Tuesday (June 26): Scripture: Matthew 7:6,12-14
6 “Do not give dogs what is holy; and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under foot and turn to attack you. 12 So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets. 13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
Meditation: Why does Jesus contrast pearls and holiness with dogs and swine? Pearls were of very great value and even considered priceless. The same with holiness because God is all-holy and he invites us to share in his holiness which is very precious and priceless as well. The Talmud, a rabbinic commentary on the Jewish Scriptures, has a proverbial saying for something which is inconguous or out of place: an ear-ring in a swine’s snout. Jesus’ expression about “pearls before swine” and “not giving dogs what is holy” is very similar in thought (Matthew 7:6). Jesus’ concern here is not with exclusivity (excluding other people from our love, care, and concern), but with purity – the purity of the faith which has been entrusted to us by an all-holy and all-wise God. The early church referenced this expression with the Eucharist or the Lord’s Table. In the liturgy of the early church, a proclamation was given shortly before communion: Holy things to the holy. The Didache, a first century church manual stated: Let no one eat or drink of your Eucharist except those baptised into the name of the Lord; for, as regards this, the Lord has said, ‘Do not give what is holy to dogs.’ The Lord Jesus invites us to his table, but we must approach worthily.
Jesus summed up the teaching of the Old Testament law and prophets – So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them (Matthew 7:12) – and in the same breath he raised it to a new level of perfection and fulfillment. The law of love requires more than simply avoiding injury or harm to one’s neighbor. Perfect love – a love which is unconditional and which reaches out to all – always seeks the good of others for their sake and gives the best we can offer for their welfare. When we love our neighbors and treat them in the same way we wish to be treated by God and by others, then we fulfill the law and the prophets, namely what God requires of us – loving God with all that we have and are and loving our neighbor as ourselves. How can we love our neighbor selflessly and and show them kindness and concern for their welfare? If we empty our hearts of all unkind and unloving thoughts and sentiments, then there will only be room for kindness, goodness, charity, and mercy. Paul the Apostle reminds us that “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us” (Romans 5:5). It is the love of God that fuels our unconditional love for others. Are you ready to let the Holy Spirit transform your life with the purifying fire of God’s love?
Jesus uses an image (Matthew 7:13-14) which is common in the Old Testament: choosing between two divergent ways or paths – the way that leads to fulfillment and life versus the way that leads to destruction and death. The Book of Psalms begins with an image of a person who has chosen to follow the way of those who are wise and obedient to God’s word and who refuse to follow the way of those who think and act contrary to God’s law : Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night (Psalm 1:1-2). When a path diverges, such as a fork in the road, each way leads to a different destination. This is especially true when we encounter life’s crossroads where we must make a choice that will affect how we will live our lives. Do the choices you make help you move towards the goal of loving God and obeying his will? The Lord gives us freedom to choose which way we will go. Ask him for the wisdom to know which way will lead to life rather than to death and destruction.See, I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil. …Therefore choose life that you and your descendants may live (Deuteronmy 3:15-20). Choose this day whom you will serve (Joshua 24:15). Behold I set before you the way of life and the way of death (Jeremiah 21:8). If we allow God’s love and wisdom to rule our hearts, then we can trust in his guidance and grace to follow the path of love and holiness.
“Let me love you, my Lord and my God, and see myself as I really am – a pilgrim in this world, a Christian called to respect and love all whose lives I touch, those in authority over me or those under my authority, my friends and my enemies. Help me to conquer anger with gentleness, greed by generosity, apathy by fervor. Help me to forget myself and reach out towards others.” (Prayer attributed to Clement XI of Rome)
1 Great is the LORD and greatly to be praised in the city of our God! His holy mountain,
2 beautiful in elevation, is the joy of all the earth, Mount Zion, in the far north, the city of the great King.
3 Within her citadels God has shown himself a sure defense.
4 For lo, the kings assembled, they came on together.
5 As soon as they saw it, they were astounded, they were in panic, they took to flight;
6 trembling took hold of them there, anguish as of a woman in travail.
7 By the east wind you did shatter the ships of Tarshish.
8 As we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the LORD of hosts, in the city of our God, which God establishes for ever. [Selah]
9 We have thought on your steadfast love, O God, in the midst of your temple.
10 As your name, O God, so your praise reaches to the ends of the earth. Your right hand is filled with victory;