Catena Aurea by St. Thomas Aguinas
47. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind:
48. Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.
49. So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from the just,
50. And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
CHRYSOSTOM. In the foregoing parables He has commended the Gospel preaching; now, that we may not trust in preaching only, nor think that faith alone is sufficient for our salvation, He adds another fearful parable, saying, Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net cast into the sea.
JEROME. In fulfilment of that prophecy of Hieremias, who said, I will send unto you many fishers, (Jer. 6:16.) when Peter and Andrew, James and John, heard the words, Follow me, I will make you fishers of men, they put together a net for themselves formed of the Old and New Testaments, and cast it into the sea of this world, and that remains spread until this day, taking up out of the salt and bitter and whirlpools whatever falls into it, that is good men and bad; and this is that He adds, And gathered of every kind.
GREGORY. (Hom. in Ev. xi. 4.) Or otherwise; The Holy Church is likened to a net, because it is given into the hands of fishers, and by it each man is drawn into the heavenly kingdom out of the waves of this present world, that he should not be drowned in the depth of eternal death. This net gathers of every kind of fishes, because the wise and the foolish, the free and the slave, the rich and the poor, the strong and the weak, are called to forgiveness of sin; it is then fully filled when in the end of all things the sum of the human race is completed; as it follows, Which, when it was filled, they drew out, and sitting down on the shore gathered the good into vessels, but the bad they cast away. For as the sea signifies the world, so the sea shore signifies the end of the world; and as the good are gathered into vessels, but the bad cast away, so each man is received into eternal abodes, while the reprobate having lost the light of the inward kingdom are cast forth into outer darkness. But now the net of faith holds good and bad mingled together in one; but the shore shall discover what the net of the Church has brought to land.
JEROME. For when the net shall be drawn to the shore, then shall be shewn the true test for separating the fishes.
CHRYSOSTOM. Wherein does this parable differ from the parable of the tares? There, as here, some perish and some are saved; but there, because of their heresy of evil dogmas; in the first parable of the sower, because of their not attending to what was spoken; here, because of their evil life, because of which, though drawn by the net, that is, enjoying the knowledge of God, they cannot be saved. And when you hear that the wicked are cast away, that you may not suppose that this punishment may be risked, He adds an exposition shewing its severity, saying, Thus shall it be in the end of the world; the angels shall come forth and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire, there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Though He elsewhere declares, that He shall separate them as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; He here declares, that the Angels shall do it, as also in the parable of the tares.
GREGORY. (ubi sup.) To fear becomes us here, rather than to expound for the torments of sinners are pronounced in plain terms, that none might plead his ignorance, should eternal punishment be threatened in obscure sayings.
JEROME. For when the end of the world shall be come, then shall be shewn the true test of separating the fishes, and as in a sheltered harbour the good shall be sent into the vessels of heavenly abodes, but the flame of hell shall seize the wicked to be dried up and withered.
51. Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord.
52. Then said he unto them, Therefore every Scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.
GLOSS. (non occ.) When the multitude had departed, the Lord spoke to His disciples in parables, by which they were instructed only so far as they understood them; wherefore He asks them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord.
JEROME. For this is spoken especially to the Apostles, whom He would have not to hear only as the multitude, but to understand as having to teach others.
CHRYSOSTOM. Then He praises them because they had understood; He saith unto them; Therefore every Scribe instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like unto an householder who bringeth out of his treasure things new and old.
AUGUSTINE. (De Civ. Dei, xx. 4.) He said not ‘old and new,’ as He surely would have said had He not preferred to preserve the order of value rather than of time. But the Manichæans while they think they should keep only the new promises of God, remain in the old man of the flesh, and put on newness of error.
AUGUSTINE. (Quæst. in Matt. q. 16.) By this conclusion, whether did He desire to shew whom He intended by the treasure hid in the field—in which case we might understand the Holy Scriptures to be here meant, the two Testaments by the things new and old—or did He intend that he should be held learned in the Church who understood that the Old Scriptures were expounded in parables, taking rules from these new Scriptures, seeing that in them also the Lord proclaimed many things in parables. If He then, in whom all those old Scriptures have their fulfilment and manifestation, yet speaks in parables until His passion shall rend the vail, when there is nothing hid that shall not be revealed; much more those things which were written of Him so long time before we see to have been clothed in parables; which the Jews took literally, being unwilling to be learned in the kingdom of heaven.
GREGORY. (ubi sup.) But if by things new and old in this passage we understand the two Testaments, we deny Abraham to have been learned, who although he knew indeed some deeds of the Old Testament, yet had not read the words. Neither Moses may we compare to a learned householder, for although he composed the Old Testament, yet had he not the words of the New. But what is here said may be understood as meant not of those who had been, but of such as might hereafter be in the Church, who then bring forth things new and old when they speak the preachings of both Testaments, in their words and in their lives.
HILARY. Speaking to His disciples, He calls them Scribes on account of their knowledge, because they understood the things that He brought forward, both new and old, that is from the Law and from the Gospels; both being of the same householder, and both treasures of the same owner. He compares them to Himself under the figure of a householder, because they had received doctrine of things both new and old out of His treasury of the Holy Spirit.
JEROME. Or the Apostles are called Scribes instructed, as being the Saviour’s notaries who wrote His words and precepts on fleshly tables of the heart with the sacraments of the heavenly kingdom, and abounded in the wealth of a householder, bringing forth out of the stores of their doctrine things new and old; whatsoever they preached in the Gospels, that they proved by the words of the Law and the Prophets. Whence the Bride speaks in the Song of Songs; I have kept for thee my beloved the new with the old. (c. 7:13.)
GREGORY. (ubi sup.) Otherwise; The things old are, that the human race for its sin should suffer in eternal punishment; the things new, that they should be converted and live in the kingdom. First, He brought forward a comparison of the kingdom to a treasure found and a pearl of price; and after that, narrated the punishment of hell in the burning of the wicked, and then concluded with Therefore every Scribe, &c. as if He had said, He is a learned preacher in the Church who knows to bring forth things new concerning the sweetness of the kingdom, and to speak things old concerning the terror of punishment; that at least punishment may deter those whom rewards do not excite.
53. And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence.
54. And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works?
55. Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?
56. And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?
57. And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.
58. And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.
JEROME. After the parables which the Lord spake to the people, and which the Apostles only understand, He goes over into His own country that He may teach there also.
AUGUSTINE. (De Cons. Ev. ii. 42.) From the foregoing discourse consisting of these parables, He passes to what follows without any very evident connexion between them. Besides which, Mark passes from these parables to a different event from what Matthew here gives; and Luke agrees with him, so continuing the thread of the story as to make it much more probable that that which they relate followed here, namely, about the ship in which Jesus slept, and the miracle of the demons cast out; which Matthew has introduced above.
Catena Aurea Matthew 13