Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 13:44-52

Mat 13:44  The kingdom of heaven is like unto a treasure hidden in a field. Which a man having found, hid it, and for joy thereof goeth, and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. 

The kingdom of heaven is like unto a treasure. The treasure, α. As the preceding parables illustrate the efficient force of the kingdom, so do the two following describe its moral power or its desirability [Cajetan]; but there is this difference between them. that in one parable the kingdom is sought, while in the other it is found as if by accident [Cajetan, Jansenius, Sylveira, Schegg, Schanz, Fillion Knabenbauer]; in the one we see its beauty, in the other its many advantages [Chrysostom, Thomas Aquinas].

The “kingdom” is like a treasure, because it incloses countless and numberless goods, as the treasure implies countless and numberless riches [cf. Ps. 19:11; 119:127; Prov. 8:11; Job 28:15–19; Wisd. 7:9]. It is like a “hidden” treasure because its value is not recognized by a soul not illumined by supernatural grace [cf. Acts 9:6; St Bruno]. The finder “hid it,” and thus in the supernatural order the finder must make a careful use of grace [Maldonado]. “For joy thereof” [Vulgate, Chrysostom, Euthymius, Fillion] rather emphasizes “his” joy according to the analogy of “his” fear [cf. Mt. 14:26; Lk. 24:41; Acts 12:14; recent commentators], than the joy over the treasure. But while the treasure and the joy it causes are expressions of the excellency of the kingdom, the sacrifices it demands are indicated by the fact that the finder “selleth all that he hath.” Though according to Rabbinic law [Surenhus. leg. mischn. iv. p. 113] the treasure belongs to the buyer of the field, Jesus does not pronounce his judgment on the manner in which the finder of the treasure acted, just as he employed the parable of the unjust steward without approving of his proceedings [cf. Lk. 16:8].

“The kingdom of heaven” in this parable and the following is Christ himself as the head of the Church [Hilary, Jerome, Paschasius, Thomas Aquinas, Salmeron], or the canon of Sacred Scriptures [Jerome, Origen, Paschasius, Alb.], or the revealed truths of faith in general [Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euthymius], or the desire after heavenly things [Gregory], or charity, or the state of the evangelical counsels [Salmeron, Sylveira Barradas, Lapide, Schegg, etc.]. 

Mat 13:45  Again the kingdom of heaven is like to a merchant seeking good pearls.
Mat 13:46  Who when he had found one pearl of great price, went his way, and sold all that he had, and bought it. 

Again the kingdom of heaven. The pearl. The seeking after the pearl presupposes a general knowledge of its excellency together with an ignorance of the individual object; thus should all men endowed with ordinary intellectual faculties appreciate in general the worth of truth and goodness, though they may doubt, for a time, about what is really true and good. The parable insists on the necessity of being a prudent merchant, of investing all one’s goods in the purchase of the precious pearl [cf. St Bruno, Chrysostom, Theophylact, Gregory hom. xi. in evang.], which is according to the evangelist the “one pearl of great price,” and therefore worthy of notice even among the pearl-kind. The relation of this parable to the foregoing, and the various meanings of “the kingdom” have been considered in the last section.

Mat 13:47 Again the kingdom of heaven is like to a net cast into the sea, and gathering together of all kinds of fishes.  ‎
Mat 13:48 Which, when it was filled, they drew out, and sitting by the shore, they chose out the good into vessels, but the bad they cast forth.  ‎
Mat 13:49 So shall it be at the end of the world. The angels shall go out, and shall separate the wicked from among the just.  ‎
Mat 13:50 And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  ‎

Again the kingdom of heaven. The net. This parable refers principally to the state of the Messianic kingdom “at the end of the world” [cf. v. 49], and shows that preaching on the part of the ministers and faith on the part of the hearers are not sufficient for salvation [cf. Chrysostom, Jansenius, Barradas]. The “net” is a drag, or draw-net, which sweeps the bottom of the water and permits nothing to escape it; it represents the teaching and believing Church [Origen, Hilary, Chrysostom], and may be conceived as being woven of the apostolic doctrine, the testimony of miracles, and the predictions of the prophets [Theophylact, Jerome]. The fishermen implied in the parable are the apostles and their successors in the ministry [cf. Mt. 4:19; Mk. 1:17; Lk. 5:10]. “The sea” is the world with its storms, its instability, and its many bitternesses [cf. Jansenius, Chrysologus, serm. 47], and in particular the waters of baptism may be regarded as the waters in which the fish are caught [St Bruno]. The net was “cast into the sea” when our Lord gave his disciples the commission to teach all nations [St Bruno]; it is a “gathering together of all kinds of fishes” because there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile, Greek and barbarian, rich and poor. The net will be “filled,” when after the fulness of the Gentiles has entered, all Israel shall be saved [cf. Rom. 11:25-26], when the gospel shall have been preached to all nations Mt. 24:14]. The gospel does not say that all fish, or men, shall be caught, but that the net shall be full. Then follows the process of separation in the Church as well as in the fisherman’s trade: “they chose out the good into vessels, but the bad [i. e. the putrid and maimed] they cast forth”; there is this difference, however, that in the Church the separation is effected by “the angels” [verse 50], not by the fishermen, and again that the wicked are not merely rejected from the kingdom, but “cast into the furnace of fire, [where] there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” The torment and despair indicated by this expression have been pointed out above; we may add here that Jesus repeats this threat of eternal punishment with a frightful frequency [cf. Mt. 5:20 ff.; 8:12; 10:28; 12:32; 13:42, 50], so that these words must be feared rather than explained [Gregory].

Mat 13:51 Have ye understood all these things? They say to him: Yes.  ‎52 He said unto them: Therefore every scribe instructed in the kingdom of heaven, is like to a man that is a householder, who bringeth forth out of his treasure new things and old. 
Mat 13:52 He said unto them: Therefore every scribe instructed in the kingdom of heaven, is like to a man that is a householder, who bringeth forth out of his treasure new things and old.

Have ye understood. Conclusion of the Sermon. As if to show that for the present there is no need of further parables, the evangelist records here our Lord’s question concerning the disciples’ understanding of what has been said, and the disciples’ affirmative answer which is true of their limited knowledge before the coming of the Holy Ghost. Jesus then continues, and draws a practical conclusion regarding the use the apostles must make of their knowledge. “Therefore” is not merely an asseverative particle in the Greek original [cf. Euthymius]; nor does it connect with the parable of the treasure-trove, as if the apostles had to be like the householder because the kingdom of heaven is like a treasure [cf. Augustine, qu. in evang. Mt. 16; Maldonado]; but it connects with the affirmative answer of the apostles [Chrysostom, Jansenius, Sylveira, Barradas, Arnoldi, Schanz, Fillion, Knabenbauer]. “Every scribe” is not every scribe in the Jewish sense, but the scribe “instructed in the kingdom of heaven,” or better “enrolled as a disciple for the kingdom of heaven.” Concerning the Greek word here rendered “instructed,” cf. Mt. 27:57; 28:19; Acts 14:21; in the Greek text the kingdom is construed personally as if it were the teacher of the apostles, so that Euthymius explains it as “the king of heaven.” The “new things and old” represent the revelation of the New and Old Testament [cf. Origen, Hilary, Jerome, Chrysostom, Cyril, Euthymius, Paschasius, Faber Stapulensis, Dionysius the Carthusian, Salmeron, Cajetan, Maldonado], or the teaching of the New Testament confirmed by the authority of the Old [Theophylact], or the Old Testament in the light of the revelations of the New [Thomas], or the truths referring to the old and the new man, i. e. to the unregenerate and the regenerate [Alb. Paschasius, Salmeron], or the truths concerning the horrors of punishment and those referring to the happiness of the kingdom [Gregory], or truths already known and truths as yet unknown, but explained by means of the known [Barradas, Sylveira], or truths in plenty and abundance of all kinds [cf. Jansenius, Maldonado, Barradas, Lapide, Calmet, Lam. Arnoldi, Fillion, Knabenbauer; Cant. 7:13]. According to this last view the expression is proverbial [cf. Maldonado]. The order “new things and old” is either owing to the proverbial character of the expression, or to the importance of the subject [Augustine, civ. dei, xx. 4], or to the order to be observed in teaching, or even to that followed in learning [cf. Knabenbauer].

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One Response to Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 13:44-52

  1. Pingback: Commentaries for the Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A | stjoeofoblog

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