Sermon on the Mount: The Enlightening Eye of Matthew 6


 

The eyes of the Lord are upon us.

The light of the body is the eye: If therefore thine eye be single, 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. (Matthew 6:22-23)

 

The worries of this world afflict our minds, then our minds afflict our souls. The eye, in this case, signifies the spiritual mind, or the nous. The worries over this world, especially material or monetary worries, take their toll on our souls. They are the noose, veritably speaking, for the nous.

The Blessed Theophylact, in his Explanation of the Holy Gospel According to St. Matthew, wrote: “If you will your mind with worries over money, you have extinguished the lamp or darkened your soul.”

St. Gregory Thaumaturgus has an interesting take on this — that the single (or spiritually healthy) nous, is sincere Christian agape love. “The single eye is the love unfeigned; for when the body is enlightened by it, it sets forth through the medium of the outer members only things which are perfectly correspondent with the inner thoughts. But the evil eye is the pretended love, which is also called hypocrisy, by which the whole body of the man is made darkness,” he wrote.

The eye lets in the light, just as the inner soul let’s in Christ. If we have no Christ, then we have no light, and thus stumble around in the dark. Now I am no saint, but I can say that before I began seeking Christ, my conscience was paltry at best. Many of the evil things I did I did without much conscientious objection, and when I did feel the pang of conscience, I drowned it in analgesic, so to speak. I have bad days today in which I still hobble around in the dark, unable to resist the allure of sin, but still, I am now much more inclined to see an evil choice offering itself to me as just that, an evil choice. Christ has given me the adjective to pair with the action. And once I have that descriptor, I am much less inclined to carry out the evil deed. That is the light of the body.

Woe unto the man who leads us to believe he is good, but inwardly is the ravening wolf! Thaumaturgus added: “We have to consider that deeds meet only for darkness may be within the man, while through the outer members he may produce words that seem to be of the light: for there are those who are in reality wolves, though they may be covered with sheep’s clothing. Such are they who wash only the outside of the cup and platter, and do not understand that, unless the inside of these things is cleansed, the outside itself cannot be made pure. Wherefore, in manifest confutation of such persons, the Saviour says: ‘If the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!’ That is to say, if the love which seems to thee to be light is really a work meet for darkness, by reason of some hypocrisy concealed in thee, what must be thy patent transgressions!”

I understand that many of us will honestly wear the tag of “hypocrite,” (gladly, I shall don this card), but the person who leads us on to believe in his goodness only to deceive is destined for a much deeper plane of the great afterburner, methinks. In the meantime, try not to wink too much.

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About Pete Mladineo


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