Pigs and Dogs and Returnees

Pigs and dogs

I have wondered what the opposite is of loving money but keeping the affection to a virtue or thing that we experience on earth.  It would have to be really good if it is the perfect opposite of the love, or lust, of money.  With the verse I am writing about today I come up with the great pursuit and treasure of what can be experienced on earth: God’s holiness.

This is where Jesus is coming in as the Sermon of The Mount is coming to a close.  It should be noted that as Jesus is nearing the end of this sermon there is a more intentional groundwork for the disciples hearing it so that they will have an informed discipleship conscience that syncs with the sacramental life of the Church that will emerge.

“Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces” (Matthew 7:6).

Jesus wants a hedge of protection around the Church.  That which is holy must retain its value.  Would like it if a billion dollars rained down on Phoenix tomorrow?  Sure!  I would be ecstatic! Until I tried to  buy my favorite car with my handful of cash and it costs $30,000,000.

The early Church had something to say about this verse in the Didache.  Historians place the date of this document typically no later than the turn of the 2nd century and as early as the 40’s.

“Allow no one to eat or drink of your Eucharist, unless they have been baptized in the name of the Lord. For concerning this, the Lord has said, ‘Do not give what is holy to dogs’ ” (Didache 9:5).

Is this mean?  No.  It is not against any group of people because being a wanderer like a dog or self-indulgent like a pig, in view of the Church, was an equal opportunity state to be in.  Jesus is for holiness always and wants it to be hemmed in properly.  Someone that has been baptized is not a wanderer but has been found and adopted and transformed fundamentally through baptism.

“And even though our gospel is veiled, it is veiled for those who are perishing” (2 Corinthians 4:3).

or throw your pearls before swine—-I can only guess, but I know in 1 Corinthians 3 Paul speaks of our works being tested in the fire of God at the end of the age.  These could be considered ones good works.  Good works are fine, but casting them out to the be noticed by man more than God is operating the gifts of God for the wrong reasons.  Another “pearl” that the Christian could see in this verse is the general experience of the mystical in the Christian life.  To live more fully as a Christian is to live in the great mystery of being a disciple of Jesus.  To pass this on to the self-indulgent who want gratification of the flesh and want it now is unrealistic and a setup for being crushed.

So have you been baptized? Great!  But if you are living in the flesh more than spirit, then like a pig was not be consumed in the nation of Israel of the old covenant, neither are you to be consumed or to consume in the Eucharist.

But to be cleansed from piggishness?  That is different. “If we say, ‘We are without sin,’ we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing” (1 John 1:8-9).

There is always hope for even the worst sinner. In 1 Corinthians there was a young man sleeping with his step-mother.  Paul took exception to that and he was cast out.  But the young man repented and with the same zeal Paul spoke out that he was to be received back.  The young man did not like living out of his spiritual home.  One could say he was tired of acting like a pig.

Or take the Prodigal Son.  His rock bottom had him in the mud with the actual pigs.  But he knew where his father’s house was and did something about it.  He came back repentant and regained the wholeness of his inheritance.  He received gifts from his father that spoke of authority (the ring), favor (the robe), good footing for the future (a Greek word for fancy shoes was used for that part),  a slain, fatted lamb (communion) and a party (a group celebration of reconciliation).  These do not belong to a prodigal in the pig pen but they do belong to the child of God who comes home.

And for me there is a renewal for my coming home at least each Sunday.  As a part of the liturgy I say each week before receiving the Eucharist, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof.  But only say the words and my should shall be healed.”

If there was no scandal to me stealing from orphans, being unrepentant about it and “getting” the Eucharist then what would be holy about the gifts of God?  I would be my own God and the Church would be an afterthought or self-generated goose bump.  But by the grace of God, I know who He is and know what I am not.  And so I ask Jesus to say the words….

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