January 26, 2012
vol 23, no. 26

Sermon on the Mount
Part Nine

    Part nine deals with rash judgment and the profanation of holy things condemned. Confidence in prayer, and earnest endeavors for salvation are recommended as our Lord continues His discourse on the mount to the multitudes. Chapter Seven is where Jesus gets to the meat of the matter in further laying out the course one must follow if they want to have eternal life. He continues how we should treat our neighbor and not rush to judgment nor think we ourselves are above reproach. He delineates the controversial concept of judgment by man by enlightening all that we will be judged by God on how we lived and that is a priority, yet we must also correct our neighbor if they are in danger of damnation for the greatest love is to want them with us in Heaven. Christ alerts all to be careful of what we place valuable when He uses the metaphor of pearls and swine, and today that is more evident than ever with the false value society places on worldly things while ignoring what is priceless: everlasting life.

    For the ninth part of The Sermon on the Mount and the beginning of Chapter 7, Christ continues preaching and in this chapter He picks up the pace and begins to call a spade a spade, if you will. Thus I should like to continue to produce the commentaries only, without adding related Scripture to it. The reason for this, rather than skipping over the context, (we have read and interpreted chapter 5 and 6) is to get the meaning, without overwhelming the senses with a multiplication of electrical ink. As always the first commentary under each verse is generally from Father Leo George Haydock, author of the Haydock Commentary, where credit is given to the commentator at the end of the commentary, while the rest are from Saint Thomas Aquinas' Catena Aurea or "Golden Chain", where the credit is given at the beginning. I have cleaned up the commentary for easier reading, deleting the long names of the works they have come from, but leaving you with the name of the proposed commentator alone. The name "Psuedo-Chrysostom" is from a work that was once, but wrongly, attributed to Saint John Chrysostom, and "Gloss", I believe, is generally from commentaries found in the margins of the Scripture translation. When it comes to "St. Gregory" I suppose the source(s) could be any number of "Gregory's" - most likely St. Gregory the Great - though, as far as I can tell the on-line version of this great work of Saint Thomas Aquinas does not share this information:

1 Judge not, (Nolite judicare, krinein, which signifies either to judge, or to condemn) that you may not be judged,

        Judge not, [about the year A.D. 31] or condemn not others rashly, that you may not be judged or condemned. (Witham) --- St. Jerome observes, Christ does not altogether forbid judging, but directs us how to judge. Where the thing does not regard us, we should not undertake to judge. Where it will bear a favorable interpretation, we should not condemn. Magistrates and superiors, whose office and duty require them to judge faults, and for their prevention to condemn and punish them, must be guided by evidence, and always lean towards the side of mercy, where there are mitigating circumstances. Barefaced vice and notorious sinners should be condemned and reprobated by all. (Haydock) --- In this place, nothing more is meant than that we should always interpret our neighbor's actions in the most favorable light. God permits us to judge of such actions as cannot be done with a right intention, as murder. As to indifferent actions, we must always judge in the most favorable sense. There are two things in which we must be particularly on our guard: 1. With what intention such an action was done. 2. Whether the person who appears wicked will not become good. (St. Jerome)

2 For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged: and with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again.

        This rule, which God will infallibly follow, should put a check to the freedom with which we so frequently condemn our neighbor. (Haydock) --- As we behave towards our neighbors, interpreting their actions with charitableness, and excusing their intentions with mildness; or, on the contrary, judging them with severity, and condemning them without pity; so shall we receive our judgment. (Menochius) --- As the pardon of our sins is proportioned to the pardon we afford to others, so also will our judgment be proportioned to the judgment we pass on others. If our neighbour be surprised by sin, we must not reproach or confound him for it, but mildly admonish him. Correct your brother, not as an enemy, taking revenge, but as a physician, administering appropriate remedies, assisting him with prudent counsels, and strengthening him in the love of God. (St. Chrysostom)

    Augustine: Since when these temporal things are provided beforehand against the future, it is uncertain with what purpose it is done, as it may be with a single or double mind, He opportunely subjoins, "Judge not."

    Pseudo-Chrysostom: Otherwise; He has drawn out thus far the consequences of his injunctions of almsgiving; He now takes up those respecting prayer. And this doctrine is in a sort of continuation of that of the prayer; as though it should run, "Forgive us our debts," and then should follow, "Judge not, that ye be not judged."

    Jerome: But if He forbids us to judge, how then does Paul judge the Corinthian who had committed uncleanness? Or Peter convict Ananias and Sapphira of falsehood?

    Pseudo-Chrysostom: But some explain this place after a sense, as though the Lord did not herein forbid Christians to reprove others out of good will, but only intended that Christians should not despise Christians by making a show of their own righteousness, hating others often on suspicion alone, condemning them, and pursuing private grudges under the show of piety.

    Chrysostom: Wherefore He does not say, 'Do not cause a sinner to cease,' but do not judge; that is, be not a bitter judge; correct him indeed, but not as an enemy seeking revenge, but as a physician applying a remedy.

    Pseudo-Chrysostom: But that not even thus should Christians correct Christians is shewn by that expression, "Judge not."

        But if they do not thus correct, shall they therefore obtain forgiveness of their sins, because it is said, "and ye shall not be judged?" For who obtains forgiveness of a former sin, by not adding another thereto? This we have said, desiring to shew that this is not here spoken concerning not judging our neighbor who shall sin against God, but who may sin against ourselves. For whoso does not judge his neighbor who has sinned against him, him shall not God judge for his sin, but will forgive him his debt even as he forgave.

    Chrysostom: Otherwise; He does not forbid us to judge all sin absolutely, but lays this prohibition on such as are themselves full of great evils, and judge others for very small evils. In like manner Paul does not absolutely forbid to judge those that sin, but finds fault with disciples that judged their teacher, and instructs us not to judge those that are above us.

    Hilary: Otherwise; He forbids us to judge God touching His promises; for as judgments among men are founded on things uncertain, so this judgment against God is drawn from somewhat that is doubtful. And He therefore would have us put away the custom from us altogether; for it is not here as in other cases where it is sin to have given a false judgment; but here we have begun to sin if we have pronounced any judgment at all.

3 Any why seest thou the mote (particle - JG) that is in thy brother's eye; and seest not the beam that is in thy own eye?

    "Mote and beam," light and grievous sins. (Menochius)

4 Or how sayest thou to thy brother: Let me cast the mote out of thy eye: and behold a beam is in thy own eye?

5 Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thy own eye, and then shalt thou see to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.

        Thou hypocrites, cast out first the beam, &c. Correct first thy own greater faults, before thou censure the lesser failings of others. (Witham)

    Augustine: The Lord having admonished us concerning hasty and unjust judgment; and because that they are most given to rash judgment, who judge concerning things uncertain; and they most readily find fault, who love rather to speak evil and to condemn than to cure and to correct; a fault that spring either from pride or jealousy - therefore He subjoins, "Why seest thou the mote in thy brother's eye, and seest not the beam in thy own eye?"

    Jerome: He speaks of such as though themselves guilty of mortal sin, do not forgive a trivial fault in their brother.

    Augustine: As if he perhaps have sinned in anger, and you correct him with settled hate. For as great as is the difference between a beam and a mote, so great is the difference between anger and hatred. For hatred is anger become inveterate (Firmly established - JG). It may be if you are angry with a man that you would have him amend, not so if you hate him.

    Chrysostom: Many do this, if they see a Monk having a superfluous garment, or a plentiful meal, they break out into bitter accusation, though themselves daily seize and devour, and suffer from excess of drinking.

    Pseudo-Chrysostom: Otherwise; This is spoken to the doctors. For every sin is either a great or a small sin according to the character of the sinner. If he is a laic, it is small and a mote in comparison of the sin of a priest, which is the beam.

    Hilary: Otherwise; The sin against the Holy Spirit is to take from God power which has influences, and from Christ substance which is of eternity, through whom as God came to man, so shall man likewise come to God. As much greater then as is the beam than the mote, so much greater is the sin against the Holy Spirit than all other sins. As when unbelievers object to others carnal sins, and secrete in themselves the burden of that sin, to wit, that they trust not the promises of God, their minds being blinded as their eye might be by a beam.

    Pseudo-Chrysostom: That is, with what face can you charge your brother with sin, when yourself are living in the same or a yet greater sin?

    Augustine: When then we are brought under the necessity of finding fault with any, let us first consider whether the sin be such as we have never had; secondly that we are yet men, and may fall into it; then, whether it be one that we have had, and are now without, and then let our common frailty come into our mind, that pity and not hate may go before correction. Should we find ourselves in the same fault, let us not reprove, but groan with the offender, and invite him to struggle with us. Seldom indeed and in cases of great necessity is reproof to be employed; and then only that the Lord may be served and not ourselves.

    Pseudo-Chrysostom: Otherwise; "How sayest thou to thy brother;" that is, with what purpose? From charity, that you may save your neighbor? Surely not, for you would first save yourself. You desire therefore not to heal others, but by good doctrine to cover bad life, and to gain praise of learning from men, not the reward of edifying from God, and you are a hypocrite; as it follows, "Thou hypocrite, cast first the beam out of thine own eye."

    Augustine: For to reprove sin is the duty of the good, which when the bad do, they act a part, dissembling their own character, and assuming one that does not belong to them.

    Chrysostom: And it is to be noted, that whenever He intends to denounce any great sin, He begins with an epithet of reproach, as below, "Thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt;" [Matt 18: 32] and so here, "Thou hypocrite, cast out first." For each one knows better the things of himself than the things of others, and sees more the things that be great, then the things that be lesser, and loves himself more than his neighbor.

        Therefore He bids him who is chargeable with many sins, not to be a harsh judge of another's faults, especially if they be small. Herein not forbidding to arraign and correct; but forbidding to make light of our own sins, and magnify those of others. For it behoves you first diligently to examine how great may be your own sins, and then try those of your neighbor; whence it follows, "and then shalt thou see clearly to cast the mote out of thy brother's eye."

    Augustine: For having removed from our own eye the beam of envy, of malice, or hypocrisy, we shall see clearly to cast the beam out of our brother's eye.

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, tear you.

        Give not that which is holy, or holy things, (as in the Greek) to dogs; i.e. to scandalous libertines (Immoral people, "free" thinker in regard to the religious life and "free" actor in regards to morality - JG), or infidels, who are not worthy to partake of divine mysteries and sacraments, who sacrilegiously abuse them, and trample them under their feet, as hogs do pearls. (Witham) --- The sacred mysteries should not be given to those that are not properly instructed in the sublime nature of them; nor should we hold any communication of religion with those that are enemies to the truths of Christ, which they tread under their feet and treat contemptuously, and will be so far from having any more friendship for you on account of such a criminal complaisance, that it is more probable they will betray you and turn against you. (Haydock)

    Augustine: Because the simplicity to which He had been directing in the foregoing precepts might lead some wrongly to conclude that it was equally wrong to hide the truth as to utter what was false, He well adds, "Give not that which is holy to the dogs, and cast not your pearls before swine."

    Pseudo-Chrysostom: Otherwise; The Lord had commanded us to love our enemies, and to do good to those that sin against us. That from this Priests might not think themselves obliged to communicate also the things of God to such, He checked any such thought saying, "Give not that which is holy to the dogs;" as much as to say, I have bid you love your enemies, and do them good out of your temporal goods, but not out of My spiritual goods, without distinction. For they are your brethren by nature but not by faith, and God gives the good things of this life equally to the worthy and the unworthy, but not so spiritual graces.

    Augustine: Let us see now what is the holy thing, what are the dogs, what the pearls, what the swine? The holy thing is all that it were impiety to corrupt; a sin which may be committed by the will, though the thing itself be undone. The pearls are all spiritual things that are to be highly esteemed. Thus though one and the same thing may be called both the holy thing and a pearl, yet it is called holy because it is not to be corrupted; and called a pearl because it is not be contemned (looked down upon - JG).

    Pseudo-Chrysostom: Otherwise; "That which is holy" denotes baptism, the grace of Christ's body, and the like; but the mysteries of the truth are intended by the pearls. For as pearls are inclosed in shells, and such in the deeps of the sea, so the divine mysteries inclosed in words are lodged in the deep meaning of Holy Scripture.

    Chrysostom: And to those that are right-minded and have understanding, when revealed they appear good; but to those without understanding, they seem to be more deserving reverence because they are not understood.

    Augustine: The dogs are those that assault the truth; the swine we may not unsuitably take for those that despise the truth. Therefore because dogs leap forth to rend in pieces, and what they rend, suffer not to continue whole, He said, "Give not that which is holy to the dogs;" because they strive to the utmost of their power to destroy the truth. The swine though they do not assault by biting as dogs, yet do they defile by trampling upon, and therefore He said, "Cast not your pearls before swine."

    Rabanus: Or; The dogs are returned to their vomit; the swine not yet returned, but wallowing in the mire of vices.

    Pseudo-Chrysostom: Otherwise; The dog and the swine are unclean animals; the dog indeed in every respect, as he neither chews the cud, nor divides the hoof; but swine in one respect only, seeing they divide the hoof, though they do not chew the cud. Hence I think that we are to understand by the dog, the Gentiles who are altogether unclean, both in their life, and in their faith; but by the swine are to be understood heretics, because they seem to call upon the name of the Lord.

        "Give not therefore that which is holy to the dogs," for that baptism and the other sacraments are not to be given but to them that have the faith. In like manner the mysteries of the truth, that is, the pearls, are not to be given but to such as desire the truth and live with human reason. If then you cast them to the swine, that is, to such as are groveling in impurity of life, they do not understand their preciousness, but value them like to other worldly fables, and tread them under foot with their carnal life.

    Augustine: That which is despised is said to be trodden under foot: hence it is said, "Lest perchance they tread them under foot."

    Gloss: He says, "Lest perchance," because it may be that they will wisely turn from their uncleanness.

    Augustine: That which follows, "Turn again and rend you," He means not the pearls themselves, for these they tread under foot, and when they turn again that they may hear something further, then they rend him by whom the pearls on which they had trode had been cast. For you will not easily find what will please him who has despised things got by great toil. Whoever then undertake to teach such, I see not how they shall not be trode upon and rent by those they teach.

    Pseudo-Chrysostom: Or; The swine not only trample upon the pearls by their carnal life, but after a little they turn, and by disobedience rend those who offend them. Yea often when offended they bring false accusation against them as sowers of new dogmas. The dogs also having trode upon holy things by their impure actions, by their disputings rend the preacher of truth.

    Chrysostom: Well is that said, "Lest they turn;" for they feign meekness that they may learn; and when they have learned, they attack.

    Pseudo-Chrysostom: With good reason He forbade pearls to be given to swine. For if they are not to be set before swine that are the less unclean, how much more are they to be withhold from dogs that are so much more unclean. But respecting the giving that which is holy, we cannot hold the same opinion; seeing we often give the benediction to Christians who live as the brutes; and that not because they deserve to receive it, but lest perchance being more grievously offended they should perish utterly.

    Augustine: We must be careful therefore not to explain ought to him who does not receive it; for men the rather seek that which is hidden than that which is opened. He either attacks from ferocity as a dog, or overlooks from stupidity as swine.

        But it does not follow that if the truth be kept hid, falsehood is uttered. The Lord Himself who never spoke falsely, yet sometimes concealed the truth, as in that, "I have yet many things to say unto you, the which ye are not now able to bear." [John 16:12] But if any is unable to receive these things because of his filthiness, we must first cleanse him as far as lays in our power either by word or deed.

        But in that the Lord is found to have said some things which many who heard Him did not receive, but either rejected or contemned them, we are not to think that therein He gave the holy thing to the dogs, or cast His pearls before swine. He gave to those who were able to receive, and who were in the company, whom it was not fit should be neglected for the uncleanness of the rest. And though those who tempted Him might perish in those answers which He gave to them, yet those who could receive them by occasion of these inquiries heard many useful things.

        He therefore who knows what should be answered ought to make answer, for their sakes at least who might fall into despair should they think that the question proposed is one that cannot be answered. But this only in the case of such matters as pertain to instruction of salvation; of things superfluous or harmful nothing should be said; but it should then be explained for what reason we ought not to make answer in such points to the enquirer.

    John Gregory

        Next: Part Ten: Chapter 7 of St. Matthew: verses 7-14
          For previous installments see below:

          "Catholics who remain faithful to Tradition, even if they are reduced to but a handful, they are THE TRUE CHURCH"
          Saint Athanasius, "Apostle of Tradition" AD 373

John Gregory's FAITHFUL TO TRADITION Thursday, January 26, 2012, Volume 22, no. 26