Seriously, look at that face! This is our new dog Copper, and he is inquisitive, trusting and lovable. He also has a bunch of needs; my family and I are doing our best to figure him out and help him have his best life. So when I read today’s Gospel reading, it actually kinda hurt. “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, ” Matthew 7:6.
This is a hard one. Why would Jesus say this, when he mostly hung out with people who may have seen themselves or were even called dogs or swine? Is Jesus saying holy things are only for the good ones? And who are they? Part of me wants to imagine Jesus never saying this at all. Could Jesus look at Copper’s face and turn away? Usually when a Bible verse is bothersome like this, it can be a clue that God wants us to dig deeper into what may God may be trying to say to us right now. And since God is love, it is always good to err on the loving perspective.
To put this passage in context, there was a real divide between the Jews and Gentiles in Jesus’ day. They really didn’t mix, so maybe this is the human side of Jesus speaking as a Jewish person. Maybe he hadn’t grasped yet that Gentiles could handle the holy stuff too. This passage is also part of the Sermon on the Mount, so it is right after Jesus calls people blessed when they try to do good and right after he says not to judge people. Again I am confused why Jesus would then set a judgment with dogs and pigs. Since this is a Bible passage that will never be heard on a Sunday, my guess is the liturgical people are as confused about it as I am.
But when I pray about it and think about God’s love, I wonder if this reading is more about doing holy things together. It’s hard to fully embrace the holy all by ourselves. Can it even be done? Maybe Jesus was saying don’t just give the pearls of holiness to dogs and pigs for them to figure out by themselves. We need to share the holy together. Life can be so hard, right? Even figuring out the divisions is exhausting. It is time to just share our goodness with each other. You’ve probably experienced it already. When you have shared something deeply about yourself with someone, and that someone really hears you and shares something back that helps in some way. It touches the heart, right? That’s Jesus at work. We grow when we give back AND forth with each other. There is a holiness – and wholeness – in the exchange. In a way, we become more like Jesus when we share ourselves with each other like that. It can be risky, but love always seems to be that way.
Just like Copper is also helping me and my family live our best life too. The holy is simple love. Beautiful possibilities happen in its sharing.
Jesus, our loving friend, help us to share ourselves with each other even when we are afraid or unsure. Help us to do hard things together with love. Open our hearts to you, to all that is holy and good. Amen