Seek first the Kingdom of God: and all things shall be added unto you, saith the Lord.
Verse 33. Your Father knoweth; he does not say God knoweth, but your Father, to teach us to apply to him with greater confidence. S. Chrys. — He that delivers himself entirely into the hands of God, may rest secure both in prosperity and adversity, knowing that he is governed by a tender Father. Aquin.
31. "Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32. (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."
Gloss, non occ.: Having thus expressly cut off all anxiety concerning food and raiment, by an argument drawn from observation of the inferior creation, He follows it up by a further prohibition; “Be not ye therefore careful, saying, What shall we eat, what shall we drink, or wherewithal shall we be clothed?”
Remig.: The Lord repeated this, that He might shew how highly necessary this precept is, and that He might inculcate it more strongly on our hearts.
Rabanus: It should be observed that He does not say, Do not ye seek, or be thoughtful for, food drink, and raiment, but “what ye shall eat, what ye shall drink, or wherewithal ye shall be clothed.” Wherein they seem to me to be convicted, who, using themselves the usual food and clothing, require of those with whom they live either greater sumptuousness, or greater austerity in both.
Gloss, non occ.: There is also a further needless solicitude wherein men sin, when they lay by of produce or money more than necessity requires, and leaving spiritual things, are intent on these things, as though despairing of the goodness of God; this is what is forbidden; “for after all these things do the Gentiles seek.”
Pseudo-Chrys.: Since their belief is that it is Fortune and not Providence that has place in human affairs, and think not that their lives are directed by God’s counsel, but follow the uncertain chance, they accordingly fear and despair, as having none to guide them. But he who believes that he is guided by God’s counsel, entrusts his provision of food to God’s hand; as it follows, “for your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.”
Chrys.: He said not ‘God knoweth,’ but, “Your Father knoweth,” in order to lead them to higher hope; for if He be their Father, He will not endure to forget his children, since not even human fathers could do so. He says, “That ye have need of all these things,” in order that for that very reason, because they are necessary, ye may the more lay aside all anxiety. For he who denies his son bare necessaries, after what fashion is he a father? But for superfluities they have no right to look with the like confidence.
Aug., De Trin., xv, 13: God did not gain this knowledge at any certain time, but before all time, without beginning of knowledge, foreknew that the things of the world would be, and among others, both what and when we should ask of Him.
Aug., City of God, xii, 18: As to what some say that these things are so many that they cannot be compassed by the knowledge of God; they ought with like reason to maintain further that God cannot know all numbers which are certainly infinite. But infinity of number is not beyond the compass of His understanding, who is Himself infinite. Therefore if whatever is compassed by knowledge, is bounded by the compass of him that has the knowledge, then is all infinity in a certain unspeakable way bounded by God, because it is not incomprehensible by His knowledge.
Nemesius, De Nat. Hom., 42: That there is a Providence, is shewn by such signs as the following; The continuance of all things, of those things especially which are in a state of decay and reproduction, and the place and order of all things that exist is ever preserved in one and the same state; and how could this be done unless by some presiding power? But some affirm that God does indeed care for the general continuance of all things in the universe, and provides for this, but that all particular events depend on contingency. Now there are but three reasons that can be alleged for God exercising no providence of particular events; either God is ignorant that it is good to have knowledge of particular things; or He is unwilling; or He is unable. But ignorance is altogether alien from blessed substance; for how shall God not know what every wise man knows, that if particulars were destroyed, the whole would be destroyed? But nothing prevents all individuals from perishing; when no power watches over them. If again, He be unwilling, this must be from one of two reasons; inactivity, or the meanness of the occupation. But inactivity is produced by two things; either we are drawn aside by some pleasure, or hindered by some fear, neither of which can be piously supposed of God. If they affirm that it would be unbecoming, for that it is beneath such blessedness to stoop to things so trifling, how is it not inconsistent that a workman overseeing the whole of any machine, leaves no part however insignificant without attention, knowing the whole is but made up of the parts, and thus pronounce God the Creator of all things to be less wise than craftsmen? But if it be that He is unable, then is He unable to bestow benefits on us. But if we are unable to comprehend the manner of special Providence, we have not therefore any right to deny its operation; we might as well say that, because we did not know the number of mankind, therefore there were no men.
Pseudo-Chrys.: Thus then let him who believes himself to be under the rule of God’s counsel, commit his provision into God’s hand; but let him meditate of good and evil, which if he do not, he will neither shun the evil, nor lay hold of the good. Therefore it is added, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness.” The kingdom of God is the reward of good works; His righteousness is the way of piety by which we go to that kingdom. If then you consider how great is the glory of the Saints, you will either through fear of punishment depart from evil, or through desire of glory hasten to good. And if you consider that is the righteousness of God, what He loves, and what He hates, the righteousness itself will shew you His ways, as it attends on those that love it. And the account we shall have to render is not whether we have been poor or rich, but whether we have done well or ill, which is in our own power.
Gloss., interlin.: Or, He says “his righteousness,” as though He were to say, ‘Ye are made righteous through Him, and not through yourselves.’
Pseudo-Chrys.: The earth for man’s sin is accursed that it should not put forth fruit, according to that in Genesis, “Cursed is the ground in thy works;” [Gen 3:17] but when we do well, then it is blessed. Seek righteousness therefore, and thou shalt not lack food. Wherefore it follows, “and all these things shall be added unto you.”
Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 16: To wit, these temporal goods which are thus manifestly shewn not to be such goods as those goods of ours for the sake of which we ought to do well; and yet they are necessary. The kingdom of God and His righteousness is our good which we ought to make our end. But since in order to attain this end we are militant in this life, which may not be lived without supply of these necessaries, He promises, “These things shall be added unto you.” That He says, “first,” implies that these are to be sought second not in time, but in value; the one is our good, the other necessary to us. For example, we ought not to preach that we may eat, for so we should hold the Gospel as of less value than our food; but we should therefore eat that we may preach the Gospel. But if we “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,” that is, set this before all other things, and seek other things for the sake of this, we ought not to be anxious lest we should lack necessaries; and therefore He says, “All these things shall be added unto you;” that is, of course, without being an hindrance to you: that you may not in seeking them be turned away from the other, and thus set two ends before you.
Chrys.: And He said not, Shall be given, but, “Shall be added,” that you may learn that the things that are now, are nought to the greatness of the things that shall be.
Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 17: But when we read that the Apostle suffered hunger and thirst, let us not think that God’s promises failed him; for these things are rather aids. That Physician to whom we have entirely entrusted ourselves, knows when He will give and when He will withhold, as He judges most for our advantage. So that should these things ever be lacking to us, (as God to exercise us often permits,) it will not weaken our fixed purpose, but rather confirm it when wavering.