures of meal, that the three, spirit, soul, and body, may be brought into one, and may not differ among themselves. Or otherwise; We read in Plato that there are three parts in the soul, reason, anger, and desire; (R. P. iv. 439. λογιστιχὸν, ἐχιδνμπτιχὸυ, θνμοειδὲς) so we also if we have received the evangelic leaven of Holy Scripture, may possess in our reason prudence, in our anger hatred against vice, in our desire love of the virtues, and this will all come to pass by the Evangelic teaching which our mother Church has held out to us. I will further mention an interpretation of some; that the woman is the Church, who has mingled the faith of man in three measures of meal, namely, belief in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; which when it has fermented into one lump, brings us not to a threefold God, but to the knowledge of one Divinity. This is a pious interpretation; but parables and doubtful solutions of dark things, can never bestow authority on dogmas.
HILARY. Or otherwise; The Lord compares Himself to leaven; for leaven is produced from meal, and communicates the power that it has received to a heap of its own kind. The woman, that is the Synagogue, taking this leaven hides it, that is by the sentence of death; but it working in the three measures of meal, that is equally in the Law, the Prophets, and the Gospels, makes all one; so that what the Law ordains, that the Prophets announce, that is fulfilled in the developements of the Gospels. But many, as I remember, have thought that the three measures refer to the calling of the three nations, out of Shem, Ham, and Japhet. But I hardly think that the reason of the thing will allow this interpretation; for though these three nations have indeed been called, yet in them Christ is shewn and not hidden, and in so great a multitude of unbelievers the whole cannot be said to be leavened.
34. All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them.
35. That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xlvii.) After the foregoing parables, that none might think that Christ was bringing forward any thing new, the Evangelist quotes the Prophet, foretelling even this His manner of preaching: Mark’s words are, And with many such parables spake he the word unto them, as they were able to hear it. (Mark 4:33.) So marvel not that, in speaking of the kingdom, He uses the similitudes of a seed, and of leaven; for He was discoursing to common men, and who needed to be led forward by such aids.
REMIGIUS. The Greek word ‘Parable,’ is rendered in Latin ‘Similitude,’ by which truth is explained; and an image or representation of the reality is set forth.
JEROME. Yet He spoke not in parables to the disciples, but to the multitude; and even to this day the multitude hears in parables; and therefore it is said, And without a parable spake he not unto them.
CHRYSOSTOM. For though He had spoken many things not in parables, when not speaking before the multitudes, yet at this time spake He nothing without a parable.
AUGUSTINE. (Quæst. in Matt. q. 15.) Or, this is said, not that He uttered nothing in plain words; but that He concluded no one discourse without introducing a parable in the course of it, though the chief part of the discourse might consist of matter not figurative. And we may indeed find discourses of His parabolical throughout, but none direct throughout. And by a complete discourse, I mean, the whole of what He says on any topic that may be brought before Him by circumstances, before He leaves it, and passes to a new subject. For sometimes one Evangelist connects what another gives as spoken at different times; the writer having in such a case followed not the order of events, but the order of connexion in his own memory. The reason why He spake in parables the Evangelist subjoins, saying, That it might be fulfilled that was spoken by the Prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things kept secret from the foundation of the world. (Ps. 78:2.)
JEROME. This passage is taken from the seventy-seventh Psalm. I have seen copies which read, ‘by Esaias the Prophet,’ instead of what we have adopted, and what the common text has by the Prophet.
REMIGIUS. From which reading Porphyry took an objection to the believers; Such was your Evangelist’s ignorance, that he imputed to Isaiah what is indeed found in the Psalms.
JEROME. But because the text was not found in Isaiah, his name was, I suppose, therefore erased by such as had observed that. But it seems to me that it was first written thus, ‘As was written by Asaph the Prophet, saying;’ for the seventy-seventh Psalm out of which this text is taken is ascribed to Asaph the Prophet; and that the copyist not understanding Asaph, and imputing it to error in the transcription, substituted the better known name Isaiah. For it should be known that not David only, but those others also whose names are set before the Psalms, and hymns, and songs of God, are to be considered prophets, namely, Asaph, Idithum, and Heman the Esraite, and the rest who are named in Scripture. And so that which is spoken in the Lord’s person, I will open my mouth in parables, if considered attentively, will be found to be a description of the departure of Israel out of Egypt, and a relation of all the wonders contained in the history of Exodus. By which we learn, that all that is there written may be taken in a figurative way, and contains hidden sacraments; for this is what the Saviour is there made to preface by the words, I will open my mouth in parables.
GLOSS. (ap. Anselm.) As though He had said, I who spoke before by the Prophets, now in My own person will open My mouth in parables, and will bring forth out of My secret store mysteries which have been hidden ever since the foundation of the world.
36. Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field.
37. He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man;
38. The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one;
39. The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.
40. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.
41. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;
42. And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
43. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
CHRYSOSTOM. The Lord had spoken to the multitude in parables, that He might induce them to ask Him of their meaning; yet, though He had spoken so many things in parables, no man had yet asked Him aught, and therefore He sends them away; Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house. None of the Scribes followed Him here, from which it is clear that they followed Him for no other purpose than that they might catch Him in His discourse.
JEROME. The Lord sends away the multitude, and enters the house that His disciples might come to Him and ask Him privately of those things which the people neither deserved to hear, nor were able.
RABANUS. Figuratively; Having sent away the multitude of unquiet Jews, He enters the Church of the Gentiles, and there expounds to believers heavenly sacraments, whence it follows, And his disciples came to him, saying, Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.
CHRYSOSTOM. Before, though desirous to learn, they had feared to ask; but now they ask freely and confidently because they had heard, To you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of heaven; and therefore they ask when alone, not envying the multitude to whom it was not so given. They pass over the parables of the leaven and the mustard-seed as plain; and ask concerning the parable of the tares, which has some agreement with the foregoing parable concerning the seed, and shews somewhat more than that. And accordingly the Lord expounds it to them, as it follows, He answered and said unto them, He that sows the good seed is the Son of man.
REMIGIUS. The Lord styles Himself the Son of Man, that in that title He might set an example of humility; or perhaps because it was to come to pass that certain heretics would deny Him to be really man; or that through belief in His Humanity we might ascend to knowledge of His Divinity.
CHRYSOSTOM. The field is the world. Seeing it is He that sows His own field, it is plain that this present world is His. It follows, The good seed are the children of the kingdom.
REMIGIUS. That is, the saints, and elect men, who are counted as sons.
AUGUSTINE. (cont. Faust. xviii. 7.) The tares the Lord expounds to mean, not as Manichæus interprets, certain spurious parts inserted among the true Scriptures, but all the children of the Evil one, that is, the imitators of the fraud of the Devil. As it follows, The tares are the children of the evil one, by whom He would have us understand all the wicked and impious.
AUGUSTINE. (Quæst. Ev. i. 10.) For all weeds among corn are called tares. It follows, The enemy who sowed this is the Devil.
CHRYSOSTOM. For this is part of the wiles of the Devil, to be ever mixing up truth with error. The harvest is the end of the world. In another place He says, speaking of the Samaritans, Lift up your eyes, and consider the fields that they are already white for the harvest; (John 4:35.) and again, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few, (Luke 10:2.) in which words He speaks of the harvest as being already present. How then does He here speak of it as something yet to come? Because He has used the figure of the harvest in two significations as He says there that it is one that soweth, and another that reapeth; but here it is the same who both sows and reaps; indeed there He brings forward the Prophets, not to distinguish them from Himself, but from the Apostles, for Christ Himself by His Prophets sowed among the Jews and Samaritans. The figure of harvest is thus applied to two different things. Speaking of first conviction and turning to the faith, He calls that the harvest, as that in which the whole is accomplished; but when He enquires into the fruits ensuing upon the hearing the word of God, then He calls the end of the world the harvest, as here.
REMIGIUS. By the harvest is denoted the day of judgment, in which the good are to be separated from the evil; which will be done by the ministry of Angels, as it is said below, that the Son of Man shall come to judgment with His Angels. As then the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his Angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all offences, and them which do iniquity.
AUGUSTINE. (De Civ. Dei. xx. 9.) Out of that kingdom in which are no offences? The kingdom then is His kingdom which is here, namely, the Church.
AUGUSTINE. (Quæst. Ev. i. 10.) That the tares are first separated, signifies that by tribulation the wicked shall be separated from the righteous; and this is understood to be performed by good Angels, because the good can discharge duties of punishment with a good spirit, as a judge, or as the Law, but the wicked cannot fulfil offices of mercy.
CHRYSOSTOM. Or we may understand it of the kingdom of the heavenly Church; and then there will be held out here a two-fold punishment; first that they fall from glory as that is said, And they shall gather out of his kingdom all offences, to the end, that no offences should be seen in His kingdom; and then that they are burned. And they shall cast them into a furnace of fire.
JEROME. The offences are to be referred to the tares.
GLOSS. (non occ.) The offences, and, them that do iniquity, are to be distinguished as heretics and schismatics; the offences referring to heretics; while by them that do iniquity are to be understood schismatics. Otherwise; By offences may be understood those that give their neighbour an occasion of falling, by those that do iniquity all other sinners.
RABANUS. Observe, He says, Those that do iniquity, not, those who have done; because not they who have turned to penitence, but they only that abide in their sins are to be delivered to eternal torments.
CHRYSOSTOM. Behold the unspeakable love of God towards men! He is ready to shew mercy, slow to punish; when He sows, He sows Himself; when He punishes, He punishes by others, sending His Angels to that. It follows, There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
REMIGIUS. In these words is shewn the reality of the resurrection of the body; and further, the twofold pains of hell, extreme heat, and extreme cold. And as the offences are referred to the tares, so the righteous are reckoned among the children of the kingdom; concerning whom it follows, Then the righteous shall shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. For in the present world the light of the saints shines before men, but after the consummation of all things, the righteous themselves shall shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.
CHRYSOSTOM. Not that they shall not shine with higher brightness, but because we know no degree of brightness that surpasses that of the sun, therefore He uses an example adapted to our understanding.
REMIGIUS. That He says, Then shall they shine, implies that they now shine for an example to others, but they shall then shine as the sun to the praise of God. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
RABANUS. That is, Let him understand who has understanding, because all these things are to be understood mystically, and not literally.
44. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.
CHRYSOSTOM. The foregoing parables of the leaven, and the grain of mustard-seed, are referred to the power of the Gospel preaching, which has subdued the whole world; in order to shew its value and splendour, He now puts forth parables concerning a pearl and a treasure, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field. For the Gospel preaching is hidden in this world; and if you do not sell your all you will not purchase it; and this you ought to do with joy; wherefore it follows, which when a man hath found, he hideth it.
HILARY. This treasure is indeed found without cost; for the Gospel preaching is open to all, but to use and possess the treasure with its field we may not without price, for heavenly riches are not obtained without the loss of this world.
JEROME. That he hides it, does not proceed of envy towards others, but as one that treasures up what he would not lose, he hides in his heart that which he prizes above his former possessions.
GREGORY. (Hom. in Ev. xi. 1.) Otherwise; The treasure hidden in the field is the desire of heaven; the field in which the treasure is hidden is the discipline of heavenly learning; this, when a man finds, he hides, in order that he may preserve it; for zeal and affections heavenward it is not enough that we protect from evil spirits, if we do not protect from human praises. For in this present life we are in the way which leads to our country, and evil spirits as robbers beset us in our journey. Those therefore who carry their treasure openly, they seek to plunder in the way. When I say this, I do not mean that our neighbours should not see our works, but that in what we do, we should not seek praise from without. The kingdom of heaven is therefore compared to things of earth, that the mind may rise from things familiar to things unknown, and may learn to love the unknown by that which it knows is loved when known. It follows, And for joy thereof he goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. He it is that selleth all he hath and buyeth the field, who, renouncing fleshly delights, tramples upon all his worldly desires in his anxiety for the heavenly discipline.
JEROME. Or, That treasure in which are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col. 2:3.), is either God the Word, who seems hid in Christ’s flesh, or the Holy Scriptures, in which are laid up the knowledge of the Saviour.
AUGUSTINE. (Quæst. in Ev. i. 13.) Or, He speaks of the two testaments in the Church, which, when any hath attained to a partial understanding of, he perceives how great things lie hid there, and goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that; that is, by despising temporal things he purchases to himself peace, that he may be rich in the knowledge of God.
45. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:
46. Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.
CHRYSOSTOM. The Gospel preaching not only offers manifold gain as a treasure, but is precious as a pearl; wherefore after the parable concerning the treasure, He gives that concerning the pearl. And in preaching, two things are required, namely, to be detached from the business of this life, and to be watchful, which are denoted by this merchantman. Truth moreover is one, and not manifold, and for this reason it is one pearl that is said to be found. And as one who is possessed of a pearl, himself indeed knows of his wealth, but is not known to others, ofttimes concealing it in his hand because of its small bulk, so it is in the preaching of the Gospel; they who possess it know that they are rich, the unbelievers, not knowing of this treasure, know not of our wealth. Jerome; By the goodly pearls may be understood the Law and the Prophets. Hear then Marcion and Manichæus; the good pearls are the Law and the Prophets. One pearl, the most precious of all, is the knowledge of the Saviour and the sacrament of His passion and resurrection, which when the merchantman has found, like Paul the Apostle, he straightway despises all the mysteries of the Law and the Prophets and the old observances in which he had lived blameless, counting them as dung that he may win Christ. (Phil. 3:8.) Not that the finding of a new pearl is the condemnation of the old pearls, but that in omparison of that, all other pearls are worthless.
GREGORY. (Hom. in Ev. xi. 2.) Or by the pearl of price is to be understood the sweetness of the heavenly kingdom, which, he that hath found it, selleth all and buyeth. For he that, as far as is permitted, has had perfect knowledge of the sweetness of the heavenly life, readily leaves all things that he has loved on earth; all that once pleased him among earthly possessions now appears to have lost its beauty, for the splendour of that precious pearl is alone seen in his mind.
AUGUSTINE. (Quæst. in Matt. q. 13.) Or, A man seeking goodly pearls has found one pearl of great price; that is, he who is seeking good men with whom he may live profitably, finds one alone, Christ Jesus, without sin; or, seeking precepts of life, by aid of which he may dwell righteously among men, finds love of his neighbour, in which one rule, the Apostle says, (Rom. 13:9.) are comprehended all things; or, seeking good thoughts, he finds that Word in which all things are contained, In the beginning was the Word. (John 1:1.) which is lustrous with the light of truth, stedfast with the strength of eternity, and throughout like to itself with the beauty of divinity, and when we have penetrated the shell of the flesh, will be confessed as God. But whichever of these three it may be, or if there be any thing else that can occur to us, that can be signified under the figure of the one precious pearl, its preciousness is the possession of ourselves, who are not free to possess it unless we despise all things that can be possessed in this world. For having sold our possessions, we receive no other return greater than ourselves, (for while we were involved in such things we were not our own,) that we may again give ourselves for that pearl, not because we are of equal value to that, but because we cannot give any thing more.
47. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind:
48. Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.
49. So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from the just,
50. And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
CHRYSOSTOM. In the foregoing parables He has commended the Gospel preaching; now, that we may not trust in preaching only, nor think that faith alone is sufficient for our salvation, He adds another fearful parable, saying, Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net cast into the sea.
JEROME. In fulfilment of that prophecy of Hieremias, who said, I will send unto you many fishers, (Jer. 6:16.) when Peter and Andrew, James and John, heard the words, Follow me, I will make you fishers of men, they put together a net for themselves formed of the Old and New Testaments, and cast it into the sea of this world, and that remains spread until this day, taking up out of the salt and bitter and whirlpools whatever falls into it, that is good men and bad; and this is that He adds, And gathered of every kind.
GREGORY. (Hom. in Ev. xi. 4.) Or otherwise; The Holy Church is likened to a net, because it is given into the hands of fishers, and by it each man is drawn into the heavenly kingdom out of the waves of this present world, that he should not be drowned in the depth of eternal death. This net gathers of every kind of fishes, because the wise and the foolish, the free and the slave, the rich and the poor, the strong and the weak, are called to forgiveness of sin; it is then fully filled when in the end of all things the sum of the human race is completed; as it follows, Which, when it was filled, they drew out, and sitting down on the shore gathered the good into vessels, but the bad they cast away. For as the sea signifies the world, so the sea shore signifies the end of the world; and as the good are gathered into vessels, but the bad cast away, so each man is received into eternal abodes, while the reprobate having lost the light of the inward kingdom are cast forth into outer darkness. But now the net of faith holds good and bad mingled together in one; but the shore shall discover what the net of the Church has brought to land.
JEROME. For when the net shall be drawn to the shore, then shall be shewn the true test for separating the fishes.
CHRYSOSTOM. Wherein does this parable differ from the parable of the tares? There, as here, some perish and some are saved; but there, because of their heresy of evil dogmas; in the first parable of the sower, because of their not attending to what was spoken; here, because of their evil life, because of which, though drawn by the net, that is, enjoying the knowledge of God, they cannot be saved. And when you hear that the wicked are cast away, that you may not suppose that this punishment may be risked, He adds an exposition shewing its severity, saying, Thus shall it be in the end of the world; the angels shall come forth and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire, there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Though He elsewhere declares, that He shall separate them as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; He here declares, that the Angels shall do it, as also in the parable of the tares.
GREGORY. (ubi sup.) To fear becomes us here, rather than to expound for the torments of sinners are pronounced in plain terms, that none might plead his ignorance, should eternal punishment be threatened in obscure sayings.
JEROME. For when the end of the world shall be come, then shall be shewn the true test of separating the fishes, and as in a sheltered harbour the good shall be sent into the vessels of heavenly abodes, but the flame of hell shall seize the wicked to be dried up and withered.
51. Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord.
52. Then said he unto them, Therefore every Scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.
GLOSS. (non occ.) When the multitude had departed, the Lord spoke to His disciples in parables, by which they were instructed only so far as they understood them; wherefore He asks them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord.
JEROME. For this is spoken especially to the Apostles, whom He would have not to hear only as the multitude, but to understand as having to teach others.
CHRYSOSTOM. Then He praises them because they had understood; He saith unto them; Therefore every Scribe instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like unto an householder who bringeth out of his treasure things new and old.
AUGUSTINE. (De Civ. Dei, xx. 4.) He said not ‘old and new,’ as He surely would have said had He not preferred to preserve the order of value rather than of time. But the Manichæans while they think they should keep only the new promises of God, remain in the old man of the flesh, and put on newness of error.
AUGUSTINE. (Quæst. in Matt. q. 16.) By this conclusion, whether did He desire to shew whom He intended by the treasure hid in the field—in which case we might understand the Holy Scriptures to be here meant, the two Testaments by the things new and old—or did He intend that he should be held learned in the Church who understood that the Old Scriptures were expounded in parables, taking rules from these new Scriptures, seeing that in them also the Lord proclaimed many things in parables. If He then, in whom all those old Scriptures have their fulfilment and manifestation, yet speaks in parables until His passion shall rend the vail, when there is nothing hid that shall not be revealed; much more those things which were written of Him so long time before we see to have been clothed in parables; which the Jews took literally, being unwilling to be learned in the kingdom of heaven.
GREGORY. (ubi sup.) But if by things new and old in this passage we understand the two Testaments, we deny Abraham to have been learned, who although he knew indeed some deeds of the Old Testament, yet had not read the words. Neither Moses may we compare to a learned householder, for although he composed the Old Testament, yet had he not the words of the New. But what is here said may be understood as meant not of those who had been, but of such as might hereafter be in the Church, who then bring forth things new and old when they speak the preachings of both Testaments, in their words and in their lives.
HILARY. Speaking to His disciples, He calls them Scribes on account of their knowledge, because they understood the things that He brought forward, both new and old, that is from the Law and from the Gospels; both being of the same householder, and both treasures of the same owner. He compares them to Himself under the figure of a householder, because they had received doctrine of things both new and old out of His treasury of the Holy Spirit.
JEROME. Or the Apostles are called Scribes instructed, as being the Saviour’s notaries who wrote His words and precepts on fleshly tables of the heart with the sacraments of the heavenly kingdom, and abounded in the wealth of a householder, bringing forth out of the stores of their doctrine things new and old; whatsoever they preached in the Gospels, that they proved by the words of the Law and the Prophets. Whence the Bride speaks in the Song of Songs; I have kept for thee my beloved the new with the old. (c. 7:13.)
GREGORY. (ubi sup.) Otherwise; The things old are, that the human race for its sin should suffer in eternal punishment; the things new, that they should be converted and live in the kingdom. First, He brought forward a comparison of the kingdom to a treasure found and a pearl of price; and after that, narrated the punishment of hell in the burning of the wicked, and then concluded with Therefore every Scribe, &c. as if He had said, He is a learned preacher in the Church who knows to bring forth things new concerning the sweetness of the kingdom, and to speak things old concerning the terror of punishment; that at least punishment may deter those whom rewards do not excite.
53. And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence.
54. And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works?
55. Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?
56. And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?
57. And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.
58. And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.
JEROME. After the parables which the Lord spake to the people, and which the Apostles only understand, He goes over into His own country that He may teach there also.
AUGUSTINE. (De Cons. Ev. ii. 42.) From the foregoing discourse consisting of these parables, He passes to what follows without any very evident connexion between them. Besides which, Mark passes from these parables to a different event from what Matthew here gives; and Luke agrees with him, so continuing the thread of the story as to make it much more probable that that which they relate followed here, namely, about the ship in which Jesus slept, and the miracle of the demons cast out; which Matthew has introduced above.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xlviii.) By his own country here, He means Nazareth; for it was not there but in Capharnaum that, as is said below, He wrought so many miracles; but to these He shews His doctrine, causing no less wonder than His miracles.
REMIGIUS. He taught in their synagogues where great numbers were met, because it was for the salvation of the multitude that He came from heaven upon earth. It follows; So that they marvelled, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these many mighty works? His wisdom is referred to His doctrine, His mighty works to His miracles.
JEROME. Wonderful folly of the Nazarenes! They wonder whence Wisdom itself has wisdom, whence Power has mighty works! But the source of their error is at hand, because they regard Him as the Son of a carpenter; as they say, Is not this the carpenter’s son?
CHRYSOSTOM. Therefore were they in all things insensate, seeing they lightly esteemed Him on account of him who was regarded as His father, notwithstanding the many instances in old times of sons illustrious sprung from ignoble fathers; as David was the son of a husbandman, Jesse; Amos the son of a shepherd, himself a shepherd. And they ought to have given Him more abundant honour, because, that coming of such parents, He spake after such manner; clearly shewing that it came not of human industry, but of divine grace.
PSEUDO-AUGUSTINE. (non occ. cf. Serm. 135. App.) For the Father of Christ is that Divine Workman who made all these works of nature, who set forth Noah’s ark, who ordained the tabernacle of Moses, and instituted the Ark of the covenant; that Workman who polishes the stubborn mind, and cuts down the proud thoughts.
HILARY. And this was the carpenter’s son who subdues iron by means of fire, who tries the virtue of this world in the judgment, and forms the rude mass to every work of human need; the figure of our bodies, for example, to the divers ministrations of the limbs, and all the actions of life eternal.
JEROME. And when they are mistaken in His Father, no wonder if they are also mistaken in His brethren. Whence it is added, Is not his mother Mary, and his brethren, James, and Joseph, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us?
JEROME. (in Helvid. 14.) Those who are here called the Lord’s brethren, are the sons of a Mary, His Mother’s sister; she is the mother of this James and Joseph, that is to say, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and this is the Mary who is called the mother of James the Less.
AUGUSTINE. (Quæst. in Matt. q. 17.) No wonder then that any kinsmen by the mother’s side should be called the Lord’s brethren, when even by their kindred to Joseph some are here called His brethren by those who thought Him the son of Joseph.
HILARY. Thus the Lord is held in no honour by His own; and though the wisdom of His teaching, and the power of His working raised their admiration, yet do they not believe that He did these things in the name of the Lord, and they cast His father’s trade in His teeth. Amid all the wonderful works which He did, they were moved with the contemplation of His Body, and hence they ask, Whence hath this man these things? And thus they were offended in him.
JEROME. This error of the Jews is our salvation, and the condemnation of the heretics, for they perceived Jesus Christ to be man so far as to think Him the son of a carpenter.
CHRYSOSTOM. Observe Christ’s mercifulness; He is evil spoken of, yet He answers with mildness; Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and in his own house.
REMIGIUS. He calls Himself a Prophet, as Moses also declares, when he says, A Prophet shall God raise up unto you of your brethren. (Deut. 18:18.) And it should be known, that not Christ only, who is the Head of all the Prophets, but Jeremiah, Daniel, and the other lesser Prophets, had more honour and regard among strangers than among their own citizens.
JEROME. For it is almost natural for citizens to be jealous towards one another; for they do not look to the present works of the man, but remember the frailties of his childhood; as if they themselves had not passed through the very same stages of age to their maturity.
HILARY. Further, He makes this answer, that a Prophet is without honour in his own country, because it was in Judæa that He was to be condemned to the sentence of the cross; and forasmuch as the power of God is for the faithful alone, He here abstained from works of divine power because of their unbelief; whence it follows, And he did not there many mighty works because of their unbelief.
JEROME. Not that because they did not believe He could not do His mighty works; but that He might not by doing them be condemning His fellow-citizens in their unbelief.
CHRYSOSTOM. But if His miracles raised their wonder, why did He not work many? Because He looked not to display of Himself, but to what would profit others; and when that did not result, He despised what pertained only to Himself that He might not increase their punishment. Why then did He even these few miracles? That they should not say, We should have believed had any miracles been done among us.
JEROME. Or we may understand it otherwise, that Jesus is despised in His own house and country, signifies in the Jewish people; and therefore He did among them few miracles, that they might not be altogether without excuse; but among the Gentiles He does daily greater miracles by His Apostles, not so much in healing their bodies, as in saving their souls.
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