? about Today's Gospel: Mt 7:6



What does the first verse in today’s Gospel mean?

Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces.

Surely pearls do not incite swine to violence? What then could this mean?


PS Yes, I’m trying to be a little funny, but I seriously do want to know what this verse means.


Haydock’s Catholic Bible Commentary says this about verse 6:

Ver. 6. Give not that which is holy, or holy things, (as in the Greek) to dogs; i.e. to scandalous libertines, or infidels, who are not worthy to partake of divine mysteries and sacraments, who sacrilegiously abuse them, and trample them under their feet, as hogs do pearls. (Witham) — The sacred mysteries should not be given to those that are not properly instructed in the sublime nature of them; nor should we hold any communication of religion with those that are enemies to the truths of Christ, which they tread under their feet and treat contemptuously, and will be so far from having any more friendship for you on account of such a criminal complaisance, that it is more probable they will betray you and turn against you. (Haydock)

To put a gentler spin on this, if we try to give spiritual nourishment to those not disposed to receive it they will get no more out of it than swine would from pearls. Indeed, they may react so badly that they may turn on you. I’ve seen this happen many times right here on CAF. Someone comes with an anti-Catholic/anti-religion bias with no intention of understanding anything or even being tolerant. And when CAFers try to explain the things of the faith the reaction is often that of abusive disbelief–not just honest questioning or even debate. Those who are not ready to listen ought not to hear because it does them no good, and may even drive them farther away. So, it’s better to not engage them in useless debate. Not all those who have anti-Catholic misunderstandings or who don’t believe in any religion have that attitude, of course. We have many friendly people on CAF of all beliefs/no beliefs, but it does happen.


Wow, I find that terrifying, that I might be saying things that drive people away from the Gospel. I will make a point to think on this & then act on it…read…think…pray…relax…then act …


All that is laudable, but you can’t always tell who is ready to listen and who isn’t. All you can do is be ready to give an account of the joy that lies within you when asked, and leave the rest to God. :slight_smile:


Dogs and pigs were Jewish terms of derision used to describe Gentiles.

Read further before you get angry… deep breath…

Many Gentiles lived among the Jews and these were accepted by the Jews, even welcomed, because they observed the portion of the Law of Moses which instructed Gentiles on the requirements to live among the Jews. There were also “God fearing” Gentiles, those who believed in the God of Israel but had not become Jewish for some reason.

At Caesare’a there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort, a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms liberally to the people, and prayed constantly to God. (Acts 10:2-3)

Cornelius was a “God fearing” Gentile but could not become Jewish because of his position in the Roman military.

God fearing Gentiles and Gentiles who lives peacefully as sojourners and obeyed the commands in Leviticus for dwelling among the Jews were not dogs or pigs. Dogs and pigs are those who refused to acknowledge the God of Israel and rejected the “pearls of wisdom” in the Law of Moses. The dogs and swine attacked Israel out of jealousy.

Remember that Matthew’s theme is Jesus the King and his kingdom. Matthew’s audience is Jewish.



Going back to the original poster’s question…

Adult pigs and hogs are not sweet, gentle creatures of the meadows. They are aggressive, both male and female. The ancient pagans didn’t keep them in pens, either; they let them forage around all day with only a little guidance, and so the pigs often acted like feral pigs today.

So if you throw pearls before swine, yeah, obviously the herd of pigs will not be interested because they can’t eat them. They will run over the pearls; and then, since you’re standing there throwing things at them, they will run over you and rip you up.

Insisting on telling people stuff they’re not ready to hear is similar. People won’t be interested, and they will resent you for throwing it out there. So the idea is that you evangelize a little, give people a chance to be interested, and then move on if they’re not. You don’t pelt people with advanced knowledge, much less with advanced theological discourses or with deep devotional concepts they don’t want and can’t understand.


Our faith is a treasure. And the deeper the revelation of God that we’ve received the greater the odds of being ridiculed, persecuted, rejected for sharing it. And the nearer to the truth some people come, the more hostile they may react, not wishing to be challenged in their life choices.


Dogs and pigs were reference to Gentiles. See post 5.



And sometimes a dog is just a dog and a pig is just a pig. :wink: Otherwise, you would have us beleive that Jesus didn’t intend the Gospel to be shared with Gentiles. And if that were the case most of us wouldn’t be Christians. :slight_smile:


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.