1 Christ continueth his sermon in the mount, speaking of alms, 5 prayer, 14 forgiving our brethren, 16 fasting, 19 where our treasure is to be laid up, 24 of serving God, and mammon: 25 exhorteth not to be careful for worldly things: 33 but to seek God’s kingdom.
AKE heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
Douay Rheims Version
A continuation of the sermon on the mount.
AKE heed that you do not your justice before men, to be seen by them: otherwise you shall not have a reward of your Father who is in heaven.
14. For if you will forgive men their offences, your heavenly Father will forgive you also your offences.
15. But if you will not forgive men, neither will your Father forgive you your offences.
17. But thou, when thou fastest anoint thy head, and wash thy face;
18. That thou appear not to men to fast, but to thy Father who is in secret: and thy Father who seeth in secret, will repay thee.
19. Lay not up to yourselves treasures on earth: where the rust, and moth consume, and where thieves break through, and steal.
20. But lay up to yourselves treasures in heaven: where neither the rust nor moth doth consume, and where thieves do not break through, nor steal.
21. For where thy treasure is, there is thy heart also.
22. The light of thy body is thy eye. If thy eye be single, thy whole body shall be lightsome.
Take heed. &c. Instead of alms, some Greek Codices readδικαιοσύνην, righteousness, or justice. This is the reading of the Syriac and the Latin Vulgate. The Complutensian, Royal, and other Greek Codices read alms. The Arabic translates mercy—of which the Saviour speaks next. For this is in Scripture κατ ε̉ξοχην, or par excellence, a common word for righteousness, as I have shown on 2 Cor. ix. 10. Hence S. Chrysostom reads justice, understanding alms. After Christ in the preceding chapter had expounded one by one the precepts of the Law, which prescribe all righteousness, i.e., whatever is just, and right, and holy, or all good works, now, in this chapter He proceeds to teach the way of doing things holily and rightly, that we should do them with a right intention, and with the desire of pleasing God, not man. He begins with alms. Then He teaches how we ought to pray, and next how to fast; for with these three vain glory is wont chiefly to be bound up, says S. Chrysostom.
That ye may be seen. The word that denotes the intention and the end. “Do not do holy and just works with this intention and object, to be seen and praised of men, for this is vain ostentation.” But Christ does not here forbid them to be done publicly, and advantageously, that men may see them and glorify God. Whence S. Gregory says, “Let thy works be so done openly that thy intention may remain in secret, and that we may afford an example of good works to our neighbours, so that yet with our intentions, by which we seek to please God only, we may always desire secrecy.”
Moreover, vain glory eats out all the dignity, worth, and merit of good works, like the worm the gourd (Jonah iv.).
Otherwise ye have no reward, &c. The reward of vain glory is the applause and favour of men. He who seeks to please men displeases God. For God, forasmuch as He is the author of good works, desires to be the object and end of the same, that we should do them for God, and refer them to His glory. Wherefore S. Paul says, “For if I yet pleased men I should not be the servant of Christ.”
S. Basil (in Constit. Monast. c. 11) calls vain glory the robber of good works. “Let us fly from vain glory,” he says, “the insinuating spoiler of good works, the pleasant enemy of our souls, the moth of virtues, the flattering ruin of our good things, who colours the poison with the honeyed mixture of her deceit, and who holds out to the souls of men her deadly cup. And I think she does this that men may the more greedily drink her down, and never be satiated with her. How sweet a thing is human glory to those who have not had experience of it!”
When thou doest thine alms do not sound a trumpet before thee. Syr. do not blow a horn. When the Scribes and Pharisees were about to give away alms in the public streets they either sent a trumpeter before them, or else blew a horn themselves, under the pretext of drawing together by that means crowds of poor persons, who might run and receive alms, but in reality out of ostentation, and that their liberality might be seen and talked of by those who flocked together.
Observe that Holy Scripture, the prophets, but above all Christ, detest hypocrisy and hypocrites, who intend one thing in their heart, and pretend something else outwardly. For Christ is truth, simplicity, sincerity itself; wherefore He hates all falsehood and duplicity.
Moreover, hypocrites are like the monstrous beasts which S. John saw in the Apocalypse (chap. ix.), for they had the faces of women and the tails of scorpions. In the same manner hypocrites smile with their faces, and flatter with their mouths, but at the last they secretly strike and sting. Yet these very hypocrites, whilst they wish to hurt others, hurt themselves far more, “for there is nothing hid which shall not be revealed.” Wherefore their hypocrisy and fraud is easily detected, by which means they are confounded and lose their fame and credit, and become hateful unto all men. Wherefore David prays against hypocrites, and at the same time threatens them with most dreadful punishments (Ps. cxx.): “Deliver my soul, 0 Lord, from lying lips and from a deceitful tongue. What reward shall be given or done unto thee, 0 thou false tongue? Even mighty and sharp arrows with hot burning coals.”
They have their reward—their, i.e., their own, viz., what they sought for. Again, their own is what is agreeable and congruous with their vanity, that of which alone they are worthy, that, like chameleons with wind, they may feed upon fleeting popular breath. How foolish are merchants like these, who, when by alms they might buy heavenly and eternal riches, neglecting these, prefer to buy the empty praise of men, that is, vain words, which beat the air, and then pass away!
But thou, when thou doest thine alms, &c. Omitting various explanations which are here collected by Maldonatus, I would say briefly, the meaning is as follows:—Avoid ostentation in thine alms and thy virtue, and as far as thou canst, seek for secrecy, that thou mayest not be seen of men, nor thy virtue talked about, that if, per impossibile, thy left hand could have eyes, it should not be able to see what good thy right hand doth, what, or how great alms thou dost bestow. It is a parabolical hyperbole common among the Syrians. Thus S. Chrysostom, Theophylact, and others. And as S. Jerome says in his Epitaph of Fabiola, “Virtue which is concealed rejoices in God as her judge.”
That thine alms, &c. Openly, i.e., says S. Augustine at the Resurrection, “Thou shalt be blessed, because the poor have not wherewith to recompense thee; but there shall be a recompense given thee at the Resurrection of the just, when the Lord, as the Apostle says, ‘shall reveal the hidden things of darkness, and make manifest the counsels of the heart, and then shall every man have praise of God.’” Just and congruous reward of secret work is public praise in the judgment. For Christ will reward thy secret work publicly in the judgment before God, angels, and men with eternal glory. Thus when S. Martin had divided his cloak, and given half of it to a poor man, in the night following, Christ appeared to Martin, clad in the same cloak, and praised him in the presence of the angels, saying, “Martin, while yet a catechumen, has clothed Me with this garment.”
But if thou make a show of thine alms, or any good work, God will hide it so that no one may behold, admire, or remember it: but if thou hide it God will manifest it to the whole world, especially in the Day of judgment. Thus S. Gregory gave alms to an angel in form of a shipwrecked sailor. He gave him large alms, again and again, when the angel asked them, but always in secret. But through this he gained the very summit of public glory; for the angel afterwards revealed that it was for this cause Gregory had deserved the chief bishopric of the Church. So Christ, in the form of a ragged beggar, asked of S. Catherine of Sienna first her tunic, then her cape, then her gloves, all of which she freely and secretly gave Him. On the following night He appeared to her, showing her the tunic bespangled with jewels, and promising that he would give her an invisible gown, which would preserve her from all cold (wherefore in future she never felt any cold), and in heaven public and illustrious glory. (So Raymund in her Life.)
Ver. 5.—And when ye pray, &c. Foolish and imprudent was this vanity and ostentation of the Scribes by which they affected the public streets, where was a greater crowd of people, that they might stand before them, and exhibit their prayers and devotion, when they ought rather to have sought for a secret place for prayer, in which they might collect their thoughts, and converse with God alone without distraction. What therefore is commonly said of three places unfit for study, that it is useless at a window, in the street, by the hearth, because of the various distractions which occur at those places, may be even more truly said of prayer. Prayer is useless at a window, in the street, by the hearth.
Stand praying. From this and other passages Jansen is of opinion that the Jews stood, not knelt, to pray. But I say that the Priests and Levites sacrificed and sang Psalms to God standing, and the people who were present also stood, because if they had knelt they would have been unable to witness the sacrifices, especially in a great press of people, on account of the screen, three cubits in height, interposed between them and the altar. Again the people stood to hear a sermon, or to receive benediction, as in Solomon’s case; also in a solemn thanksgiving for victory, or any similar benefit, as we stand when a Te Deum is sung. S. Azarias and his fellows stood and sang the Benedicite in the fiery furnace of Babylon.
But at other times, the Jews prayed kneeling, especially in acts of adoration or penitence. Especially Solomon at the Dedication of the Temple prayed and worshipped kneeling. For—mark this, ye courtiers and delicate ones, who like the Jews, bend one knee to Christ—he kneeled with both his knees upon the ground. (1 Kings viii. 54). So Daniel kneeled down three times a day and worshipped God. So Micah (vi. 6). “I will bow my knees to the Most High God.” For this is the manner of adoration among all nations. Hence the words, “I will leave me seven thousand men in Israel, whose knees have not been bowed to Baal.” And God says (Is. xlv. 23), “Every knee shall bow to me.” And (2 Chron. xxix. 30), “They bowed their knee and worshipped.” This standing then to pray on the part of the Scribes and Pharisees was a part of their pride and vanity. They thought themselves to be worthier and holier than the rest of the people.
As for Christians, from the very beginning they have been accustomed to kneel down to pray. For when Christ was near to die, he prayed, kneeling down; yea, prostrating Himself upon the earth. See also S. Peter (Acts ix. 40), and S. John (Apoc. xix. 10, and xxii. 8); and S. Paul (Acts xx. 36; and Eph. iii. 14, “For this cause I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ“). Christians, therefore, in memory of the fall of Adam and his posterity, pray kneeling at all times except Sundays and the Paschal season, when they pray standing, in honour and as a figure of the Resurrection of Christ, as S. Justin teaches (Quæst. 115), “Whence is this custom in the Church? Because we ought to retain in everlasting remembrance both our fall through sin, and the grace of our Christ by which we have risen again from our fall. So for six days we kneel in token of our fall through sin, and on the Lord’s Day we stand in token of our deliverance from sin and death.” S. Irenæus teaches that this practice began in the time of the Apostles. (Lib. de Paschat.) Tertullian enjoins the same custom. (Lib. de Corona Militis. c. 3.)
But thou . . . enter into thy closet. Gr.ταμει̃ον, i.e., any private place such as thy bedchamber; Vatablus renders, thy cell.
SS. Augustine, Jerome, and Ambrose understand by closet the heart or the mind, and their privacy, as though he who prays should enter there and shut it, so that no distractions may creep in to draw away the soul from God. As S. Jerome says: “Shut the door—i.e., shut thy lips and pray inwardly in thy mind, as Hannah, the mother of Samuel, did” (1 Sam. i. 13). Hear S. Ambrose: “The Saviour says, Enter into thy closet, not that which is enclosed by walls which shuts up thy bodily limbs, but the closet which is within thee, in which thy thoughts are enclosed. This closet for prayer is ever near thee, and ever private, of which there is no witness or judge but God alone.” “God who,” says S. Cyprian (Tract. de Orat.), “is the hearer of the heart, not of the voice.” It was a saying of Francis, that “the body is a cell, and the soul a hermit, which tarries in its cell wheresoever it may be, even among men, to pray to the Lord, and meditate upon Him. Cassian gives another reason (Collat. 9, c. 34): “We must pray in silence, that the intention of our prayer may not become known to our enemies the demons, lest they should hinder it.”
This meaning is true, but mystical rather than literal. But there is no reason why closet here should not be understood in its plain ordinary sense, of any private place. Hear S. Cyprian: “The Lord bids us pray secretly in hidden places apart, in our very chambers, because it is more agreeable to faith, in order that we may know God is everywhere present, hears and sees all, and in the plenitude of His majesty penetrates the most hidden and secret places, as it is written. “Am I a God nigh at hand, and not a God afar off.” (Jer. xxiii.)
So, then, Christ does not here condemn public prayer in church, which has been the common laudable practice both of Jews and Christians, as is plain from 1 Kings viii. 29, Acts i. 24. Tertullian (in Apol. c. 30.) writes. “Looking up thitherwards (to heaven), we Christians pray, with hands expanded as innocuous, with head uncovered, because we are not ashamed.” For the Jews, especially the priests, were wont to pray with their heads covered, as I have said on the Pentateuch. Our missionaries also in China cover their heads when saying mass, in accordance with an Indult of Pope Paul V., because among the Chinese it is a mark of disgrace to uncover the head. “Finally,” proceeds Tertullian, “we pray without a prompter, because we pray from the heart.” Lastly, the temple is the proper place of prayer, in which one and all may pray to God as secretly as though they were praying in their own bedchambers.
That is indeed a ridiculous heresy which has sprung up lately in Holland, from a wrong understanding of this passage by a certain innovator, who rejects all temples, and holds the conventicles of his sect nowhere but in bedrooms. The Calvinists, too, when they ask a blessing before meat, cover their faces with their hats, that they may pray in secret; but then a hat is not a bedchamber, as is very plain.
Ver. 7.—But . . . much speaking. Gr. Battologia, i.e., a trifling and futile profusion and repetition of words, as if by this their rhetoric they would give God information concerning His own affairs, and would bend Him to concede what they ask, as orators by their rhetoric endeavour to move judges to acquit an accused person.
Christ therefore here teaches that the essence of prayer does not consist in words profuse and drawn out, but in converse of the soul with God; and that the object, and, as it were, the soul of prayer is the desire and pious affection of the mind, which, however, does not, of course, exclude outward expression in words.
Be ye not therefore like unto them, &c. It means, the heathen think that God is ignorant, or at least does not consider their miseries and wants, from which they pray God to deliver them. They use, therefore, many words, that they themselves may tell Him of them. But they err, for God knows and considers their wants far more than those who pray. Still He wishes to be prayed to, and often He will not succour without being asked, that men may recognize both their own miseries and God’s mercies, and may know that they are not delivered by their own merit, but by the gift and grace of God. S. Augustine adds, “that God in prayer exercises our desire, that by it we may be able to receive what he is preparing to give. For that is something very great indeed, but we are too small and narrow to receive it.”
Thus therefore ye shall pray: Our Father, &c. Christ here delivers to Christians a method of prayer, but He does not command that we should use these words and none else, but only teaches the things which should be asked of God, and in what order and with what brevity they may be asked. Well, however, does the Church use these very words of Christ, as being divine, most brief, clear, and efficacious. Whence S. Cyprian (Trac. de Orat. Domini) says, “What can be more real prayer to the Father than that which proceeded from the mouth of the Son, who is the Truth?”
Note, the Lord’s prayer comprises all the things which should be asked of God, whence Tertullian (lib. de Orat. 1) calls it the Breviary, that is, the compendium of the Gospel, in the same way that the Ecclesiastical Office recited daily by priests is a compendium of the whole of Scripture, whence it is commonly called the Breviary.
S. Augustine (Epist. 121, lib. 2, de Verb. Dom.), and Theologians after him, divide this prayer into seven petitions, the three first of which deal with the honour of God, the remaining four with our service. For first, before everything else, we must seek the honour of God. For this is our end, and involves our beatitude, and the means by which we may attain unto it.
Our Father. This, says Tertullian, is the title of goodness and power. By Father, S. Cyprian, Chrysostom, and Ruperti, understand the First Person of the Sacred Trinity, for to Him as it were the principium of the Trinity, the Church addresses most of the prayers, or collects in the Mass, and desires that they may be heard through the merits of the Son, saying, Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son. But other writers more correctly understand the whole Trinity or Godhead, because all the Three Persons operate equally in all things ad extra, and therefore all are equally to be invoked.
By the word Father, we are put in mind of all God’s immense benefits, and consequently of that utmost fidelity, reverence, and love which we owe to God, and how we ought to strive to please Him as our Father. For what can be dearer to a child than a father? Or whom ought he to strive more to please? S. Cyprian bids us observe “the wonderful condescension of God, who bids us pray in such wise that we should call God our Father, and that as Christ is the Son of God, so we also, for whom eternity is laid up in store, may call ourselves the sons of God. Hence he gathers that “we ought to remember that when we call God, our Father, we should act as sons of God, that as we have complacency in God being our Father, so He likewise may have complacency in our being His children. Let us have our conversation as temples of God, that it may be evident that God dwelleth in us. Nor let our actions be degenerate from our spirit, that we who have begun to be celestial and spiritual may think and act only after a heavenly and spiritual manner.”
Our. Christ does not here say, My Father. For this expression is appropriate to Christ alone, who is the only Son of God by nature, says the Gloss. But He says, Our Father, because He is speaking in behalf of all, that He may teach that God is the Father of all, and that all we are brethren, and ought therefore to love one another and pray for one another. “So,” says S. Cyprian, “He would that one should pray for all, in such manner as He Himself bore all in one.” And the Auctor Imperfecti says, “That prayer is more pleasing to God, not which necessity pleads, but which the charity of brotherhood presents.” Christ willed that each should pray for all, that all might pray for each, that every one should have the gain not only of his own prayers, but obtain the profit of every one else’s prayers. This is spiritual interest and usury indeed.
Which art in heaven. This expression signifies, first, the supreme power and dominion of God, that He is both able and willing to grant whatever we ask; that as being Father, he is most good, but that He is also most great. 2. It signifies our inheritance, which we hope for by reason of our adoption of God our Father, and that it is heavenly, not earthly. 3. Christ admonishes us that when we pray, we should transfer our thoughts from earth to heaven, where God manifests His glory to angels and saints. So S. Chrysostom. Therefore when we pray we turn to the east, where the sun rises, says S. Augustine, that we may be all instructed to turn to God.
Hallowed be Thy Name. 1. S. Ambrose and S. Chrysostom understand by this hallowing, the sanctification of God in our Baptism, that having received this sanctification it may remain in us. For we have need, says Cyprian, of a daily sanctification, that we who sin daily may be daily sanctified. 2. Tertullian explains it to mean, make men holy. But by this meaning the first petition would become identical with the second, Thy kingdom come. More correctly therefore SS. Augustine, Chrysostom, and others explain thus:—Grant, 0 Lord, that not the names of idols, or devils, of Mahomet, of Arius, or Luther, or Calvin, but that Thy Name may be hallowed among men.
Moreover, name may be here understood properly, and figuratively for the thing named, and this, 1. For the Deity Itself, as though He said, “Let Thy name, i.e., mayest Thou Thyself, 0 Lord our God be hallowed.” 2. For the honour and glory of God, for we pray that these may be had in honour by all men. 3. For the attributes of God, as His omnipotence, wisdom, justice, mercy. And the meaning will be—Grant, 0 Lord, that men may know, worship, and sanctify Thee Thyself, as One in Essence, Three in Person, as well as Thine omnipotence, wisdom, &c. And so may they celebrate and glorify them continually, both with heart and tongue, in life and actions; and not Christians only, but Pagans, Jews, and heretics, by having a true faith in Thee, and a true love towards Thee, in a word, that Thou shouldst convert them to Thyself.
Note, the Holiness of God is the most sacred majesty, perfection, Divinity of God, His purity, faithfulness, goodness, and other Divine attributes, which the Seraphim behold, rapt as it were in an ecstacy, and which they so admire and are amazed at, that they sing for ever, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God of Sabaoth; the whole earth is full of His glory.” Hence, too, the Blessed Virgin, when she had conceived in her mind and her womb the Holiness of God, the Eternal Word, cried out in glad amazement, “My soul doth magnify the Lord,” &c. “For He that is mighty hath done to me great things, and holy is His Name.”
When we say, Hallowed be Thy Name, we also desire our own sanctification. We cannot sanctify God as He is in Himself, nor can we increase His eternal and infinite glory; but when we sanctify God, sanctity is added to, and increases in, ourselves, that is to say, holy faith, holy charity, the holy worship of God. By these things we are sanctified inwardly, and we hallow God outwardly, because by means of our holiness the holiness of God is glorified and made known among men. Lastly, all our own hallowing of God is finite and poor; learn therefore that there is a twofold way of infinitely hallowing God. The first is, “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.” That is, I ascribe to God that infinite glory which He has had from all eternity, that glory with which the Father, the Son, and the Spirit perpetually glorify each other with Divine and infinite praises. The other way is, when we offer Christ crucified to God in the Mass. For Christ, because He is God and Man, is a Divine Victim, commensurate with God, and infinite. Iterate then, and constantly use, both these methods that thou mayest hallow God as He deserves, and as He ought to be sanctified and glorified.
Thy kingdom come. This is the second petition of the Lord’s Prayer. The kingdom of God is fourfold. 1. It is the empire of God over all created things. Of this it is said in Ps. cxlv. “Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all ages.” 2. God’s mystical kingdom: by it, through faith and grace, He reigns in the hearts of the Faithful. It is such a kingdom as this, that the devil should cease to reign in the world, and that sin should no longer reign in our mortal bodies, that S. Ambrose, S. Jerome, and Euthymius think is here meant. Hear S. Arnbrose (lib. 6 de Sacrament. c. 5): “The petition is, that the kingdom of Christ may be in us. If God reign in us, the adversary can have no place in us. Fault, or sin reigns not, but virtue reigns, modesty and devotion reign.”
3. The kingdom of God is in heaven, in which He happily and gloriously reigns among the Blessed. This is what Tertullian and S. Cyprian here understand. “Well indeed,” says the latter, “do we pray for the kingdom of God, that is, the heavenly kingdom, because there is also an earthly kingdom. But he who has renounced the world is already greater than its honours and its kingdoms; and thus he who dedicates himself to God and to Christ desires not earthly but heavenly kingdoms.”
4. That is the kingdom of God, most perfect and complete, in which, after the kingdom of the devil, after sin and death have been altogether conquered and destroyed, God alone shall perfectly rule over both His friends—that is, the saints—and His enemies, i.e., the impious and the reprobate. And this shall be at the Resurrection and the Day of Judgment, of which 1 Cor. xv. 28. This is the best way of understanding this petition; for, as I said, these three first petitions are concerned directly only with God’s honour and glory, and with ours only as a consequence. The meaning, then, is this—We pray, 0 Lord, that Thou mayest reign wholly, and without any adversary, that all creatures whatsoever may be wholly subject unto Thee. Hence, also, we ask, as a consequence, for ourselves, that we may be speedily translated from this world, as from a wearisome pilgrimage and a perilous warfare, to the kingdom of everlasting glory and happiness, that we may reign with Christ and His saints for ever. For then shall God wholly reign in us, and we in God, according to these words of the Apocalypse, “Thou hast made us to our God a kingdom and priests, and we shall reign upon the earth.” For then shall “God be all in all.” (1 Cor. xv. 28).
Thy will be done, &c. This is the third petition, although Tertullian (lib. De Orat.) places it second, and the third, Thy kingdom come. This petition, also, has respect to God and God’s kingdom, because the more God’s will is done, the more God’s kingdom is extended. For the great honour of God, the great empire of God, is that all men and all things should be subject to His will, and that it should be fulfilled in all. Now the will of God is twofold. The will of well-pleasing, and the will of signification, or absolute and optative will. The will of well-pleasing in God is that with which God absolutely wills a thing to be done, which will is always fulfilled, and which nothing can hinder or delay, according to the words of Ps. cxxxv., “Whatsoever the Lord pleased (voluit, Vulg.) that did he in heaven and earth.” And in Is. xlvi., “All my counsel shall stand, and all my will shall be done.” (Vulg.) In this will we must acquiesce, either by rejoicing at it, or by submitting to the adversity which it may bring upon us.
The will of signification is that by which God signifies that He wishes His laws and precepts, which He has imposed upon us, to be done by us. All the Fathers understand this petition to speak of this second will. The words, therefore, do not apply directly to God’s will of efficacy and good pleasure, for it cannot but be fulfilled, but to that desiring and commanding will of God which theologians call significative. The meaning, then, is—“Grant, 0 Lord, unto us Thine abundant and efficacious grace, that, by means of it, all men may, both in doing Thy behests and in suffering what Thou willest, obey thy will with as much alacrity and concord as the angels obey it in heaven.” So S. Jerome, Chrysostom, Theophylact, &c. Christ seems here to allude to the words of Ps. ciii. 20, 21, “Bless the Lord, all ye angels of his, ye that excel in strength, doing his will, and hearing the voice of his words. Bless the Lord, all his virtues, which do his will.” (Vulg.) We ought, therefore, to imitate the promptitude, swiftness, and perfection of the angels in fulfilling the will of God, that we may venerate and honour it, and in so doing we shall do good to ourselves. For, as the Apostle says (1 Thess. iv.), “This is the will of God, even your sanctification.”
Note 1.—The optative will of God which is termed significative. First, as commanding, by which He commands, or forbids something to be done. This we are always bound to fulfil. The other, persuading and counselling, by which He counsels us to embrace a state of poverty, or virginity, or a state of perfection, &c. This we are not bound to fulfil absolutely; for we may decline on account of some special honest cause, as, for example, infirmity, temptation, the duty of succouring our parents, or the State—something which God has only counselled generally. The reason is, that God neither wills with an absolute will that which He only counsels, nor does He will to bind me to this particular thing. Hence I am not bound to fulfil it. But it is otherwise with respect to God’s will of commanding.
Note 2.—Our will ought to be conformed to the Divine will. First, effectively, because that our will may be good, it ought to will that which God wishes it to will—that, namely, which the law of God wishes it to will and do. For our will ought to submit itself to the Divine law and will, as creating and ordering all things.
2. Objectively: Our will ought to consent to the Divine will, as to its formal object, or as to the reason of willing. That ours may be a right will it ought to will that which is good and conformable to right reason, and, therefore, to the Divine will. For the Divine will wills that which right reason declares ought to be done. For the eternal Law which is in the mind and will of God is the norm and the rule of all goodness and all virtue.
3. Our will, in order to be good, is not bound always to conform itself, with respect to the material object or thing willed, even when this is known, to the Divine. This is plain from examples of Holy Scripture. For God willed Sodom to be overthrown; but Abraham, as far as he was concerned, wished it not to be, wherefore he prayed to the LORD that He would not destroy it. God willed that the infant which was born to David of adultery should die. David was intensely grieved that it should die. God willed that Christ should not come in the flesh until 4,000 years had elapsed. The prophets desired that Christ should come quickly. God willed to forsake the Jewish nation, and to transfer His beneficences to the Gentiles. But Paul was so grieved at this that he wished to be anathema from Christ to avert it. In fine, this is so true, that God can command me to will something which He Himself willeth not. Thus He commanded Abraham to will to slay his son, whom, nevertheless, God willed not to be slain. The reason is that what God willeth may be inconvenient and troublesome to man. For, as S. Augustine says, one thing is suitable for man, another thing for God (Enchirid. 101). Whence, so far as it is troublesome, a man may will it not, and grieve over it. But this affection will be in accord with the Divine will in general. For piety and charity dictate that it is right that we should desire our own safety and that of our friends, and that we should, as far as we can, procure it. But if we perceive afterwards that it is the absolute will of God that this should not be, we must not fight against it, nor murmur at it, but rather submit humbly to it, and acquiesce in it, and say with Christ in the garden, “Not My will, but Thine be done.” For that first will of ours, differing from God’s will, as respects the thing willed, is wishing (velleitas) rather than absolute will. Wherefore, it always includes this condition, expressed or implied, “if it so please God.”
Hence it follows further that we are not bound to will those things which happen by God’s permission only; indeed, there are some things which we ought not to will, as sins, for neither does God in any manner will these. And some other things which are not sins we are not bound to will: we may wish them not to happen, and with all our might strive against them, such are slaughters, the destruction of cities. Yet even in such things as these it seems best to say with the Psalmist, “Just art thou, 0 Lord, and right is thy judgment.” (Vulg.) Wherefore it is better, for the most part, to consider that these things are permitted by the just judgment of God for His glory, and to acquiesce in the Divine dispensation, rather than to vex ourselves by grieving too much over them.
We can, therefore, be unwilling that such things should happen, so far as evils spring from them, and yet will them so far as God wills them to be for the just punishment of sins. For this is God’s absolute will, which is called of God’s good pleasure, to which we ought to consent by rejoicing in good things, and by suffering without murmuring in evil things, as when God chastises us with famine, or pestilence, or war. As Maldonatus says, “We ask that the will of God may be done in us, as well as by us; for it is of greater importance that the very least part of the will of God should be done than every good of a creature, quà creature, should befall. And S. Cyprian (Traci. de Mortalitate), when he was exhorting his people to bear patiently the pestilence which was at that time devastating the province, says, “We should remember that we ought to do not our own will but God’s, according to what the Lord has bid us daily pray.”
That is a notable thing which we read in the Life of S. Christina (apud Surium, Jun. 23). On the same day on which Jerusalem and the Cross and Sepulchre of Christ were captured by Saladin and the Saracens, she, who was then in Belgium, knew what had happened by revelation from God, and yet she rejoiced in spirit. When asked why she rejoiced, she answered thus: “Christ hath decreed, that for the indignity done to Him that land should be subject to this ignominy, although it was sanctified by His Passion; yet it shall return with Him in the end of the world, when, for the sake of recovering that soul which is to live for ever, and which was redeemed with His blood, men shall be turned from iniquity to a zeal for righteousness, and shall shed their own blood, and shall, as it were, recompense the death of the Saviour with great devotion.”
To this we may add that infidels relatively live better and offend God less than professing Christians who know God better, and have received greater benefits from Him. Wherefore the Holy Land was given up by God to Saladin and the Saracens on account of the multitude of the enormities which the Christians committed who inhabited it, such as not even the Turks are wont to commit. These enormities are graphically described by Marinus Sanutus, in his work entitled The Secret Cross of Christians.
Lastly, R. Gamaliel (in Pirke Avoth, c. 2) well says, “Make God’s will altogether thine own will; yea, leave thine own to fulfil His. For thus will God make the will of others concordant with thine.” This is the congruous reward of obedience, that like as we obey the Divine will, so will others obey and consent to our will.
As in heaven, so in earth. “He bids us who have our conversation here below have fellowship with the inhabitants of heaven; and He would that before we come to that habitation above, we should make earth another heaven.”
The hieroglyphic of prayer is a golden chain let down from heaven with the motto, Thus are we drawn to the stars. Homer feigned that a golden chain was let down from heaven by Jupiter, that the rest of the gods who were living upon earth might attach themselves to it and drag him out of heaven. They, endeavouring to do this with all their might, were by it, beyond their expectation, drawn up as by a ladder into heaven. This is the symbol of prayer, for prayer is the ascension of the mind to God; and D. Dionysius affirms it to be the golden chain by which we draw God Himself to us, and draw ourselves to Him, when we submit our will to His most just and infallible will. And this is the great result of our prayers; and this Christ Himself has expressed for us in these words of the Lord’s Prayer, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Mystically, S. Cyprian by heaven understands the righteous, and by earth, sinners: Grant, 0 Lord, that sinners may do Thy will as the righteous do it.
Second.—S. Augustine by heaven understands Christ, who descended from heaven to earth, that He might espouse earth, i.e., the Church on earth to Himself by the Incarnation; as though He had said, Grant, 0 Lord, that like as Christ doeth Thy will in all things, so also the Church may do it; for she is the Spouse of Christ, whom it behoveth to be in all things conformed to her Bridegroom.
Moraliter. The sanctity, rest, joy, and perfection of a Christian consist in denial of his own will and conformity with the will of God. As S. Bernard says (Serm. 28 in Cant.), “This conformity marries the soul to the Word.”
S. Gertrude was wont to repeat these words, Thy will be done, three hundred and sixty-five times a day with the greatest devotion, and she perceived that this was a sacrifice most pleasing to God. Once, when she was told by God to make a choice of either health or sickness, she replied, “I most fervently desire that Thou wouldst not do my will but Thine.” And by this means she abode in the deepest peace and joy. For he who knows that he possesses all things in God, and counts all other things as nothing, and considers God’s will as the best, and rests wholly in it is able to say with the Psalmist, “I will lay me down in peace and take my rest;” and with S. Augustine (lib. 1 Confess., c. 1), “Thou, 0 Lord, has made us for Thyself, and our heart is restless until it resteth in Thee.” There is extant a short but famous dialogue of S. Catherine of Sienna upon this subject, in which she teaches that the utmost peace and perfection consist in conformity to the Divine Will; that a man should plainly and wholly resign to that Will not only his own will but all that he is or has, and should say everywhere and always in every event whatsoever, Thy will be done. S. Catherine had fashioned an abode in her heart, with chambers tabulated according to the Divine Will; and in it she was wont to dwell most happily and holily. In it she shut herself up, so that she thought nothing, said and did nothing, save what she believed would be pleasing to the Will of God. And therefore the Holy Spirit was wont to teach her whatever ought to be done; for she had heard from God, “Believe, My daughter, that thy God is better able to know and will what is for thy good than thou art; and therefore to order and direct all things, prosperous and adverse, for thy good, far more surely than any father and mother care for, and procure benefits for, an only child ”
Give us this day our supersubstantial (many MSS. read daily) bread. This is the fourth petition, in which we begin to ask for the things which concern ourselves. S. Chrysostom connects this petition with the one preceding—thus: “I, Christ, bid you ask that the will of God may be done by you, as it is done by the angels. I do not, however, equal you to the angels, for ye have need of bread; but they require it not, for they are immortal and impassible, ye are mortal and fragile.” Hence Ruperti (lib. 17, in Gen. 25) concludes that all men, even princes and kings, are beggars from God. For as God fed the children of Israel for forty years in the wilderness, by raining down manna upon them from heaven, so every day, when we sit at table, God as it were rains food upon each of us from above. Hence David says, “I am a beggar and poor. The Lord careth for me.” (Ps. xl. 17, Vulg.) “Let us all,” says Ruperti, “say as mendicants before the doors of Divine grace, Give us this day our dailv bread.” Hear S. Augustine: “A beggar asks of thee, and thou art God’s beggar. For we all, when we pray, are God’s beggars; we stand at the door of the great Father of the family, yea we prostrate ourselves, we groan as suppliants, wishing to receive something, and that very something is God Himself. What doth a beggar ask of thee? Bread. And what dost thou ask of God but Christ, who saith, ‘I am the living Bread which came down from heaven ?’”
Supersubstantial. You ask what is supersubstantial bread? I reply the Greek isε̉πιούσιον, which is found only here and in S. Luke xi. 3. 1. Angelus Caninius (lib. de Nom. Heb. N. Test.) translates to-morrow’s bread, for ε̉πιουσια ημερα is often put for the following day. He would paraphrase the petition thus, “As on the day of preparation, or Friday, the Hebrews in the wilderness collected manna for the Sabbath, on which day they were to rest, so do Thou, 0 Lord, give us this day bread for to-morrow, for we are not solicitous for anything beyond, but after to-morrow we await, and as it were prepare ourselves for the Lord’s Resurrection, and the eternal jubilee. Therefore, we collect our baggage, and only ask for bread for to-morrow. It is in favour of this that S. Jerome writes that the Hebrew Gospel of the Nazarenes reads מחר machar, i.e. “for tomorrow.” Whence S. Athanasius (Tract. de Incarn. Verb.) thinks that we here ask for the Holy Spirit, who is the Divine Bread, whom we hope to feed upon and enjoy in Heaven, and whose first-fruits we receive and taste in the Eucharist.
2. S. Jerome explainsε̉πιούσιον by περιούσιον, that is principal, glorious, excellent. Symmachus translates elect, or that which is above all substances, and is superior to all creatures. So also Cassian (Collat. 9. 20), Cyril (Cat. Mystag. 5), and S. Ambrose (lib. 5, de Sacrament. c. 4), who by this bread understands the Eucharist which in Zech. ix. is called “the corn of the elect.” (Vulg.)
3. Literally,ε̉πιούσιος, means that which pertains to substance, say substantial, essential, that which is for the preservation of man’s life and substance, as often as is necessary. So S. Chrysostom, Theophylact, and S. Basil, as well as many others, who with Suidas interpret ε̉πιούσιον, as ε̉πὶ τὴν ημω̃ν ου̉σίαν καὶ τροφὴν ε̉παρκου̃ται, or that which is congruous to, and suffices for, our substance and nutrition, that which subserves, not pleasure but necessity, that which is not too delicate or abundant but frugal and moderate, i.e. daily. Hence the Syriac has the bread of our need; Arabic, bread sufficient. So, also the Egyptian, Ethiopic, and Persian versions. So also the Fathers who lived before S. Jerome’s version, such as SS. Cyprian, Ambrose, Augustine, translate daily bread. And the Church in the Breviary and Missal uses the same ancient translation, and teaches the faithful to pray, Give us this day our daily bread.
S. Jerome, who, at the bidding of Pope Damasus, corrected the Latin version of the New Testament, in accordance with the Greek, in this place substituted supersubstantial for daily, to bring the passage into accord with the Greek.
This supersubstantial, or daily bread, is a parallel expression to the Hebrew דבר יום davar yom, “the thing, or matter of a day.” For Christ forbids us to be anxious about the morrow, in which it is uncertain whether or not we shall be alive. “He would,” says S. Chrysostom, “that we should be always girded, and provided, as it were, with wings of faith, by which we may fly heavenward, and give no greater indulgence to nature than necessary use demands.” Again, S. Jerome’s reason for translatingε̉πιούσιον literally, by supersubstantial, was to indicate that in this petition we ask above all for heavenly bread, such as we receive in the Eucharist.
2. You ask what is this special supersubstantial, or daily bread. Calvin (lib. 3, Instit. c. 20, 44), and Philip Melancthon, in his Commonplaces, tit. de Invocat., understand it of corporeal food only. Some Catholics understand it to mean only spiritual food. Certainly SS. Jerome, Cyril, Ambrose, Cassian, speak expressly of this alone, in the passages about to be cited. But I say that this bread is both material, for the sustenance of the body, and spiritual and heavenly bread, suitable for the nourishment of the soul, such as the word of God and the Eucharist. We have need of both, and therefore we ought to ask for both, and for the latter so much more earnestly than the former, as the soul is superior to the body. And this is denoted by the word supersubstantial, which S. Jerome explains to mean superexcellent, surpassing all created substances, because, as Cassian says, “the sublimity of its magnificence and its sanctity is superior to that of the whole creation.” And for this reason, in the Greek, the definite article is added, doubled in truth,τὸν άρτον τὸν ε̉πιούσιον, the bread the supersubstantial. As though it were said, “Give us bread not common, but celestial and divine.” Christ alludes to the manna given to the Hebrews, which was a type of the Eucharist. For of manna, it is said in Ps. lxxviii. 24, “He gave them bread from heaven.” “Man did eat angels’ food.” Thus, therefore, manna was food ε̉πιούσιος, i.e., heavenly and angelic; but much more is the Eucharist. Whence in Wisd. xix. 20, both are called in Greek Ambrosia, which is said by the poets to be the food of the gods. S.Ambrose calls the Eucharist this supersubstantial bread. “If,” he says, “this be daily bread, why do you receive it only once a year? So live that you may be fit to receive it daily.” Thus the first Christians were accustomed to communicate daily, as is plain from Acts ii. 46. And S. Cyprian (de Orat. Domin.) says, “We ask that this bread may be daily given us, lest we, who are in Christ and daily receive the food of the Eucharist, by the intervention of some grave fault, by abstaining and not communicating, should be kept back from the heavenly Bread, and separated from the Body of Christ, when He Himself has admonished us saying, ‘I am the Bread of life, Who came down from Heaven. If any man shall eat of My Bread he shall live for ever.’” (S. John vi.)
Note that under the term bread, by a Hebraism, whatsoever is necessary for food, clothing, habitation, and the life both of the body and the soul, is sought for. “We ask for a sufficiency,” says S. Augustine (Epist. 121). “By the word bread we mean everything.”
And forgive, &c. Thus far in these petitions there has been supplication for good things; the last three petitions are deprecations against evil. Debts, S. Luke (xi. 4) interprets byάμαρτίας, i.e., sins; for sin is the greatest debt for the greatest injury, a debt which God exacts. And because this debt is infinite, neither man nor angel can make satisfaction to the rigour of justice, but only Christ, who is God and Man. These debts therefore are sins, which incur the punishment of hell. The sinful man pawns his soul to the demon, to death and hell; but to God he owes a hundred, yea an infinite number of souls, if he had them, and deaths in hell if he were able to bear them.
Hence the Fathers prove against the Pelagians that no one is without sin. The Pelagians asserted that the righteous pray, Forgive us our debts, not for themselves, but for others who have sinned; or if they do say it for themselves, they say it out of humility. S. Augustine confutes both these errors (lib. 2 de Peccat. Meritis, c. 10; and lib. 2 contra Epistolam Parmen., c 10.) “For we say not, Forgive the debts of others, but, Forgive us our debts.” In fine, the Council of Milev. (2. c. 1) pronounces an anathema upon those who pretend that Forgive us our debts is said by the saints not truly, but out of humility. “For who,” it asks, “could endure that in prayer a man should lie not to men, but to God; that he should ask with his lips that his own debts should be forgiven, and should mean in his heart that he has no debts to be forgiven?”
As we forgive, &c. Debts, that is, not of money, nor of restitution of fame, or honour, but of injuries done to us, that we should not follow them up with hatred, nor the wish for private vengeance, nor even for public punishment, unless the public welfare, or right reason require it. The word as does not denote the measure, or the rule which God follows in the forgiveness of sins: for we ought to pray that more may be forgiven us by God than others owe us—but the inductive cause which may move God to forgive, whence Luke says, Forgive us our debts, since we also forgive those who are indebted to us. This is the condition which God requires of us, and if it be fulfilled, He readily forgives, and if it be not fulfilled, He will not forgive, according to that which follows, For if ye forgive men their offences, your Father which is in heaven will forgive you, but if, &c. Wherefore S. Cyprian says, that to refuse to forgive is a sin so great that it cannot be blotted out by martyrdom. Thus we read that Sapritius fell from martyrdom, when he was all but holding his crown in his hands. For when he was about to be beheaded for his constancy in the faith, and was told to kneel down, he refused. This was because he would not forgive one Nicephorus, who had offended him, and who prayed him to pardon him. Nicephorus immediately put himself in the place of Sapritius, and thus obtained the palm which the other lost. Thus “the life of the saints is the interpretation of Scripture,” as S. Jerome says. Wherefore S. John the Almsgiver brought an angry prince to reconciliation by celebrating mass in his presence; and as he was saying, Forgive us our debts, straightway he was silent on purpose; but the prince proceeded, as we forgive our debtors. Then the patriarch turned to him, and said, “Take heed what you say to God in such an awful hour as this, As I forgive, so do Thou forgive me. At this admonition the prince was struck as by a thunderbolt, and replied, “Whatsoever Thou, Lord, shalt bid, that will Thy servant do.” And immediately he became reconciled to his enemy.
They therefore who are unwilling to forgive injuries, lie before God, and tacitly condemn themselves, and show that they are unworthy of His forgiveness. Let us add that these words have been laid down by Christ as a formula of prayer, that by them we should be admonished to forgive those who trespass against us. We forgive, i.e., as we ought and wish to forgive, but as our infirmity is not sufficient for this, do Thou, 0 Lord, give strength, and change our heart that we may be able to do it.
And lead us not, &c. Lead, not impel, as Calvin would interpret. For “God cannot be tempted of evil, neither tempteth he any man,” saith S. James (i. 13). God only permits us to be led into temptation. So the Fathers and all Catholics. In a manner, God is said to do what He permits, since nothing can be done without His suffering it to be. The meaning then is—1. Permit us not to be led into temptation in such a manner, at least, that we are overcome by it, as fishes and birds are taken in a net. “Let us not,” as S. Augustine says, “be bereft of Thy help, so that we should be deceived and consent to any temptation.”
2. Suffer not temptation to befall us. And yet in the Lives of the Fathers, we read, that certain saints wished for temptations as a means of increasing virtues through fortitude of mind and trust in God. Whence S. James says, “My brethren count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations.” For by temptation we are proved and exercised, We fight and are perfected. Christ therefore puts us in mind of our infirmity, and that because of it, we ought not to expose ourselves to temptations; but should, as far as may be, ward them off, and pray against them. And we can only overcome temptation by the help of God’s grace. Wherefore in temptation we must continually and ardently pray for God’s help. As S. Peter Chrysologus says, (Serm. 44), “He goes into temptation, who goes not to prayer.” And S. Gregory Nyssen says (Orat. 1 de Orat. Domin.), “if prayer precede business, sin findeth no way of access to the mind.”
But deliver us from evil. That is, from temptation, for of temptation the preceding petition speaks. 2 From the devil, who is the president and artificer of temptation. Thus Tertullian and S. Chrysostom. He is called in Greekό πονηρὸς the evil, or malignant one. As it is said (1 John v.), “That wicked one toucheth him not.” And, “Ye have overcome the wicked one.” For the devil tempts all by means of wicked men, the world, and the flesh. 3. More fully, S. Cyprian understands every evil to be intended here, everything which either incites to sin, or is a hindrance to virtue. And thus there is a clear distinction between this petition, the last and seventh, from the one which precedes it. Hear S. Cyprian: “When we say, Deliver us from evil, nothing remains, which we need ask for further: when once we ask for the protection of God against evil, and obtain it, we stand secure against everything which the devil or the world can do. For what dread of the world can there be to any one whose protector is God in heaven?”
Amen. This, says S. Jerome, is the seal of the Lord’s Prayer, approving and wishing that thus it may be.
Observe in the Greek MSS. is added, For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory for ever. Amen. Also read the Syriac, Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euthymius. But the Greeks seem to have added this by a pious custom, similar to that by which they add to the angelic salutation, For thou hast brought forth our Saviour, or to the Psalms the Gloria Patri. The Codex Vaticanus omits this doxology: and among the Latins, Tertullian, Cyprian, Jerome, Augustine, and Ambrose.
In the Bibliotheca Patrum, tom. 5, there is a paraphase of the Lord’s Prayer composed by S. Francis, partly literal, partly rnystical, which is so sublime, wise, and fervent, that I have thought it well to append it in this place.
“Our Father: 0 most holy Creator, our Redeemer, our Saviour, our Comforter. Which art in Heaven, in the angels, in the saints, illuminating them with the knowledge of Thyself, for Thou, 0 Lord, art Light, inflaming them with Thy Divine love; for Thou, Lord, art love, dwelling in them and filling them with blessing; for Thou, 0 Lord, art the chief and everlasting good, from whom are all, and without whom is no good. Hallowed be Thy name: that we may have a clear knowledge of Thee, that we may know the breadth of Thy kindness, the length of Thy promises, the height of Thy majesty, and the depth of Thy judgments. Thy kingdom come: that Thou mayest reign in us by Thy grace, and make us to come to Thy kingdom, where there is the open vision of Thee, and where Thy love is perfected and where Thy company and the fruition of Thee are everlasting; that we may love Thee with all our heart, by ever meditating upon Thee, by always desiring Thee with all our soul, by directing all our intentions to Thee, and by seeking Thy honour in all things, and by obediently corresponding to Thy love with all our strength, and with all the faculties of our souls and bodies, and by loving our neighbours as ourselves, by drawing all men unto Thy love with all our might, by rejoicing in others’ prosperity as though it were our own, and suffering with them in adversity, and by giving no offence to any one. Give us this day our daily bread: give us this day Thy beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in memory, in understanding, in reverence for the love which He had towards us, and of the things which He has done, spoken, and suffered for us. And forgive us our debts, through Thy mercy, and the unspeakable virtue of the Passion of Thy well-beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and the merits and the intercessions of the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the elect. As we forgive them that trespass against us: and because we do not fully forgive, do Thou, 0 Lord, cause us perfectly to forgive, that we may love our enemies as ourselves, and devoutly intercede for them, that we may render evil for evil unto no man, but strive to be profitable unto all in Thee. And lead us not into temptation: either secret or open, sudden or habitual. But deliver us from evil: past, present and to come. Amen, freely and spontaneously.” Thus was S. Francis accustomed to say, Our Father, at all the hours.
For if ye forgive men their trespasses (Gr.άμαρτίας, i.e., offences against you) . . . will also forgive you. If, that is, ye fulfil the other things which are required, viz., contrition and confession.
The Gloss has, “God has placed it in our power, either to provoke His judgment against us or to make His sentence merciful. This only does the judge require of us, that such as we would that He should be to us, we should show ourselves to our brethren.”
Moreover, when ye fast, &c. Christ has taught the way to pray, He now teaches how to fast, because prayer without fasting is weak, as S. Chrysostom says. He teaches that it should be in earnest, and in secret, not with the object of pleasing men but God. For sad, the Greek hasσκυθρωτοὶ, i.e., with a severe and lowering countenance, which is in opposition to being ίλαροὶ, or pleasant and joyful; σκυθρωποὶ is derived from σκυθροὶ, sad, disagreeable, and ώπα, the face.
Disfigure,Gr. α̉φανίζουσι, which S. Jerome translates by demoliuntur, S. Hilary by conficiunt, and S. Chrysostom by corrupt; others better, obscure their faces, i.e., by affecting, putting on severity, pallor, sadness of countenance. Others translate labefaciant, obliterant, perdunt, and velut e medio tollunt: i.e., make their face as it were not to appear, which the Vulgate represents by exterminate. For α̉φάνιζειν is, to make to vanish, to take the face out of sight, as those who use varnish; such are they who by a pretended emaciation and sorrowful pallor feign sanctity. Such are hypocrites, as the scribes were. Hear S. Jerome, “Exiles exterminantur, who are sent away extra terminos, beyond the boundaries of their country.” Then he explains exterminate by demoliuntur. “The hypocrite demolishes his countenance that he may feign sadness: and when perchance his mind is joyful he may carry grief in his face.”
But thou . . . Father in secret. Who hides His essence and His majesty, and who is as much in secret as in public places, and who sees as clearly the hidden things of the heart as the manifest things of our works.
It was a practice with the inhabitants of Palestine, in common with other Orientals, on holy days and other joyful occasions, especially at feasts, to anoint and wash the face, both for purposes of refreshment, for beauty, and for a sweet smell. Palestine being a very hot country the climate occasions profuse perspiration. They wash the face then to wipe away the perspiration, and anoint to banish unpleasant odours. This is clear from Ruth iii. 3, Judith x. 3, 2 Sam. xii. 20, Luke vii. 46. When the Magdalene anointed Christ the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. (John xii. 3.) Therefore in times of affliction and mourning they abstained from anointing and washing.
Observe here a catachresis, similar to that in chap. iii. 6, and elsewhere. For Christ does not here command any actual anointing, but joyfulness and the putting away all outward signs of fasting. Anoint thine head, i.e., be joyful, and present the appearance of hilarity, as though thou wert anointed with oil, which is the symbol and the cause of gladness, according to the words “That he may make his face joyful with oil.” (Ps. civ. 15) Yea, that thou shouldst so conceal thy fasting, as to put on the symbol of feasting, namely, anointing and washing. Thus S. Jerome. With this agrees that golden saying of S. Syncletica, preserved in the Lives of the Fathers, “As a treasure manifested is quickly spent, so virtue which is made known, or becomes public, is destroyed. For as wax rnelteth at the face of the fire so does a soul become worthless by praise, and lose the vigour of its virtues.”
Lay not up, &c. Gr. Treasure not for yourselves treasures. Christ here shows which are the true riches, and which the false—the true, heavenly; the false, earthly. Note the three modes of corruption. The moth corrupts garments; rust, gold and silver; thieves steal all other things.
Christ here calls men away from the desire of riches by three considerations. 1. Because they are fleeting and corruptible. 2. Because they darken the mind. 3. Because they draw the whole mind to themselves, so that it cannot serve God, for no one is able to serve two masters such as God and mammon.
But lay up for yourselves, not for children or grandchildren, not for ungrateful heirs, but for yourselves, i.e., for your soul. “What folly,” says S. Chrysostom, “to leave your treasures in the place from whence ye are going away, instead of sending them before you whither ye are going.” Further on he says, “If you should wish to behold the heart of a man who loveth gold, you will find it like a garment that is being eaten away by ten thousand worms, for you will find it perforated by cares on every side, putrefying with sins, full of corruption. But not like this is the soul of the man who is voluntarily poor. Rather, it doth shine like gold, it is resplendent like jewels, it blossoms like the rose. There is no moth there, no thief, no anxiety about the things of this life, but like the angels, so it liveth. It is not subject to the devils, it doth not stand beside the king, but it standeth near to God. Its warfare is not with men, but with angels. It hath no need of servants, rather doth it subject the passions unto it as its servants. What can be more noble than such a poor man as this? Be it that he hath not horses and a chariot. But what need hath he of them, who shall be borne above the clouds to be with Christ?”
For where, &c. Your treasure, i.e., what thou valuest, what thou lovest and delightest in, what is the dearest to thee of all things, on which thou spendest thy time and thoughts.
Dost thou wish to know what is thy treasure, what thou lovest and valuest? Consider what thou most often hast in thy mind. If thou thinkest most frequently of heavenly things, then thou lovest heaven; but if of earthly things, then thy treasure is on earth. Like a mole, thou buriest thy heart in the earth.
The light of the body, &c. Those who have bad sight, says S. Jerome, see many lamps instead of one. A single and clear eye beholds things simply and purely as they are.
But if thine eye be evil, &c. A single eye is one that is sound, and free from humours which affect and disturb the sight. Thy whole body will be luminous, as though it be full of eyes; because the light of the eye going before will direct all thine actions in the right way. But if thine eye be evil, Gr.πονηρὸν, i.e., badly affected, and full of vitiated humours, thy whole body will be dark, because it will lack light and a guide, i.e., the illumination and guidance of thine eye. If therefore the light (of thine eye) that is in thee be darkness, how great is the darkness! For the rest of the body which is naturally dark, since it has no light except from the eyes, if it be deprived of them, how dark must it be! How will it go astray, and grope in blindness. “What blackness of darkness will there be in thee!” says S. Hilary.
These words are a parable, like several others of the sayings of Christ in this sermon. By the eye we may understand with SS. Jerome, Chrysostom, Jansen, Maldonatus, Toletus, and others, the mind or understanding. For what the eye is to the body the understanding is to the mind. As the eye directs the body, so does the practical understanding direct the mind. Whence the error and fault of the soul springs in action from the error and fault of the understanding, and this again frequently arises from depraved inclinations and covetous desires. For what the desire lusteth after, that the understanding affecteth, so that it judgeth it to be good and sought after. This has to do with what He has spoken a little before: Where thy treasure is, there will thy heart be also. He here explains what He means by the heart—calling it the eye of the mind—i.e., the practical understanding, which goes before and directs all our actions by its light. Christ wishes to teach that the mind cannot be right and pure, nor consequently the actions which flow from it be pure where the heart is blinded by avarice and cupidity.
2. We may with S. Augustine and S. Gregory (lib. 28 Moral. c. 6), and Bede, understand by the eye the intention of the mind. For this moves, rules, and bends the mind and the understanding whithersoever it will. If it be directed purely to God and divine things as its end and aim, it will cause that the work originating in the mind shall be altogether pure and holy. But if the intention be depraved and impure, it will make the work flowing from it, even if it be a good work, become impure, evil, and vitiated. For in the whole chapter, from the first verse, Christ demands a good intention, and requires it in alms, in prayer, in fasting, indeed in every good work. S. Luke (xi. 36) adds some things to this parable, which will be expounded in the proper place.
No man can serve two masters, not only opposite but even different masters. It is a proverb, signifying that it is a rare and difficult thing to satisfy two masters of different dispositions and tempers, or to belong equally to both. Christ applies this proverb to avarice and the religion and worship of God. It is impossible to be the servant of God and also of money. Wherefore if you desire to serve God and give Him your heart, you must tear it away from gold and riches. This is Christ’s third argument and the most powerful of all, by which He calls away the Scribes and all men from the love of riches, because it is indeed impossible to serve them and serve God.
For either he will hate the one, &c. Instead of hold to, Augustine reads will suffer, endure (patientur), and explains it to refer to mammon, or riches, meaning that mammon is so imperious and hard a master, that the avaricious serve him with hard servitude, that they do not love him, but that they bear or suffer his harsh slavery. Vatablus translates, will owe himself to one—i.e., will give him his heart, will render him a loving servitude. The meaning of this disjunctive sentence is: “The slave of two masters will not in reality serve two, but will either hate one and love the other, or vice versa, will love and sustain the one, will hate and despise the other.”
Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Ye cannot give yourselves up to God and the desire of riches, so as to set your heart upon both, to expend your cares and works and labours upon both, especially since God so wills to be worshipped and loved above all things, that He will suffer no rival in the love of Himself.
Observe, the Heb. מטמון matmon, the Chald. mamon, the Syriac mamoma, as S. Jerome says, mean riches and treasures which rich men hide in secret receptacles, from the root טמון to hide. Or as Angelus Caninius says from aman, to strengthen, establish. For as it is said in Prov. x. 15, “The substance of a rich man is the city of his strength.” (Vulg.) So, too, riches are called in Hebrew charil, from strength, because they make the rich strong and powerful. And for this reason mamon is more correctly spelt with one m, as it is in the Chald. and Syriac books. Also gain in the Punic language, which is akin to Hebrew, is called mammona, as S. Augustine tells us (lib. de Ser. Dom. in Mont. c. 22). Hence also the Persian version of this passage renders mammon by transitory riches and possessions.
Observe, Christ does not say, “Ye cannot possess riches and God,” for Abraham, Isaac, David, Solomon, and many saints had both; but they did not set their hearts upon riches, but used them for pious purposes. But He said, “Ye cannot serve God and riches.” For he who serves mammon is the slave of riches. He does not rule them as their master, but he is ruled by them as their slave, so as to undertake all labours and sufferings which the desire of wealth suggests to him. Verily this is a hard and miserable servitude. But “to serve God is to reign.” Well does S. Bernard say (Ser. 21 in Cant.), “The covetous man hungers after earthly things like a beggar—the believer despises them like a lord. The former in possessing them is a beggar, the latter, by despising them, keeps them.”
Hear S. Augustine (lib. 4 de Civit. c. 21)—“The heathen were wont to commend themselves to the goddess of money, that they might be rich—to the god. Æsculanus and his son, Argentinus, that they might have bronze and silver money. They made Æsculanus the father of Argentinus, because bronze money was first in use, afterwards silver. I really wonder why Argentinus did not beget Aurinus, because gold followed silver coin.” The reason why money was made a goddess was because of her power and empire; for, as it is said in Ecclus. x., “All things are obedient to money.” By money are procured dignities, wine, feasts, clothes, horses, chariots, and what not? Whence Hosea (xii. 8) says of such men, “Verily I am made rich; I have found my idol.” (Vulg.) Hence also Juvenal (Satr. 1) says, “With us the majesty of riches is the most sacred of all things.” And Petronius Arbiter makes them equal, or indeed superior to Jupiter.
“Be money there, ask what you please,
’Twill come: your chest great Jove will sieze.”
Well does S. Jerome say (Epist. 28 ad Lucinium), “Ye cannot, saith the Lord, serve God and mammon. To put away gold is the work of beginners, not of the advanced Christian. Crates, the Theban, did that, so did Antisthenes. But to offer ourselves to God is the distinguishing mark of Christians and Apostles: for they, casting with the widow the two farthings of their poverty into the treasury, delivered to the Lord all the living that they had, and deserved to hear the words, ‘Ye shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.’”
Ver. 25.—Wherefore I say unto you, &c. For your life, Vulg., anima, “for your soul.” For it has need of food, not strictly speaking, but that it may be kept in the body, and animate the body. And again, in the soul resides all sense of food, all taste of and pleasure in it. For the soul, i.e., for the life, as S. Augustine says, because the soul is the cause of life.
For, take no thought, the Greek has μὴ μεριμνα̃τε, take no anxious thought, lest, through care, ye be troubled with anxiety and distress; for the desire of gathering wealth divides the mind, and distracts it with various cogitations, cares, and anxieties, and as it were cuts it in twain. Christ, then, does not forbid provident diligence and labour in procuring the necessaries of life for ourselves and those who belong to us, as the Euchitæ maintained, who wished to pray always without working, against whom S. Augustine wrote a book, On the Work of Monks. But Christ forbids anxious, untimely, fearful solicitude, care that distrusts God, a heart grovelling in the earth, and distracted from the service of God.
And in order that He may remove it from us, He gives us seven reasons or arguments against it. The 1st is in this verse in the words which immediately follow; this reason is from the care which God has of our bodies. The 2nd reason is drawn from the birds, for whom God cares and whom He feeds. The 3rd, in ver. 27, from the uselessness of all our care without God. The 4th, in ver. 28, from the lilies and the grass, which God clothes and adorns. 5th, in ver. 31, because such a care is fit only for pagans, not for Christians. 6th, in ver. 32, because God knows all things, and it pertains to His providence to provide us sustenance, that He should add food to those who seek the kingdom of God. The 7th, ver. 34, because sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. So many arguments does Christ use, because by far the greater part of mankind labour under this undue anxiety about providing food and raiment for themselves and their families, which is a great misery, and more than asinine toil.
Is not the life, &c. This is the first reason drawn from a minor to a major probability, as though He said, “God who gave us our souls and bodies, yea, created them out of nothing, and who continually, as it were, recreates them, He surely will give those things which are less, as food and clothes, without which the body cannot subsist. As S. Chrysostom says, “When God is our Feeder, there is no need to be anxious, for ‘the rich have wanted, and suffered hunger, but they that seek after the Lord shall want no manner of thing that is good.’” (Ps. xxxiv. Vulg.)
Behold the fowls of the air, &c. Are ye not much better than they? Gr. μα̃λλον διαφέρετε αυ̉τω̃ν. Are ye not very different from them? This is the second argument. If God feeds the irrational birds, who are not anxious about their living, and gives them corn and food which they have not laboured for, how much more will He feed you, who are reasoning men, created after His Image, you who are His sons and heirs, and redeemed with the Blood of Christ. He compares men not to the oxen of the earth, but to the birds of heaven, to teach them that they ought to be heavenly, and be like birds, and fly away in spirit from earth to heaven, and expect from God necessary food both for their souls and bodies. For the birds are contented with provision for the day, and are not anxious about to-morrow, but rest calmly on Gods providence, and give up their leisure time to flight and song. “Christ,” says S. Chrysostom, “might have brought forward the examples of Moses, Elias, John, who were not anxious about their food, but He preferred to take the irrational birds, that He might the more deeply impress His hearers.” For why cannot men do what birds do? Why should men be anxious when birds are not?
S. Francis had a wonderful delight in birds, especially in larks, and used to invite them to sing the praises of God. So a little after his death, some larks came and assisted at his funeral. In a vast multitude they flew to the roof of the house in which his body lay, and circling around it with gladness more than common, they celebrated the praise and glory of the Saint. He was accustomed to compare the brethren of his Order to larks, and to exhort them to imitate them. “For the lark,” he said, “has a crest like a cap. So also the Friars minor wear a cowl, or hood, to put them in mind that they ought to imitate the humility and innocence of boys, who hide their faces in their caps. 2. The lark is of an ashen colour, and the frock of the brethren is of an ashen grey, to put them in mind of the saying of God to the first-formed man, “Remember that thou art dust, or ashes, and unto ashes thou shalt return.” 3. Larks live in poverty without anxiety, they pluck the grains which the earth affords; so also the brethren profess poverty; they live by begging, without care, placing their hope of a harvest in the providence of God and the charity of the faithful. 4. Larks, as soon as they have found a grain and eaten it, are borne by a direct flight aloft towards heaven, that they may shun the eyes of beholders, singing as they fly, and returning thanks to God, the Parent and Nourisher of all creatures. The brethren do the same, “for man hath eaten angels’ food,” i.e., bread asked of alms. And the angels incite those who are rich to give the brethren bread when they beg. Lastly, larks are called in Latin, alaudæ, from laus, praise, because they praise God by their constant songs. So also the brethren despise earthly things, and seek for heavenly, because they are strangers on earth, and citizens of heaven, and they know they have been called by God for this object, that they may praise Him perpetually with psalmody, by preaching and by a holy life. (See Luke Wadding, in Annal. Minor. A. C. 1226, num. 39 et alii.) Listen to S. Ambrose (Serm. in c. 1. Malachi): “The birds,” he says, “give thanks for worthless food, wilt thou banquet on the most precious feasts and be ungrateful? Who then that has the feeling of a man should not blush to close the day without the singing of psalms, when the birds themselves manifest their exceeding gladness by the melody of their hymns? And who would not sound His praises in spiritual songs, whose praises the birds pronounce with their modulated notes? Imitate, then, my brother, the tiny birds by giving thanks to thy Creator every morning and evening. And if thou hast greater devotion, then imitate the nightingale for whom the day is not long enough to sing praise, but makes sweet the night watches by her melody. So do thou, passing the day in giving thanks and praise, add to this employment the hours of the night.”
Which of you by taking thought, Gr. μεριμνω̃ν, i.e., being solicitous, anxiously thoughtful, or careful. This is Christ’s third argument against cares. “If the thought and solicitude and labour be utterly vain, by which a man would wish to devise some plan whereby he might add one cubit to his stature, so that he should be higher or taller, yea though he should cogitate for a thousand years, and torment himself by devising plans, he would never accomplish it; how much more vain is that anxious care by which men strive to prolong life by anxiety and their own pains. For as it is the office of God alone to increase the body which He has created, and make it attain its proper stature, so much more is it His by His fatherly providence, to preserve and lengthen out to its appointed end the life which he has given, and supply it with necessary food.”
Euthymius here takes notice that a cubit is spoken of because a cubit is the proper measurement for a man’s height. For every properly proportioned man is four cubits in height, and four in width; that is, when his arms are extended from his shoulders. This extension of the arms is the measure of every man’s stature. And thus man is found to be four-square, that is to say, as broad as he is long; to teach him to be four-sided and solid in constancy and virtue.
Vers. 28, 29.—And why take ye thought for raiment? &c. This is the fourth argument, drawn from the beauty of lilies. He intimates that as lilies grow, and are nourished, they are clothed in their petals as with raiment. The beauty, fragrance, grace, and elegance with which God adorns lilies are very wonderful. (See Pliny, lib. 21, c. 5.)
Christ makes mention of lilies in connection with Solomon’s robe, or cloak, because it was of a shining white colour, and ornamented with flowers of lilies, worked or embroidered upon it with a needle, and vying with lilies in its beauty. Such was the nature of the robes worn by kings and princes. Hear Pausanias (in Eliacis, lib. 5); where he describes an image of Jupiter: “Besides other things, he had a pallium of cloth of gold, on which were embroidered animals of many kinds, but especially lilies.” (See Pineda, lib. 6 de rebus Salomonis, c. 5.)
Anagogically, lilies and vestments embroidered with lilies represent the robe of glory and immortality with which Christ shall clothe His elect in heaven. Wherefore, Ps. xlv. is entitled, For Lilies, or For those who shall be changed, viz., from death to immortality, from misery to glory. Wherefore Hilary says that by the lilies which neither toll nor spin, the brightness of the heavenly angels is signified, upon whom, in a manner surpassing the erudition of human learning, the brightness of glory has been placed by God. And since, in the Resurrection, all the saints shall be like the angels, He desires us to hope for the robe of glory after the fashion of angelic splendour.
Moreover how lovely lilies are, and how they adorn princes at their nuptials, especially Solomon and Christ, and how greatly Solomon delighted in them is plain from his Song of Songs, where he often says of the bridegroom, “He feedeth among lilies.” And again, “I am the flower of the field, and the lily of the valleys.” (Vulg.).
Now Christ prefers the loveliness of lilies to the garments of Solomon, which were made of silver tissue, embroidered with lilies, because they being natural surpass all the elegance of art, which is nothing more than an imitation and adumbration of reality. For art is, as it were, the ape of nature, and as much as a shadow is surpassed by the reality which causes it, so much is nature superior to art. As S. Jerome says, “What silk, what regal purple, what figures of embroidery, can be compared to flowers? What is as red as a rose? What is as fair as a lily? And that the purple of the violet is surpassed by no marine shell-fish is the judgment of the eye rather than of speech.”
Tropologically, lilies are virgins, who, by increasing in virtues, grow in God, and are clothed with the garments of grace now and of glory hereafter. Whence it is said in Cant., “As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters.”
For if God so clothe, &c. To the beautiful lilies he adds the humble grass and hay for greater emphasis. The Greek is χόρτον, herb or grass. “If God clothe the grass in the fields with such greenness, with such fair blades and germs, which to-day is green and to-morrow is cut down and dry, and becomes hay, and is cast into the oven or furnace to heat it that it may bake bread, how much more will He clothe you, who are believing men, and His own sons and friends? You, I say, who, without any reason, are of little faith in the providence of God?” Observe that by this rebuke Christ shows that the common anxiety about food, and raiment is born of distrust in Divine providence. For if men thoroughly trusted in it they would not be so anxious, but would securely rest upon it. And then, with moderate labour and trusting in Him, God would provide them with all needful things.
Ver. 31.—For after all these things do the Gentiles seek. This is the fifth argument, that anxiety about these earthly things is the mark of a Pagan, and does not become Christians, who believe in the providence of God, yea, who feel and experience it every day.
For your heavenly Father knoweth, &c. The sixth argument. God truly knows what ye have need of in the way of food and clothes; He sees and beholds your wants, because He is God. Therefore He will provide for them, because He loves you as His children, for He is your Father, and He is able to provide, because He is your Heavenly and Almighty Father. Why then do ye not roll off all your care upon Him? For He both knows and is willing and able to succour your necessity. Christ adds in Luke xi. 29, Neither be ye of doubtful mind. Gr. μὴ μετεωρίζεσθε, on which see what I have there said. Whence S. Francis was wont to give his brethren no other provision for a journey than the words of the Psalmist, “Cast thy care upon the Lord, and he will nourish thee.” (Ps. lv. 22.) Where for care the Hebrew has jehabcha, which the Chaldee renders, thy hope; S. Jerome, thy love; Vatablus, thy weight, thy burden, i.e., thy solicitudes, thine anxieties, thy troubles, thy poverty, and whatever burdens thee and weighs thee down. The Roman Psalter has, thy cogitation. The root of the word is יהב yahab, signifying the desire of one who asks, whatever stirs and draws out thy anxious prayer. And He shall nourish thee. The Hebrew is, shall sustain, shall perfect, shalt take care of thee. S. Peter says, “Casting all your care upon Him, for He careth for you.” And S. Paul writes to the Philippians, “Be careful for nothing, but in all prayer and supplication with giving of thanks, let your requests be made known unto God.” See what is there said. We have a narrow mind, slender shoulders, a little strength. But God has the far-reaching eyes of His providence, and corresponding shoulders. For He is the true Atlas, who sustains heaven and earth upon His shoulders.
Ver. 33.—Seek ye therefore . . . all those things shall be added. Gr. προσθήσεται, shall be set before you, as SS. Cyprian and Augustine read, as bread and meat are set before a hungry beggar in a rich man’s house. First, not so much in time as in dignity says S. Augustine, in estimation and appreciation. Seek chiefly and above all things the kingdom of God, esteem it above all other things, count it as of highest value, but count temporal goods of small worth, and as only to be sought after in subordination to the kingdom of God, as things which are added by God, overweight, so to say, so far, that is, as they conduce to our real good.
Wherefore they err who say:—
“0 citizens, 0 citizens, first money get,
Then, after that, on virtue’s crown your hearts be set.”
Such is the error of those who at this day seek after and procure rich appointments, benefices, dignities, bishoprics, with all diligence, but think little of the responsibility and their own capabilities, and little of their own eternal salvation. The kingdom of God, i.e., His heavenly kingdom, eternal glory and happiness, and His righteousness, viz., the means which lead us to the kingdom of God, such as God’s grace, virtue, good and righteous works, by which we become righteous, or more just before God, works which God has prescribed and commanded that we should do them.
All these things shall be added. Therefore they are not the reward of good works, for this is wholly kept for us in heaven, says S. Augustine, but they shall be added as overweight, a little trifling addition to the infinite reward.
Take therefore no thought for the morrow, i.e., for time future. The seventh argument, Leave for the morrow, i.e., for the time to come, the care and anxiety of the morrow. Why do ye wish to be anxious and wretched before the time? For even though to-day ye summon to you to-morrow’s cares, to-morrow will, on that account, bring you not one care the less. Let therefore each care be kept for its own time, to-day’s for to-day, to-morrow’s for tomorrow; thus solicitude being divided into parts will be diminished, will become lighter, and will be borne more easily. Verily if a soul when it enters a human body could see all the poverty, pain and trouble and anguish, which in a lifetime, day after day, minute after minute, it would suffer, it would shudder and despair, and would not enter the body. Wherefore God hides from us the afflictions which we shall have to undergo, that we may take them day by day, and so sustain them. Wisely does S. Chrysostom say in this passage, “Far be it from us that the cares of another day should bruise us. For thou knowest not that thou shalt behold the dawning of that day on account of which thou tormentest thyself with anxiety.” And “What does it profit to care about future contingencies which, it may be, will never happen?”
Similarly the poet sings—
“Thou knowest not what the late eventide may bring.”
And the Psalmist says, “Day unto day uttereth a word, and night unto night showeth knowledge.” (Ps. xix. 3, Vulg.)
Christ here does not forbid all provision for future time, as for instance storing up the harvests of corn and wine and oil: for prudence and economy require this to be done: and this is what Joseph did so prudently in Egypt. (Gen. xli. 35.) Whence S. Anthony (apud Cassian. Collat. 2) says, that some who would keep nothing for to-morrow were deceived, and could not bring the task they had begun to a suitable end. Christ only forbids useless anxieties about the future, unseasonable cares, as when a man is anxious about those things the care of which does not, according to right reason, pertain to present but to future time.
Solicitude then is of two kinds, the first moderate and business-like, such as right reason dictates ought to be employed for such or such an affair or business: this is laudable and needful, with all prudence and virtue. The other is immoderate, vain, and unbecoming, by which a timid or covetous man vainly torments himself about future events which are altogether uncertain, and can neither be foreseen nor delayed. This sort of care which the Greeks call μεριμνα is anxious care, worry; and it is this which Christ forbids. Whence the Gloss says, “Not labour, or provident care, is forbidden, but anxiety which chokes the mind.”
Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. That, is the day’s trouble, care, affliction. Every day brings to man its own trouble and solicitude. The Greek is κακία, evil, badness. It is put here for κακώσις the bringing of evil, or afflicting. Thus Jacob said to Pharoah, “Few and evel,” that is, miserable, “have been the days of the years of my pilgrimage.” (Gen. xlvii. 9.) So, on the other hand, goodness or good, is to be taken for joyful, glad, pleasant, as Ps. cxxxiii., “Behold how good and joyful a thing it is, brethren, to dwell together in unity.” Thus SS. Jerome, Chrysostom, Augustine, &c. S. Chrysostom gives the reason, “That He may rebuke them more sharply, He has almost personified time itself, and introduced it as though itself afflicted by men, as though it cried out against them on account of the superfluous affliction which they impose upon it.” Hear also S. Augustine: “Necessity He calls evil, because it is for a punishment: it pertains to mortality, which we have deserved by sin. When we see the servant of God providing for necessary things, we do not think he is acting contrary to the commandment of God. For the Lord, as an example, kept a bag. And in the Acts of the Apostles we read, that necessary things were provided for the future on account of the threatened famine. We are therefore not forbidden to provide, but to fight on account of those things.”