Leaven – Matt 13:33

33 The kingdom of heaven is like to leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, until the whole was leavened.

Chrysostom: Leaven is kneaded in, without being destroyed, but gradually changes all things into its own nature; so shall it come to pass with [His disciples’] preaching.

He says, “three measures,” to signify a great abundance.

Augustine: 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 [Matt 13:8]; 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: 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.

We read in Plato that there are three parts in the soul, reason, anger, and desire; 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.

Hilary: 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.

Scripture from the Douay-Rheims Bible. Commentary from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea, Vol. I (London: Rivington, 1842).

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A Mustard Seed – Matt 13:31-32

31 The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field.
Augustine: A grain of mustard seed may allude to the warmth of faith, or to its property as antidote to poison.

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?

32 Which is the least indeed of all seeds; but when it is grown up, it is greater than all herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come, and dwell in the branches thereof.

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: 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.

Jerome: 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. But 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 takes his rest.

Gregory: 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.

“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.

Scripture from the Douay-Rheims Bible. Commentary from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea, Vol. I (London: Rivington, 1842).

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The Harvest – Matt 13:30b

30 . . . and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers: Gather up first the cockle, and bind it into bundles to burn, but the wheat gather ye into my barn.

Chrysostom: Why does He say, Gather first the tares? That the good should have no fears lest the wheat should be rooted up with them.

Augustine: 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: 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.”

Scripture from the Douay-Rheims Bible. Commentary from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea, Vol. I (London: Rivington, 1842).

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The Harvest – Matt 13:30a

30 Suffer both to grow until the harvest, . . .

Jerome: 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 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: 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.

Let a man gently reprove whatever is in his power; what is not in 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.

Scripture from the Douay-Rheims Bible. Commentary from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea, Vol. I (London: Rivington, 1842).

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The Harvest – Matt 13:26-29

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

Chrysostom: In what follows He more particularly draws the picture of an heretic. . . . 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.

27 And the servants of the goodman of the house coming said to him: Sir, didst thou not sow good seed in thy field? whence then hath it cockle? 28 And he said to them: An enemy hath done this. . . .

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.

28 . . . And the servants said to him: Wilt thou that we go and gather it up?

Chrysostom: 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 which is sown should not perish.

29 And he said: No, lest perhaps gathering up the cockle, you root up the wheat also together with it.

Jerome: For room for repentance is left, and we are warned that we should not hastily cut off a brother, since one who is today corrupted with an erroneous dogma, may grow wiser tomorrow, and begin to defend the truth.

Augustine: Wherein He renders them more patient and tranquil. For this He says, because good 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.

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.

Scripture from the Douay-Rheims Bible. Commentary from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea, Vol. I (London: Rivington, 1842).

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The Harvest – Matt 13:24-25

24 Another parable he proposed to them, saying: The kingdom of heaven is likened to a man that sowed good seeds in his field.

Remigius: Here He calls the Son of God Himself the kingdom of heaven.

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

Chrysostom: This is the contrivance of the Devil, ever to mix error with truth.

He then points out the manner of the Devil’s snares. . . . 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 thirtyfold, 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 corn. 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: 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.

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 move fitly be likened to ears that have rotted, or to straws that are broken, crushed down, and cast forth of the field.

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.

Scripture from the Douay-Rheims Bible. Commentary from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea, Vol. I (London: Rivington, 1842).

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The Door – John 10:9-10

9 I am the door. By me, if any man enter in, he shall be saved: and he shall go in, and go out, and shall find pastures.

Theophylact: What is this pasture, but the happiness to come, the rest to which our Lord brings us?

To go in is to watch over the inner man; to go out, to mortify the outward man, i.e. our members which are upon the earth. He that does this shall find pasture in the life to come.

Augustine: To enter into the Church by Christ the Door is a very good thing, but to go out of the Church is not.

Chrysostom: Or, He refers to the Apostles who went in and out boldly; for they became the masters of the world, none could turn them out of their kingdom, and they found pasture.

Gregory: Shall go in, i.e. to faith: shall go out, i.e. to sight: and find pasture, i.e. in eternal fullness.

10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. . . .

Alcuin: He usurpeth another’s office, forming his followers not on Christ’s precepts, but on his own. And therefore it follows, and to kill, i.e. by drawing them from the faith; and to destroy, i.e. by their eternal damnation.

Theophylact: The thief is the devil, steals by wicked thoughts, kills by the assent of the mind to them, and destroys by acts.

10 . . . I am come that they may have life, and may have it more abundantly.

Augustine: By going in they have life; i.e. by faith, which worketh by love; by which faith they go into the fold. The just liveth by faith [Heb 10:38]. And by going out they will have it more abundantly: i.e. when true believers die, they have life more abundantly, even a life which never ends. Though in this fold there is not wanting pasture, then they will find pasture, such as will satisfy them.

Scripture from the Douay-Rheims Bible. Commentary from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea, Vol. IV (London: Rivington, 1845).

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