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Bible Commentaries

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary
Matthew 6

 

 

Other Authors
Verse 1

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[BIBLIOGRAPHY]

Justitiam. In almost all Greek copies, Greek: eleemosunen.


Verse 2

must be understood figuratively, that we must avoid all ostentation in the performance of our good works. Many respectable authors are of opinion, that it was customary with the Pharisees and other hypocrites, to assemble the poor they designed to relieve by sound of trumpet. (Menochius) --- Let us avoid vain glory, the agreeable plunderer of our good works, the pleasant enemy of our souls, which presents its poison to us under the appearance of honey. (St. Basil)


Verse 3

content to have God for witness to your good works, who alone has power to reward you for them. They will be disclosed soon enough to man, when at the day of general retribution the good and the evil will be brought to light, and every one shall be rewarded according to his works. (Haydock)


Verse 4

repaying or rewarding of good works, so often mentioned here by Jesus Christ, clearly evinces that good works are meritorious, and that we may do them with a view to a reward, as David did, propter retributionem. (Haydock)


Verse 5

is forbidden in all these three good works of justice, but not the doing of them openly for the glory of God, the edification of our neighbour, and our own salvation. Let your light so shine before men, i.e. let your work be so done in public, that the intention remain in secret. (St. Gregory)


Verse 6

he who should pray in his chamber, and at the same time desire it to be known by men, that he might thence receive vain glory, might truly be said to pray in the street, and sound a trumpet before him: whilst he, who though he pray in public, seeks not thence any vain glory, acts the same as if he prayed in his chamber. (Menochius) --- Jesus Christ went up to the temple, to attend public worship on the festival days.


Verse 7

prayer is not here forbidden; for Christ himself spent whole nights in prayer: and he sayeth, we must pray always; and the apostle, that we must pray without intermission, 1 Thessalonians v.; and the holy Church hath had from the beginning her canonical hours for prayer, but rhetorical and elaborate prayer, as if we thought to persuade God by our eloquence, is forbidden; the collects of the Church are most brief and most effectual. (St. Augustine, ep. 121. chap. viii, ix, x.) (Bristow) --- Perseverance in prayer is recommended us by the example of the poor widow, who by her importunity prevailed over the unjust judge. (St. John Chrysostom, hom. xix.) --- The Greek word means, to babble or trifle.

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[BIBLIOGRAPHY]

Nolite multum loqui, Greek: me battologesete, which is balbutire, nugari, &c.


Verse 9

God is the common Father of all, we pray for all. Let none fear on account of their lowly station here, for all are comprised in the same heavenly nobility. ... By saying, "who art in heaven," he does not mean to insinuate that he is there only, but he wishes to withdraw the humble petitioner from earth, and fix his attention on heaven. (St. John Chrysostom, hom. xx.) Other prayers are not forbidden. Jesus Christ prayed in different words (John, chap. viii.), and the apostles; (Acts i, 24,) but this is an example of the simple style to be used in prayer, and is applicable to all occasions. --- Hallowed be thy name, from the word holy, be held and kept holy, be glorified by us, and that not only by our words, but principally by the lives we lead. The honour and glory of God should be the principal subject of our prayers, and the ultimate end of our every action; every other thing must be subordinate to this. (Haydock)


Verse 10

who desire to arrive at the kingdom of heaven, must endeavour so to order their life and conversation, as if they were already conversing in heaven. This petition is also to be understood for the accomplishment of the divine will in every part of the world, for the extirpation of error, and explosion of vice, that truth and virtue may everywhere obtain, and heaven and earth differ no more in honouring the supreme majesty of God. (St. John Chrysostom, hom. xx.)


Verse 11

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[BIBLIOGRAPHY]

Supersubstantialem, Greek: epiousion, which Greek word is translated, quotidianam, Luke xi. 3. So it is expounded by St. John Chrysostom Greek: om xv. p. 138. Greek: ti estin ton arton ton epiousion. St. Gregory of Nyssa (tom. i, p. 750, Edit. Paris. an. 1638) calls it, Greek: o artos tes semerines chreias esti. Panis hodiernæ, or quotidianæ necessitatis. Suidas expounds it, Greek: o te onsia emon armozon, qui est conveniens nostræ substantiæ or Greek: o kathemerinos, quotidianus.


Verse 12

all the petitions this alone is repeated twice. God puts our judgment in our own hands, that none might complain, being the author of his own sentence. He could have forgiven us our sins without this condition, but he consulted our good, in affording us opportunities of practising daily the virtues of piety and mildness. (St. John Chrysostom, hom. xx.) --- These debts signify not only mortal but venial sins, as St. Augustine often teaches. Therefore every man, be he ever so just, yet because he cannot live without venial sin, out to say this prayer. (Cont. 2 epis. Pelag. lib. i. chap. 14.) --- (lib. xxi. de civit. Dei. chap. xxvii.) (Bristow)


Verse 13

is not the tempter of evil, or author of sin. (James i. 13.) He tempteth no man: we pray that he would not suffer the devil to tempt us above our strength: that he would remove the temptations, or enable us to overcome them, and deliver us from evil, particularly the evil of sin, which is the first, and the greatest, and the true efficient cause of all evils. (Haydock) --- In the Greek we here read, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory; which words are found is some old Greek liturgies, and there is every appearance that they have thence slipped into the text of St. Matthew. They do not occur in St. Luke (vi. 4.), nor in any one of the old Latin copies, nor yet in the most ancient of the Greek texts. The holy Fathers prior to St. John Chrysostom, as Grotius observes, who have explained the Lord's prayer, never mention these words. --- And not being found in Tertullian, St. Cyprian, St. Jerome, St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, &c., nor in the Vatican Greek copy, nor in the Cambridge manuscripts. &c. as Dr. Wells also observes, it seems certain that they were only a pious conclusion, or doxology, with which the Greeks of the fourth age began to conclude their prayers, much after the same manner as, Glory be to the Father, &c. was added to the end of each psalm. We may reasonably presume, that these words at first were in the margin of some copies, and afterwards by some transcribers taken into the text itself. (Witham)


Verse 14

he again recommendeth the forgiving of others, as the means of obtaining forgiveness. (Haydock)


Verse 16

condemns not public fasts as prescribed to the people of God, (Judges xx. 26. 2 Esdras ix. Joel ii. 15. John iii.) but fasting through vain glory, and for the esteem of men. (Bristow)


Verse 17

forty days' fast, my dear brethren, is not an observance peculiar to ourselves; it is kept by all who unite with us in the profession of the same faith. Nor is it without reason that the fast of Christ should be an observance common to all Christians. What is more reasonable, than that the different members should follow the example of the head. If we have been made partakers with him of good, why not also of evil. Is it generous to exempt ourselves from every thing that is painful, and with to partake with him in all that is agreeable? With such dispositions, we are members unworthy of such a head. ... Is it much for us to fast with Christ, who expect to sit at the table of his Father with him? Is it much for the members to suffer with the head, when we expect to be made one day partakers with him glory? Happy the man who shall imitate such a Master. He shall accompany him whithersoever he goes. (St. Bernard Serm, in Quad.) --- Wherefore, my dear brethren, if the taste only has caused us to offend God, let the taste only fast, and it will be enough. But if the other members also have sinned, let them also fast. Let the eye fast, if it has been the cause of sin to the soul; let the ear fast, the tongue, the hand, and the soul itself. Let the eye fast from beholding objects, which are only calculated to excite curiosity and vanity; that being now humbled, it may be restrained to repentance, which before wandered in guilt. Let the ear fast from listening to idle stories and words that have no reference to salvation. Let the tongue fast from detraction and murmuring, from unprofitable and sacrilegious discourse; sometimes also, out of respect to holy silence, from speaking what appears necessary and profitable. Let the hand also fast from useless works, and from every action that is not commanded. But above all, let the soul fast from sin and the doing of its own will. Without these fasts, all others will not be accepted by the Lord. (St. Bernard, Serm. 2 de Jejun. Quad.) --- Fast from what is in itself lawful, that you may receive pardon for what you have formerly done amiss. Redeem an eternal fast by a short and transitory one. For we have deserved hell fire, where there will be no food, no consolation, no end; where the rich man begs for a drop of water, and is not worthy to receive it. A truly good and salutary fast, the observance of which frees us from eternal punishment, by obtaining for us in this life the remission of our sins. Nor is it only the remission of former transgressions, but likewise a preservative against future sin, by meriting for us grace to enable us to avoid those faults we might otherwise have committed. I will add another advantage, which results from tasting, one which I hope I am not deceived in saying you have frequently experienced. It gives devotion and confidence to prayer. Observe how closely prayer and fasting are connected. Prayer gives us power to fast, fasting enables us to pray. Fasting gives strength to our prayer, praying sanctifies our fast, and renders it worthy of acceptance before the Lord. (St. Bernard, Serm. de Orat. & []ejun.)


Verse 20

doing good works, distributing your superfluities to the indigent. (Haydock)


Verse 22

action is lighted or directed by the intention. If the intention be upright, the whole body of the action is good, provided it proceed not from a false conscience. If the intention be bad, how bad must be the action! Christ does not here speak of an exterior, but an interior eye. He, therefore, who directs all his thoughts to God, may justly be said to have his eye lightsome, and consequently his heart undefiled with worldly affections; but he who has all his thoughts corrupted with carnal desires is, beyond a doubt, enveloped in darkness. (St. John Chrysostom)


Verse 24

here a fresh motive to detach you from the love of riches, or mammon. We cannot both serve God and the world, the flesh and the spirit, justice and sin. The ultimate end of action must be one, either for this or for the next life. (Haydock)


Verse 25

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[BIBLIOGRAPHY]

Greek: Me merimnate. It does not seem well translated, take no thought.


Verse 27

should the children of God fear want, when we behold the very birds of the air do not go unprovided? Moreover, what possible good can this anxiety, this diffidence procure them? Almighty God gives life and growth, which you cannot do with all your solicitude, however intensely you think. Apollo may plant, Paul may water, but God alone can give the increase. (1 Corinthians iii. 6.) Of how much greater consequence is it then to love and serve Him, and to live for Him alone! (Haydock)


Verse 30

"O ye of little faith;" that is, of little confidence in God and his providence. (Menochius)


Verse 32

is not without reason that men are in such great fear and distress, when they are so blind as to imagine that their happiness in this life is ruled by fate. But such as know that they are entirely governed by the will of God, know also that a store is laid up for them in his hands. (St. John Chrysostom)


Verse 33

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[BIBLIOGRAPHY]

Et justitiam ejus, Greek: dikaiosunen autou, non Greek: autes, Dei, not Regni.

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Verse 34

morrow will bring with it cares enough, to occupy you in providing what will then be necessary for you. Christ does not prohibit all care about temporal concerns, but only what hinders us from seeking the kingdom of heaven in the first instance; or what makes us esteem more the things of this world, than those of the next. (Menochius) --- The affliction and labour which each day brings with it is a sufficient trial, nor ought we seek by our anxiety for labour and affliction before it arrive; for why should man forestall the evil day, which has not arrived, and perhaps may never arrive? But again, this does not prohibit us from making a provision for the morrow, for Jesus Christ does not say to us, provide not for the morrow, but, be not solicitous for to-morrow. (Estius, in different location) He who supplied our wants to-day, will supply them also to-morrow. The evil of the day is sufficient, without borrowing to-morrow's burden to increase the load. It is the curse of the envious and wicked to be self-tormented, whilst they who live by faith, can always rejoice in hope, the true balm of every Christian's breast, the best friend of all in distress.


Verse 41

 


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Bibliography Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Matthew 6:4". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/matthew-6.html. 1859.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, August 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20
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