Father MacEvilly’s 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,” or, doctrine of the Gospel, “is like unto a treasure hidden in a field,” like unto such valuable effects as men bury in the bowels of the earth in troubled times, for greater security. “He goeth,” that is, cautiously leaves it hidden, as he found it, or hides and conceals the fact of his having found it, “and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath and buyeth that field.”

As the preceding parables point out the force and efficacy of the Gospel doctrine, this parable of “the treasure,” and the following, ofthe pearls,” show the priceless value of the same doctrine. In both parables, we are reminded of the great sacrifices we are called upon to make, if necessary, to secure the incomparable advantage of being sharers in the blessing of the Gospel, compared with which all the goods and acquisitions of this transitory world are but dross and ordure (Phil. 3:7–8). “He hideth,” in reference to the Gospel privileges, signifies, that the man in question employs every possible means to guard against the loss of this priceless blessing. “And buys that field.” By the Jewish law, a treasure belonged by right to the actual proprietor of the soil. To this, these words are allusive.

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. 

(Seventh Parable.) Unlike the preceding parable, wherein, a man is supposed, without any exertions of his own, to have unexpectedly fallen in with a treasure, which God in His goodness made known to him, in this parable of the pearls, are insinuated the difficulties, the dangers and the perils which the merchant had to encounter in order to find the Gospel truth. If necessary, everything is to be sacrificed for it. “He sold all that he had and bought it.” Qui non renunciaverit omnibus quæ possidet non potest esse meus discipulus.” We frequently find the truths of God compared to the most valuable of human acquisitions, viz., pearls and precious stones, “desiderabilia super aurum et lapidem pretiosum.” “Dilexi mandata tua super aurum et topazion,” &c.

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.

(Eighth Parable.) “The kingdom of heaven,” the Gospel doctrine, or, probably, the Church militant here below, “is like to a net (a drag net) cast into the sea.” The Church is cast into this troubled, boisterous, stormy world, in which men are daily exposed and shipwrecked.

And gathering together of all kinds of fishes.” In the Church are found every description of persons, whether bond or free, rich or poor, from every quarter of the globe—saints and sinners—not that any are saints before entering the Church, as the fishes are good before caught in the net. The Parable is not, in this respect, to be urged aa vivum; it only is meant, that in the net, after they have entered it, are found good and bad, saints and sinners.

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. 
New and Old Treasures

When filled.” When at the end of the world, “the fulness of the Gentiles shall have entered.” This parable exhibits the capacity and amplitude—the Catholicity of the Church—as the net, the whole Church, takes in the entire world. The parable was introduced for the twofold purpose of removing any grounds of surprise at seeing sinners and wicked men in the Church; as even in the best constituted kingdoms we find thieves, murderers, &c.; and of cautioning us against feeling too secure, because we are members of the Church, which includes sinners as well as saints, reprobates as well as elect.

Note.—Of the preceding parables, some are said to be spoken before the crowd (v. 36). Hence, it is inferred by certain commentators, that the others were not; and that they were spoken privately before the disciples. By other commentators, it is supposed that all were spoken in immediate succession and at the same time. There is no satisfactory evidence for supposing, that some were spoken privately, and some publicly before the multitudes.

Mat 13:51  Have ye understood all these things? They say to him: Yes.

Our Redeemer proposes this question, in order that the answer He was sure to receive would furnish a fitting opportunity of imparting the following points of instruction.

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. 

Therefore,” as you understand the things I have spoken, I wish you to bury them up in your hearts and intellects, so that as learned teachers, you may give them utterance in due time, and not keep them within yourselves. I wish, then, to inform you, that “every Scribe,” that is, teacher versed in the law, “instructed in the kingdom of heaven,” or, as the Greek has it, “into the kingdom of heaven” instructed for teaching and preaching the mysteries and truths relating to the kingdom of heaven. He uses the word “scribe,” when speaking of an Evangelical teacher, in accordance with the language of the Jews. “Is like to a householder,” a provident householder, who produces from his stores all kinds of food and viands, new and old, to suit and satisfy the palate and appetite of his several guests.

The preacher of the Gospel must, then, be prepared to employ examples of all sorts, taken both from the Old Testament and the New; and bring to bear varied knowledge, derived from all legitimate sources, cultivated and perfected by daily meditation and spiritual exercises, in instructing the people. He is sure to make an ever-lasting impression, if he elucidate and confirm his teaching, and make abstract truths almost tangible by examples derived from the New Testament, and prefigured by the Old, as also by the judicious selections of examples drawn from the lives of the saints. There is hardly any point so important for preachers, as the judicious use of appropriate examples. Our Redeemer wishes to stimulate His Apostles to follow the example of preaching which He Himself had set them.

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

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

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