The opening verse in the Gospel for June 21, 2022, is one nestled between two perhaps more recognized Scripture verses—Matthew 7:5, “first take the log out of your own eye,” and Matthew 7:7, “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.”
Discerning what the teaching, “do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine,” means in your life can be a little bit more perplexing. The language may be strange, and this verse definitely takes extra prayer and maybe even a little research to fully embrace Jesus’ intended lesson. “Lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces” seems a little harsh, yet we trust Jesus, and those who recorded His words, never include filler—every word has purpose.
The Didache Bible (Ignatius Press) offers this commentary on Matthew 7:6, “Holy things are to be treated with reverence and given only to those who can discern and appreciate their great value. For this reason, the early Christians dismissed those not yet baptized from Mass immediately following the Liturgy of the Word (cf. Didache, 9, 5). This practice is reflected in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults when catechumens leave the Mass for private instruction following the Liturgy of the Word. The reception of Holy Communion is reserved for Catholics who are in a state of grace, i.e., not aware of having committed any mortal sin. (CCC 1385, 2120, 2148).”
There is nothing more holy than the Eucharist—the body, blood, soul, and divinity of our Lord, Jesus Christ. This year, on Corpus Christi Sunday, in dioceses across the nation, the USCCB launched the National Eucharistic Revival, “three years for discernment, encounter, and grassroots response on the diocesan, parish, and individual levels” to (re)kindle a living, loving relationship with Jesus Christ, especially in the Eucharist.
In John’s Gospel, Jesus reveals the difficult teaching of His Real Presence in the Eucharist: “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” Many followers walked away, confused and unable to accept Jesus’ gift of himself in the Eucharist. He did not use those next moments to talk of symbolism but instead looked to those remaining and inquired if they, too, would leave. It is being able to embrace this difficult yet true teaching of the Catholic faith that leads through the narrow gate, also presented in today’s Gospel. The one that leads to life, Jesus tells us, although those who find it are few. There are many reasons we fail to enter the narrow gate— doubt, fear, caution, or merely unwillingness to allow the mystical to reveal something to us this world cannot.
Faith is a gift. Gifts are only useful if they are received, opened, and used. When we refuse to allow the Holy Spirit to enlighten our hearts about the holy things of God, we are truly casting them down before swine. They will be trampled into pieces and, maybe even unwittingly, miss out on one of the most incredible gifts God has prepared for us. We can be no closer to Christ than when we receive Him in the Eucharist. The greatest gift God has given us is his Son, who took on flesh, our sins, and the suffering meant for us so that we may one day be with Him forever in heaven.
Do not cast your faith away. Do not let it be trampled under foot by worldly cares, cynicism, or confusion. As Matthew 7:7 so wisely counsels, ask, seek, knock, trusting the Lord will answer the door of your heart and He will answer your questions. Like the centurion in Mark’s Gospel, let us pray in those weak, faltering moments so as not to be lost, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.” It is in prayer where we open our hearts to be renewed and redeemed by the God who loves us enough to be consumed under the guise of bread and wine so that we may have eternal life.
All Rights Reserved Allison Gingras, 2022