Third Sunday after Pentecost — The Eye is the Lamp of the Body
St. Matthew 6:22-33
From The Explanation of the Gospel of St. Matthew
by Saint Theophylactos, Archbishop of Ochrid and Bulgaria
22-23. The eye is the lamp of the body: if therefore thine eye be sound, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness. This means, if you fill your mind with worries over money, you have extinguished the lamp and darkened your soul. Just as the eye that issound, or “healthy” brings light to the body, and the eye that is evil, or “diseased” brings darkness, so also does the state of the mind affect the soul. If the mind is blinded by these worries, it is cast into darkness; then the soul becomes dark, and how much more so the body as well?
24. No man can serve two lords. What He means is this: no man can serve two lords who command things that are opposed to each other. Such lords are God and mammon. We make the devil our lord when we make the belly our god. But by nature and in truth God is the Lord, and mammon is unrighteousness. For either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Do you see that it is not possible for a rich man and unrighteous man to serve God? His love of money drives him away from God.
25. For this reason I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. For this reason: for what reason? Because concern over money drives a man away from God. The soul does not eat, for it is bodiless, but Jesus said this according to the common use of the word (1) For it is obvious that the soul does not consent to remain in a body if the flesh is not fed. Jesus does not forbid us to work, but rather He forbids us to give ourselves over entirely to our cares and to neglect God. Hence we must work for our livelihood while not neglecting the soul. Is not life more than food, and the body more than raiment? This means: He gave us much greater things, life itself, and formed our bodies. Will He not give us food and clothing?
26. Behold the birds of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much more than they? Although He could have given the example of Elijah and John the Baptist, instead He mentions the birds in order to shame us, for we are even more witless than these creatures. God feeds them by having given them the instinctive knowledge for finding food.
27. Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? This means: Even if you take the utmost care, you can do nothing if God does not will it. Why then do you drive yourself to exhaustion with futile worries?
28-29. And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. He shames us not only by the birds, which lack reason, but also by the lilies, that wither. If God adorned the lilies in such a manner, without any necessity to do so, how much more will He fulfill our own need for clothing? He shows that though you go to great lengths, you are not able to be adorned as beautifully as the lilies. Even Solomon the most wise and splendid, with all his kingdom at his disposal, could not array himself in such a manner.
30. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall He not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? We learn from this that we ought not to be concerned with beautifying ourselves, for our adornments wither like the fading flowers. Therefore one who beautifies himself is like grass. But you, He says, are creatures endowed with reason, whom God fashioned with both soul and body. Those “of little faith” are all those who concern themselves with such thoughts. If they had perfect faith in God, they would not give such anxious thoughts to these things.
31-32. Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? For after all these things do the Gentiles [Nations] seek. He does not forbid us to eat, but to say, What shall we eat? The rich say in the evening, “What shall we eat tomorrow?” Luxury and excess are what He forbids.
32-33. For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. The kingdom [uncreated glory] of God is the enjoyment of all that is good. This comes through righteousness. To him who seeks after spiritual things God in His generosity adds what is needed for physical life.