My dear friends in our Lord: Glory to Jesus Christ!
In today’s Gospel, our Lord instructs us in saying that the light of the body is the eye. The light of the body is the eye. And as the eye is to the body, so the mind is to the soul.
A healthy eye gives light to the body, but a sickly eye darkens it. Likewise, if our mind is pure, and looks upon those things that are true and divine, the soul, in receiving illumination from the mind, is itself enlightened and purified.
But if the mind is turned toward evil, if it is occupied with selfishness, with envy, being a slave to the passions, then it is blinded and darkened. And when the mind is darkened, the soul also becomes darkened, and that much more than the body.
When we lose our minds to disordered worldly attachments, losing possession of our own minds, so that they become enslaved to the passions, we then also darken and forfeit all our works in this life. We make vain the opportunities for salvation. For this reason our Lord says, If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!
If our mind which enlightens our soul becomes dark through our own choice, if our mind becomes blinded by the disordered desires of the passions, how much more will the soul be darkened! For when the light of the soul goes out, what hope of salvation can one have? For you cannot pursue salvation and perdition at the same time.
Indeed, our Lord continues by instructing us: No man can serve two masters. For either he will hate the one, and love the other: or he will sustain the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
God and mammon are contrary to each other. And it is simple reason that we can not serve two masters who give contrary orders. We acknowledge one and carry out his wishes, while coming to hate the other one.
It is not possible to serve both God and worldly wealth. The love of money – the root of all evil, as the Holy Apostle tells us – not only separates us from God, but also enslaves us to mammon.
Now note this, and note it well: It is not money, but the love of money that is to be avoided. And the love of money knows no class or monetary boundary. One can be poor in the worldly sense, one can have very little money indeed, and still be consumed with greed and envy. One need not actually be rich monetarily to be a slave to mammon. Avarice – the love of money – is born in the heart, not in the pocketbook.
As long we are possessed by such a passion, it is impossible for us to be friends of God, for we have wilfully embraced the root of all evil, the most shocking injustice. For the love of money accomplishes what Satan could not: it dethrones God, it casts God down from His throne within the heart and enthrones itself in His place. And thus do we become slaves to avarice, to injustice, to all unrighteous passions, and to the darkest dishonour. We become the sworn enemies of God.
A most sobering lesson from our Lord. But as always, our Lord reassures us, He gives us instruction to avoid such a sorrowful state, saying: Therefore I say to you, be not solicitous for your life, what you shall eat, nor for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life more than the meat: and the body more than the raiment? Behold the birds of the air, for they neither sow, nor do they reap, nor gather into barns: and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not you of much more value than they? And if the grass of the field, which is today, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, God doth so clothe: how much more you, O ye of little faith?
Since the love of possessions can serve to separate us from God, the Lord commands us not to be concerned with them, not to exhaust ourselves with the worries of greed and desire. Now, we are by no means forbidden to work, to provide for ourselves, for our families, for those in need, even to enjoy earthly goods. What the Lord forbids is to give oneself entirely over to earthly cares, to the neglect of God.
We are to work according to our ability, to provide earthly things that are good and necessary, to look out for the salvation of our souls with all earnestness and purity of heart, and to direct the gaze of our mind and our eyes to God alone. God, Who fills our life with these good things, as our Lord attests, saying: “Your Father knoweth that you have need of all these things. Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God, and His justice, and all these things shall be added unto you.”
When we seek the kingdom of God and His justice, that is, when we undertake truly the Christian life, the life of virtue, the life of ascesis, the life of consistently turning the mind toward God so that our soul might be enlightened by Him and by His sanctifying grace, then all worldly things will also be added to us in the struggle.
Let us be diligent, and let us and labour to fulfill the Lord’s commandments. Let have true concern about the salvation of our souls. Let us turn away from slavery to mammon, and let us push ourselves, even daily, especially when it is uncomforable, let us push ourselves to do good works as the fruit of the living faith within us; and thus fulfil the will of our Heavenly Father. Then we may truly come to understand what we say so often in the words given to us by our Saviour: Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.