At that time, Jesus said to His disciples: Fear not, little flock, for it hath pleased your Father to give you a kingdom. Sell what you possess, and give alms. Make to yourselves bags which grow not old, a treasure in Heaven which faileth not: where no thief approacheth, nor moth corrupteth. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Verse 32. Christ styles the elect in this place, his little flock, on account of the greater number of the reprobate; or rather through his love of humility, because though the Church be most numerous, yet he wishes it to continue in humility to the end of the world, and by humility to arrive at the reward which he has promised to the humble. Therefore, in order to console us in our labours, he commands us to seek only the kingdom of heaven, and promises us that the Father will bestow it as a reward upon us. Ven. Bede.
Verse 33. Be not solicitous that whilst you are fighting for the kingdom of heaven, the necessities of this life will be wanting to you, on account of his command. Sell what you possess, that you may bestow charity; which those do, who having left all things, nevertheless labour with their hands for their livelihood, and to bestow the rest in charity. Ven. Bede.
32. Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33. Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. 34. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
GLOSS. (non occ.) Our Lord having removed the care of temporal things from the hearts of His disciples, now banishes fear from them, from which superfluous cares proceed, saying, Fear not, &c.
THEOPHYLACT. By the little flock, our Lord signifies those who are willing to become His disciples, or because in this world the Saints seem little because of their voluntary poverty, or because they are outnumbered by the multitude of Angels, who incomparably exceed all that we can boast of. The name little our Lord gives to the company of the elect, either from comparison with the greater number of the reprobate, or rather because of their devout humility.
CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. But why they ought not to fear, He shews, adding, for it is your Father’s good pleasure; as if He says, How shall He who gives such precious things be wearied in shewing mercy towards you? For although His flock is little both in nature and number and renown, yet the goodness of the Father has granted even to this little flock the lot of heavenly spirits, that is, the kingdom of heaven. Therefore that you may possess the kingdom of heaven, despise this world’s wealth. Hence it is added, Sell that ye have, &c.
BEDE. As if He says, Fear not lest they who warfare for the kingdom of God, should be in want of the necessaries of this life. But sell that ye have for alms’ sake, which then is done worthily, when a man having once for his Lord’s sake forsaken all that he hath, nevertheless afterwards labours with his hands that he may be able both to gain his living, and give alms.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. 25. in Act.) For there is no sin which almsgiving does not avail to blot out. It is a salve adapted to ever wound. But almsgiving has to do not only with money, but with all matters also wherein man succours man, as when the physician heals, and the wise man gives counsel.
GREGORY NAZIANZEN. (Orat. 14.) Now I fear lest you should think deeds of mercy to be not necessary to you, but voluntary. I also thought so, but was alarmed at the goats placed on the left hand, not because they robbed, but did not minister unto Christ among the poor.
CHRYSOSTOM. (ubi sup.) For without alms it is impossible to see the kingdom. For as a fountain if it keeps its waters within itself grows foul, so also rich men when they retain every thing in their possession.
BASIL. (reg. brev. ad int. 92.) But some one will ask, upon what grounds ought we to sell that which we have? Is it that these things are by nature hurtful, or because of the temptation to our souls? To this we must answer, first, that every thing existing in the world if it were in itself evil, would be no creation of God, for every creation of God is good. (1 Tim. 4:4.) And next, that our Lord’s command teaches us not to cast away as evil what we possess, but to distribute, saying, and give alms.
CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. Now perhaps this command is irksome to the rich, yet to those who are of a sound mind, it is not unprofitable, for their treasure is the kingdom of heaven. Hence it follows, Provide for yourselves bags which wax not old, &c.
BEDE. That is, by doing alms, the reward of which abideth for ever; which must not be taken as a command that no money be kept by the saints either for their own, or the use of the poor, since we read that our Lord Himself, to whom the angels ministered, (Matt. 4:11) had a bag in which he kept the offerings of the faithful; (John 12:6.) but that God should not be obeyed for the sake of such things, and righteousness be not forsaken from fear of poverty.
GREGORY OF NYSSA. But He bids us lay up our visible and earthly treasures where the power of corruption does not reach, and hence He adds, a treasure that faileth not, &c.
THEOPHYLACT. As if He said, “Here the moth corrupts, but there is no corruption in heaven.” Then because there are some things which the moth does not corrupt, He goes on to speak of the thief. For gold the moth corrupts not, but the thief takes away.
BEDE. Whether then should it be simply understood, that money kept faileth, but given away to our neighbour bears everlasting fruit in heaven; or, that the treasure of good works, if it be stored up for the sake of earthly advantage, is soon corrupted and perishes; but if it be laid up solely from heavenly motives, neither outwardly by the favour of men, as by the thief which steals from without, nor inwardly by vainglory, as by the moth which devours within, can it be defiled.
GLOSS. Or, the thieves are heretics and evil spirits, who are bent upon depriving us of spiritual things. The moth which secretly frets the garments is envy, which mars good desires, and bursts the bonds of charity.
THEOPHYLACT. Moreover, because all things are not taken away by theft, He adds a more excellent reason, and one which admits of no objection whatever, saying, For where your treasure is, there will your hearts be also; as if He says, “Suppose that neither moth corrupts nor thief takes away, yet this very thing, namely, to have the heart fixed in a buried treasure, and to sink to the earth a divine work, that is, the soul, how great a punishment it deserves.”
EUSEBIUS. For every man naturally dwells upon that which is the object of his desire, and thither he directs all his thoughts, where he supposes his whole interest to rest. If any one then has his whole mind and affections, which he calls the heart, set on things of this present life, he lives in earthly things. But if he has given his mind to heavenly things, there will his mind be; so that he seems with his body only to live with men, but with his mind to have already reached the heavenly mansion.
BEDE. Now this must not only be felt concerning love of money, but all the passions. Luxurious feasts are treasures; also the sports of the gay and the desires of the lover,