For the Parables of the Treasure, the Pearl and the Dragnet, we have two Western Fathers of the Church — Augustine, and Jerome — who open up the Scriptures to us and help us apply the message of the parables to our lives.
First, Augustine of Hippo. He will tell us about the Mixed Church which is collected in the net. Both good and bad Christians travel together now, but in the end, those who have really responded to the call of Christ to repent will get their just reward.
Finally, Jerome, the biblical scholar with whom Augustine exchanged some letters, gives us an interesting interpretation. The treasure hidden in the field, and the pearl of great price refer to Christ. But they can also mean the Holy Scriptures. Interesting too is the way he relates the parable of the dragnet to those called to be “fishers of men”.
The Mixed Church and the Parable of the Net
In this perverse world, in these bad days in which the Church earns her future glorification with present humility; in which she is trained by the stimulus of fear, of the torments of sorrow, of the discomfort of fatigue and the dangers of temptation; in which her only joy comes from hope, if she does enjoy just as she should, many reprobates are joined with the good. Both one and the other are collected in the same net about which the Gospel speaks, and in this world, which is like a sea, they travel together collected in the net until they reach the shore, where the bad are separated from the good, so that in the good, just as in His temple “God may be all in all” (1 Cor. 15:28). Now therefore, we see fulfilled the passage in the psalm which says “I will proclaim and I will speak: they have been multiplied many times over (Psalm 39:6)”. And it is what happens when, for the first time through his precursor, and then through his own lips (Christ) announced and said: “Repent, because the kingdom of heaven is near” (Mt. 3:2)
St. Augustine, On the City of God, XVIII, 49
The Treasure is the Word of God Himself
This treasure, in which is hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (cf. Col. 2:2ff), is the Word of God who was revealed hidden in the body of Christ, or the Holy Scriptures, in which is placed every truth regarding the Savior. When one finds in it such truth, he should renounce all the wealth of this world, otherwise, he would not possess what he has found. The words “the man who discovered it, hid it again” does not mean that this man did so because he is jealous, but because he fears to lose it and wishes to protect it. So therefore, he hides in his heart the One for whom he has renounced all the wealth he had…
The beautiful pearls are the Law and the Prophets and the knowledge of the Old Testament. But there is only one pearl of great value, and that is the knowledge of the Savior, the sacrament of His Passion, the mystery of His Resurreection. Like the apostle Paul, the merchant who discovered all the mystery of the Law and the Prophets and the ancient observance in regard of which he has lived until this moment, now disregards them all as if these were trash and banal, so that he may acquire Christ (Phil 3,8). This is not because the discovery of the new pearl requires the condemnation of the ancient things, but rather that, compared to it, all other pearls appear of lesser value …
The prophecy of Jeremiah which says “Behold I will to you many fishermen” (Jer. 16:16) is realized here. Peter and Andrew, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, after they heard the words “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men”, have made created a net made up of evangelical teachings based on the Old and the New Testament, and have thrown it into the sea of this world. This net is until now extended over the waves and takes in, from the bitter and salty waves, all that it meets — both good and bad men, the good and bad fish. But when the end of the world arrives, just as Jesus would clearly say later, so then the net will be dragged to the shore. Then, the judgment that will separate the fishes will be clear to all. As if in a very peaceful port, the good shall be assigned to the celestial mansions, while the bad will be thrown into the fires of Gehenna where they will be burned and totally dried up (Mt. 13, 47-50).
Jerome, In Matthaeum, II, xiii, 44-46
The above is my translation of this Sunday’s collection of “Il Lezionario dei Padri” compiled for “Biblia Clerus”. For a related topic, this time from John Chrysostom, see this article. The cartoon caricatures are from Christian Clipart
Originally posted 2011-07-24 00:35:30. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
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