Liturgical Calendar
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Lector's Notes

by Gregory Warnusz

First Reading

This reading is in the second person, addressed by the speaker to God. That’s unusual among our readings. It will catch the congregation unawares, unless you begin your proclamation carefully. Speak the first sentence slowly, emphasizing the words “god” and “you” in the first line. The final clause of the first sentence means “God, you don’t have to prove to anyone that what you do is fair.”Our second sentence (“… your mastery over all things makes you lenient to all.”) captures most clearly the point of the whole passage (and the whole digression), so state it slowly and clearly. Pause before the final sentence, where the emphasis changes from the power of God to the lessons people should draw from dealing with such a God.

Second Reading

To prepare to read this, let yourself experience the lesson taught here. That is, ask the Spirit to fill your heart with gratitude.In your actual proclamation, try to answer the question, “What’s one important thing for which we need the help of God’s Spirit?” The answer is “How to pray as we ought.” Let your listeners hear the accent on “pray.” And in the last sentence, show how the Spirit fulfills this need by emphasizing the synonym for “pray,” “intercedes.”

Intro to Readings

by Gregory Warnusz

First Reading

For Jews living among sophisticated pagans in Alexandria, the book of Wisdom gave some arguments for defending the faith. This part is about how a truly powerful God does not need to punish or take revenge. The speaker addresses God directly.

Second Reading

Jesus uses three agricultural images to describe the reign of heaven. From modest beginnings come unexpected results.


The earliest Christians wondered why others did not understand and accept the message of Jesus. They recalled a saying of Jesus that gives a partial answer.


Study of the Catechism of the Catholic Church

Video Lessons on the “four pillars” of the Catechism


Wis 12:13, 16-19

Fr. Eamon Tobin's Reflection

God’s kindness and mercy

FIRST READING—The Book of Wisdom is written by a Greek-speaking Jew living in an urban area of the Diaspora (Jews living outside of Israel). His Goal is to defend Judaism against the pervasive influence of Hellenism (Greek pagan philosophies). He wants to make sure that his people will not become “tainted” with foreign ways.

We are reminded of God’s tolerance and merciful patience. Though God is all-powerful, he uses his power to show mercy and clemency. By doing this, God is seeking to teach people to treat each other (including non-believers) with the same kindness and to temper justice with mercy.

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.
Sr. Patricia Stevenson's Reflection


FIRST READING—No commentary on the First Reading. See the commentary on the Second reading and Gospel. Click on the PDF icon at right.

©2005 Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart. Used with permission.
Fr. Clement Thibodeau's Reflection

God does not exclude any nation from his love

FIRST READING—Writing originally in Greek (and therefore not included in “Protestant Bibles”) perhaps around the year 60 BCE, just before the time of Christ, a Greek-speaking Jew in Egypt calls upon his fellow Jews to be faithful to the Lord and to their particular heritage even in the midst of an alien culture and a hostile society. In the passage given us today, the author digresses a moment to remind his readers that God loves all the people that he has made; God does not despise nor does God reject any nation. God is open to the possibility that any person orany group might come to know and serve the truth. The Christian community hears this message as a call to tolerance of those who are different from ourselves, as a summons to inclusivity rather than exclusivity.

©2020 Father Clement D. Thibodeau. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.
Sr. Mary McGlone's Reflection

God’s wisdom and power

FIRST READING—“There is no god besides you who have the care of all … your might is the source of justice; your mastery over all things makes you lenient to all.” This passage from the Book of Wisdom presents a strongly iconoclastic vision of divine power. In contrast to depictions of gods sparring for dominance and imposing their will, the writer of Wisdom describes divine power as persuasive and reconciling rather than coercive.

Some months ago there was an episode of the TV program “Madame Secretary” in which the U.S. secretary of state was groped by a chauvinist foreign president. Without thinking, she slugged him so hard and spontaneously that he literally didn’t know what hit him, except that he had a broken nose. He publicly attributed the visible injury to a boxing match against a national champion. Like any bully, his strength was based on the fear he could inspire rather than any innate quality of character or even his physical conditioning. His utter humiliation at being bested by a woman was a secret he wanted to keep at any cost.

Much of the world seems to function on the kinds of power described above. The arrogance of the ruler and the secretary’s forceful fist demonstrate the coercive power of authority and brute strength. Her power to expose him allowed her to manipulate him into doing something that was better for the world than his own plan would have been. Those two expressions of power over others suffer an utterly debilitating flaw. They function only until someone with more of that same kind of power arrives on the scene and imposes their will. As reflectors of stages of human development, they are the bottom rungs of the ladder and are too often the primary kinds of power used in our world.

A far more benign expression of power is nutritive, the power that supports the life of another. That is the power of parenthood, of the teacher, of anyone who helps others grow into all that they can be. The downfall of this expression of power comes when the giver creates or allows dependency to develop. The corruption of nutritive power creates a welfare state, whether in government, church or family.

God’s power as described in today’s reading from Wisdom is different. The first statement simply tells us that God’s wisdom and power are such that coercion can play no role in the relationship between heaven and earth. This passage extols the divine willingness to forgive and then goes further. By saying “In those who know you, you rebuke temerity,” the author indicates that God exercises power by calling everyone to be fully who they are, to speak and act in honesty with no fear of God or human beings.

The end of this reading reminds us that we are to imitate the God in whom we believe. If God, the most powerful, is beyond coercion and domination, how much more should we eschew them! Not only that, but we should judge any attempt at domination, whether by brute force or manipulation, as counter to the will of God. We will be rebuked for our temerity if we fail to speak out against such attitudes and actions.

©2017 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved. Sr. Mary McGlone  is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. 2017 Reflections2020 Reflections can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.

God is merciful

FIRST READING—God dispenses justice to both the righteous and the wicked, but even those who defy Him and disobey His commandments can hope for His mercy if they turn to Him in repentance. In the First Reading, the inspired writer of the Book of Wisdom proclaims the power and goodness of the one righteous and just God. He dispenses His justice with mercy and kindness, and, by His example, God teaches His covenant people that the righteousness He requires of us must be defined by compassion, mercy, and forgiveness.

The Power and Goodness of God's Power

This passage proclaims the power and goodness of the one and only God (verse 13).  God’s power, however, does not make Him an unjust tyrant.  On the contrary, God is always righteous and just (verses 16-17).  He dispenses His justice with mercy and kindness (verse 18).  By His example, God teaches His covenant people that compassion, mercy, and forgiveness defines righteousness.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
God's Mercy in the Sacraments

We find the same teaching in the New Testament in the ministry of Jesus Christ.  Our merciful Father sent Jesus the Messiah to redeem humankind and to fulfill the hope of the inspired writer of the Book of Wisdom.  Through our repentance in the Penitential Rite of the Mass and the Eucharist, He forgives our venial sins.  And in Sacrament of Reconciliation, God also provides a way for the forgiveness of our mortal sins and to restore us to fellowship with Him (fulfills the promise of verse 19; see CCC 1846, 1854-64).  The Catechism assures us: “There are no limits to the mercy of God, but anyone who deliberately refuses to accept his mercy by repenting, rejects the forgiveness of his sins and the salvation offered by the Holy Spirit.  Such hardness of heart can lead to final impenitence and eternal loss (CCC 1864),

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.

Ps 86:5-6, 9-10, 15-16

Fr. Eamon Tobin's Reflection

Lord, you are good and forgiving

RESPONSORIAL PSALM—This lament places emphasis on God’s patience and forbearance in line with the theme of the first and third readings.

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

God’s goodness and forgiveness

PSALM—In today’s Responsorial Psalm, we proclaim that God is slow to anger and abounding in mercy and kindness. His patience with sinful humanity teaches us that God desires repentance, not vengeance, and the salvation of the people of all nations.

Introduction to the Psalm

The title of this psalm is A psalm of David.  The psalmist, believed to be the great King David, expresses confidence that when he is in distress and calls upon God in prayer, God hears him (verses 5-6).  He proclaims that God is the one and only God of all nations who owe Him worship and praise (verses 9-10).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
List of God's Attributes Proclaimed to Moses

15 You, O LORD, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in kindness and fidelity.  16 Turn toward me, and have pity on me; give your strength to your servant.

In verse 15, the psalmist repeats the list of God’s attributes proclaimed to Moses when, enveloped in the Glory Cloud, God stood with Moses in Exodus 34:5-7.  The result of the psalmist’s conviction of God’s greatness, mercy, and grace is that he declares himself God’s servant, and he has confidence that God will give him the strength he needs to persevere in his struggles (verses 15-16).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Jesus Hears Us in Our Prayers

Jesus promised that whenever we ask anything in His name that He hears us and will fulfill our request according to God’s will for our lives (Jn 14:13).  When we turn to God in prayer, we do so in union with His Son.  When we invoke Jesus in our prayers, He prays with us and for us as our high priest in the heavenly Sanctuary.  He prays for us because He is our compassionate Savior who is ever ready to forgive us our sins and to restore us to fellowship with Him and His Body, the Church.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.

Rom 8:26-27

Fr. Eamon Tobin's Reflection

The ‘groanings’ of the Spirit

SECOND READING—Paul reminds us that we are not alone in our prayer moments. The Holy Spirit accompanies us and is always praying in us. The ‘groanings’ of the Spirit are linked to those of creation, that is, the world and our desire for redemption. If we turn to God, we will understand the ways of the Spirit. Commenting on these verses, Patricia Sanchez writes these comforting words:

Happily, Paul reminds us today that – even in our weakest moments of inarticulate struggle in prayer, even in the rut of the banal and routine, even in the throes of seething resentment or in the tears of burdensome sadness – the presence of the Spirit guarantees that our wordlessness be translated into a prayer which centers us once again and renews the communion which sustains us. (Used with permission The Word We Celebrate: Commentary on the Sunday Lectionary Years A, B, C, by Patricia Sanchez, -Sheed & Ward publisher (9-1-89.).

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.
Sr. Patricia Stevenson's Reflection

How should we pray?

SECOND READING—How should we pray? St. Paul says that it is difficult to answer that question. This seems an extraordinary statement from someone with a long tradition in liturgical prayer; from someonewho grew up with the Book of Psalms.

Paul had learned that Christian prayer was Trinitarian and therefore there was a deep inner connection between the Holy Spirit and ourselves as pray-ers. He named two areas for reflection. How do we pray? and What do we pray for?

In verse 14 he describes Christians, the sons and daughters of God, as those led by the Spirit. The Spirit is our mentor and model. The Spirit enables us to cry “Abba” instead of cowering in fear like a stranger uncertain of a welcome.

He then describes the partnership with the Spirit that is a key to prayer. We are to have the same relationship with the Spirit that Jesus had. This union with the Spirit enabled him to be faithful in all the pain and struggles of his life.

One of the gifts of the Spirit is instruction in prayer. The Spirit intercedes for us. Wedo not need words. God reads the heart. What is described is the loving communion of those who know each other at the heart level. “Deep calls to deep” as the psalmist says. The mystics tried to express this love by using the images of sexual union.

What holds us back from close union with God is a lack of trust in God and in ourselves. Old patterns of thinking emerge to tempt us. The writer of Wisdom touches on this when he speaks of the power of God. Words like power and might cause us to fear as we are more used to power over than creative power. In God, theoffspring of power is justice. Justice is related to mercy. God teaches us that the just person is a kind person.

We can see why our trust in God wavers, we have lacked, perhaps, examples of this godliness in our dealings with others. There are also many who preach a vengeful God out of their own wounded history. Many allow their own fearfulness to colour their reading of scripture..

©2005 Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart. Used with permission.
Fr. Clement Thibodeau's Reflection

The Holy Spirit speaks to God from within us

SECOND READING—In Chapter 8, Paul continues to describe the role of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the Christian people. Here, he asserts that it is actually the Spirit within us that speaks to God when we are at prayer. How can mere human beings find the appropriate words with which to address the Most High? Well, not to fear; the Spirit will call out to the Father from within our hearts! The word Paul uses here again (as earlier in the chapter) is the Greek word for “groaning.” Whereas the whole universe is “groaning”in its need for God (Romans 8:22), now we ourselves“groan” up toward God in our yearning for salvation.

©2020 Father Clement D. Thibodeau. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.
Sr. Mary McGlone's Reflection

The mystery of the Spirit’s action in us

SECOND READING—In his book Thoughts on Solitude, Thomas Merton shared a prayer in which he admitted that no matter how we try, we may not be following God’s will. He prayed further, “But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.” It was a powerfully honest and humble recognition of human limitations by a man many think of as one of our 20th century saints.

Merton said that he hoped he had the desire to please God in everything. The very use of the word hope gives us a hint that he was thinking of the working of the Spirit in him. We hope for what is beyond us; what we can accomplish on our own we call a plan. Paul’s statement that “The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness,” tells Merton that his hope was well placed.

In this entire section of his Letter to the Romans, Paul has been talking about the effects of the Spirit in Christians. He has told them that the Spirit dwells in them, gives them life, and frees them from slavery to sin. He has invited them to dream of the unimaginable future God has in store and to base their dreams on their experience of the first fruits of the Spirit in them.

Now Paul goes one step further and tells the community that the Spirit actually draws them beyond their limitations, praying in and through them for graces they can’t express or describe or maybe even imagine.

In the two verses we hear today, Paul describes the mystery of the Spirit’s action within us. This is the Spirit’s personal effect not just on us, but the Spirit dwelling in us and moving us from within. If Paul were not speaking of the context of prayer, what he is saying could almost sound like possession, being taken over by the Spirit. But, Paul prefaced this idea saying that when we do not know how to pray, the Spirit moves in us. The Spirit’s work begins with our desire, our attempt to pray. When we open ourselves thus to God, Paul says that the Spirit will pray in and for us, enticing us into greater union with God and God’s will.

©2017 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved. Sr. Mary McGlone  is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Her 2020 Reflections can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.

Intercession of the Holy Spirit

SECOND READING—St. Paul promises in today’s Second Reading that the Holy Spirit is ready to intercede for us when we call upon Him for help. He will always intercede for us, according to the will of the Father, even when we cannot articulate our need for His intervention. He assures the Christians of Rome in the first century and us in the present age that the Holy Spirit, who dwells in us through our spiritual rebirth in Christian baptism (Jn 3:5; Rom 5:5), assists us in our prayers according to God’s saving plan.  The Holy Spirit is especially with us when we feel inadequate in expressing our fears and desires.  He articulates our deepest yearnings to the Father and intercedes for us according to God’s will with our eternal salvation as the object of His intercession.

All Christians long for union with the Most Holy Trinity in our final redemption and the hope of living the glory of the beatific vision.  We also look forward to the promise of our second resurrection when we receive our glorified bodies (our first resurrection was in our baptism). This great hope is almost too much to be able to comprehend in our limited natural state, but God the Holy Spirit helps us prays with us and intercedes for us in “groanings” and “with sighs too deep for words” to receive this final and eternal gift.  Every child who truly loves his family longs to be at home with his loved ones.  Our “family” is the Most Holy Trinity and our spirits long to be at home with Him.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
St. Paul's Emphasis on the Necessity of Prayer

In his letters, St. Paul always impressed on his audience the necessity of prayer, as Jesus Himself taught in Matthew 6:5-15 (in the Sermon on the Mount).  In his letters, St. Paul frequently addressed the topic of prayer in the life of the Christian (see Rom 12:12; 1 Cor 7:5; Eph 6:18; Phil 4:6; Col 4:2; 1 Thes 5:17; 1 Tim 2:8; and 5:5).  St. Paul wrote that he was constantly praying for the faith communities to whom he had written (Rom 1:10; Eph 1:16; Phil 1:4; Col 1:3, 9; 1 Thes 1:2, 3; 3:10; 2 Thes 1:11; Phile verse 4).  He requested that they also pray for him (Rom 15:30; 2 Cor 1:11; Eph 6:19; Phil 1:19; Col 4:3; 1 Thes 5:25; 2 Thes 3:1; Phile verse 22; Heb 13:18).   The Holy Spirit enables Christians to approach the throne of God the Father and to speak to Him like a little child to a loving Father.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.

Mt 13:24-43 or 13:24-30

Fr. Eamon Tobin's Reflection

Patience and tolerance parables

GOSPEL—Matthew presents us with three more “kingdom parables” intended to teach that the coming of the Kingdom is a growth process that occurs over a very long period. Thus, patience and tolerance are needed for the followers of Jesus.

The Parable of the Wheat and Weeds would be a familiar story to Jesus’ listeners. They have all seen weeds sprouting up among good seed. The servants want to rush out into the fields to pull up all the weeds. In Jesus’ time, the religious leaders have no patience or compassion for sinners. They want all of them weeded out. And so it will be in Matthew’s community several decades later when some members under religious persecution will deny their faith and will be shown very little compassion by some leaders in Matthew’s community.

In the parable, the Master (representing God) calls for patience, “Let both weeds and wheat continue to grow.” Ezekiel tells us that God desires not the death of the sinner, but that he repents and lives. The parable illustrates God’s patience with sinners until the Day of Judgment (harvest time).

Jesus condemns elitism and underscores the fact that the Christian community and we, individually, will always be a “mixed bag” of good and not so good people: saints and sinners. The role of Church leaders is to preach and practice repentance, mercy, patience and compassion, and to leave judgment to God.

The parables of the mustard seed and yeast tell us that small beginnings can lead to big endings. God is at work making things happen even if we are not awareof it.

In the third part of this Gospel (verses 36-43), in response to the disciples question, Jesus comments on the parable of the wheat and weeds. Until the Day of Judgment, the Church should love, repent, show mercy, and stay out of deciding who will be saved. But a final Day of Judgment will come when those who are evil and unrepentant will pay the ultimate price for their sin, but those who have remained faithful or have repented from their sins will be welcomed into heaven. Until that Day, God will be patient and merciful and so should the Church. The Church’s job is to preach repentance, show leniency, and leave the judging to God.

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.
Sr. Patricia Stevenson's Reflection

Leave judgements to God

GOSPEL—The disciples want to know hoe to deal with sin. Should the focus be on eradication? Jesu tells them that they are not the best judges of what is sinful. If some of us can’t always tell wheat from weeds how can we presume to judge the hearts of others. Leave the judgements to God.

Kindness demands that we are not quick to judge a wrongdoer. In this story the focus is often on the weeds that are burned for fuel rather than on the usefulness of the grain.

We need to be aware of the fragile self-esteem of some who need our reassurance when others are harshly critical of them.

If God can read our hearts then all judging is out of our hands. Let us rather turn our energies to the task of learning to pray as adult Christians, as disciples, as those called to be Christ-bearers in the our world.

©2005 Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart. Used with permision.
Fr. Clement D. Thibodeau's Reflection

The community of faith is a ‘mixed bag’

GOSPEL—Matthew presents the teachings of Jesus in five major discourses. We are in the midst of the Third Discourse: Teaching in Parables (Chapter 13). Three parables (Wheat Among Weeds, Mustard Seed, Yeast in the Leaven) are given to us today.

According to William Barclay, parables

(1)  make a truth concrete by turning it into a picture,
(2) begin from here and now to lead to then and there,
(3) compel our interest by the storytelling technique,
(4) give the listener a flash of truth,
(5) place responsibility for accepting the truth squarely on the shoulders of the listener.

That is why Jesus can say that those who have closed their hearts to his message will not be able to hear and be saved. A parable reveals the truth to those who seek it and conceals the truth from those who reject it (vv. 34-35).

The Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds is addressed by Jesus to the Pharisees who hold themselves separate from sinners so as not to be contaminated by them. Matthew wants the Church of his day to hear that they should not judge those whom they may consider unworthy: Gentiles, weak-willed members, women,and other socially unacceptable persons.

The community of faith finds itself madeup of the good and the bad, a “mixed bag”of individuals. It will be that way until the end of the world, up to the time of the divine “harvest.”Only God has the right to pass judgment. I find it encouraging that God does not judge nor exclude anyone until the very end, when all have been given an adequate chance to change and to grow. Would that the Church today could be as tolerant; would that all the members of the Church, the mighty and the humble too, allowed others to be themselves, calling all to renewal and to spiritual growth through repentance and conversion, rather than through condemnation and excommunication.

The rank and file members of the Church can bejust as effective as the leaders in “excommunicating”someone they do not like! I know when I have been dismissed by people who thought they were superior. God knows, I have been guilty of doing the same!

The Parable of the Mustard Seed and the Parable of the Yeast offer a special twist in the teachings of Jesus. I am persuaded that we have not really captured the full meaning of these two parables because we have not understood the very negative notionthatancient people attached both to the mustard plant and to yeast. Just ask any farmer even today what he/she thinks the value of mustard plants to be. “Nothing but a pest! Who can see any value in it except the Creator of the universe?” As a youth, I spent many days in potato fields and in fields of oats pulling out mustard plants so they would not overshadow the good crop and suck the useful nutrients from the soil. Now, of course, farmers use chemicals for weed management. Jesus’point is not that we should allow our crops to be destroyed by weeds but that we should not apply the same strategy to Church purity!

Yeast, too, is a negative element: it contaminates and destroys the bread that was meant to be unleavened, causing it to spoil.
©2020 Father Clement D. Thibodeau. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.
Sr. Mary McGlone's Reflection

God’s kingdom promises to sprout like weeds

GOSPEL—Today’s part of the parable discourse follows directly on last week’s parable of the farmer’s 25 percent success rate in sowing seed. It appears that Jesus had great sympathy for beleaguered planters whose poor crop yields mirrored the disappointing results of his own efforts to sow God’s word.

We begin with a story in which a farmer had a wicked, wily enemy so committed to his nasty plan that he snuck into the field at night and sowed bad seed. One can imagine the aggravation of the servants when they saw what sprouted where they had worked. Woe to the weeds sullying their soil! But, the master didn’t see the situation the same way they did. The owner, aware that yanking up the weeds would endanger the newly-sprouting plants, tells them to keep calm and let nature take its course.

But, there seems to be more to the story than simply the protection of sprouts. Somewhere along the line, there is a question of judgment. Why were the servants so sure that the “weeds” should be eliminated? Did they have an excess of enthusiasm that led the owner to see them as a greater danger to the growing wheat than the weeds would be?

The owner might have been thinking that some crops enhance one another like corn, beans and squash, the “three sisters” of pre-Columbian America. To non-experts, the beans growing up the corn stalk can look like parasites and the squash leaves that guard the soil’s moisture can be perceived as harmful sun blockers. This parable raises the question of what deserves to be called a weed. A way of stating the problem in contemporary language would be to ask when diversity is really life-threatening and when it is just challenging to a particular vision of how things should be.

When Jesus went on to talk about the mustard seed, farmers would have been quick to get the joke. The mustard seed, proverbially small, did grow into a big bush, but not always one that was desired. The Mishna, a collection of Hebrew oral traditions, warned specifically against planting mustard because the bush was noxious and would take over everything around it. Jesus was not just talking about the prodigious growth of the kingdom of heaven, but also commenting that some people judged it to be more like a plague than a crop.

The image of the yeast has its own dose of humor. Jesus doesn’t tell us exactly how much yeast the woman in question has on hand, but it had to be a substantial amount because she mixed it with 30 to 50 pounds of flour — enough to make bread for a small village. Perhaps that was precisely the point Jesus was making: Some yeast plus a lot of flour and the effort of one hard-working woman make enough to nourish an entire community. The kingdom of heaven can flourish from the most natural processes because creation was designed for it.

Finally, the disciples ask Jesus for an explanation of the parable of the weeds. Again, as in the parable of the sower, he gives them a point by point explanation, giving the parable an apocalyptic meaning. On the most basic level the apocalyptic interpretation promises that evil will not win in the end. But, the way good will win does not necessarily reflect human judgment. The disciples are not called to police the kingdom. The Son of Man will send the angels to do the sifting when harvest time comes. The disciples need only sow seeds and mix yeast; with just that effort the kingdom promises to sprout like weeds.

©2017 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved. Sr. Mary McGlone  is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Her 2020 Reflections can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.

The Kingdom parables continued

GOSPEL—In the third great discourse in St. Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus teaches seven parables.  In Matthew Chapter 13, Jesus uses the word “kingdom” twelve times (Mt 13:11, Mt 19, Mt 24, Mt 31, Mt 33, Mt 38, Mt 41, Mt 43, Mt 44, Mt 45, Mt 47 and Mt 53), and it is for this reason that this collection of seven parables is called “the Kingdom Parables.”  Last week’s Gospel reading introduced the first of the so-called “Kingdom Parables.”

Matthew's Seven Kingdom Parables

Like the Old Testament prophets, in the seven “Kingdom Parables” in Matthew Chapter 13, Jesus, God’s Supreme Prophet, taught in parables, using topics of everyday life to make comparisons and emphasize His teaching points that reveal “the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven” (Mt 13:11):

  1. Parable of the Sower (Mt 13: 3b-9, Mt 13: 18-23)
  2. Parable of the Weeds Among the Wheat (Mt 13: 24-30, 36-43)
  3. Parable of the Mustard Seed (Mt 13: 31-32)
  4. Parable of the Yeast (Mt 13: 33)
  5. Parable of the Hidden Treasure (Mt 13: 44)
  6. Parable of the Pearl of Great Price (Mt 13: 45-46)
  7. Parable of the Sorting of Good and Bad Fish (Mt 13: 47-50)
Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Jesus uses a proverb from Isaiah

Jesus gives the reason why He is teaching in parables in Matthew 13:13-15.  Jesus used a little proverb to explain why He now spoke in parables and then, quoting from Isaiah 6:9-10, He made another of the ten fulfillment statement from the Old Testament in the Gospel of Matthew (see another fulfillment statement concerning parables in Mt 13:34-35).  Since the religious leaders and some of the people influenced by them have rejected His message, Jesus spoke in parables so they would not readily understand.  He did this in fulfillment of the judgment prophecy in the Book of Isaiah against an unrepentant people (see the harsher statement in Mk 4:12).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
The Greek word translated 'weeds'

The Greek word translated “weeds” is darnel, a poisonous weed that resembles wheat early in its growth cycle.  The only use for the darnel was to bundle the plants and burn them for fuel (see Mt 13:30).  It is a good metaphor for the unrepentant sinner who can masquerade as one of the righteous but is not fit for the Kingdom of God.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Significance of the Parable of Wheat and Weeds

God, in His mercy, gives sinners every opportunity to repent their sins and turn back to a fruitful relationship with Him.  He will not visit judgment upon the sinner until the last breath the sinner takes in this life (see CCC 827, 1036-37).

The Church teaches that even in the community of the faithful, the “weeds of sin will be mixed in with the good wheat of the Gospel until the end of time” (CCC 827).  Like the slaves of the owner of the field, the Church gathers to herself sinners already caught up in Christ’s salvation but still making their way on the journey to holiness.  Some scholars suggest that the slaves of the master are the disciples of Jesus.  However, it is more likely, since Jesus is the “householder,” that the slaves of His house are the members of the ministerial priesthood who must welcome the sinner and the saint into the household of Christ that is His Church.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Harvest as a metaphor for God's Judgment

According to the parable, the harvest will determine the fate of the “weeds” (unrepentant sinners) and the “wheat” (the righteous children of God).  In the Bible, “harvest” is a common metaphor for the fulfillment of God’s judgment (see Jer 51:33; Hos 6:11).  God destines the wheat/children of God for eternal life in His heavenly Kingdom, and the weeds/children of Satan (1 Jn 3:10), who reject Jesus Christ, are destined for eternal destruction in the fires of the Hell of the damned.  It is ultimately a free-will choice made by both the “wheat” and the “weeds.”

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
The Parable of the Mustard Seed

31 He proposed another parable to them.  “The Kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field.  32 It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants.  It becomes a large bush, and the ‘birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.'”

Jesus uses hyperbole in describing the mustard seed as the smallest of seeds and its plant in full growth as the largest of plants/trees (a mustard tree could only grow as high as 8-12 feet).  The contrast here is between the small beginnings of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ and its future expansion to encompass the whole earth, sheltering all who come to dwell in the household of Jesus that is the Church.  The allusion to the Kingdom becoming so large that “birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches” is a reference to the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar in which he saw a huge tree that sheltered “birds of the sky” and other animals (Dan 4:7).  Daniel interpreted the tree and the animals to represent Nebuchadnezzar’s Kingdom and the many different peoples over whom he ruled.  The comparison is that the Kingdom of Jesus Christ will be even greater than the Kingdom of the Babylonians (also see Dan 9:17-19).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
The Parable of the Yeast

33 He spoke to them another parable.  “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened.”

Yeast is a fermenting agent that, when mixed with flour into a dough, causes the dough to rise and expand.  In the Bible, leaven/yeast is usually a negative image often representing sin (Ex 12:15, 19; 13:7; Mt 16:6; 1 Cor 5:6-8) but not in this parable.  Three is always a significant number in Scripture, symbolizing perfection, completeness, or an important event in salvation history.  Three measures of wheat flour is a tremendous amount and could produce enough bread to feed over a hundred people (Jeremias, Parables of Jesus, page 147).  This parable, like the Parable of the Mustard Seed, illustrates the same point, which is the amazing growth of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ that is His New Covenant Church.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
The Use of Parables

34 All these things, Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables.  He spoke to them only in parables, 35 to fulfill what had been said through the prophet: “I will open my mouth in parables; I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation [of the world].”

The quote in verse 35 is from Psalms 78:2; the Hebrew text uses the word masah, which, in the Greek translation of the Old Testament, is the word parabole/parableAs in the other ten “fulfillment” statements in the Gospel of Matthew, St. Matthew applies the fulfillment of this verse to Jesus’ parable teachings.  The superscription of Psalm 78 attributes the psalm to Asaph, who is called a prophet in 2 Chronicles 29:30.

What has happened to cause Jesus to stop teaching directly to the crowds and to begin only teaching in parables (aside from fulfilling the prophecy of Psalms 78:2)?  It is the same reason the Old Testament prophets began to speak in parables during their ministries.  What has happened is the reaction of the Pharisees and chief priests; their questioning of Jesus had turned to outright rejection and hostility.  Jesus reacts to the opposition of the religious leadership in the same way that other prophets of God have reacted to the rejection of God’s messenger or the failure of the civil and religious authorities to guide the people in righteousness.  Like those earlier prophets, He began to speak in parables.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
The Parable of the Weeds Explained

There are two themes in this parable: the first is the patience of the Lord in waiting for sinners to repent, and the second is the inevitability of a final judgment.  As in the Parable of the Sower, when His disciples do not understand, Jesus patiently explained His teaching (Mt 13:1-9, 18-23).  Jesus told His disciples that the “field” is the world, and the “harvest” is the judgment at the end of the age.  There are five different people or kinds of people mentioned in the parable (six if you count the slaves of the master/owner).  Jesus identifies five different groups/persons:

1. The sower of the seed He who sows good seed is the Son of Man
2. The good seed/wheat the good seed, the children of the Kingdom
3. The darnel/weeds The weeds are the children of the evil one
4. The sower of the weeds and the enemy who sows them is the devil
5. The harvesters and the harvesters are angels

The slaves and the harvesters are two different groups since the master told the slaves in 13:30 that He will instruct the “harvesters” at the time of the harvest to collect the weeds first.  Notice the contrast between “the children of the Kingdom” and the “children of the evil one.”  Once again, Jesus taught that there was no middle ground—a person is either for Him or against Him.  God is just, merciful, and patient, but He does not force us to accept citizenship in the Kingdom and His gift of eternal salvation.  If a person has not chosen to be a child of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, he has chosen to be a child of the devil (1 Jn 3:10)!

What choice have you made?  Remember, there is no middle ground.  You have until you draw your last breath or, if you are still living, until the time of Christ’s glorious return in His Second Advent to make your choice, but be aware that your choice will have eternal consequences!

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.

Responding to God’s Word

by Fr. Eamon Tobin

Refrain from judging ‘the weeds’ in your environment and become more aware of the weeds within yourself.

Life Messages

by Fr. Anthony Kadavil

We need to be Patient and Merciful

First, we need to be patient with ourselves. We may not get everything done perfectly this week, but so what? Then we must be patient with the others – those who annoy us by the way they drive their cars, those whose opinions differ from ours, those who make too much noise and disturb us and those who make our spiritual progress more difficult for us by their bad example and counter-witnessing. Let’s practice patience, remembering that, in the end, it is God who controls. Let us patiently and lovingly treat the “weeds” in our society as our brothers and sisters and do all in our power to put them back on the right road to Heaven, especially by our good example and our fervent prayer for their conversion.

God is the Final Judge

We live in a violent and impassioned culture. Christians often appear too self-righteous, suggesting that those who disagree with them are the “weeds” in the garden of life. Some are judged as being too radical and others as not being radical enough. Some are judged for embracing doctrinal errors, others for appearing not to have any doctrine at all. Some are condemned for not caring for the poor, others for caring too much for the poor.

We often forget that appearances can be deceptive. The old saying, “If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it’s a duck,” may be true in the secular realm, but not in the Kingdom of God. If one talks like a Christian, sings like a Christian, etc. it doesn’t necessarily mean he or she is a Christian. While we do our best to exercise right judgment as to what is or isn’t correct (John 13:35; I John 2:5, 3:10), the final determination will be made by God. Evil will coexist with good until the second coming of Jesus.

The Good News is that growth and maturity are probably the most effective forms of “weed control.” In the end, it’s enough to know that we are “seeds” who have been planted by the “Son of Man,” and that we’re part of a healthy harvest that will someday be reaped by the angels of God.

Visit Fr. Tony’s Homilies each week for an introduction to the Sunday readings, scripture lessons, homily starter anecdotes, a summary of each of the scripture readings, and Gospel exegesis. Fr. Tony’s Life Messages have be used with permission.


The Beauty and the Beast

by Fr. Anthony Kadavil

Within every one of us and in the world, there is beauty and there is a beast. There is good and evil, there is virtue and vice. There are wheat seeds and there are weeds.

The film Beauty and the Beast is based on a classic French fairy tale. It tells the story of a beautiful girl who loved books and wanted to live like the characters of the book. Her father Maurice was a petty inventor. Gaston the village tavern owner loved the beautiful girl Belle.

In that village there was a prince who was handsome but vain. One day an old lady came to him to ask for shelter but he turned her away. She was a fairy and with her magic wand she turned him into a Beast and gave him a mirror to see the world. She also gave him a rose saying that before the last petal fell he must find someone to love him in his condition as a Beast.

One day Maurice went to the woods and was lost and captured by the Beast. Belle went to release him. She was captured and imprisoned for life by the Beast. Belle did not love the Beast but tolerated him. One day she was attacked by a pack of wolves. The Beast saved her life.

The beast gave Belle the magic mirror in which she could see her father who was so sick that he was considered a lunatic. Belle went home to save her father and told him all about the Beast. Gaston wanted to kill the Beast. Belle ran to save the Beast.

Just before the death of the Beast she told him that she loved him. At these words the beast turned back into a handsome, and loving, prince.

(Elias Dias in Divine Stories for Families; quoted by Fr. Botelho).

Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde

by Fr. Anthony Kadavil

Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde Mr Hyde is a gothic novella by the Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson first published in 1886. The work is also known as The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, or simply Jekyll & Hyde. As a story, it talks about the concept of good and evil that exists in all of us. In the novel, Stevenson creates a hero in Dr. Jekyll, who aware of the evil in his own being, and sick of the duplicity in his life, succeeds by way of his experiments on himself using a self-made potion, in freeing the pure evil part of his being as Mr. Hyde, so that each can indulge in a life unfettered by the demands of the other. After taking the potion repeatedly, he no longer relies upon it to unleash his inner demon, i.e., his alter ego. Eventually, Hyde grows so strong that Jekyll becomes reliant on the potion to remain conscious. Finally, Dr. Jekyll kills himself in order to save his fellow people from the evil of his alter ego Edward Hyde. ( Today’s Gospel teaches us that we are all a mixture of good and evil and hence how we should be patient and merciful with the evil ones in our families, parishes and society.

The Story of Two Wolves

by Fr. Anthony Kadavil

Have you ever noticed that the people who are bad sometimes are the very same people who are good sometimes? It reminds us of a story called, “Two Wolves.” It goes like this: An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.” The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?” The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.” (Anonymous). Today’s Gospel parable reminds us that we are a mixture of good and evil and, hence, instead of judging others we have to lead exemplary Christian lives and leave the judgment to God.

Pornography and Obscenity

by Fr. Anthony Kadavil

Obscenity, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. With words to that effect more than two decades ago the Supreme Court of the United States of America left the decisions regarding pornography in the hands of local communities. During the intervening years states and cities have struggled with the issue, desiring to uphold the basic rights of freedom of speech and expression, and at the same time attempting to establish and maintain what is decent and acceptable to the majority.

The latest entry to invade this debate and garner headlines is music. Now, it seems, obscenity may also be in the ear of the beholder. But the issue goes much deeper than “X-ratings” and warning labels on album covers or motion picture posters. If anything, it is symptomatic of a more pervasive problem than simply pornography in theatres or music.

So, then, what do we do about the presence of the various expressions of evil in our world – what Jesus would call weeds? Whether it takes the form of dehumanizing depictions of sexual violence on the screen, of suggestive lyrics, of environmental pollution, or of the tragedies of greed and self-serving possessiveness, the presence of evil rears its head seemingly at every turn. So what are we to do?

The “weeds” comprise all that is contrary to the spirit and work of Christ, of what is good and decent and upright — in our eyes and to our ears! What are we going to do about them? Can we do anything at all? Historically, the Church has attempted to be a “weed-puller,” zealously trying to eliminate all that is perceived as rotten and wrong in society. The world has, unfortunately, had to face the onslaught of the wrath of well-meaning Christians. It has endured the violence of the Crusades of the Middle Ages and the Salem witch hunts in colonial America. The Church has conspired to commit numerous acts of violence and has violated the lives and livelihoods of countless numbers of persons in an attempt to convert sinners and purge society.

In the name of pulling “weeds” and eliminating evil, great harm has been inflicted on humanity. At the other extreme, and just as frightening — perhaps more so — the Church has also been quiet when someone rises to power with a message of hate for those who are different. It has remained on the sidelines while misguided ideas have taken over and wrecked lives and societies.

Visit Fr. Tony’s Homilies each week for an introduction to the Sunday readings, scripture lessons, homily starter anecdotes, a summary of each of the scripture readings, and Gospel exegesis. Fr. Tony’s Life Messages have be used with permission.

Opening Prayer

by Fr. Eamon Tobin

Jesus, help me to always remember that all of us, including myself, are a mixed bag, and to remember that my job is to love people, and God’s job is to judge them.


Three sets of questions suitable for individual or group use. Choose one to best fit your purpose and time restraints: Faith Sharing Questions (by Fr. Eamon Tobin), Discussion Questions (by Fr. Clement D. Thibodeau), and Scripture Study Questions (by Vince Contreras).

Faith Sharing Questions

1. Turn to the person next to you and share what word/s or image/s in the readings caught your attention. Did they comfort or challenge you or touch you in some way?

2. The second reading on the role of the Holy Spirit in our prayer life is quite interesting. How is this reading special to you?

3. Do we think that the Church would be better off without some types of people?

4. How hard or easy is it for you to live alongside or converse with people whose beliefs are very different from yours politically and spiritually, and to refrain from judging them?

5. Fr. Tom Green, S.J., says that God can use our sins (weeds) as well as our virtues to draw us closer to him. What do you think about that?

6. Name one thing today’s Gospel says to us that we disciples of Jesus need to heed and act on.

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.
Discussion Questions

1. Do you have a sense that your parish (or prayer group) is optimistic and generous with the “seed”it has been given? Do your people scatter the seed far and wide, with no care as to where it may fall? Or are you selective in avoiding areas or persons you do not consider appropriate for receiving it?

2. In what ways doyou consider yourself to be a “seed”sown by the Lord in that place where you live? Have you been given by the Lord to this family, to this parish, to this particular place where you work, so that you will become like a mustard tree or like yeast in the leaven?

3. What would you do with the people in your family or in your parish who are not really productive of good results? Do you tend to uproot them and exclude them from the community? Have you ever had to ask one of your children to leave home because his/her behavior had become destructive to the rest of the family?

© 2017 Rev. Clement D. Thibodeau. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
Scripture Study Questions

1. What does the 1st Reading teach us about God’s might, justice and mercy? How is the way that God acts (or does not act) different from the way that we might act? What, according to the writer of the Book of Wisdom, should this teach us about God and ourselves?

2. In our journey to becoming more like God, from Whom do we receive assistance? What kind of assistance does he give us?

3. In the parable of the weeds (verses 24-30 and verses 36-40), who is the sower? What does the wheat represent? The weeds? The enemy? The harvest?

4. How does this parable relate to Matthew 7:15-20?

5. Why does this parable so puzzle the disciples? Why is patience and tolerance toward unbelievers difficult for them (and for us)?

6. In the parable of the mustard seed and the yeast (verses 31-33), what aspects of Jesus’ ministry seem small? What is the promise if the small seed is sown?

7. How does the kingdom of heaven become evident to others?

8. Where (in your life or in your parish) have you seen faith like “yeast” or a “mustard seed” have a great impact? Where is the harvest field God has placed you in?

9. What accountability are you now feeling for yourself? For others? To God? What are you “hearing” God call you to do as a result?

© 2017 Vince Contreras. Used with permission.

Closing Prayer

by Fr. Eamon Tobin

Lord of the harvest, help me to recognize and nurturewhat is good in my life. May I often remember that one day may be my last day. . Amen.

Present-Day Voices

Video by Larry Broding. Visit website for detailed commentary and other resources regarding the readings for this Sunday.

Introduction to 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time readings

INTRODUCTION — Today we are presented more insights about God, the kingdom of heaven, and what is expected of us. The overwhelming message is that God is all about power, justice, lenience, kindness and most of all, love. We are offered endless opportunities to hear and respond to God, but nothing matches God’s efforts to claim us. God chooses us, sends help on our behalf, and invites us into a reign of love and peace beyond all measure.


Lord Jesus, you tell us the meaning of the kingdom of heaven: Lord, have mercy. Christ Jesus, you promise that the righteous will shine like the sun: Christ, have mercy. Lord Jesus, you invite us to hear your word and enter into God’s reign of love: Lord, have mercy.


Bumblebees and wheat

EXCERPT –It is all too easy for all of us to center on what is wrong, to focus on the weeds. We can easily say, here are the things that are wrong about my parents, or here are the things I want to change about my children. We can all point out the flaws in our marriage and the people who drive us crazy at work. We can come up with a list of the injustices in our world or the imperfections in our church. We are always aware of the burdens which we carry, the sickness, and the grief that we must bear. All of these things are real. They are the weeds of our life. We must recognize them and confront them. But if the only thing we focus on is the weeds, we become like that helpless bumblebee in the glass, aware of our predicament but unable to find a way out. This is why we must do what the bumblebee cannot do. We must look up! We must see the wheat among the weeds. We must recognize the goodness and grace in the circumstances around us.


How the parable of the weeds compels us to fight for justice

EXCERPT — While the parable of the weeds looks forward to a final judgment day, it has implications for how we build up the kingdom in our present circumstances. As we work toward a society in which all people are treated with dignity and respect, we will have to contend with the weeds that choke justice, literally and figuratively. This parable can be misused to justify complacency as the weeds and wheat grow together until final harvest. But telling people who are presently suffering victimization to wait for a future reckoning only does further harm and fails to promote God’s kingdom. God’s eschatological justice cannot be an excuse for inaction, comfortable ignorance or outright denial of the need for change.


Excluding people from Church

EXCERPT – In a parish, no priest or pastoral worker, no religious education teacher, no parish secretary has the power to exclude anyone from the fellowship of the Church. Sometimes, in the expression of our disapproval for certain behaviors, we end up alienating people from the Church. We have made it difficult for divorced Catholics to feel welcome in the community of faith, especially if they have remarried outside the Church. Sometimes, the poor feel out of place in our Sunday assemblies where the upwardly mobile parade around in the latest fashions. Or, are we too “educated” these days for the average person to feel at home at our liturgies?.

ECHOING GOD’S WORDRev. Clement D. Thimbodeau (1932-2017)

What can I do to counter the “enemy” sowing “weeds” in my own field?

EXCERPT – Our society is clearly slipping farther and farther away from “the Way” of the Lord; in fact, we permit our politicians to ignore God completely.  We are permitting our political system to attack the family structure (God’s “domestic family” consists of man, woman, and children, not homosexual relationships).  Many are returning to pagan Epicurean principles, by killing unborn babies to preserve their alleged “right” to have unlimited sensual pleasures.  Some people even think they are still “Christian” by fighting for abortion rights, mercy killing, and other heinous crimes against humanity and against God. Make no mistake, this is a war for souls.

MASS HOMILIESDeacon Joseph Pasquella (Confraternity of Penitents)

In our weakness

EXCERPT – We are so afraid of our smallness. On the scale of matter, big is better. What is large is impressive. The grand is good. The small seems weak and vulnerable. But thinking in this way, we fail to see the wisdom of life, the promise of smallness, the world not of mere matter, but of spirit. Have we not all felt the grace that rises from the least? The early free smile of a child? The first kiss? The initial act of kindness? The fragile promise made with full heart?

SUNDAY WEB SITEFather John Kavanaugh, SJ

The Catena Aurea Commentary

by St. Thomas Aquinas

The Catena Aurea (or, Golden Chain) is a compilation of Patristic commentary on the Gospels and contains passages from the Church Fathers. In this masterpiece, Aquinas seamlessly weaves together extracts from various Fathers to provide a complete commentary on all four Gospels.

List of Church Fathers

Here are some of the Church Fathers that Aquinas uses:

Third Century

  • Origen  – Alexandrian biblical critic, exegete, theologian, and spiritual writer; analyzed the Scriptures on three levels: the literal, the moral, and the allegorical
  • Cyprian  – pagan rhetorician converted to Christianity; acquired acquired a profound knowledge of the Scriptures and the writings of Tertullian; elected bishop of Carthage; martyred in 258

Fourth Century

  • Eusebius  – Bishop of Caesarea; author of Ecclesiastical History, the principal source for the history of Christianity from the Apostolic Age till his own day; also wrote a valuable work on Biblical topography called the Onomasticon
  • Athanasius  – Bishop of Alexandria; attended the Council of Nicea; opposed Arianism, in defence of the faith proclaimed at Nicaea—that is, the true deity of God the Son
  • Hilary  – Bishop of Poitiers; the earliest known writer of hymns in the Western Church; defended the cause of orthodoxy against Arianism; became the leading Latin theologian of his age
  • Gregory of Nazianzus  – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; a great influence in restoring the Nicene faith and leading to its final establishment at the Council of Constantinople in 381
  • Gregory of Nyssa  – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; Bishop of Nyssa; took part in the Council of Constantinople
  • Ambrose  – Bishop of Milan; partly responsible for the conversion of Augustine; author of Latin hymns; it was through his influence that hymns became an integral part of the liturgy of the Western Church
  • Jerome  – biblical scholar; devoted to a life of asceticism and study; his greatest achievement was his translation of the Bible into Latin (the Vulgate); also wrote many biblical commentaries
  • Nemesius  – Christian philosopher; Bishop of Emesa in Syria
  • Augustine  – Bishop of Hippo (in northern Africa); a “Doctor of the Church”; most famous work is his Confessions; his influence on the course of subsequent theology has been immense
  • Chrysostom  – Bishop of Constantinople; a “Doctor of the Church”; a gifted orator; his sermons on Gen, Ps, Isa, Matt, John, Acts, and the Pauline Epistles (including Hebrews) established him as the greatest of Christian expositors
  • Prosper of Aquitaine  – theologian; supporter of Augustinian doctrines; closely associated with Pope Leo I (“the Great”)
  • Damasus  – pope; active in suppressing heresy
  • Apollinaris of Laodicea  – Bishop of Laodicea; close friend of Athanasias; vigorous advocate of orthodoxy against the Arians
  • Amphilochius of Iconium  – Bishop of Iconium; close friend of the Cappadocian Fathers; defended the full Divinity of the Holy Spirit

Fifth Century

  • Asterius of Amasea  – Arian theologian; some extant homilies on the Psalms attributed to him
  • Evagrius Ponticus  – spiritual writer; noted preacher at Constantinople; spent the last third of his life living a monastic life in the desert
  • Isidore of Pelusium  – an ascetic and exegete; his extant correspondence contains much of doctrinal, exegetical, and moral interest
  • Cyril of Alexandria  – Patriarch of Alexandria; contested Nestorius; put into systematic form the classical Greek doctrines of the Trinity and of the Person of Christ
  • Maximus of Turin  – Bishop of Turin; over 100 of his sermons survive
  • Cassion (prob. Cassian)  – one of the great leaders of Eastern Christian monasticism; founded two monasteries near Marseilles; best known books the Institutes and the Conferences
  • Chrysologus  – Bishop of Ravenna; a “Doctor of the Church”
  • Basil “the Great”  – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; Bishop of Caesarea; responsible for the Arian controversy’s being put to rest at the Council of Constantinople
  • Theodotus of Ancyra  – Bishop of Ancyra; wrote against the teaching of Nestorius
  • Leo the Great  – Pope who significantly consolidated the influence of the Roman see; a “Doctor of the Church”; his legates defended Christological orthodoxy at the Council of Chalcedon
  • Gennadius  – Patriarch of Constantinople; the author of many commentaries, notably on Genesis, Daniel, and the Pauline Epistles
  • Victor of Antioch  – presbyter of Antioch; commentator and collector of earlier exegetical writings
  • Council of Ephesus  – declared the teachings of Nestorious heretical, affirming instead the unity between Christ’s human and divine natures
  • Nilus  – Bishop of Ancyra; disciple of St John Chrysostom; founder of a monastery; conducted a large correspondence influencing his contemporaries; his writings deal mainly with ascetic and moral subjects

Sixth Century

  • Dionysius Areopagita  (aka Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite) – mystical theologian; combined Neoplatonism with Christianity; the aim of all his works is the union of the whole created order with God
  • Gregory the Great  – Pope; a “Doctor of the Church”; very prolific writer of works on practical theology, pastoral life, expositions of Job, sermons on the Gospels, etc.
  • Isidore  – Bishop of Seville; a “Doctor of the Church”; concerned with monastic discipline, clerical education, liturgical uniformity, conversion of the Jews; helped secure Western acceptance of Filioque clause
  • Eutychius (Patriarch of Constan­tinople)  – consecrated the church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople; defended the Chalcedonian faith against an unorthodox sect; became controversial later in life
  • Isaac (Bp. of Nineveh)  (aka Isaac the Syrian) – monastic writer on ascetic subjects
  • Severus (Bp. of Antioch)  – Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch; the leading theologian of the moderate Monophysites
  • John Climacus  – ascetic and writer on the spiritual life; later Abbot of Mt. Sinai; best known for his Ladder of Divine Ascent which treats of the monastic virtues and vices
  • Fulgentius  – Bishop of Ruspe in N. Africa; scholarly disposition; follower of St. Augustine; wrote many treatises against Arianism and Pelagianism

Seventh Century

  • Maximus ( of Constantinople, 645.)  – Greek theologian; prolific writer on doctrinal, ascetical, exegetical, and liturgical subjects

Eighth Century

  • Bede (131CESK) – “the Venerable Bede”; a “Doctor of the Church”; pedagogue, biblical exegete, hagiographer, and historian, the most influential scholar from Anglo-Saxon England
  • John Damascene  – Greek theologian; a “Doctor of the Church”; defender of images in the Iconoclastic Controversy; expounded the doctrine of the perichoresis (circumincession) of the Persons of the Trinity
  • Alcuin  – Abbot of St. Martin’s (Tours); a major contributor to the Carolingian Renaissance; supervised the production of several complete editions of the Bible; responsible for full acceptance of the Vulgate in the West

Ninth Century

  • Haymo (of Halberstadt)  – German Benedictine monk who became bishop of Halberstadt; prolific writer
  • Photius (of Constantinople)  – Patriarch of Constantinople; a scholar of wide interests and encyclopedic knowledge; his most important work, Bibliotheca, is a description of several hundred books (many now lost), with analyses and extracts; also wrote a Lexicon
  • Rabanus Maurus  – Abbot of Fulda in Hess Nassau; later Archbishop of Mainz; wrote commentaries on nearly every Book of the Bible
  • Remigius (of Auxerre)  – monk, scholar, and teacher
  • Paschasius Radbertus  – Carolingian theologian; wrote commentaries on Lamentations and Matthew, as well as the first doctrinal monograph on the Eucharist, he maintained the real Presence of Christ

Eleventh Century

  • Theophylact  – Byzantine exegete; his principal work, a series of commentaries on several OT books and on the whole of the NT except Revelation, is marked by lucidity of thought and expression and closely follows the scriptural text
  • Anselm  – Archbishop of Canterbury; a “Doctor of the Church”; highly regarded teacher and spiritual director; famous ontological argument for the existence of God as “that than which nothing greater can be thought”
  • Petrus Alphonsus  – Jewish Spanish writer and astronomer, a convert to Christianity; one of the most important figures in anti-Judaic polemics
  • Laufranc (prob. Lanfranc)  – Archbishop of Canterbury; commented on the Psalms and Pauline Epistles; his biblical commentary passed into the Glossa Ordinaria
Click on banner above to show/hide an annotated list of the Church Fathers that Aquinas compiled in his multi-volume commentary of the Gospels.

Matthew 13:24-30

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.

Matthew 13:31-32

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.

Matthew 13:33

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.

Matthew 13:34-35

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.

Matthew 13:36-43

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.

SOURCE: eCatholic 2000

Catechism Excerpts

“By using the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the homilist can help his people integrate the word of God, the faith of the Church, the moral demands of the Gospel, and their personal and liturgical spirituality.” From the Homiletic Directory
  • CCC 543-550: the Kingdom of God
  • CCC 309-314: God’s goodness and the scandal of evil
  • CCC 825, 827: weeds and seed of Gospel in everyone and in the Church
  • CCC 1425-1429: need for ongoing conversion
  • CCC 2630: prayer of petition voiced profoundly by the Holy Spirit

The Kingdom of God

The proclamation of the kingdom of God

543 Everyone is called to enter the kingdom. First announced to the children of Israel, this messianic kingdom is intended to accept men of all nations.251 To enter it, one must first accept Jesus’ word:

The word of the Lord is compared to a seed which is sown in a field; those who hear it with faith and are numbered among the little flock of Christ have truly received the kingdom. Then, by its own power, the seed sprouts and grows until the harvest.252

544 The kingdom belongs to the poor and lowly, which means those who have accepted it with humble hearts. Jesus is sent to “preach good news to the poor”;253 he declares them blessed, for “theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”254 To them – the “little ones” the Father is pleased to reveal what remains hidden from the wise and the learned.255 Jesus shares the life of the poor, from the cradle to the cross; he experiences hunger, thirst and privation.256 Jesus identifies himself with the poor of every kind and makes active love toward them the condition for entering his kingdom.257

545 Jesus invites sinners to the table of the kingdom: “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”258 He invites them to that conversion without which one cannot enter the kingdom, but shows them in word and deed his Father’s boundless mercy for them and the vast “joy in heaven over one sinner who repents”.259 The supreme proof of his love will be the sacrifice of his own life “for the forgiveness of sins”.260

546 Jesus’ invitation to enter his kingdom comes in the form of parables, a characteristic feature of his teaching.261 Through his parables he invites people to the feast of the kingdom, but he also asks for a radical choice: to gain the kingdom, one must give everything.262 Words are not enough, deeds are required.263 The parables are like mirrors for man: will he be hard soil or good earth for the word?264 What use has he made of the talents he has received?265 Jesus and the presence of the kingdom in this world are secretly at the heart of the parables. One must enter the kingdom, that is, become a disciple of Christ, in order to “know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven”.266 For those who stay “outside”, everything remains enigmatic.267

The signs of the kingdom of God

547 Jesus accompanies his words with many “mighty works and wonders and signs”, which manifest that the kingdom is present in him and attest that he was the promised Messiah.268

548 The signs worked by Jesus attest that the Father has sent him. They invite belief in him.269 To those who turn to him in faith, he grants what they ask.270 So miracles strengthen faith in the One who does his Father’s works; they bear witness that he is the Son of God.271 But his miracles can also be occasions for “offense”;272 they are not intended to satisfy people’s curiosity or desire for magic. Despite his evident miracles some people reject Jesus; he is even accused of acting by the power of demons.273

549 By freeing some individuals from the earthly evils of hunger, injustice, illness and death,274 Jesus performed messianic signs. Nevertheless he did not come to abolish all evils here below,275 but to free men from the gravest slavery, sin, which thwarts them in their vocation as God’s sons and causes all forms of human bondage.276

550 The coming of God’s kingdom means the defeat of Satan’s: “If it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.”277 Jesus’ exorcisms free some individuals from the domination of demons. They anticipate Jesus’ great victory over “the ruler of this world”.278 The kingdom of God will be definitively established through Christ’s cross: “God reigned from the wood.”279


God’s goodness and the scandal of evil

Providence and the scandal of evil.

309 If God the Father almighty, the Creator of the ordered and good world, cares for all his creatures, why does evil exist? To this question, as pressing as it is unavoidable and as painful as it is mysterious, no quick answer will suffice. Only Christian faith as a whole constitutes the answer to this question: the goodness of creation, the drama of sin and the patient love of God who comes to meet man by his covenants, the redemptive Incarnation of his Son, his gift of the Spirit, his gathering of the Church, the power of the sacraments and his call to a blessed life to which free creatures are invited to consent in advance, but from which, by a terrible mystery, they can also turn away in advance. There is not a single aspect of the Christian message that is not in part an answer to the question of evil.

310 But why did God not create a world so perfect that no evil could exist in it? With infinite power God could always create something better.174 But with infinite wisdom and goodness God freely willed to create a world “in a state of journeying” towards its ultimate perfection. In God’s plan this process of becoming involves the appearance of certain beings and the disappearance of others, the existence of the more perfect alongside the less perfect, both constructive and destructive forces of nature. With physical good there exists also physical evil as long as creation has not reached perfection.175

311 Angels and men, as intelligent and free creatures, have to journey toward their ultimate destinies by their free choice and preferential love. They can therefore go astray. Indeed, they have sinned. Thus has moral evil, incommensurably more harmful than physical evil, entered the world. God is in no way, directly or indirectly, the cause of moral evil.176 He permits it, however, because he respects the freedom of his creatures and, mysteriously, knows how to derive good from it:

For almighty God. . ., because he is supremely good, would never allow any evil whatsoever to exist in his works if he were not so all-powerful and good as to cause good to emerge from evil itself.177

312 In time we can discover that God in his almighty providence can bring a good from the consequences of an evil, even a moral evil, caused by his creatures: “It was not you”, said Joseph to his brothers, “who sent me here, but God. . . You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive.”178 From the greatest moral evil ever committed – the rejection and murder of God’s only Son, caused by the sins of all men – God, by his grace that “abounded all the more”,179 brought the greatest of goods: the glorification of Christ and our redemption. But for all that, evil never becomes a good.

313 “We know that in everything God works for good for those who love him.”180

The constant witness of the saints confirms this truth:

St. Catherine of Siena said to “those who are scandalized and rebel against what happens to them”: “Everything comes from love, all is ordained for the salvation of man, God does nothing without this goal in mind.”181
St. Thomas More, shortly before his martyrdom, consoled his daughter: “Nothing can come but that that God wills. And I make me very sure that whatsoever that be, seem it never so bad in sight, it shall indeed be the best.”182
Dame Julian of Norwich: “Here I was taught by the grace of God that I should steadfastly keep me in the faith. . . and that at the same time I should take my stand on and earnestly believe in what our Lord shewed in this time – that ‘all manner [of] thing shall be well.'”183

314 We firmly believe that God is master of the world and of its history. But the ways of his providence are often unknown to us. Only at the end, when our partial knowledge ceases, when we see God “face to face”,184 will we fully know the ways by which – even through the dramas of evil and sin – God has guided his creation to that definitive sabbath rest185 for which he created heaven and earth.


Weeds and seed of Gospel in everyone and in the Church


825 “The Church on earth is endowed already with a sanctity that is real though imperfect.”295 In her members perfect holiness is something yet to be acquired: “Strengthened by so many and such great means of salvation, all the faithful, whatever their condition or state – though each in his own way – are called by the Lord to that perfection of sanctity by which the Father himself is perfect.”296

827 “Christ, ‘holy, innocent, and undefiled,’ knew nothing of sin, but came only to expiate the sins of the people. The Church, however, clasping sinners to her bosom, at once holy and always in need of purification, follows constantly the path of penance and renewal.”299 All members of the Church, including her ministers, must acknowledge that they are sinners.300 In everyone, the weeds of sin will still be mixed with the good wheat of the Gospel until the end of time.301 Hence the Church gathers sinners already caught up in Christ’s salvation but still on the way to holiness:

The Church is therefore holy, though having sinners in her midst, because she herself has no other life but the life of grace. If they live her life, her members are sanctified; if they move away from her life, they fall into sins and disorders that prevent the radiation of her sanctity. This is why she suffers and does penance for those offenses, of which she has the power to free her children through the blood of Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit.302


Need for ongoing conversion


1425 “You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”9 One must appreciate the magnitude of the gift God has given us in the sacraments of Christian initiation in order to grasp the degree to which sin is excluded for him who has “put on Christ.”10 But the apostle John also says: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”11 And the Lord himself taught us to pray: “Forgive us our trespasses,”12 linking our forgiveness of one another’s offenses to the forgiveness of our sins that God will grant us.

1426 Conversion to Christ, the new birth of Baptism, the gift of the Holy Spirit and the Body and Blood of Christ received as food have made us “holy and without blemish,” just as the Church herself, the Bride of Christ, is “holy and without blemish.”13 Nevertheless the new life received in Christian initiation has not abolished the frailty and weakness of human nature, nor the inclination to sin that tradition calls concupiscence, which remains in the baptized such that with the help of the grace of Christ they may prove themselves in the struggle of Christian life.14 This is the struggle of conversion directed toward holiness and eternal life to which the Lord never ceases to call us.15


1427 Jesus calls to conversion. This call is an essential part of the proclamation of the kingdom: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.”16 In the Church’s preaching this call is addressed first to those who do not yet know Christ and his Gospel. Also, Baptism is the principal place for the first and fundamental conversion. It is by faith in the Gospel and by Baptism17 that one renounces evil and gains salvation, that is, the forgiveness of all sins and the gift of new life.

1428 Christ’s call to conversion continues to resound in the lives of Christians. This second conversion is an uninterrupted task for the whole Church who, “clasping sinners to her bosom, [is] at once holy and always in need of purification, [and] follows constantly the path of penance and renewal.”18 This endeavor of conversion is not just a human work. It is the movement of a “contrite heart,” drawn and moved by grace to respond to the merciful love of God who loved us first.19

1429 St. Peter’s conversion after he had denied his master three times bears witness to this. Jesus’ look of infinite mercy drew tears of repentance from Peter and, after the Lord’s resurrection, a threefold affirmation of love for him.20 The second conversion also has a communitarian dimension, as is clear in the Lord’s call to a whole Church: “Repent!”21

St. Ambrose says of the two conversions that, in the Church, “there are water and tears: the water of Baptism and the tears of repentance.”22


Prayer of petition voiced profoundly by the Holy Spirit


2630 The New Testament contains scarcely any prayers of lamentation, so frequent in the Old Testament. In the risen Christ the Church’s petition is buoyed by hope, even if we still wait in a state of expectation and must be converted anew every day. Christian petition, what St. Paul calls {“groaning,” arises from another depth, that of creation “in labor pains” and that of ourselves “as we wait for the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved.”103 In the end, however, “with sighs too deep for words” the Holy Spirit “helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words.”104


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