3rd Sunday after Pentecost, 2002

Fr. Seraphim Holland

In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The Lord tells us today, brothers and sisters, ?The light of the body is
the eye. If thine eye be therefore sound, thy whole body shall be full
of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of
darkness.¦ Now what eye is He speaking of? He is actually speaking of
the eyes of the soul. We have two kinds of eyes: those that see things
in the world, of matter, and those that see spiritual things. If our
eyes that see spiritual things see only darkness, then we are in
darkness. If our eyes see things in the light, then we are in the light.

Now how is it that we have our spiritual eyes seeing things in the
light? It comes from understanding about God and about ourselves. First
of all, all must understand why they were created, why you live on this
earth. God created you, so that you would know Him intimately, so that
you would see Him, so that you would be glad eternally. This is the
purpose of your earthly life: to be able to know God, to be able to see
Him with gladness, and with a joy that no one can take away from you. 

In the world, everything is temporal, everything can be taken away. We
can have wealth one moment and poverty the next, health one moment and
sickness the next, happiness one moment, and then a tragedy befalls us
and we are sad. We might have friends at one time and these same friends
may at another time turn upon us and treat us as enemies. In the world
all things change. But if a person can see with spiritual eyes, with an
eye that is sound, one can see the spiritual nature of things, the true
nature of things, the true nature of your life, the true nature of
everything that you do from the time you rise in the morning to the time
you lay your head on your pillow. You can see that everything that is
happening to you has a purpose. Now if you know that the purpose of your
life is to know God, then everything must somehow contribute to your
knowing God. 

Now how can you know someone unless you become like them, unless you can
share in their life? The Apostle Paul refers to this sharing in Christ-s
life in a mystical way in today-s Epistle reading. He says, ?we are
justified by faith, and therefore being justified by faith, we have
peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom we have access by
faith into this grace wherein we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of
the glory of God.¦ Now, what is this faith that He speaks of? Most
people in the world don-t know what faith is. They think faith is
believing about something or being very sure bout something. This is not
faith! In another place, the Apostle Paul says, ?we know that all things
work together for good to those who love God, and who are called
according to His purpose, for whom He did know He did predestinate to be
conformed to the image of His Son.¦ Faith is to be conformed to the
image of His Son. Faith is to live as His Son taught us to live. 

Now our Lord Jesus Christ taught us all that is necessary for eternal
life, and what-s more, more than a teacher, He made us able to do what
He taught us. He taught by example, and then He made that example
possible, a reality for us, and we have access to the ability to become
righteous through faith in Jesus Christ. Not just faith that He was born
of a Virgin, and that He lived for 33 years and was crucified and died
and resurrected, and that the Holy Spirit came. Not just believing these
things as dogma, but attempting, because of His beauty, to be conformed
to this beautiful image. Which means desiring to change, desiring to put
off anything that is corruptible, anything that changes, anything that
is incomplete in us, anything that is dark, and to become beautiful as
He is beautiful. He has promised us that we will be adopted as sons and
daughters. Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who had the glory of divinity before
all the ages, and all the privileges of a Son of God, before the ages,
has promised us that we will be adopted, and be sons and daughters, by
grace, because our nature cannot withstand such things, but by grace God
makes us capable. 

And the way we are made capable is by our cooperation with this grace,
by our entering into the life of Christ. Then our eyes see things as
they really are. When someone slanders us, we don-t see this as some
sort of slight against us?how dare such a person say such a thing
against me??we see this as evidence that we-re unworthy ourselves, and
we rejoice that we can, if only just a little, bear slander, as our Lord
bore slander. For any other circumstance in our life, any other
difficulty, we should always see such things in this way. God allows, or
God brings about, things in our life, but it-s all according to God-s
providence. ?All things work together for good, for those who love God,
and who are called according to His purpose.¦ And what is the purpose to
which you are called, brothers and sisters? Knowledge, joy,
completeness, things that cannot be taken away from you, because they
abide eternally. 

Now, how do we enter into this knowledge? There is no substitute for
experience. We must experience our Lord Jesus Christ, and taste Him, to
see how sweet He is. To the world, He is bitter. To the world, the
things that He says are nonsensical. When your brother smites you on the
cheek, turn the other cheek to him also? O no, the world would want to
smite. Love your enemies? Do good to those who hate you? No, the world
doesn-t want these things. He was a king, and yet He allowed Himself to
be crucified, to be mocked. The world thinks that when you have
authority, you should have the tokens of authority?the respect of
others, or at least the fear of others. Our Lord-s message is not
understood by the world, even by most of those who call themselves
Christians, because they don-t understand that faith is living according
to His life, becoming as He is, changing ourselves, being conformed to
His image of perfection. 

This is what the Lord wants for you and I?perfection. Not merely belief
in dogmas, but to be completely changed, to be ?all eye¦, to be able to
see things as they really are, to be able to see the beauty of God and
not to be afraid, but to be glad. And the only way that we can see His
beauty and be glad is to have obtained some of His beauty here on earth,
with our efforts, our toil, our desire. He makes us capable. All we need
do is struggle. Even in things that are difficult. 

He says?the apostle says??we have access by faith,¦ by this living
according to the way Jesus is, ?into this grace wherein we stand, and we
rejoice in the hope of the glory of God¦. Shouldn-t we rejoice? The Lord
is going to make us complete, lacking nothing, nothing changing anymore,
no sadness, no insecurity, no infirmities. Knowledge and joy, are what
He promises us, and we will be His sons and daughters. This is the hope
that we have, that should make us rejoice, and such a hope should make
us endure anything for this hope. Even when our ego is pricked, or when
we are put down, or when someone is unfair to us, or in any other

Now, when the apostle spoke, or wrote these words, there was tribulation
in the church. There were people who were sometimes being killed by the
government.  It-s continued till this day, in various times and epochs
of our history. But he says, ?we glory in tribulation also, knowing that
tribulation worketh patience, and patience--experience, and
experience--hope.¦ If you don-t enter into the life of Christ, by
entering into the way He lived, the way He thought, the way He breathed,
what He considered important each day, then you will not have His
experience. You must enter into His life. And His life was a life fill
of tribulation. We must not be afraid of tribulation, because
tribulation produces patience, and patience--experience, and from
experience?from seeing God work in our lives, seeing God change us, and
feeling His beauty, and seeing a little of it?we have hope, hope that we
will be completely changed someday, completely happy, completely full of
knowledge. This is the purpose of our life. This is what the Lord
promises to us. He-s made us sons by grace, but we must enter into this
grace, we must stand in this grace, by faith. 

And what is faith, again? It is to live, with desire, as Christ lived;
to enter into His life. To forgive your enemies because he forgave us,
to pray for others, to give way to others, to lay down our life for
others, since He lay down his life for us. The apostle says, ?while we
were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.¦ And
then he says, ?perhaps for a righteous man someone might die,¦ but the
Lord died for us, unrighteous and ugly ones, and ignorant, and foolish.
And yet, He can make the foolish wise, and He can make the ugly
beautiful. This is what he promises for us, brothers and sisters. 

The apostle says, ?while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by
the death of His Son. And much more, being reconciled we shall be saved
by His life.¦ Not by His death; by His life. And we can enter into His
life, by faith. This is the purpose of our life. 

What a glorious thing it is to be a Christian! We who are unworthy, the
Lord has taken to Himself, given us all that we need, promised us
happiness and perfection, things that we could never obtain on our own
and by ourselves. What a glorious thing it is to be a Christian! Is
there any greater name, than that one is a Christian? What a glorious
thing, if we live by faith. 

Brothers and sisters, enter into the life of Christ, in everything you
do, in every circumstance of your life. Let thine eye be whole and
sound, and see the true nature of things, in every circumstance, so that
you can live, and react, as our Lord Jesus Christ would have reacted to
each circumstance. May God bless you and help you to live by faith.