Mar 4:26 And he said: So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the earth,
Mar 4:27 And should sleep, and rise, night and day, and the seed should spring, and grow up whilst he knoweth not.
Mar 4:28 For the earth of itself bringeth forth fruit, first the blade, then the ear, afterwards the full corn in the ear.
Mar 4:29 And when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.
Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: A parable occurred, a little above, about the three seeds which perished in various ways, and the one which was saved; in which last He also shews three differences, according to the proportion of faith and practice.
Here, however, He puts forth a parable concerning those only who are saved.
Wherefore it is said, “And He said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground, &c.”
Pseudo-Jerome: The kingdom of God is the Church, which is ruled by God, and herself rules over men, and treads down [p. 82] the powers which are contrary to her, and all wickedness.
Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Or else He calls by the name of kingdom of God, faith in Him, and in the economy of His Incarnation; which kingdom indeed is as if a man should throw seed. For He Himself being God and the Son of God, having without change been made man, has cast seed upon the earth, that is, He has enlightened the whole world by the word of divine knowledge.
Pseudo-Jerome: For the seed is the word of life, the ground is the human heart, and the sleep of the man means the death of the Saviour. The seed springs up night and day, because after the sleep of Christ, the number of Christians, through calamity and prosperity, continued to flourish more and more in faith, and to wax greater in deed.
Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Or Christ Himself is the man who rises, for He sat waiting with patience, that they who received seed should bear fruit. He rises, that is, by the word of His love, He makes us grow to the bringing forth fruit, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand, (2Co 6,7) by which is meant the day, and on the left, by which is meant the night of persecution; for by these the seed springs up, and does not wither.
Theophylact: Or else Christ sleeps, that is, ascends into heaven, where, though He seem to sleep, yet He rises by night, when through temptations He raises us up to the knowledge of Himself; and in the day time, when on account of our prayers, He sets in order our salvation.
Pseudo-Jerome: But when He says, “He knoweth not how,” He is speaking in a figure; that is, He does not make known to us, who amongst us will produce fruit unto the end.
Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Or else He says, “He knoweth not,” that He may shew the free-will of those who receive the word, for He commits a work to our will, and does not work the whole Himself alone, lest the good should seem involuntary. For the earth brings forth fruits of its own accord, that is, she is brought to bear fruit without being compelled by a necessity contrary to her will. “First the blade.”
Pseudo-Jerome: That is, fear. For “the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. Then the full corn in the ear;” (Ps 111,10) that is, charity, for charity is the fulfilling of the Law. (see Rm 13,8)
Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Cat. e Cat. in Marc.: Or, first it produces the blade, in the law of nature, by degrees growing up to advancement; afterwards it brings forth the ears, which are to be collected into a bundle, and to be offered on an altar to the Lord, that is, in the law (p. 83) of Moses; afterwards the full-fruit, in the Gospel.
Or because we must not only put forth leaves by obedience, but also learn prudence, and, like the stalk of corn, remain upright without minding the winds which blow us about. We must also take heed to our soul by a diligent recollection, that, like the ears, we may bear fruit, that is, shew forth the perfect operation of virtue.
Theophylact: for we put forth the blade when we shew a principle of good; then the ear, when we can resist temptations; then comes the fruit, when a man works something perfect.
It goes on: “and when it has brought forth the fruit, immediately he sendeth the sickle, because the harvest is come.”
Pseudo-Jerome: The sickle is death or the judgment, which cuts down all things; the harvest is the end of the world.
Gregory, in Ezech, 2, Hom. 3: Or else, Man casts seed into the ground, when he places a good intention in his heart; and he sleeps, when he already rests in the hope which attends on a good work. But he rises night and day, because he advances amidst prosperity and adversity, though he knows it not, for he is as yet unable to measure his increase, and yet virtue, once conceived, goes on increasing.
When therefore we conceive good desires, we put seed into the ground; when we begin to work rightly, we are the blade. When we increase to the perfection of good works, we arrive at the ear; when we are firmly fixed in the perfection of the same working, we already put forth the full corn in the ear.
Mar 4:30 And he said: To what shall we liken the kingdom of God? or to what parable shall we compare it?
Mar 4:31 It is as a grain of mustard seed: which when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that are in the earth:
Mar 4:32 And when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches, so that the birds of the air may dwell under the shadow thereof.
Mar 4:33 And with many such parables, he spoke to them the word, according as they were able to hear.
Mar 4:34 And without parable he did not speak unto them; but apart, he explained all things to his disciples.
Gloss.: After having narrated the parable concerning the coming forth of the fruit from the seed of the Gospel, he here subjoins another parable, to shew the excellence of the doctrine of the Gospel before all other doctrines.
Wherefore it is said, “And He said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God?”
Theophylact: Most brief indeed is the word of faith; Believe in God, and thou shalt be saved. But the preaching of it has been spread far and wide over the earth, and increased so, that the birds of heaven, that is, contemplative men, sublime in understanding and knowledge, dwell under it. For how many wise men among the Gentiles, quitting their wisdom, have found rest in the preaching of the Gospel! Its preaching then is greater than all.
Chrys.: And also because the wisdom spoken amongst the perfect expands, to an extent greater than all other sayings, that which was told to men in short discourses, for there is nothing greater than this truth.
Theophylact: Again, it put forth great boughs, for the Apostles were divided off as the boughs of a tree, some to Rome, some to India, some to other parts of the world.
Pseudo-Jerome: Or else, that seed is very small in fear, but great when it has grown into charity, which is greater than all herbs: for “God is love,” (1Jn 4,16) whilst “all flesh is grass.” (Is 40,6) But the boughs which it puts forth are those of mercy and compassion, since under its shade the poor of Christ, who are meant by the living creatures of the heavens, delight to dwell.
Bede: Again, the man who sows is by many taken to mean the Saviour Himself, by others, man himself sowing in his own heart.
Chrys.: Then after this, Mark, who delights in brevity, to shew the nature of the parables, subjoins, “And with many such parables spake He the word unto them as they could hear Him.”
Theophylact: For since the multitude was unlearned, He instructs them from objects of food and familiar names, and for this reason he adds, “But without a parable spake He not unto them,” that is, in order that they might be induced to approach and to ask Him.
It goes on, (p. 85) “And when they were alone, He expounded all things to His disciples,” that is, all things about which they were ignorant and asked Him, not simply all, whether obscure or not.
Pseudo-Jerome: For they were worthy to hear mysteries apart, in the most secret haunt of wisdom, for they were men, who, removed from the crowds of evil thoughts, remained in the solitude of virtue; and wisdom is received in a time of quiet.