Parable found only in the first Gospel (Matthew 13). It is the story wherein the Kingdom of Heaven is likened to a farmer who sowed his field with good seed, and found later that his enemy had oversown it with cockle. Such is the nature of this noxious weed that even the practiced eye cannot detect its presence, nor distinguish it from the wheat until the crop is well advanced. The farmer’s servants would have gone immediately and uprooted the cockle, but the wise owner instructed them to suffer both to grow on to full harvest time, when the wheat could be safely gathered into his granaries and the worthless cockle bound into bundles and burned.
The evangelist has given no particulars as to the time or place for this parable. It was addressed not only to the disciples but to the multitudes. Many commentators think it was delivered from a little fishing boat just as was the parable of the “Sower” (Matthew 13).
Summarized the parable is this
- the sower is Christ
- the field is the world
- the good seed, the Disciples of Christ
- the cockle, those who live in sin
- the enemy, the devil and his agent
- the harvest, the end of the world
- the reapers, the angels
- the fire, hell
- the barn, heaven
The parable illustrates chiefly the origin, the continuance, and the end of evil in the Kingdom of Christ. The explanation of the parable furnishes its application as well. By application can be understood sin, the essence of all evil, in the Church of our day and in its members. The simile of sowing the cockle is often applied to bad example. Some of the Fathers of the Church have found in this similitude a rule for action in dealing with heretics. This parable is read on the Fifth Sunday after Epiphany.