The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 7:6, 12-14

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 22, 2013

Mat 7:6  Give not that which is holy to dogs; neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest perhaps they trample them under their feet, and turning upon you, they tear you.

Give not that which is holy to dogs. Christian prudence. Speaking of fraternal correction, our Lord adds a warning that under certain circumstances it ought to be omitted, even though we should have all the required qualities for administering it. The “holy” and “the pearls” denote what Jesus himself left to his apostles, or, according to some, the more sublime mysteries of the Christian religion, especially the Holy Eucharist. This is called “holy” because it has its origin in heaven; it is called “pearl” on account of its priceless value. Though our Lord commissioned his disciples to preach the gospel to all men [Mk. 16:15], this apostolic ministry requires a great amount of prudence [Jn. 16:12; Acts 13:46; 16:6; 1 Cor. 3:1, 2; 2 Tim. 4:15; Heb. 5:12]. Some writers explain the “holy” as referring to the Christian worship, while “the pearls” refer to Christian doctrine; since the “holy” alludes to the sacrificial meats, naturally coveted by the dogs, our Lord warns against such a profanation; in the same manner, pearls resemble in shape certain foods of the swine [acorns, e. g.], so that they must not be exposed to the danger of being cast in the way of swine. Dogs and swine symbolize either obstinate sinners in general [Jansenius, Maldonado, Lapide, Arnoldi, Schanz, Fillion], or the dogs represent men that bark against the known truth [Augustine, Euthymius, Paschasius Radbertus, Bruno, Cajetan, Coleridge], while the swine signify sinners wallowing in vice [Chrysostom, Theophypact, Euthymius, Bruno Thomas Aquinas, Cajetan, Coleridge]. Without entering into the question what particular classes of sinners are most aptly expressed by dogs and swine, it must suffice to notice in general that both these classes of animals were held in the greatest contempt and abhorrence by the Jews [cf. Deut. 23:18; 2 Sam3:8; 9:8; Prov. 11:22; 26:11].

Mat 7:12  All things therefore whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do you also to them. For this is the law and the prophets.

All things therefore whatsoever you would that men should do to you. Divine rule of morality. Chrysostom, Bruno, Dionysius, Salmeron Coleridge connect the “therefore “with our Lord’s instruction on prayer, either because v. 12 contains a condition on which alone we can expect to be heard, or because God’s readiness to comply with our requests ought to be an example to us in our conduct towards our neighbor. Maldonado, connects the inference with 7:1, or the warning against rash judgments; “Weiss extends the connection to vv. 1–5; Keil to vv. 1–11; Chrysostom, Hilary, Euthymius, Jansenikus, Lam., Fillion, find here a summary of the whole sermon on the mount. This agrees best with our Lord’s own declaration that “this is the law and the prophets.” Mt. 22:40, where the substance of the law is reduced to the double law of charity, does not essentially differ from the present passage, since true charity for our neighbor does not differ from the love of God. The principle expressed in v. 12 is rightly regarded as characteristic of Christianity; for though a similar principle was expressed before Christ, and even by pagan philosophers [cf. Tobit 4:16; Seneca De benef. ii. 1; Lampridius in Severus of Antioch. 51], it was either proposed in a negative form or in a limited meaning; at any rate, it was never enforced by an efficient example such as Jesus Christ gave to his disciples.

Mat 7:13  Enter ye in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are who go in thereat.
Mat 7:14  How narrow is the gate, and strait is the way that leadeth to life: and few there are that find it!

This concluding part of the sermon on the mount (i.e., verses 13-29) first warns against certain dangers, vv. 13–23; then exhorts to the practice of our Lord’s teaching, vv. 24–27; finally, the evangelist adds an observation, vv. 28, 29.

Enter ye in at the narrow gate. 1. Warning against dangers. The dangers arise partly from the Christian morality itself, partly from external sources, and partly from ourselves. The first class is described in vv. 13, 14 under the picture of the narrow gate and the strait way; the second class is treated of in vv. 15–20, where the distinguishing marks between false and true prophets are given; the third class of dangers springs from our inclination to mere lip-service, rejected in vv. 21–23.

a. Dangers springing from Christianity itself. Though the gate has been identified either with the end of our life, or with the whole length of the way [Maldonado, Salmeron], the invitation to enter, the whole drift of the sermon on the mount, and the mention of the gate before the way, render it probable that the gate denotes the entrance into the Messianic kingdom. Since our blessedness in heaven is the end and consummation of our life in the Church, the gate refers, at least mediately, to our entrance into heaven. The narrowness of the gate and the straitness of the way are contrasted with the wide gate and the broad road in general. Hence the “many … who go in thereat” are not necessarily Jews, or bad Christians, but they include all wicked and unbelieving men. If certain writers and speakers determine the “many” more accurately, they do so with a view of emphasizing the awful truth expressed in the passage. Though Lk. 13:23–30 may appear at first to contain a doctrine different from that of the first gospel, it must be kept in mind that the former passage deals with wholly different circumstances, and is by its context referred to the rejection of the greater part of the Jewish nation.


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