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If we examine St. Matthew on this point, we shall discover that this discourse was made on the same day as the preceding discourse; for St. Matthew informs us, that having finished this exhortation, he the same day went and taught by the sea. (Ven. Bede)
When he was alone: in Greek Ote egeneto Katamonas; i.e. when he was retired and alone, either in the house, out of the city, or at a distance from the multitude. (Tirinus)
Such as are out of the Church, though they both hear and read, they cannot understand. (Ven. Bede, in Chap. iv, Mark.)
That seeing they may see, &c. In punishment of their wilfully shutting their eyes, (Matthew xiii. 15.) God justly withdrew those lights and graces which otherwise he would have given them, for their effectual conversion. (Challoner) --- these speeches here and elsewhere, we are not to understand as if the spoke in parables to this end that the hearers might not understand, lest they should be converted; but we must learn the true sense from the corresponding texts in Matthew xiii, and Acts xxviii, where our Saviour and St. Paul render it thus: with their ears they have been dull of hearing, and their eyes they have shut. lest, perhaps, they may see, and understand, and be converted, and I heal them. Whereby it is evident, that the speaking in parables was not the cause, (for many besides the apostles heard and understood) but themselves, who would not hear and understand, and be converted: and thus they were the real cause of they own wilful and obstinate infidelity. And therefore also he spoke in parables, because they were not worthy to understand, as the others were to whom he expounded them. (Bristow)
All my parables, doctrines, and actions, which appear now to you so full of mystery, shall not always be so: in due time they shall all be publicly expounded by you, my apostles, and by your successors. (Tirinus)
And let him learn that he is not to bury in unjust silence the instructions or examples I give him; but must exercise them for the light and direction of others. (Bible de Vence)
Pay attention then to what you hear this day, that you may retain it, and communicate it to others, you brethren; for as you measure to others, so shall it be meted unto you; yes, more shall be given to you, who receive the word of God, if you be attentive to preserve it yourselves, and to communicate it to your brethren. (Bible de Vence)
They who do not profit by the knowledge of the word of God, shall in punishment of their neglect, lose the advantage which they may seem to have, since it will turn in the end to their greater condemnation: and moreover, by trusting to their own judgment, they interpret the word in a perverse sense, and thus also lose what they seem to have. (Nicholas of Lyra) --- Let those who talk so much about Scripture, and interpret it according to their own private spirit or fancy, see lest this also attach to them. (Haydock)
So it is with him who announces the gospel of the kingdom of God, as with the sower. For whether he sleep or rise, the see will grow up while he knoweth not; and the well prepared soil will, by the blessing of God, be productive: so the word of God she abroad in the heart of man, will increase and fructify independently of all the preacher’s solicitude, till he who has received it, being arrived at the measure of the age and fulness of Christ, shall be withdrawn by God from this world, and be called to himself. (Bible de Vence)
When the fruit is brought forth: literally, when the fruit hath produced. By the fruit is here meant the seed; i.e. when the seed by degrees hath produced the blade, then the ear, and lastly the corn, which is become ripe. (Witham) --- This is a secondary sense of the text, when the fruit hath come to maturity, and by no means a forced interpretation.
Cum produxerit fructus. In the Greek, fructus is in the nominative case; Greek: otan de parado o karpos, &c.
This seems to contradict what was said [in] ver. 12, that seeing they may not see, &c.; but we must observe, that parables have more explanations than one, some more easy, whilst others are more difficult to be understood. In parables, the multitude understood the more literal interpretation, whilst Christ explains the more abstruse and hidden sense to his apostles. Hence there is no contradiction in these texts. (Nicholas of Lyra)
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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Mark 4". "Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany