July 3, 2022

Homily Two for the Third Sunday of Matthew (St. Luke of Simferopol)

The Eye is the Lamp of the Body
By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on July 6, 1952)

"The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is pure, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is not pure, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!" (Matt. 6:22-23).

These are extremely profound words of Christ, full of mysterious meaning, which we all need to delve into. "The eye is the lamp of the body" - our eye. You know that our eye perceives everything visible, all images. It perceives the light of the sun. And this light, perceived by our eye, directs the whole body, directs all its movements, makes them quick and easy, and the whole body seems to be bright.

And if our eye is damaged, if we do not see clearly, then our whole body will be dark.

You know what our blind, unfortunate brothers look like: how their whole body seems to have drooped, how motionless they hold their head, how careful all their movements are. And their whole body gives the impression of a dark body, thoroughly saturated with darkness. But besides our bodily eyes, we also have spiritual eyes. It is about them that the Lord Jesus Christ speaks.

He says that if the spiritual eyes are clear, undamaged, bright, then our whole being, our whole body will be bright, spiritually bright.

Do you not know with what spiritual light the righteous shone?

Were the bodies of such great saints as Seraphim of Sarov, Sergius of Radonezh, like Anthony and Theodosius of the Caves and the whole host of great saints, were their bodies similar to ours?

Did their eyes, all their movements, did their speech and even their walk resemble ours?

No no! They shone their spiritual light on people. This is what Christ is talking about. He said that if the spiritual eye is bright, then the whole being will be bright with spiritual light.

And if the spiritual eye is dark, damaged, and does not discern what is truly light, what is great, what is beautiful, then our whole being, not illuminated by spiritual light, will be dark.

“If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”

If your spiritual eyes are dark, if your whole being is dark, then what kind of darkness?

You perceive everything spiritual differently than the holy people of God. You interpret everything in a dark, evil way that is not pleasing to God, and everything around you will be darkness for you. “No one can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one and love the other; or he will be zealous for one, and neglect the other; you cannot serve God and mammon”, namely wealth.

We cannot serve two masters at the same time - God and the blessings of this world, wealth, because we will inevitably choose one or the other.

If the desire to serve only God overcomes, earthly blessings will lose all attractiveness, all sweetness, and all value for us.

And if we love what the world loves, then we will be strangers to God — completely strangers to God, we will be strangers to all His saints, for we will serve the lusts of our flesh, we will please this second master, and not God.

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your soul what you will eat or drink, nor about your body what you will wear. Isn't the soul more than food, the body more than clothes?"

You, of course, understand even without my explanations that the soul deserves immeasurably more deep concentration, constant attention and care for its purity than the food with which we nourish and delight our body.

Isn't the body greater than clothes? You need to know that, according to Holy Scripture, the significance of our body is great, extremely great and profound.

Human nature is tripartite: it consists of body, soul and spirit. And these three parts of human nature are in constant, inextricable connection with each other.

The Holy Spirit, always ascending to God, sanctifies the body, and the body is sanctified by Him. The Holy Apostle Paul said amazing words about our bodies: “Don't you know that your bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit living in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought with a price. Therefore glorify God in your bodies and in your souls, which are God's" (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

See what is the significance of our body, the body of a true Christian who has loved Christ with all the strength of his soul, to be the temple of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Apostle Paul in his epistle to the Romans says such profound words, so amazing for us: “I beseech you, brethren, by the mercy of God, present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, for your reasonable worship” (Romans 12:1). We must offer our bodies as a sacrifice to God, a living sacrifice, pleasing to God.

The great holy hermits, venerables, ascetics truly offered their bodies as a sacrifice to God, for they did nothing, nothing to please their flesh, did not nourish it, kept it in the cold, in hunger, deprived it of sleep. It was a sacrifice to their God.

Elsewhere in the same epistle to the Romans, Saint Paul says: “And do not give your members to sin as instruments of unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as alive from the dead, and your members to God as instruments of righteousness” (Romans 6:13).

Can't we give our bodies to the service of God, or to the service of the devil? Oh, we can, we can. There are many, many who offer their flesh, their human body, not as a sacrifice to God, but in the service of the devil.

Are we really going to sacrifice to the devil?! Shall we not direct our hands, our feet to where our grievously suffering brothers are waiting for our help?

Shall we not try to do everything possible with our hands, and with our feet to go any distance to help the suffering - shall we not try to please God?!

If we offer our bodies and our members as a sacrifice to God, shall we take care to feed them and keep them warm? Therefore, the Apostle Paul says, and Christ Himself also says: “Therefore I say to you: do not worry about your life, what you eat and what you drink, nor about your body, what you wear. Is not life greater than food and the body than clothing?"

After all, pagans also take care of clothes for the body, about everything that cares for the body.

The Lord says, you take care of your bodies, what you will wear, “look at the lilies of the field, how they grow: they do not work, they do not spin, but I tell you that even Solomon in all his glory did not dress like any of them. If the grass of the field, which is today, and tomorrow will be thrown into the oven, God dresses like this, how much more will He do for you, you of little faith?

And which of you, by worrying, can add even one cubit to his stature? So don't worry and don't say: what shall we eat? or what shall we drink? Or what shall we wear? Because all these are sought by the pagans; and because your Father in heaven knows that you need all of this. Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all this will be added to you.”

Oh, what amazing words, words never heard by the world, words about not taking care of the body, that one should not worry of either food or clothing. Before Christ, no one had ever talked about it. But now there are many people who scoff at these words of Christ, or at least wonder whether it is possible not to worry about food, about clothes, not to worry about the body.

Well, are the words of Christ really not true, is He talking about the impossible? Oh no! If He demands that we should not worry about anything except the Kingdom of Heaven, if He requires that all our aspirations, all hopes be directed towards one goal - to acquire the Kingdom of Heaven, shall we not direct all our efforts towards this? For every word of His is true.

Let us first of all understand that the teaching of Christ, all His commandments, were given to the world so that the world might be saved.

His commandments, His words, His precepts were directed not only to individual people, to individual ascetics of piety, they were addressed to all mankind. If humanity had not rejected Christ, if it had been inspired by His Divine teaching and began to follow the path of life indicated by Him, fulfilling everything that Christ said, then all this would have been achievable.

Think, if people were not divided into peoples hostile to each other, lived in peace, harmony and love with each other, would there really be such horrors that we read about in the newspapers almost every day?

In the fertile country of India, millions of people die of hunger every year. And now there is hunger. Why do they die, why, through their own fault? Because they live under the heavy heel of their rulers - the British.

The British do not consider the people of India to be people, they despise them as inferior, they squeeze all the juices of life out of the Hindus, rob the country and make them beggars.

Precisely because there is no love, such is the attitude of the British towards the Indians, precisely because the peoples are oppressed in other colonial countries, that is why there is hunger and disease.

It is precisely because there is so little love in the world that Christ's words do not come true that everyone will be fed and clothed if they care only about the Kingdom of God.

Oh, if all mankind would believe in Christ, what great prosperity there would be everywhere!

The earth is plentiful; it can feed in excess a much larger population than that which lives on it. There would be no starving people, there would be no division between people if they had sought "the Kingdom of God and His righteousness."

The people themselves are to blame for the fact that these words of Christ do not come true, those who rejected Christ, did not accept Him when He came down to us from heaven, they are guilty.

But the truth of Christ's words comes true in individual people, in those who are full of contempt for everything earthly, who devoted themselves entirely to the service of God, hermits, ascetics, who, placing their hope in God, went into the mountains and wildernesses and forests.

They put all their cares on God, and God fed them: fed them through the angels who brought them food, fed them through the birds which He commanded to bring them meat and bread and fruits.

If all people put all their hope in God, and set the goal of their life to acquire the Kingdom of God, if everyone walked the narrow path through the narrow gate, everyone would walk the path of suffering, which is assigned to all those who love Christ, if all people acted this way, then it would be as if there was peace in the world, colonial slavery would end, and no one would be crushed by need, care for food and clothing.

“Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.”

And then the truth of these words of Christ, over which unbelievers mock and ridicule, would be confirmed.

“Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.”

Have a bright spiritual eye! Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.