Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.” (Mt 7: 6)

What does our Lord mean here, 1. by “what is holy” and by our “pearls,” and 2. Who are the “dogs” and “swine” before whom we are not to offer these?

1. The “holy” and the “pearls” in us are our God-like and God-given gifts, like love, faith, wisdom, fear of God, desire (both spiritual and physical), beauty (both spiritual and physical), creativity, compassion, etc. 2. The “dogs” and “swine” on whom we might be tempted to waste our God-given gifts and energies are not other people, because we are never to regard other people as “dogs” or “swine.” They are the evil spirits that may entangle us in sinful obsessions, like lust, love of money, vainglory, self-centered fear, idleness, despondency, etc. For example, in the widespread case of “lust of the flesh” (often misnamed as “unrequited love”), we might find ourselves giving away all our love, all our desire, all our beautiful, God-given energies not to the visible, flesh-and-blood human being who is the object of our lust (because he or she simply rejects it), but to a ravenous spirit that is “tearing us in pieces.” As St. Paul writes, “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world…” (Eph 6: 12) And, as Bonnie Tyler reminds us, “It ain’t right with love to share / When you find he doesn’t care / for you…”.

So today, if I find myself being “torn to pieces” by some obsession, be it lust or workaholism or something else, let me not become bitter against other people or another person, somehow involved in this story. Let me, first of all, recognize the value of “what is holy” and what are precious “pearls,” in me. And then, let me gratefully and prayerfully place myself and my gifts where they belong, before God, asking Him to re-direct my love, my desire, and my beauty toward His purpose for me, as I forgive myself and others for the whole story of my “sin” (i.e., my “amartia” or “missing the mark” of my God-given purpose or vocation). Thank You, Lord, for guiding and keeping me, as Your precious work-in-progress, full of precious “pearls,” even when I don’t put them to proper use. Glory be to You.

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