Twenty Fourth Sunday After Pentecost (5th Sunday After Epiphany) The Gospel Matt.13:24-30. Sunday Meditation: A Plaine Path-way To Heaven Thomas Hill 1634
GOSPEL Matt. 13:24-30
At that time, Jesus spoke this parable to them, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is likened to a man that sowed good seed in his field. But while men were asleep, his enemy came and oversowed cockle among the wheat and went his way. And when the blade was sprung up, and had brought forth fruit, then appeared also the cockle. And the servants of the good man of the house coming said to him. 'Sir, didst thou not sow good seed in thy field? Whence then hath it cockle?' And he said to them: 'An enemy hath done this.' And the servants said to him: 'Wilt thou that we go and gather it up?' And he said: 'No, lest perhaps gathering up the cockle, you root up the wheat also together with it. Suffer both to grow until the harvest, and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers: 'Gather up first the cockle, and bind it into bundles to burn, but the wheat gather ye into my barn.' "
In the gospel of the next Sunday following, Christ proposed two parables, and immediately after following those words: All these things Jesus spake in parables to the common people: and without parables he spake not unto them. Christ speaking so much in parables to the people, and this gospel containing nothing but a parable I shall do well, to set down some conjectural or probable reasons, why Christ did so. The reasons may be diverse.
The first, that he might imprint this doctrine more firmly in their memory, to carry it away the better: as parables do, more then plane speeches, being as it were lively images of that, which is understood by them: which do better instruct, and stick in the memory, then sentences do, and that is one cause why images are used in Church, for the better instruction, and devotion of the people.
The second reason may be for more reverence sake, parables being like veils where with, for greater reverence, we use to cover holy reliques, and pictures: as the holy ark was covered from the people sight, and as the holy of holies, the body of Christ in the blessed Sacrament, the bread of ever lasting life, is covered under the veil of the accidents or forms of material bread.
The third reason may be, to give us occasion to search, and study more diligently for the sense: it being as it were wrapt in obscurity, and sealed up. We have a greater desire to see the secrets of a sealed letter, then one that is unsealed, where in we think no secrets are; as sometimes, when Christ spake in parables, his disciples came to him privately, and desired him to tell them the meaning thereof.
The fourth reason may be, that such as Christ did foresee would neglect his doctrine, if he had spoken to them in never so plain terms, he spake to them in parables which they understood not, that either in punishment of their sins they might remain in their ignorance still, or hearing, and not understanding, they might have less to answer, then if they had understood, and neglected to put it in practice. By this we learn, that we must very careful to keep in memory the doctrine of Christ, which we hear in Sermons, or other wise; use it reverently, search out the meaning diligent, put it in practice obediently, least we be punished so much the more severely.
But some there be, that care not to come to Sermons to hear the word of God; and if they come, they come more for curiosity, and eloquence, then for the solid sense, and if they understand it, they profit not by it, their hearts being like wet tinder, which will not take fire of the love of God, and his laws, though the preacher strike never so many sparkles of persuasion out of the flint of Gods word, which is fire, as the Prophet David saith, but to them only, whose hearts are wet & soggy with the moisture of worldly vanities, and delights.