3rd Sunday After Pentecost "Questions to answer" 2003

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

?Is not the life more than meat and the body more than raiment?¦ 

So the Lord asks us. He asks us a lot of questions. If you read the
Gospels carefully -- if you read them at all -- you-ll see he asks many
questions: sometimes implied questions, and sometimes direct questions
like this. You must make an answer to these questions. They-re not
questions to be ignored. 

?Is not the life more than meat and the body more than raiment?¦ 

What is He speaking of? A Christian should be able to answer this
question easily. 

First of all, what is life? It says, ? Is life more than meat-?¦ What
life is He speaking of? For an animal in the field, life is meat; life
is to eat, and try to avoid being eaten. 

What is life for us? The Lord made us for life. It says in one of the
epistle readings today, _~1:35___ to be conformed into the image of the
Son. This is the life the Lord is speaking of. The Lord had in His mind,
when He created man, that man would know Him intimately. So He made man
in His Image. 

Life is for us to see God; to polish that image within us, so  that when
we seek Him face to face, we won-t be afraid, it won-t be as through a
glass darkly; it won-t be with terror, it won-t be with shame. It will
be with joy and knowledge. Life is not what we do in our day to day
activities; Life is not what we desire that is earthly; or even what we
need that is earthly. We need food, we need water, we need raiment, we
need shelter, we need other things. But those things are not life; those
things only serve to sustain the body so that we can learn of what true
Life is; that is to be conformed to the image of God-s Son. 

So when the Lord says His question, ?Is not the life more than meat-¦
what He-s trying to get us to do, is to consider: what is life, and how
do we live according to this truth, and how do we forget this truth. And
then He asks a question like it, ?- is not the body more than raiment?
That is so that we would consider that our life is not just in our body.
Our life is not just what we think, what we want -- what we desire, what
we crave; our life is to be conformed to the image of God-s Son. And we
will have eternal life if we struggle in the commandments both body and
soul but the whole purpose of our living now is to know God, is to learn
of Him, so that we can see Him, so that we can have Life. 

So the Lord tells us that the light of the body is the eye. If therefore
thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light -- single
meaning whole, undiseased, healthy. If your eye is healthy, your whole
body is full of light. What does this mean? Obviously, light does not go
through the body from the eyes. The eyes are able to see, if there is
light, but it doesn-t illuminate all the organs of the body. What is He
speaking of? Of course, He is speaking spiritually here. Now, you can
have many metaphors for our human vision and our spiritual vision; of
course, He is speaking of the spiritual. Our eyes must see what is true,
or else we are very dark. If we desire things that are not good, then we
are darkened, and we head in the direction of darkness. If we do not see
the Truth, then we are darkened. 

Eyes should be able to perceive differences and gradients of color and
in shades; Healthy eyes can see easily. Unhealthy eyes can not determine
the difference between various colors, various gradients of gray. In
other words, they can not see which things lead to life, and which
things are the way of death. Unhealthy eyes make compromises, saying:
this is not so important. It-s okay if I do this; it-s okay if I do that
? not understanding how significant our daily actions are. Unhealthy
eyes lead us in a dark way. We don-t even see it. After all, if a man is
blind, he does not see what is in front of him, He can-t see the danger.
If we have blindness in our eyes, then we can-t see the danger either,
but it-s there; it most definitely is there. And the Lord tells us: 

If thine eye be evil then thy whole body shall be full of darkness. 

If your desires are evil, then your body is full of darkness; if your
priorities are evil, then your whole body is full of darkness.

Now when the Lord speaks of evil, don-t think only in terms of some
great crimes, murder, or rape, or adultery. 

Evil is to not know God. Evil is to not be conformed to the God-s image.
That was the purpose of our life. It would truly be evil, it truly be a
shame for us to live and to die and not to attain to what we were made
for. This is evil. 

So if our eyes-- that is our desires, that is what we look for and what
we see-- are evil, then we will be lead into darkness. The Lord is
trying to tell us?He came to give us life. If we are to have life, we
must desire to follow the commandments. Not for the sake of following
them because they are rules that otherwise we would go to hell, but
because in them is life; in them is perfection.

Later on the Lord says that 

?Wherefore if God so clothed the grass of the field which today is and
tomorrow is cast into the oven, how much more shall He clothe you, O ye
of little faith.¦ 

He is telling us not to worry about things; not to consider about
earthly things. But when He says He will clothe us, what clothing is He
speaking of? He is not speaking of what you buy in a store, He is
speaking of the robe of righteousness: ?As many as have been baptized
into Christ have put on Christ¦. He is speaking of our true life, not
the eighty years, or ninety years we might live on earth, He is speaking
of our eternal life. 

But we must have the right priorities in order to have this clothing. So
many in the world, whether they call themselves Christian or Orthodox,
or not, they might speak of spiritual things, but their mind is wholly
on earthly things. They pursue things always for themselves. That-s why
the Lord says you cannot serve God and mammon. People misinterpret this
and think they can-t serve God and be rich. He-s speaking of much more
than this. Mammon is all of our desires for anything that is selfish.
Now money is maybe the quintessential sign of selfishness, if a person
has much money and does not give to others and other people suffer when
he could help them. But there are many kinds of mammon besides money.
Mammon is when we desire things for ourselves, and not for God. 

Truly we have the wrong idea of what righteousness is. The Lord gives us
many rules, many things we have to do. Some of them are very difficult.
Some of them are in our minds, such as if someone hurts you or offends
you, you can not judge them, you can not be angry with them. We-re not
to lust after women within our mind. Others are concerning the body: not
to get drunk, not to fornicate, all of them have the single purpose of
teaching us who God is, because He is perfect and He is Holy, and
nothing unholy comes close to Him, and that would include us. If we will
not pursue holiness, we cannot be near Him. The reason for struggling
for righteousness in whatever we do, whether it be a difficult thing or
not-- some people it-s very hard to fast, some people it-s easy, for
some people it-s hard to keep a pure mind, some people it-s not so
hard?and all down the line, all these sins-- for some it is easy to be
righteous and for some it is difficult. Or some have particular things
that they struggle with. All of these things must be followed. Not so
that we-re prudish or that we only care about rules and regulations and
legalisms, the reason we try to follow the commandments is because in
them is life. If we had eyes that could really see well, we would know

And to some extent, we have eyes that are somewhat healthy, because we
gather in church today, because we are Christians, because we pray. But
many times our eyes are not healthy, and we choose dark ways, and every
time you choose a way of darkness you bring yourself further away from
God. It-s unknown how many times you can choose the wrong path and still
be able to get back on to the path to God. For different people, it-s
different amounts of times. Some people choose a wrong path and never
ever get back to God, and they live their life as a lie because what
they are made for they never fulfill.

The Lord says that we cannot serve Him and mammon. We cannot serve Him
and our own desires. Everyone has to make a personal decision in their
heart: Is it important to follow God; is it important to live according
to my destiny, or shall I live as I wish from day to day? The Lord will
allow you to do this, but if you live according to your own desires,
according to unstable eyes, sick eyes, blind eyes, then you won-t have
life. What a terrible thing: created for life, only to find death.

Answer the questions the Lord gives to you, brothers and sister. First
of all, read the questions, read them a lot. And ponder them. And answer
them. Don-t answer them in only a surface kind of way, a shallow kind of
way. Answer the depth of the question, so when the Lord says, ?Is life
not more than meat, and the body more than raiment?¦ Consider what life
is, consider whether you are living according to His way of life in
everything, or if some things need to be changed. May God help you to
live according to the way of Life. Amen.