The Prophets Prove the Profits of Grace
Twenty-Fifth Sunday after Pentecost
Comprehensive Catholic Commentary
Fr. George Leo Haydock
Editor's Note: This special feature provided by John Gregory with the Haydock Commentary found at the bottom of each page of the Douay-Rheims Bible continues during November. With the type so small in most bibles, we publish it here in larger type in conjunction with the Epistle and Gospel for the Sunday Mass, with the cogent comprehensive Catholic Commentary penned by Father George Leo Haydock. For the Twenty-Fifth Sunday after Pentecost the Propers are taken from the Sixth Sunday after Epiphany this year (2010). Father Haydock provides in his commentaries the essence of what Christ illustrates in His parables in St. Matthew's Gospel today of the mustard seed and the leavened bread to signify the growth of grace by those who seek the kingdom of Heaven by adhering to God's holy will. This is referenced in St. Paul's Epistle to the Thessalonians wherein the Apostle speaks of the profit garnered through faith, works, charity with patience and a labor of love. The mustard seed planted in the Holy Land by our Lord has spread its branches to every corner of the world, fulfilling the prophesies of the Old Testament prophets that the Messias will utter in parables things hidden from the foundation of the world.
Epistle: 1 Thessalonians 1: 2-10
2 Grace be to you and peace. We give thanks to God always for you all; making a remembrance of you in our prayers without ceasing,
3 Being mindful of the work of your faith, and labour, and charity, and of the enduring of the hope of our Lord Jesus Christ before God and our Father:
Commentary on Verse 3 The apostle praises the Thessalonians for the progress they had made in the theological virtues, and enumerates the profit they had derived from each. Their faith had produced works; their charity rendered their labor light and easy, and their patience was the fruit of their future hopes, in confidence of which they bore what they had to suffer from their unconverted countrymen. (Estius) 4 Knowing, brethren beloved of God, your election:
5 For our gospel hath not been unto you in word only, but in power also, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much fulness, as you know what manner of men we have been among you for your sakes.
Commentary on Verse 5 In power. The sense is, I have preached the gospel to you, not only in words of persuasion, but have proved it by the power of miracles, in much fullness, or in great abundance. I have also taught you the gospel not by my words only, but by my actions; for you know what kind of a life I led among you. I had no interest but in gaining your souls. And I rejoice to hear you have received it in much power, by the Holy Ghost working within you. (A.) – And in much fullness. Some would have the Greek word to signify in a full assurance; but in the style of the New Testament, it may as well signify a fullness, or plentitude. (Wi.) 6 And you became followers of us, and of the Lord; receiving the word in much tribulation, with joy of the Holy Ghost:
7 So that you were made a pattern to all that believe in Macedonia and in Achaia.
8 For from you was spread abroad the word of the Lord, not only in Macedonia, and in Achaia, but also in every place, your faith which is towards God, is gone forth, so that we need not to speak any thing.
Commentary on Verse 8 From you was spread abroad the word. The Greek, was sounded about. – In every place. In very many places. (Wi.) 9 For they themselves relate of us, what manner of entering in we had unto you; and how you turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God.
10 And to wait for his Son from Heaven (whom he raised up from the dead,) Jesus, who hath delivered us from the wrath to come.
Gospel: St. Matthew 13: 31-35
31 At that time, Jesus spoke to the multitudes this parable: The kingdom of Heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field.
32 Which is the least indeed of all seeds; but when it is grown up, it is greater than all herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come, and dwell in the branches thereof.
Commentary on Verse 32 The least of all seeds. That is, it is one of the least seeds; but in hot countries it is observed to grow to a considerable height, and to become a bush or a little tree. (Wi.) – The gospel of Christ, compared in this verse to the grain of mustard seed, has indeed little show of grandeur and human greatness. Saint Paul calls it a scandal to the Jew, and a stumbling block to the Gentile. But Jesus Christ here assures us, that when it has been spread and promulgated by his ambassadors, viz. the apostles, it shall surpass every other mode of instruction both in fame and extent. (Saint Ambrose, Saint Jerome, Saint Augustine)
33 Another parable He spoke to them: The kingdom of Heaven is like to leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, until the whole was leavened.
Commentary on Verse 34 In three measures. Sata, the word here used, was a particular Hebrew measure, which corresponds not to any particular measure that we make use of, and therefore I have put measures, as it is in other English translations. See Walton de Ponderibus & mensuris, before his first tome, p. 42. (Wi.) – It was the Seah of the Jews, the third part of the Epha, and contained about ten pints, and appears to be the ordinary quantity they baked at a time. (V.) – By the woman here mentioned, Saint Jerome understands the Church gathered from all nations; or the power and wisdom of God, according to Saint Augustine. 34 All these things Jesus spoke in parables to the multitudes: and without parables He did not speak to them.
35 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things hidden from the foundation of the world.
Commentary on Verse 35 By the prophet. It is taken from Psalm 77: 2. Saint Jerome remarks that many copies have, Isaias, the prophet, but supposes that the evangelist wrote, Asaph, the prophet, to whom the title of this psalm seems to attribute it; but it was probably chanted by Asaph, and composed by David, who is simply characterized under the name of prophet, because he prophesied in composing his canticles. (V.) http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1119.htm#article2
Article 2. Whether the semen is produced from surplus food?
Objection 1. It would seem that the semen is not produced from the surplus food, but from the substance of the begetter. For Damascene says (De Fide Orth. i, 8) that "generation is a work of nature, producing, from the substance of the begetter, that which is begotten." But that which is generated is produced from the semen. Therefore the semen is produced from the substance of the begetter.
Objection 2. Further, the son is like his father, in respect of that which he receives from him. But if the semen from which something is generated, is produced from the surplus food, a man would receive nothing from his grandfather and his ancestors in whom the food never existed. Therefore a man would not be more like to his grandfather or ancestors, than to any other men.
Objection 3. Further, the food of the generator is sometimes the flesh of cows, pigs and suchlike. If therefore, the semen were produced from surplus food, the man begotten of such semen would be more akin to the cow and the pig, than to his father or other relations.
Objection 4. Further, Augustine says (Gen. ad lit. x, 20) that we were in Adam "not only by seminal virtue, but also in the very substance of the body." But this would not be, if the semen were produced from surplus food. Therefore the semen is not produced therefrom.
On the contrary, The Philosopher proves in many ways (De Gener. Animal. i, 18) that "the semen is surplus food."
I answer that, This question depends in some way on what has been stated above (1; 118, 1). For if human nature has a virtue for the communication of its form to alien matter not only in another, but also in its own subject; it is clear that the food which at first is dissimilar, becomes at length similar through the form communicated to it. Now it belongs to the natural order that a thing should be reduced from potentiality to act gradually: hence in things generated we observe that at first each is imperfect and is afterwards perfected. But it is clear that the common is to the proper and determinate, as imperfect is to perfect: therefore we see that in the generation of an animal, the animal is generated first, then the man or the horse. So therefore food first of all receives a certain common virtue in regard to all the parts of the body, which virtue is subsequently determinate to this or that part.
Now it is not possible that the semen be a kind of solution from what is already transformed into the substance of the members. For this solution, if it does not retain the nature of the member it is taken from, it would no longer be of the nature of the begetter, and would be due to a process of corruption; and consequently it would not have the power of transforming something else into the likeness of that nature. But if it retained the nature of the member it is taken from, then, since it is limited to a certain part of the body, it would not have the power of moving towards (the production of) the whole nature, but only the nature of that part. Unless one were to say that the solution is taken from all the parts of the body, and that it retains the nature of each part. Thus the semen would be a small animal in act; and generation of animal from animal would be a mere division, as mud is generated from mud, and as animals which continue to live after being cut in two: which is inadmissible.
It remains to be said, therefore, that the semen is not something separated from what was before the actual whole; rather is it the whole, though potentially, having the power, derived from the soul of the begetter, to produce the whole body, as stated above (1; 108, 1). Now that which is in potentiality to the whole, is that which is generated from the food, before it is transformed into the substance of the members. Therefore the semen is taken from this. In this sense the nutritive power is said to serve the generative power: because what is transformed by the nutritive power is employed as semen by the generative power. A sign of this, according to the Philosopher, is that animals of great size, which require much food, have little semen in proportion to the size of their bodies, and generated seldom; in like manner fat men, and for the same reason.
Reply to Objection 1. Generation is from the substance of the begetter in animals and plants, inasmuch as the semen owes its virtue to the form of the begetter, and inasmuch as it is in potentiality to the substance.
Reply to Objection 2. The likeness of the begetter to the begotten is on account not of the matter, but of the form of the agent that generates its like. Wherefore in order for a man to be like his grandfather, there is no need that the corporeal seminal matter should have been in the grandfather; but that there be in the semen a virtue derived from the soul of the grandfather through the father. In like manner the third objection is answered. For kinship is not in relation to matter, but rather to the derivation of the forms.
Reply to Objection 4. These words of Augustine are not to be understood as though the immediate seminal virtue, or the corporeal substance from which this individual was formed were actually in Adam: but so that both were in Adam as in principle. For even the corporeal matter, which is supplied by the mother, and which he calls the corporeal substance, is originally derived from Adam: and likewise the active seminal power of the father, which is the immediate seminal virtue (in the production) of this man.
But Christ is said to have been in Adam according to the "corporeal substance," not according to the seminal virtue. Because the matter from which His Body was formed, and which was supplied by the Virgin Mother, was derived from Adam; whereas the active virtue was not derived from Adam, because His Body was not formed by the seminal virtue of a man, but by the operation of the Holy Ghost. For "such a birth was becoming to Him," [Hymn for Vespers at Christmas; Breviary, O. P.], WHO IS ABOVE ALL GOD FOR EVER BLESSED. Amen.