From the Gospel reading at Mass, Wednesday of the 16th week of Ordinary Time.
In his homily on the parables of the sower in Matthew 13, Augustine interprets the parables' words on stony ground and on tares as a call to penitence, and thus the Church's renewal, rather than as a message of condemnation, dividing the assembly into a spiritual elite and a worldly, compromised mass . The stony ground and the tares can, Augustine the pastor insists, be the arena for the working of God's grace - "God has not lost his power". We can imagine the contrast with Donatist and Pelagian readings of the text.
Now ye know that those three places mentioned yesterday where the seed did not grow,
the way side,
the stony ground,and
the thorny places,are the same as these '
tares' ...Accordingly I yesterday addressed
the way side,I addressed the
stony ground,I addressed the
thorny places;and I said, Be changed while ye may: turn up with the plough the hard ground, cast the stones out of the field, pluck up the thorns out of it. Be loth to retain that hard heart, from which the word of God may quickly pass away and be lost. Be loth to have that lightness of soil, where the root of charity can take no deep hold. Be loth to choke the good seed which is sown in you by my labours, with the lusts and the cares of this world. For it is the Lord who sows; and we are only His labourers. But be ye the
good ground.I said yesterday, and I say again today to all, Let one bring forth
a hundred, another sixty, another thirty fold.In one the fruit is more, in another less; but all will have a place in the barn. Yesterday I said all this, today I am addressing the tares; but the sheep themselves are the tares. O evil Christians, O you, who in filling only press the Church by your evil lives; amend yourselves before the harvest come.
Say not, I have sinned, and what has befallen me?God has not lost His power; but He is requiring repentance from you. I say this to the evil, who yet are Christians; I say this to the tares. For they are in the field; and it may so be, that they who today are tares, may tomorrow be wheat (from Augustine's Sermon 23 on the New Testament).