Verse 1: Judge not. Christ does not here prohibit the public judgments of magistrates, by which they condemn the guilty and absolve the innocent, but only private judgments, and only when they are rash, envious, detractive. For we have not been set to be judges but companions of our neighbors. If we have an evil opinion of our neighbor, we do him an injury and we take away his good name if we let this judgment be heard by others. So S. Jerome, Bede, and Basil. There is hardly any one who is found to be free from this fault."
St. Augustine: "Concerning those things, then, which are known to God, unknown to us, we judge our neighbors at our peril. Of this the Lord has said, Judge not. But concerning things which are open and public evils, we may and ought to judge and correct, but still with charity and love, hating not the man, but the sin, detesting not the sick man, but the disease.
That you may not be judged. St. Augustine: "The your rashness in punishing another will punish yourself. Injustice always injures him who does the wrong."
Acts 6:3 - pick 7 men of good reputation to be deacons;
Acts 16:2 - the brethren give good testimony in regards to Timothy;
Romans 16:17 - mark those who make dissensions and offenses and avoid them.
1 Cor. 6:1-5 - judge, judge, judge.
1 Cor. 10:15 - judge for yourself what I say.
1 Cor. 11:13 - judge for yourself.
Verse 2: With what measure. If you show yourself kind in judging, then will others judge you kindly.
Our measure cannot equal God's. His severity and His mercy both far surpass ours, yet His severity is less than our faults. For God punishes sin less than it deserves. S. James says, "Detract not one of another, my brethren. He that detracts his brother, or judges his brother, detracts the law, and judges the law" (4:11)
Verse 3: The mote, bit of straw, or chaff, or tiny particle of wood. The mote signifies little faults and defects; the beam denotes greater crimes.
Verse 6: Give not that which is holy. Christ had just shown who and what kind of persons ought to correct others. Now He teaches who ought to be corrected and taught, and who not. Pearls, and that which is holy, here signify the same thing, namely the precious and heavenly doctrine of the Gospel, of faith and truth and, the holy sacraments. Moreover, the same persons are denoted by dogs and swine - those who are perverse and obstinate. These, on account of their impurity, are like pigs, and on account of their rebellious barking, like dogs. He adds the reason, because they, like hungry swine, despise and trample on holy doctrines which are the food of the soul, because they are contrary to their appetite and uncleanness. In the next place they are bitter against the setter forth of the holy doctrine, and tear him either by words, or deeds.
These words of Christ must be taken in one sense, because, Christ the Lord, S. Stephen, S. Paul, and others, preached the Gospel to the perverse and obstinate Jews, although they knew that they would be slain by them for so doing. For this they did that they might give public testimony to the truth and glory of God, and for the profit of those who were standing by. For in this way holy things are not presented to swine, but to God and His elect.
Verse 7: Ask and it shall be given. He returns to the subject of prayer, of which He had begun. For to it Luke refers these words (11:9). Observe, these three words, ask, seek, knock, mean the same thing, that is, earnest prayer. To ask signifies confidence in prayer as a prime requisite; to seek signifies zeal and diligence, for he who seeks for anything, applies his whole mind to obtain what he seeks. To knock means perseverance.
Others say - we ask by praying; we seek by living well; we knock by persevering." Or "Ask by faith, seek by hope, knock by charity." St. John Climacus says, Ask by striving, seek by obedience, knock by long-suffering.
Mystically, S. Bernard: "Seek by reading, and ye shall find in meditation: knock in prayer, and it shall be opened to you in contemplation.
Verse 8: For every one that asks, receives. St. Augustine says, "The physician knows best what is good for the sick man. Therefore God sometimes in mercy hears not." "The Lord often denies what we wish for, that he may give us what we would rather, in the end." "God does not deny Himself to those who ask, for He voluntarily offered Himself to those who asked not for him. And those who seek shall find Him: for He gave Himself to those who sought Him not, that He might be found of them: and He will open to those who knock, for He it is who crieth out, 'Behold, I stand at the door and knock.'"
Verse 9: Or what man is there among you, and
Verse 10: Or if he shall ask him a fish. He says a similar to that He said in the previous verse, but by a still more striking example. For if a father gave a stone to a child who asked him for bread, he would only give him a useless and uneatable thing; but if he gave him a serpent when he asked for a fish, he would give him not only a useless but a poisonous thing. Thus Christ speaks of what is supposed to be a moral impossibility.
Verse 11: If you then being evil. By our natural propensity to evil, which we have contracted in our nature by sin." S. Jerome. "Also by your own will and actions." S. Chrysostom was of another opinion: "In comparison with God," he says, "all appear evil, even the good, as in comparison with the sun all things, even such as are light, appear dark."
Verse 12: All things therefore. St. Chrysostom, "What I have said before concerning love of your neighbor and giving of alms, all these things arise out of this primary natural precept, and first principle of moral philosophy."
Christ here may be alluding to the monition which Tobit, when he was dying, gave to his son (4:16): "See you never do to another what you would hate to have done to you by another."
Verse 13: Enter in at the narrow gate. The narrow gate, is, says S. Augustine, the Law of God, which straitens and represses our desires: it is also obedience, continence, mortification, the daily cross, which the law bids either to be made or to be carried. The broad gate which leads to perdition is too great liberty, gluttony, lust, etc. Christ has here regard to His own sanctions and explanations of the Law, as, for example, Whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire, and, If any one shall smite thee on thy right cheek, offer him the other also. For all these things are arduous and strait, or narrow. By liberty and indulgence Adam fell into sin, and we all through him, and then into all concupiscence. Thus the remedy for these things is nothing else but strict self-restraint, the cross, and mortification; for contraries are cured by contraries.
Wherefore S. Luke has (13:24), Strive to enter by the narrow gate, where for strive, the Greek has agonize, contend as it were in a contest and an agony, exercise your utmost power and might as in a wrestling match, as if for life itself.
Verse 15: Beware of false prophets. Christ passes on to a most salutary admonition concerning the taking heed of false teachers, who teach that the way to heaven is not strait, but easy, and who thus send those who follow them not to heaven but to hell. They teach that we need not fast, nor go to confession, nor preserve virginity nor religious vows; they allow all sorts of liberty to the flesh, and take away all merit from good works.
Observe, a prophet in Scripture means not only one who foretells future events, but many other persons, such as holy and religious men, singers, workers of miracles, and here as in many other places, a doctor or teacher. For the prophets were teachers, who made known the way of life, and of understanding things which were not plain to others, whether he foretold future events or not. For in Hebrew a prophet is called a seer, because he sees secret and hidden things, especially such things as future events. False prophets therefore are false teachers, whether they be heretics or Pagans.
Sheep's clothing. To veil their errors and heresies, first under the plea of liberty of conscience; 1. By quoting texts of Scripture that serve to favor their heresies; 2. The pretext of reforming the morals of the Church, especially those of the clergy and ecclesiastics; 3. By the simulation of meekness, simplicity, and piety; 4. By soft speeches and eloquence by which they cover their wolfish ferocity.
Who come, in truth, from themselves, neither called nor sent, nor approved by the bishops and prelates of the Church. Concerning these it is said (Jer. 23:21), "I did not send prophets, yet they ran."
Verse 16: By their fruits . . . Do men gather? Luther and Calvin have given examples. For Luther taught that vows are not binding upon the religious: that man does not possess free will, that he is the slave of necessity, that he must sin: that faith alone justifies: that good works have no merit before God. Calvin taught that God is the author of evils: that Christ despaired on the Cross, that He felt the pains of hell; which things are blasphemy, and contrary to the natural law and to reason. Calvin also maintained that the Faith, by which he meant his own perversion of it, should be defended and propagated by force of arms, even by the slaughter of lawful princes and kings, of bishops, priests, and Catholics who opposed it.
Verse 17: Even so every good tree. "For a good tree is not distinguished from an evil one by its leaves or flowers," says S. Bernard, but by its fruit.
1. By good tree in this place, we can understand a good will, or charity, and by a corrupt tree an evil will, as S. Augustine, Chrysostom, and others think, and also a good or bad teacher, for about these the words immediately preceding are spoken.
2. By the fruit of the tree, i.e., of a doctor, must be understood his doctrine, which comes true from a true teacher, false from a false one.
Many have fought with this passage, applying it falsely for the establishing their own heresies.
First, the Manichaeans endeavored to prove from it that some men are by nature good and others evil; or that there are two natural Principles, one good, which makes some men good; the other evil, which makes some men bad.
2. The Jovinians maintained from these words that a man who baptised is not able to commit sin.
3. The Pelagians inferred from it that there is no original sin, because from a good marriage as from a good tree, such an evil fruit as sin cannot be produced. S. Augustine.
4. The Donatists gathered from it that wicked priests, as bad trees, cannot properly baptize.
5. The Calvinists argue from it that there is no free will in man to bring forth good works, or bad. The same infer from it that we are not justified by good works, but only declared righteous, since a tree is not made good by its good fruits, but is manifested by them to be good.
But all these interpretations are false. They have nothing to do with the passage. For Christ properly applies this maxim only to prophets, that is to true or false teachers.
Verse 21: Not every one that says to me. Christ clearly describes the fruit of a good tree, i.e., of a. good Christian will do the will of our Father, that in truth you shouldst not only believe in Him and in His law as set forth by Christ, but that you should in deed, and in all things, fulfil the same (S. Augustine).
St. John Chrysostem: Where He seems to touch the Jews chiefly who placed everything in dogmas; as Paul accuses then, If you are called a Jew, and rest in the Law. (Gal 3:11)
St. Augustine: But it may create a difficulty how this is to he reconciled with St. Paul, No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:3). Paul uses the word 'say' in this passage to express the will and understanding of him that says it. But the Lord uses the word in its ordinary sense, for he seems to say who neither wishes nor understands what he says.
St. Jerome; For Scripture uses to take words for deeds; according to which the Apostle declares, They make confession that they know God, but in works deny him. (Titus 1:21)
Verse 22: Many will say to me in that day the Day of Judgment.
St. John Chrysostem: See how He thus secretly brings in Himself. Here in the end of His sermon He shows Himself as the Judge. The punishment that awaits sinners He had shown before, but now only reveals who He is that shall punish, saying, Many shall say to me in that day.
And done many miracles. For it is plain from this verse that God does sometimes work miracles even by false prophets, as He did with Judas the traitor (Luke 10:17 etc.) and Caiphas (John 11:49-51) And Balaam the soothsayer (Numb. 24:3). S. Jerome says, "To work miracles is sometimes not because of his goodness who works them: but it is the invocation of the name of Christ which performs them for the good of others."
A miracle is a singular and supernatural operation of God alone, by which, He attests the right faith and truth. If God should listen to a false teacher who called upon Him to confirm his error by a miracle, God would seem to cooperate with him, and lie and deceive, which is impossible. For God has reserved the power of working miracles to Himself alone, that by them, as a testimony peculiar to Himself, He may seal His own Word and His own Truth, and testify that they emanate from Him.
In false miracles it is questionable whether God, or an angel, or the devil speaks and works. So D. Thomas (2a. 2ae. q. 178, art. 2). S. Augustine declares that he was held in the Church by the chains of miracles.
Thus God concurs with an impious priest in the consecration of the Eucharist, even though the priest intends to abuse it for the purposes of sorcery, or blasphemy, even to sell it to a Jew to mock at and pierce it. And understand this, that I have said as to a wicked man abusing the gift of miracles, upon the principle, that any grace given by God for one end may be abused by evil men for another end. For it is plain that the power of consecration is given by God to a priest for one end, although he may abuse his power for another end. So, if any should use this power for evil, we can see that it is the man who is abusing his gift, not God who is cooperating with him for evil.
In my name. He says in my name, not in My Spirit; for they prophesy in the name of Christ, but with the spirit of the Devil; such are the diviners. The Devil sometimes speaks falsely, the Holy Spirit never. The Devil sometimes speaks the truth, that he may commend his lying by this his rare truth. Yet they cast out demons in the name of Christ, though they have the spirit of his enemy; or where, they do not cast them out, but seem only to cast them out, the demons acting in concert with them. Also they do mighty works, that is, miracles, not such as are useful and necessary, but useless and fruitless.
Verse 23. And then will I profess to them. Jesus will not recognize their evil works as acceptable. "I knew you as My prophets, who did miracles in My Name: but as My friends and sons whom I predestined to the inheritance of My glory, I know you not. I do not love and delight in you, because the will and law of My Heavenly Father which you taught to others, you have not fulfilled in your deeds. Go therefore into everlasting fire, because ye have wrought iniquity." So says S. Augustine; and S. Gregory says, "Christ deserts them as unknown whom He did not know for the merit of their lives." This knowledge therefore of God is not speculative, but practical, loving, and affectionate: as we are said to know those whom we love, and not to know those whom we dislike.
Verse 24. Everyone therefore that hears my words. "Thus far have I taught you how you ought to live wisely and holily according to the will and law of God, if you wish to arrive at the kingdom of God and everlasting happiness. For this is the direct way to them, and other way there is none. If you do those things which I have taught you, you will be like a prudent man who built his house upon the rock.
Christ here alludes to Prov. 10:25, "As a tempest that passes, so the wicked will be no more; but the just is as an everlasting foundation." And 9:1: "Wisdom has built herself a house, she has hewn out her seven pillars."
Mystical sense of the "house":
"Observe, the spiritual house of the soul is the perfection of virtues, for as a material house is built with much labor, and rises by degrees with various stones and beams, so is the spiritual house built up by various virtues and holy operations, and by long labor and slow degrees.
The length of the house is long suffering, its breadth is charity, its height, hope.
The four walls are the four cardinal virtues - Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, and Temperance.
The pavement is humility; the roof, patience.
The window is the desire of heavenly glory, through which the light of the Gospel finds an entrance.
The door is obedience to the Commandments. The doorkeeper is holy fear.
The watchmen are holy angels. The tower is contemplation. The mind or intellect is the master of the house. The husband is the will, the children are good works. The servants are the senses obedient to the mind.
The table is Holy Scriptures, the bread is the Eucharist, the wine is the Blood of Christ, the living water is the Holy Spirit. The oil is mercy. The bed is a quiet and peaceable mind. The sacraments are medicine, priests are the physicians. The Guests are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit." S. Bernard.
Note the order that Jesus uses. 1, in verse 15, He taught the necessity of a right faith and true teachers; 2, in verse 21 and following, the necessity of good works and a holy life. Mystically the Rock is Christ, "He builds on Christ who does what he hears of Him."
And the rain fell. temptations and adversities, they also mean the condemnation which Christ shall pronounce upon the wicked in the Day of Judgment. For this is often expressed in Scripture by the words storm and tempest, as in Isaiah 28:2, "Behold the Lord is mighty and strong, as a storm of hail: a destroying whirlwind, as the violence of many waters overflowing, and sent forth upon a spacious land."
We have an example in S. Peter, who being set firm upon a rock, that is, the love of Christ, overcame all adverse things. Wherefore when he was commanded by the chiefs of the Sadducees (Acts 4:18) to cease from preaching Christ, he answered, "We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard."
Verse 28. And it came to pass. Here then is concluded Christ's whole Sermon upon the Mount, containing the whole law and perfection of the Gospel. And although the precepts given are dispersed, they are all connected.
they were in admiration. Chrysostom: "He adds the cause of their wonderment, saying, He taught them as one having authority, and not as the Scribes and Pharisees." They were mostly astonished at His power, in that He spoke not referring to any other as the Prophets and Moses had spoken, but everywhere showing that He Himself had authority; for in delivering each law, He prefaced it with, But I say to you.
For he taught them. 1. Because Christ taught important matters with great authority, matters of the highest moment for salvation, and the Truth itself. But the Scribes taught with levity, trifling matters, such as rites and ceremonies, washings of the hands and of cups.
2. Christ in His teaching aimed only at the glory of God and the salvation of man. The Scribes sought their own glory and the applause of men.
"I say to you . . ."
5:22 But I say to you, that whosoever is angry with his brother, shall be in danger of the judgment. And whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council. And whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
28 But I say to you, that whosoever shall look on a woman to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart.
32 But I say to you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, excepting the cause of fornication, maketh her to commit adultery: and he that shall marry her that is put away, committeth adultery.
34 But I say to you not to swear at all, neither by heaven for it is the throne of God:
39 But I say to you not to resist evil: but if one strike thee on thy right cheek, turn to him also the other:
44 But I say to you, Love your enemies: do good to them that hate you: and pray for them that persecute and calumniate you:
6:2 Therefore when thou dost an alms-deed, sound not a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be honored by men. Amen I say to you, they have received their reward.
5 And when ye pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites, that love to stand and pray in the synagogues and corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men: Amen I say to you, they have received their reward.
16 And when you fast, be not as the hypocrites, sad. For they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Amen I say to you, they have received their reward.
25 Therefore I say to you, be not solicitous for your life, what you shall eat, nor for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life more than the meat: and the body more than the raiment?
29 But I say to you, that not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed as one of these.
3 Who are blessed and for what works are we most blessed. 14 The Apostles are a Light to the World. 21 The Law expounded.
1 Christ continues 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 exhorts not to be careful for worldly things: 33 but to seek God's kingdom.
1 Christ, ending his sermon on the mount, admonishes against rash judgment, 6 forbidds us to cast holy things to dogs, 7 Exhortes us to prayer, 13 To enter in at the strait gate, 15 To beware of false prophets, 21 and not to be hearers, but doers of the word.