In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen.
Glory to Jesus Christ!
When you’re young, and in the process of growing up, you face many challenges. You have a lot to learn. Many times we make mistakes, many times we’re offered advice from those around us, parents and so forth. And often times we choose to ignore that advice. And then, we learn “the hard way”. Because we may approach things with a kind of selfish attitude, maybe a kind of greed.
This happens sometime when we’re going somewhere. From point “A” to point “B”. We may think we know a good way to get there, but someone else suggests that there is a better way, and easier way. But, we know better, so we choose to go the way we have made up in our minds, to save face, or prove we know better, etc.
There’s many occasions and opportunities in our lives, when we look at things through a certain lens. Our perspective is often skewed by our own ego, our own desires and passions. And these cause us anxiety, and we tend to act or react out of a sense of self-interest, or greed.
Today’s Gospel reading speaks to that a little bit. In the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 6: 22-33, Christ is offering us a little helpful advice. Well, when He speaks, it’s more than just advice though isn’t it?
“22 The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light.
23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”
The lamp of the body, if your eye is good… What is Christ talking about? Another version of this passage uses the term “simple”, instead of “good”. Another version uses the word “sound”, and yet another version uses the word “single”. That’s not confusing at all!
The Greek word there is “aplous” (aploos). And there’s a few possibilities as to what that could mean; simple, healthy, sound, sincere… But for now, I’m going to go with “simple”. Because that’s what Fr. Lawrence Farley went with in his commentary….
Christ here is talking about our attitude. Our attitude greatly effects our perspective, how we “see things”. Do we have a simple, sincere, generous way of looking at things around us? Or, do we look at things from a cynical, or greedy, or a generally negative point of view? When our body’s physical eyes are not healthy, this certainly effects how we see everything around us, in a literal sense. So when our attitude, or really our spiritual eyes, the eye our soul is not healthy, is clouded over by greed, or anger, bitterness, or what-have-you, then this effects everything about us.
Christ goes on to say, “24 No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
Mammon=money, wealth. Is this what we think about, worry about, maybe even obsess about? This is what Fr. Lawrence says about money:
“Money is addictive and makes demands imperious as those of any master or lord. Like a master, its demands are total. Mammon (an Aramaic word for wealth) will demand that one devote all one’s energies to getting it, preserving it, and multiplying it. God, our true Lord, also makes total demands on our hearts, and we must choose which of the two we will serve. Just as no one is able to serve as slave (Gr. douleuo; cognate with doulos, “slave”) to two lords, so it is with us.
A slave cannot belong totally to two different masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other (that is, choose one as his master and reject the other), or at the very least give attention to one’s orders and despise the other by ignoring his orders. But a choice has to be made, both for the slave and for us, for we are not able to serve as slave to God and mammon simultaneously. Choosing not to serve mammon means that we will give it away in the service of God, thus treasuring up wealth in heaven instead of on the earth.”
( Farley, L. R. (2009). The Gospel of Matthew: Torah for the Church (pp. 97–98). Chesterton, IN: Ancient Faith Publishing.)
This is difficult for us. But these are Christ’s words for us, His beloved children. He goes on to say to us: “do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”
But we still worry, we are still anxious, about pretty much everything. This comes back to our “eye”. Our hearts, our souls. What are we feeding it, so that it will be healthy? If we stop and think, really, are we doing what we can to cultivate a healthy soul? A healthy heart, in the spiritual sense? The way the Lord speaks, you can see that people back then, were not so different from us today. Except back then, these material goods, were much more difficult to come by! And the Lord goes on to tell us:
“31 Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’
For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
And there it is, at the end. Will we listen to Him? Will we put aside our ego, and our desire to follow our “own” way? “Seek first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness”. We do not need to filled with worry, and anxiety. If our “eye is simple/good, etc… Seeking the Kingdom of God, is how we feed our souls, how we come to have a healthy “eye”, so that we will be filled with light! How do we seek that Kingdom? Christ, remember Christ, think about Christ, and of course, love, and pray to Christ! In the Gospel of John, Jesus Himself tells us:
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.” (Jn 8:12)
Today, He spoke to us of money, not being enslaved to it, being generous with it. And if we seek Him, and follow Him, then that will become more natural for us, over time. But it takes a constant effort and perseverance.
Today, some of the saints that are celebrated are the Holy Unmercenary Healers, Cyrus and John. They became saints of our Church because they truly took the Lord’s words to heart, and lived them. They lived them in such a way, that they became known for their ability to heal all manner of diseases, through the Divine Grace that the Lord Himself gave them. Sometimes when worry builds up, and anxiety increases, we have problems in other areas, like being able to fall asleep at night. Well these holy saints, Cyrus and John, are known for their ability to help those problems too.
Let us be humble, and hear the words of our Lord! They are for our healing and benefit. And ultimately, for our salvation!
In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit! Amen.
Glory to Jesus Christ!