Golden Chain 4310

MATTHEW 13,10-17

4310 (Mt 13,10-17)

(p. 484) 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?"
Chrys., Hom. xiv: 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;" and Mark more expressly says, that "they came to him when he was alone." (Mc 4,10)
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.
Remig.: 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.
Chrys.: 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."
Remig.: 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 (p. 485) draw near to his feet, shall receive of his doctrine." (Dt 33,3)
Chrys.: 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 slothfulness 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;" (Lc 8,18) for, in truth, he has not even that he has.
Remig.: 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 (p. 486) rejected it subtracts from the riches of ancient possession.
Chrys.: 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 daemons going out, and they said, "He casts out daemons by Beelzebub;" they heard that He drew all men to God and they say, "This man is not of God." (Jn 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.
Remig.: 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.
Chrys.: And that they should not say, He slanders us as an enemy, He brings forward the Prophet declaring the same opinion, as it follows, "Thai 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.
Chrys.: 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."
Raban.: 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 (p. 487) 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."
Chrys.: Herein He points out how extreme their wickedness, how determined their aversion. Again to draw them towards Him, He adds, "And be converted, and 1 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 be converted and I should heal them," He shews that it was possible they should be converted, and having done penitence should be saved.
Aug., Quaest. 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, "He 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," (Jn 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 shews that the blindness was not indicted, to the end that moved thereby, and grieving that they understood not, they should be converted through penitence; for that they could not, unless (p. 488) 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 Elias 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 (margin note: Ac 2,37) 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," 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 (p. 489) 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.
Remig.: 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." (Jn 8,56)
Raban.: 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 (p. 490) 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. (margin note: convescimini)
Chrys.: 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.

MATTHEW 13,18-23

4318 (Mt 13,18-23)

(p. 491) Gloss., ap. Anselm: He had said above, that it was not given to Jews to know the kingdom of God, but to the Apostles, and therefore He now concludes, saying, "Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower, ye to whom are committed the mysteries of heaven."
Aug., De Gen. ad lit., viii, 4: It is certain that the Lord spoke the things which the Evangelist has recorded; but what the Lord spake was a parable, in which it is never required that the things contained should have actually taken place.
Gloss, ap. Anselm: He proceeds then expounding the parable; "Every man who hears the word of the kingdom," that is, My preaching which avails to the acquiring the kingdom of heaven, "and understandeth it not;" how he understands it not, is explained by, "for the evil one" -- that is the Devil -- "cometh and taketh away that which is sown in his heart;" every such man is "that which is sown by the way side." And note that which is sown, is taken in different senses; for the seed is that which is sown, and the field is that which is sown, both of which are found here. For where He says "carrieth away that which is sown," we must understand it of the seed; that which follows, "is sown by the way side," is to be understood not of the seed, but of the place of the seed, that is, of the man, who is as it were the field sown by the seed of the Divine word.
Remig.: In these words the Lord explains what the seed is, to wit, the word of the kingdom, that is of the Gospel teaching. For there are some that receive the word of the Lord with no devotion of heart, and so that seed of God's word which is sown in their heart, is by demons straightway carried off, as it were the seed dropped by the way side. It follows, "That which is sown upon the rock, is he that heareth the word, &c." For the seed or word of God, which is sown in the rock, that is, in the hard and untamed heart, can bring forth no fruit, inasmuch as its hardness is great, and its desire of heavenly things small; and because of this great hardness, it has no root in itself.
Jerome: Note that which is said, "is straightway offended." There is then some difference between him who, by many tribulations and torments, is driven to deny Christ, and him who at the first persecution is offended, and falls away, of which He proceeds to speak, "That which is sown among thorns." To me He seems here to express figuratively that (p. 492) which was said literally to Adam; "Amidst briers and thorns thou shalt eat they bread," (Gn 3,18) that he that has given himself up to the delights and the cares of this world, eats heavenly bread and the true food among thorns.
Raban.: Rightly are they called thorns, because they lacerate the soul by the prickings of thought, and do not suffer it to bring forth the spiritual fruit of virtue.
Jerome: And it is elegantly added, "The deceitfulness of riches choke the word;" for riches are treacherous, promising one thing and doing another. The tenure of them is slippery as they are borne hither and thither, and with uncertain step forsake those that have them, or revive those that have them not. Whence the Lord asserts, that rich men hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven, because their riches choke the word of God, and relax the strength of their virtues.
Remig.: And it should be known, that in these three sorts of bad soil are comprehended all who can hear the word of God, and yet have not strength to bring it forth unto salvation. The Gentiles are excepted, who were not worthy even to hear it.
It follows, "That which is sown on the good ground." The good ground is the faithful conscience of the elect, or the spirit of the saints which receives the word of God with joy and desire and devotion of heart, and manfully retains it amid prosperous and adverse circumstances, and brings it forth in fruit; as it follows, "And brings forth fruit, some a hundred fold, some sixty fold, some thirty fold."
Jerome: And it is to be noted, that as in the bad ground there were three degrees of difference, to wit, that by the way side, the stony and the thorny ground; so in the good soil there is a three-fold difference, the hundred-fold, the sixty-fold, and the thirty- fold. And in this as in that, not the substance but the will is changed, and the hearts as well of the unbelieving as the believing receive seed; as in the first case He said, "Then cometh the wicked one, and carrieth off that which is sown in the heart;" and in the second and third case of the bad soil He said, "This is he that heareth the word." So also in the exposition of the good soil, "This is he that heareth the word." Therefore we ought first to hear, then to understand, and after understanding to bring forth the fruits of teaching, either an hundred-fold, or sixty, or thirty. (p. 493)
Aug., City of God, book xxi, ch. 27: Some think that this is to be understood as though the saints according to the degree of their merits delivered some thirty, some sixty, some an hundred persons; and this they usually suppose will happen on the day of judgment, not after the judgment. But when this opinion was observed to encourage men in promising themselves impunity, because that by this means all might attain to deliverance, it was answered, that men ought the rather to live well, that each might be found among those who were to intercede for the liberation of others, lest these should be found to be so few that they should soon have exhausted the number allotted to them, and thus there would remain many unrescued from torment, among whom might be found all such as in most vain rashness had promised themselves to reap the fruits of others.
Remig.: The thirty-fold then is borne of him who teaches faith in the Holy Trinity; the sixty-fold of him who enforces the perfection of good works; (for in the number six this world was completed with all its equipments;) (margin note: Gn 2,1) while he bears the hundred-fold who promises eternal life. For the number one hundred passes from the left hand to the right; and by the left hand the present life is denoted, by the right hand the life to come.
Otherwise, the seed of the word of God brings forth fruit thirty-fold when it begets good thoughts, sixty-fold when good speech, and an hundred-fold when it brings to the fruit of good works.
Aug., Quaest Ev., i, 9: Otherwise; There is fruit an hundred-fold of the martyrs because of their satiety of life or contempt of death; a sixty-fold fruit of virgins, because they rest not warring against the use of the flesh; for retirement is allowed to those of sixty years' age after service in war or in public business; and there is a thirty-fold fruit of the wedded, because theirs is the age of warfare, and their struggle is the more arduous, that they should not be vanquished by their lusts.
Or otherwise; We must struggle with our love of temporal goods that reason may be master; it should either be so overcome and subject to us, that when it begins to rise it may be easily repressed, or so extinguished that it never arises in us at all. Whence it comes to pass, that death itself is despised for truth's sake, by some with brave endurance, by others with content, and by others with (p. 494) gladness -- which three degrees are the three degrees of fruits of the earth -- thirty-fold, sixty-fold, and an hundred-fold.
And in one of these degrees must one be found at the time of his death, if any desires to depart well out of this life.

Jerome, vid. Cyp. Tr. iv. 12: The hundred-fold fruit is to be ascribed to virgins, the sixty-fold to widows and continent persons, the thirty-fold to chaste wedlock.
Jerome, Hieron. Ep. 48, 2: For the joining together of the hands, as it were in the soft embrace of a kiss, represents husband and wife. The sixty-fold refers to widows, who as being set in narrow circumstances and affliction are denoted by the depression of the finger; for by how much greater is the difficulty of abstaining from the allurements of pleasure once known, so much greater is the reward. The hundredth number passes from the left to the right, and by its turning round with the same fingers, not on the same hand, it expresses the crown of virginity. (ed. note: This alludes to the method of notation by the fingers described by Bede (with reference to this passage of S. Jerome,) in his treatise 'De Indigitatione,' vol i. 131. The expression, 'atque suos jam dextra computat annos,' Juv. will occur immediately to the classical reader.)

MATTHEW 13,24-30

4324 (Mt 13,24-30)

Chrys., 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.
Remig.: 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."
Chrys.: 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 he 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 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.
Aug., Quaest 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 (p. 496) 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.
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.
Chrys.: 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.
Aug., Quaest 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 (p. 497) 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.
Remig.: 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." (Ps 9,19) 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.
Chrys.: 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.
Aug.: 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 we go and gather them out?"
Chrys.: 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 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 today 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 (p. 498) wheat also.
Aug., Quaest. in Matt., q. 12: 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. 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." (1Co 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.
Aug., 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 (p. 499) 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 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. 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.
Chrys.: This the Lord spake to forbid any putting to death. For we ought not to kill an heretic, seeing that so a neverending 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.
Aug., Ep. 93, 17: This indeed was at first my own (p. 500) 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.
Aug., 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 (p. 501) 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 many 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. (margin note: 1Co 15,10)
Why then should not the Church constrain her lost sons to return to her, when her lost sons constrained others to perish?
Remig.: 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.
Chrys.: But why does He say, Gather first the tares? That the good should have 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.
Aug., Quaest 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 (p. 502) 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.
Raban.: 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."

MATTHEW 13,31-32

Golden Chain 4310