Sermon by St. Gregory the Pope
Dearly beloved brethren, the passage from the Holy Gospel which ye have just heard, needeth not so much that I should explain it, as that I should seek to enforce its lesson. For what the Truth himself hath explained, human weakness may not presume to comment upon. But there is, in that very explanation by the Lord, something which we ought to consider carefully. For if we had told you that the seed is meant to signify the Word, ye might have doubted our understanding. Or if we had said that the field is the world; and the birds, devils; and the thorns, riches; ye would perchance have denied the truth of our explanation. Therefore the Lord himself vouchsafed to give this explanation; and that, not for this parable only, but that ye may know in what manner to interpret others, whereof he hath not given the meaning.
Beginning his explanation, the Lord saith that he speaketh in parable, that is he sheweth his language to be figurátive. Hereby he giveth confidence to the preacher when, in spite of his incapacity, he must needs endeavour to lay open to you the hidden meaning of the Lord's words. If I spake of myself, who would believe me when I say that riches are thorns? Thorns prick, but riches lull to rest. And yet riches are indeed thorns, for the anxiety they bring is a ceaseless pricking to the minds of their owners. And, if they lead into sin, they are thorns which made us bleed with the wounds which they inflict. But we understand from the Evangelist Matthew that in this place the Lord speaketh, not of riches themselves, but of the deceitfulness of riches.
Those riches are deceitful riches, which can be ours only for a little while; those riches are deceitful riches, which cannot relieve the poverty of our souls. They only are the true riches, which made us rich in virtues. If then, dearly beloved brethren, ye seek to be rich, earnestly desire the true riches. If ye would be truly honourable, strive after the kingdom of heaven. If ye love the bravery of titles, hasten to have your names written down at the Court of the heavenly King, where Angels are. Take to heart the Lord's words which your ear heareth. The food of the soul is the Word of God. When the stomach is sick it throweth up again the food which is put into it; and so is the soul sick when a man heareth and digesteth not in his memory the Word of God. For if any man cannot keep his food, that man's life is in desperate case.