Tuesday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

A pearl is very strong and hard.  It is a beautiful treasure to behold, and it is symbolic of the revelation we have received.  The Word of God is this precious pearl, and our faith enables us to become stewards of that Word.  Distributing the Word does not come with any risks for the Word itself.  Nothing can diminish the value of the Word, nothing can destroy it.  However, we may risk something by spreading the Word – we could be trampled underfoot by swine or chewed up by the dogs who hold the Word in contempt.  Jesus wants us to be aware of that danger, “like sheep among wolves.”   We shouldn’t be afraid that someone else might destroy the Word or its value – they cannot.  We should be aware, however, that living our lives with and for the Word might put us in dangerous situations.  We will have to suffer for the Word, but there is no need to continue putting the Word before those who openly despise and oppose it.  Grace comes to help a nature wounded by pride – it urges those souls to continue seeking truth.


But I do not see how anyone who tries to teach such people will not themselves be torn apart by indignation and disgust, for both dogs and swine are unclean animals. Therefore we must be careful not to reveal anything to one who cannot bear it, for it is better that one make a search for what is concealed than assail or despise what is revealed. Indeed, it is only through hatred or contempt that people refuse to accept truths of manifest importance. Hence for one reason some are called dogs, and for the other reason some are called swine.1


In this statement Jesus briefly sums up all that is required. He shows that the definition of virtue is short and easy and known already to all. And he did not merely say, “Whatever things that you want,” but “Therefore whatever things that you want.” For he did not add this word therefore in its straightforward sense, but rather he used it with a deeper meaning. He is saying, “If you want to be heard, do these things in addition to those about which I have already spoken.” What are these additional things? “Whatever are those things that you want people to do to you.” Do you see how this shows that our wishes imply careful regulation of our behavior? Note that he did not say, “Whatever things that you want God to do for you, do these things to your neighbor.” Thus you cannot say, “How is that even possible? He is God and I am a human being!” Instead, Jesus said, “Whatever things that you want your fellow servant to do, you yourself also perform for your neighbor.” What is less of a burden than this? What is more just? Then the praise is exceedingly great: “For this is the law and the prophets.” From this it is clear that virtue is defined in accordance with our nature. So we all know within ourselves what our duties are. We cannot ever again find refuge in ignorance.2


  1. SERMON ON THE MOUNT 2.20.68–69. Simonetti, M. (Ed.). (2001). Matthew 1–13 (pp. 148–149). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  2. THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW, HOMILY 23.5. Simonetti, M. (Ed.). (2001). Matthew 1–13 (p. 151). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
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