Patience is to see reality
The Light of the Body is the eye
The things you desire affect your intelligence.
In the name of the Father, the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Today, brothers and sisters, is the Third Sunday after Pentecost, and we always celebrate the New Martyrs of the Turkish yoke on this day. And the reading for the martyrs says, at the end after talking about that man would lay hands on you in synagogues and would kill you, it says in the very end,
ďIn your patience possess ye your souls.Ē
And then the Apostle says,
ďAnd we know that all things work together for good to them that love God and who are called according to his purpose.Ē
This is regarding people who are martyred in many and horrible ways, certainly thousands that we donít know of, hundreds that we know of, of the Turkish yoke.
But this doesnít just apply to martyrs; it applies to all of our lives, doesnít it? ďIn your patience possess ye your souls.Ē And we know all things work together to good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose. In another place in the reading for the day, the Apostle says that,
ďTribulation works patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope; and hope maketh not ashamed because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.Ē
Now, what is the thread connecting all of these things? How in patience can we possess our souls? How can we know that all things work together for good? How can tribulation and difficulties work patience?
The thread is in the other Gospel reading. And that is, the light of the body is the eye.
What does this mean?
With the eye we look and we desire. With the eye we see, or we think we see. So the eye represents for us desire and knowledge; and with desire and knowledge, priority and the way we will live our life. Now, if we live our life knowing what is true, knowing the inner reality behind things, not what appears to be, but the inner reality of everything we do, everything we say, everything thatís done to us, then our body will be filled with light because our eye will be filled with light.
Things are not as they seem. They are never as they seem. People are never as good as they seem nor as bad as they seem. Situations are not as good nor as bad as they appear. Only with the vision of God can we know the truth of the matter.
And how does one obtain that? Well, the eye is
not only about knowledge, itís also about desire. If we desire the things of
God, then we will know the things of God.
The martyrs didnít just happen. These were
people that had great desire to follow Godís will, especially the Martyrs of
the Turkish yoke because they lived in an ongoing persecution for several
hundred years. It wasnít something quick that we read in some martyrdoms where
someone says, I am a Christian, and they have their head cut off. No, this is
where their livelihood was endangered. Their children were taken away. All
these things were done to them, sort of being, shall we say, like being eaten
to death by minnows, a little bit at a time. Some things great, some things
small. They had to dress a certain way. And other things to humiliate them. And
of course, they couldnít get good work and be paid as well and have good food
and education for their children, all the rest. So they were prepared, by this
tribulation, to be patient.
What is patience but really seeing the reality behind something?
If we know something will be turn out to be good, then we will endure the bad parts, because we know what is to come. Well, a Christian should know what is to come. A Christian should know that perfection is to come.
Right now there are a lot of imperfect things both in us and in the world. But for a Christian, we are looking to the New Jerusalem, not to this day and age. Thatís why the Lord goes at some length and tells us: What are you worried about, about what you eat or what you wear? It doesnít matter. All that matters is God.
And then He says something that is really a frightening statement because the vast majority, those on the broad road -- do not pass this statement, this test. He says you cannot serve God and mammon. Now, mammon of course is money. But what does money do? Money gives us the things we desire. And money causes us -- or should I say: Our desires cause us to do things good or to do things that are evil.
So if we are desire things that are evil, we cannot serve God. If we desire our own comfort, we cannot serve God. If we desire our own ego, our own wealth, our own pleasure, we cannot serve God.
Thereís a mystical happening here that I want you to see. The things you desire affect your intelligence.
Iím not talking about being able to add one and one and get two. Iím not talking about book intelligence. Iím talking about spiritual sight. Our spiritual sight is affected by the things we desire. Itís a principle that has always been. You can see it throughout the Scriptures. You can see it in the very beginning with Cain and bell. You can see it with Adam and Eve. You can see it all throughout: The things we desire affect our spiritual intelligence.
And you must hone your desires to desire things that are good and holy.
It takes some effort to do this because not all of these things we naturally are attracted to. Which one of us is naturally attracted to being humiliated, to being slandered, to being judged, to being treated unfairly? And yet all these things do is cleanse the soul if we are looking in the right way, if we have an eye full of light and not of darkness. They cleanse the soul so that we can see God clearly.
Truly, what you desire affects your intelligence, whether you know God or not.
People who are overcome with their own daily life and their daily desires, barely know themselves. Things that are quite obvious they donít even understand. But itís the same with us. We might know ourselves a little bit better. But thereís so much of ourselves that we donít know. Why? Because weíre blind. Why are we blind? Because of our desires. Itís all about the eye. To the extent that our eye desires light, we will be light. To the extent that it desires darkness, we will be darkness.
In all of my ministry I have really tried to teach why we follow the Commandments. Itís really something not well understood, especially in this day and age when there is rampant immorality, especially sexual immorality and itís considered just to be normal.
People have to be given a reason, in my opinion, for why we follow the Commandments.
We do not follow them because they are some sort of laws that are, shall we say, written in stone that are to be thrown upon our heads and kill us if we donít follow them. But no, when we follow the light, we are light; when we follow the darkness, we are darkness; and great is the darkness. Thatís why we follow the Commandments. You could only understand this if you start following them, and then you see how much joy there is in being good.
I have said that I want the epitaph on my gravestone to say: ďTo feel good, you must do good.Ē Thatís the definition of Christianity. But you do good because you know whatís good and you desire whatís good. Thatís what the light of the body being the eye means. The only way is to desire whatís good. Thatís the only way to know God. So we desire to be honest. We desire to be chaste. We desire to pray. We desire to forgive.
Now, another theme, for those who have known me for quite some time, is that there is a difference between desire and action.
Whatís most important is desire.
God will help you with the action.
So, your body will be filled with light if you desire to be light. Now, maybe you have sins, maybe you have habits, maybe you have terrible things that you canít stop doing or canít start doing. But if you want to, you eventually will, because the body follows the eye. Where the eye is, the body sees, the body ends up desiring, and the body ends up doing. So you must train your eye to want only good things, only holy things. And then you will have the kind of patience that the martyrs had when their limbs were being severed, when their children were being taken away, when their houses were being repossessed, their livelihoods taken away. When all these things were happening to them, they saw the truth. Their eye was full of light, and they saw light.
Which one of us would be like them? We are ALL called to be like them.
So the beginning of becoming a martyr is to desire only that which is good.
Train yourself to do this. Itís not easy.
I was recently talking to someone about faith. You know, it would be nice if faith meant we always believe and we have no anxieties and everything just seems perfect to us at all moments. But thatís not faith. Faith is working through our doubts. And all those doubts are because of our sins. They are not because of the circumstances but because of our sins. Because the man who sees clearly with an eye full of light, he has no doubts, because he has no sins.
Brothers and sisters, may your eye be full of light. May God help you.
Transcribed by the hand of Helen
Priest Seraphim Holland 2009.††††
This and other Orthodox materials are available in from:
∑ Mailing Address: Box 37, McKinney, TX 75070
∑ Rectory Phone: 972/658-5433
∑ Email: email@example.com
∑ Web Page: http://www.orthodox.net
∑ Redeeming the Time Blog: http://www.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime/
This homily is at:
Archive of commentaries: http://www.orthodox.net/scripture
Archive of homilies: http://www.orthodox.net/sermons
To receive regular mailings of sermons, and scriptural and services commentary and other things throughout the church year, read our blog ďRedeeming the TimeĒ (http://www.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime). You may also subscribe to the RSS Feed or receive its postings by email.
Our parish Email list (http://groups.google.com/group/saint-nicholas-orthodox-church) also has all the latest postings from our website and blog; everyone is welcome to join.
All rights reserved.† Please use this material in any edifying reason. We ask that you contact St. Nicholas if you wish to distribute it in any way.† We grant permission to post this text, if completely intact only, including this paragraph and the URL of the text, to any electronic mailing list, church bulletin, web page or blog.