Jesus said: ‘Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under foot and turn and maul you.
‘In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.
‘Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.’Matthew 7:6, 12-14
The opening of today’s reading must seem like a complete contradiction of Jesus’ earlier teaching that we should not judge and condemn others, but it isn’t really. The talk of dogs and swine always causes confusion because it sounds so condemnatory, but is it?
One interpretation of these words requires us to put them back into the context of Jesus’ great Sermon on the Mount. Jesus has been guiding us, steadily and systematically, onto a path that will lead us into a closer relationship with God, our Father in heaven. The terms ‘dog’ and ‘swine’ were common terms for gentiles in Jesus’ times. The gentiles were those who did not understand the importance of all that was holy in the Jewish world; they were those who did not understand what it means to see God as the loving Father of all.
This may sound as though Jesus was trying to institute a spiritual and theological ‘closed shop’. He was not! We know, that in his Great Commission, Jesus will send us out to all corners of the world to baptize all who would come to him – no matter who or what they are.
Today, Jesus is summarizing all that he has been teaching. Today, he is reminding us to make sure that we know what is holy and good, and then to use that knowledge to establish and strengthen our relationship with God.
Once we understand, then we can become true, faithful and effective disciples of our risen Saviour.
Then we can lead others through that narrow gate.