St Mark 4:1-20

St Mark chapter 4 takes us to some key parables on the nature of the kingdom:

1 Et iterum cœpit docere ad mare: et congregata est ad eum turba multa, ita ut navim ascendens sederet in mari, et omnis turba circa mare super terram erat: 2 et docebat eos in parabolis multa, et dicebat illis in doctrina sua: 3 Audite: ecce exiit seminans ad seminandum. 4 Et dum seminat, aliud cecidit circa viam, et venerunt volucres cæli, et comederunt illud. 5 Aliud vero cecidit super petrosa, ubi non habuit terram multam: et statim exortum est, quoniam non habebat altitudinem terræ: 6 et quando exortus est sol, exæstuavit: et eo quod non habebat radicem, exaruit. 7 Et aliud cecidit in spinas: et ascenderunt spinæ, et suffocaverunt illud, et fructum non dedit. 8 Et aliud cecidit in terram bonam: et dabat fructum ascendentem et crescentem, et afferebat unum triginta, unum sexaginta, et unum centum. 9 Et dicebat: Qui habet aures audiendi, audiat.10 Et cum esset singularis, interrogaverunt eum hi qui cum eo erant duodecim, parabolam. 11 Et dicebat eis: Vobis datum est nosse mysterium regni Dei: illis autem, qui foris sunt, in parabolis omnia fiunt: 12 ut videntes videant, et non videant: et audientes audiant, et non intelligant: nequando convertantur, et dimittantur eis peccata. 13 Et ait illis: Nescitis parabolam hanc? Et quomodo omnes parabolas cognoscetis? 14 Qui seminat, verbum seminat. 15 Hi autem sunt, qui circa viam, ubi seminatur verbum, et cum audierint, confestim venit Satanas, et aufert verbum, quod seminatum est in cordibus eorum. 16 Et hi sunt similiter, qui super petrosa seminantur: qui cum audierint verbum, statim cum gaudio accipiunt illud: 17 et non habent radicem in se, sed temporales sunt: deinde orta tribulatione et persecutione propter verbum, confestim scandalizantur. 18 Et alii sunt qui in spinas seminantur: hi sunt qui verbum audiunt, 19 et ærumnæ sæculi, et deceptio divitiarum, et circa reliqua concupiscentiæ introëuntes suffocant verbum, et sine fructu efficitur. 20 Et hi sunt qui super terram bonam seminati sunt, qui audiunt verbum, et suscipiunt, et fructificant, unum triginta, unum sexaginta, et unum centum.

[1] And again he began to teach by the sea side; and a great multitude was gathered together unto him, so that he went up into a ship, and sat in the sea; and all the multitude was upon the land by the sea side. [2] And he taught them many things in parables, and said unto them in his doctrine: [3] Hear ye: Behold, the sower went out to sow. [4] And whilst he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the birds of the air came and ate it up. [5] And other some fell upon stony ground, where it had not much earth; and it shot up immediately, because it had no depth of earth.[6] And when the sun was risen, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. [7] And some fell among thorns; and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. [8] And some fell upon good ground; and brought forth fruit that grew up, and increased and yielded, one thirty, another sixty, and another a hundred. [9] And he said: He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. [10] And when he was alone, the twelve that were with him asked him the parable.[11] And he said to them: To you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but to them that are without, all things are done in parables: [12] That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand: lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them. [13] And he saith to them: Are you ignorant of this parable? and how shall you know all parables? [14] He that soweth, soweth the word. [15] And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown, and as soon as they have heard, immediately Satan cometh and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts. [16] And these likewise are they that are sown on the stony ground: who when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with joy. [17] And they have no root in themselves, but are only for a time: and then when tribulation and persecution ariseth for the word they are presently scandalized. [18] And others there are who are sown among thorns: these are they that hear the word, [19] And the cares of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts after other things entering in choke the word, and it is made fruitless. [20] And these are they who are sown upon the good ground, who hear the word, and receive it, and yield fruit, the one thirty, another sixty, and another a hundred.


de Lapide comments on the inner circle to whom he explains the parables (verse 10):

And when He was alone: Gr. καταμόνας, Vulg. singularis, solitary, by Himself.
The twelve that were with Him asked Him. The Greek, Syriac, and Arabic have with the twelve, meaning that the seventy disciples, who, with the twelve Apostles, were followers of Jesus, asked Him what was the meaning of the parable of the Sower.

The Catena Aurea provides a more extensive discussion of this scene:

PSEUD-CHRYS. As if He said to them, You that are worthy to be taught all things which are fitted for teaching, shall learn the manifestation of parables; but I use parables with them who are unworthy to learn, because of their wickedness. For it was right that they who did not hold fast their obedience to that law which they had received, should not have any share in a new teaching, but should be estranged from both; for He showed by the obedience of His disciples, that, on the other hand, the others were become unworthy of mystical doctrine. But afterwards, by bringing in a voice from prophecy, He confounds their wickedness, as having been long before reproved; wherefore it goes on, that seeing they might see, and not perceive, &c. as if He said, that the prophecy might be fulfilled which foretells these things. 

THEOPHYL. For it was God Who made them to see, that is, to understand what is good. But they themselves see not, of their own will making themselves not to see, lest they should be converted and correct themselves, as if they were displeased at their own salvation. It goes on, Lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins be forgiven them. 

PSEUD-CHRYS. Thus, therefore, they see and they do not see, they hear and do not understand, for their seeing and hearing comes to them from God's grace, but their seeing and not understanding comes to them from their willingness to receive grace, and closing their eyes, and pretending that they could not see; neither do they acquiesce in what was said, and so are not changed as to their sins by hearing and seeing, but rather are made worse. 

THEOPHYL. Or we may understand in a different way His speaking to the rest in parables, that seeing they might not perceive, and hearing, not understand. For God gives sight and understanding to men who seek for them, but the rest He blinds, lest it become a greater accusation against them, that though they understood, they did not choose to do what they ought. Wherefore it goes on, Lest at any time they should be, &c. 

AUG. Or else they deserved this, their not understanding., and yet this in itself was done in mercy to them, that they might know their sins, and, being converted, merit pardon. 

BEDE; To those then who are without, all things are done in parables, that is, both the actions and the words of the Savior because neither in those miracles which He was working, nor in those mysteries which He preached, were they able to acknowledge Him as God. Therefore they are not able to attain to the remission of their sins. 

PSEUD-CHRYS. But His speaking to them only in parables, and yet not leaving off speaking to them entirely, shows that to those who are placed near to what is good, though they may have no good in themselves, still good is shown disguised. But when a man approaches it with reverence and a right heart, he wins for himself an abundant revelation of mysteries; when on the contrary his thoughts are not sound, he will he neither made worthy of those things which are easy to many men, nor even of hearing them. There follows, And he said to them, Know you not this parable, how then shall you know all parables? 

PSEUDO-JEROME; For it was necessary that they to whom he spoke in parables should ask for what they do not understand, and learn by the Apostle whom they despised, the mystery of the kingdom which they themselves had not. 

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