6:1-18 We are warned against doing good in order to be seen, and are given three examples: almsgiving, prayer, and fasting. In each, the conduct of the hypocrites is contrasted with the conduct demanded of the disciples. The reference to the heavenly Father makes it clear this is a moral exhortation.
6:1 In later Judaism, almsgiving had become a bit legalistic. Thus it was not the giving itself that was condoned, but the attitude towards it. Those who today say "Well, I gave my 10%" [towards church] are displaying the same poor attitude. Alms were given via 1) "alms of the dish" (food and money received daily for distribution) and 2) "alms of the chest" (coins received on the Sabbath for widows, orphans, strangers, & the poor. (4)
6:2 Hypocrites is often referenced as the scribes and Pharisees (alms/charitable gifts were given in the synagogues on the sabbath). This attitude shows not only the controversies during Jesus' time but also displays some of the tension between Pharisaic Judaism and the church when Matthew was written.
6:2 Saint Basil expounds upon this: "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."
6:4 Here, as elsewhere in the Bible, is the clear indication that good works are meritorious. We are to do them by direct command of the Lord.
6:5 As with almsgiving, the "stand and pray" was a normal, expected part of Jewish life. Adult Israelite males were to pray at morning and evening and before and after meals.
6:7 It is not long prayer (as long prayer sessions were displayed many times in the Bible) that is warned against here, "but rhetorical and elaborate prayer, as if we thought to persuade God by our eloquence" (12).
6:9-15 Matthew's form of the Lord's Prayer follows the liturgical tradition. Luke's less developed form is probably closer to the original words of Jesus. See "Bible Questions: The Lord's Prayer" for details/theology on each verse.
6:16 The only fast prescribed/required in Mosaic law was that of the Day of Atonement, however, fasting had become a regular religious practice in later Judaism.
6:24 'Mammon' is an Aramaic word meaning wealth or property. We cannot serve both God and the world; the spirit and the flesh; justice and sin. The retention of the Aramaic word emphasizes the word (wealth) personified becoming an evil Master (and thus the person worshipping it a slave).
6:25-34 Jesus is not denying that humans have needs or condemning tending to those needs, but is rather advising against becoming overly anxious about them, thus becoming slaves to them.
6:34 Menochius expounded upon this verse, saying "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" (12)
Jennifer Becker Landsberger
Who am I? Freelance writer (magazines, websites, & copywriting), Catholic, military wife, and Mensan. Double Bachelor's in History & Psychology.
Witnessing by charity and love are above all. Studying the Bible and beyond helps me on this quest. Feel free to join my walk into the Bible.
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~~~Prayer before Writing-
Oh creator of the universe, who has set the stars in the heavens and causes the sun to rise and set, shed the light of your wisdom into the darkness of my mind. Fill my thoughts with a loving knowledge of you, that I may bring you like to others. Just as you can make even babies speak your truth, instruct my tongue and guide my pen to convey the wonderful glory of the Gospel. Make my intellect sharp, my memory clear, and my words eloquent, so that I may faithfully interpret the mysteries what you have revealed.
To my readers & fellow writers,
1. I will pray that God's grace helps illuminate all of our interactions- both those of simple reading and more active conversations.
2. I will communicate with you respectfully and civilly. These are (rightly) issues which we feel passionate about. But even in disagreements, I will respect you fellow "seekers of truth."
3. I will not fall into negative behavior or words, such as insinuations, exaggerations, blames, or personal attacks. I respectfully ask you to do the same.
4. I will pray we will all find the truth and strive to fulfill the two greatest commandments: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:30-31)
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Biblical Evidence for Catholicism by Dave Armstrong