logo-small

Matthew 6:18

That you appear not unto men to fast, but unto your Father who is in secret: and your Father, who sees in secret, shall reward you openly.
Read Chapter 6

Augustine of Hippo

AD 430
A question is here wont to be raised; for none surely would literally enjoin, that, as we wash our faces from daily habit, so we should have our heads anointed when we fast; a thing which all allow to be most disgraceful. Or; by the head we rightly understand the reason, because it is preeminent in the soul, and rules the other members of the man. Now anointing the head has some reference to rejoicing. Let him therefore joy within himself because of his fasting, who in fasting turns himself from doing the will of the world, that he may be subject to Christ. ...

Augustine of Hippo

AD 430
It is usual, therefore, to ask what He means, when He says: But you, when you fast, anoint your head, and wash your faces, that you appear not unto men to fast. For it would not be right in any one to teach (although we may wash our face according to daily custom) that we ought also to have our heads anointed when we fast. If, then, all admit this to be most unseemly, we must understand this precept with respect to anointing the head and washing the face as referring to the inner man. Hence, to anoint the head refers to joy; to wash the face, on the other hand, refers to purity: and therefore that man anoints his head who rejoices inwardly in his mind and reason. For we rightly understand that as being the head which has the pre-eminence in the soul, and by which it is evident that the other parts of man are ruled and governed. And this is done by him who does not seek his joy from without, so as to draw his delight in a fleshly way from the praises of men. For the flesh, which ought t...

Glossa Ordinaria

AD 1480
Ap. Anselm: The Lord having taught us what we ought not to do, now proceeds to teach us what we ought to do, saying, “When thou fastest, anoint thy head, and wash thy face.”. That is, to thy heavenly Father, who is unseen, or who dwells in the heart through faith. He fasts to God who afflicts himself for the love of God, and bestows on others what he denies himself. ...
< 1 min3/10

Gregory The Dialogist

AD 604
Hom. in Ev., xvi, 6: For God approves that fasting, which before His eyes opens the hands of alms. This then that you deny yourself, bestow on another, that wherein your flesh is afflicted, that of your needy neighbour may be refreshed.
< 1 min4/10

Jerome

AD 420
But He speaks in accordance with the manner of the province of Palestine, whereit is the custom on festival days to anoint the head. What He enjoins then is, that when we are fasting we should wear the appearance of joy and gladness.
< 1 min5/10

John Chrysostom

AD 407
Also if He bade us not to be of sad countenance that we might not seem to mento fast, yet if anointing of the head and washing of the face are always observed in fasting, they will become tokens of fasting. Therefore the simple interpretation of this is, that is added as an hyperbolical explanation of the command; as though He had said, Yea, so far shouldye be from any display of your fasting, that if it might be (which yet it may not be) so done, ye should even do such things as are tokens of luxury and feasting. Hom. xx: In almsgiving indeed, He did not say simply, ‘Do not your alms before men,’ but added, ‘to be seen of them.’ But in fasting and prayer He added nothing of this sort; because alms cannot be so done as to be altogether hid, fasting and prayer can be so done. The contempt of men’s praise is no small fruit, for thereby we are freed from the heavy slavery of human opinions, and become properly workers of virtue, loving it for itself and not for others. Foras we esteem it ...

John Chrysostom

AD 407
And whereas in the matter of almsgiving, He did not put it simply, but having said, Take heed not to do it before men, He added, to be seen of them; yet concerning fasting and prayer, He made no such limitation. Why could this have been? Because for almsgiving to be altogether concealed is impossible, but for prayer and fasting, it is possible. As therefore, when He said, Let not your left hand know what your right hand does, it was not of hands that He was speaking, but of the duty of being strictly concealed from all; and as when He commanded us to enter into our closet, not there alone absolutely, nor there primarily, did He command us to pray, but He covertly intimated the same thing again; so likewise here, in commanding us to be anointed, He did not enact that we positively must anoint ourselves; for then we should all of us be found transgressors of this law; and above all, surely, they who have taken the most pains to keep it, the societies of the monks, who have taken up th...

Leo of Rome

AD 461
Serm. in Quadr., vi, 2: Fasting ought to be fulfilled not in abstinence of food only, but much more in cutting off vices. For when we submit ourselves to that discipline in order to withdraw that which is the nurse of carnal desires, there is no sort of good conscience more to be sought than that we should keep ourselves sober from unjust will, and abstinent from dishonourable action. Thisis an act of religion from which the sick are not excluded, seeing integrity of heart may be found in an infirm body. ...
< 1 min8/10

Remigius of Rheims

AD 533
For it is enough for you that He who sees your conscience should be yourrewarder.
< 1 min9/10

Theophylact of Ochrid

AD 1107
. Men of old would anoint themselves with oil after bathing as a mark of their joy and well-being. So you also, O reader, should appear joyful when you fast. The oil used to anoint we also understand to mean almsgiving. Our Head is Christ, Which we should anoint with deeds of mercy; and our face, that is our senses, we should wash with tears of repentance. ...
< 1 min10/10

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. - 2 Peter 1:20

App Store LogoPlay Store Logo