Fish Eaters: The Whys and Hows of Traditional Catholicism

Matthew 13:9 "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear."

The Pounds (or "The Minae") 1

Luke 19:11-27

As they were hearing these things, he added and spoke a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately be manifested. He said therefore: A certain nobleman went into a far country, to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And calling his ten servants, he gave them ten pounds, and said to them: Trade till I come.

But his citizens hated him: and they sent an embassage after him, saying: We will not have this man to reign over us.

And it came to pass, that he returned, having received the kingdom: and he commanded his servants to be called, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.

And the first came, saying: Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds. And he said to him: Well done, thou good servant, because thou hast been faithful in a little, thou shalt have power over ten cities.

And the second came, saying: Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds. And he said to him: Be thou also over five cities.

And another came, saying: Lord, behold here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin; For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up what thou didst not lay down, and thou reapest that which thou didst not sow.

He saith to him: Out of thy own mouth I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up what I laid not down, and reaping that which I did not sow: And why then didst thou not give my money into the bank, that at my coming, I might have exacted it with usury? And he said to them that stood by: Take the pound away from him, and give it to him that hath ten pounds.

And they said to him: Lord, he hath ten pounds.

But I say to you, that to every one that hath shall be given, and he shall abound: and from him that hath not, even that which he hath, shall be taken from him. But as for those my enemies, who would not have me reign over them, bring them hither, and kill them before me.

from the Catholic Encyclopedia

Whether we shall identify or divide these two celebrated apologues [The Parable of The Talents and this parable] can scarcely be determined. St. Mark (13:34-36) blends his brief allusion with a text from the ten virgins. The circumstances in the first and third Gospels differ; but the warning is much the same. Commentators note that here the active life is extolled, as in the virgins a heedful contemplation.

No argument for the lawfulness of usury can be drawn from verse 27. The "servant" was a bondslave; all that he had or acquired would be his master's property.

"To him that hath shall be given" is one of the "hard sayings" which, while disclosing a law of life, seems not to harmonize with Christian kindness. Yet the analogy of God's dealings--not "mere" benevolence, but "wise and just" recognition of moral effort is hereby maintained. If our Lord, as tradition tells, said, "Be ye good money changers" (cf. I Thessalonians 5:21), the same principle is commended. Ethically, all that we have is a trust of which we rnust give account.

For the diversity of talents, note St. Paul, I Corinthians 12:4 and the reconciliation of that diversity in "the same spirit". Both parables relate to Christ's second coming. Hence Loisy and others attribute to the Evangelists, and especially to St. Luke, an enlargement, founded on later history, perhaps taken from Josephus, and intended to explain the delay of the Parousia (Ev. synopt., II, 464-80) . Not accepting these premises, we put aside the conclusion.

Maldonatus (I, 493), who treats the stories as variants, observes, "it is no new thing that our Evangelists should appear to differ in circumstances of time and place, since they consider only the general outline (summam rei gestae), not the order or the time. Where else we find them seeming to disagree, they wish to explain not Christ's words but the drift of the parable as a whole".

Leaving St. Matthew, we note the one short Story peculiar to St. Mark, of the seed growing secretly (4:26-29). We have already assigned it to the group of the mustard tree and the leaven. Its point is conveyed in the Horatian line, "Crescit occulto velut arbor aevo" (Odes, I, xii, 36). The husbandman who "knows not how" the harvest springs cannot be the Almighty, but is the human sower of the word. For homiletic purposes we may combine this parable with its cognate, "unless the grain of wheat die" (John 12:24) which applies it to Christ Himself and His Divine influence.

1 The Douay notes say this about the line "He gave them ten pounds":

In the original, what is here translated a pound, is in Latin, mina, in value of our coin, three pounds two shillings and sixpence.

Hence the other name for this parable as "The Parable of the Minae."

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