38 - Eye is Lamp of Body, July 10, 2016 (with audio)

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Romans 5:1-10

Matthew 6:22-33

On Mt Sinai, it says that the LORD descended in a Cloud (of Glory – cf. Ex 33:22) and stood before Moses (Ex 34:5) and instructed him on how to build the Tent of Testimony. It was a luminous cloud because, when Moses came down from the mountain, it says that the skin of his face was glorified – it shone – from the LORD speaking to Him (Ex 34:29).

Again, when the Tent of Testimony was completed, it says, the same luminous Cloud of the LORD overshadowed it, and it was filled with the Glory of the LORD so that not even Moses was able to enter it (Ex 40:34-35). Again, when King Solomon’s temple was finished, it says that fire came down from heaven and the Glory of the LORD filled the house so that the priests could not enter (2 Chron 7:1).

Liturgical texts give us to recognize all of these as different manifestations of the Holy Spirit, the Life indwelling Christ that is the Light of men (Jn 1:1-4). From this, we recognize the Holy Spirit as the luminous Cloud that overshadowed the disciples when the LORD took them up onto a high mountain and was transfigured before them (Mt 17:5). The Holy Spirit descends on the holy apostles as tongues of fire on Pentecost; not just as He descended on Moses on Mt Sinai or on the Tent of Testimony or on the newly built temple of Solomon, but also as He descended and was moving over the face of the waters at creation, and who, at the command of God’s Word, brought forth the light in which God made the world – clearly, I think, a prophetic image of the Word of God coming forth from the Virgin as the True Light of the world (Jn 1:7-9), God the Father Himself bearing witness in His work of creation that His Son, the LORD Jesus Christ, is the Logos — the inner, defining principle of the world, the Alpha and the Omega of all creation.

So, when Our LORD says: “If your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light,” we do not take this as a metaphor. The “light” is the “Holy Spirit”. If our eye is good, our body becomes a temple filled with the Holy Spirit, the luminous Cloud of Fire, the Light of God’s Glory (I Cor 6:19). “Through the glory of the Spirit that shone from Moses’ face in such a way that no one could look at it,” says St Macarius, “Moses showed how in the resurrection of the righteous, their bodies will be glorified with the glory that their souls already possess inwardly during this present life” (Philo III, §62, p. 312).

Our whole body will be full of light, the LORD says, if our eye is good.

Now, in whatever direction our eye is turned, in that direction we will walk. If our eye, then, is “fixed on all the commandments of the LORD (Ps 119:6), if we meditate on the LORD’s precepts and fix our eyes on His ways (Ps 119:15), then the eye of our heart is turned toward the Light of God, for “the commandments of His Law are a lamp, His way is Light” (Prov 6:23); and, we will walk in the light as He is in the Light (Eph 5:8); and, in His Light we will see Light (Ps 36:9); and, we will become sons of Light (Jn 12:36).

The eye is that in our heart that determines in what direction we will walk – either towards the darkness of “mammon”, which is cold and heartless, or towards Jesus Christ, the Fountain of Life (Ps 36:9), for in Him as in a deep Font are the Living Waters of the Holy Spirit who is the Life of God and the Light of men (Jn 1:4). If our eye is good, our heart is pure, and if our heart is pure, we shall see Christ God, the True Light of the world who – because He so loved the world – became flesh and dwelt among us, to shine in the darkness of this world as a Lamp to illumine all of us who hunger and thirst after righteousness, who seek first the Kingdom of Heaven, that we may become pure in heart, that we may become all light as He is Light and live forever (cf. Wisd 5:15) in the joy of Christ our God (Jn 17:3), the Resurrection and the Life.

This – to be pure in heart, to become all light in the Light of Christ who is our Life – is the deepest pathos of our soul, the mournful cry of the heart’s deepest longing. Attaining it is what biblical faith is all about. “Out of the depths, I cry to Thee, O LORD, hear me!” (Ps 130:1) “Create in me a clean heart, O God, put a new and right spirit within me!” (Ps 51:10) All the ordinances and laws governing OT religion, this is their purpose: to lead the Israelite into the presence of the LORD in his secret heart so that the LORD can cleanse him and restore to him the joy of the LORD’s salvation. The LORD does not complain because Israel failed to perform properly the sacrifices or didn’t keep the new moons, the Sabbaths, the fasts properly (Isa 1:11ff). He complains because they forsook Him (Isa 1:4), because their heart was far from Him (Isa 29:13). And, this is why He empties Himself and becomes obedient to the Father even to the point of death on the Cross (Phil 2:5-11): to give to Israel a new heart, to put within her a new spirit, to take out her heart of stone – a mystical circumcision (cf Rom 2:29 (real circumcision is a matter of the heart) – and to give her a heart of flesh (Eze 36:26).

The Holy Spirit descended on Moses as a cloud so that the skin of his face shone, and Moses brought forth the Word of God written on tablets of stone, instructing him how to build the Tent of Testimony. The Holy Spirit descended on the Blessed Panagia not as a cloud but ineffably directly and intimately (Lk 1:35) and her whole being, not just the skin of her face, became the Burning Bush that was not consumed (cf. Ex 3:2); and, she brought forth the Word of God in the flesh, written not as letters on tablets of stone but as a new and right Spirit in the heart. And, there were no instructions on how to build a Tent of Testimony or how to perform the sacrifices. The Word of God Himself became the Tent of Testimony, for, He became flesh and pitched His Tent, the Temple of His Body, among us (Jn 1:14 & Jn 2:21). He Himself became the Sacrifice (Jn 1:29) whose own Blood was offered not just for the purification of our flesh but for the cleansing of our heart (Heb 9:13).

The flesh of Abram was as good as dead (Rom 4:19 & Heb 11:12) because he was childless (Gn 15:2). But he believed in the Word of the LORD. He fixed the eyes of his heart on the Word of God and he became righteous. His body became light in Him who is the True Light; he was raised to life in the Word of Him who is the Resurrection and the Life. This Word of God became flesh, so how could His flesh not be all light, all fire? It was living flesh such that even His death was life-creating, His Body the source of life and resurrection.

Beloved faithful, the Church is the Bride of Christ formed from His Holy Blood and Water that flowed from His side. She became flesh of His flesh, bone of His bone (cf. Gen 2:23). She came into being as His Body. When you went into the waters of your Holy Baptism, the Cloud of His Glory descended on you as He did on Moses, as He did on the All Holy Virgin, as He did on Christ in the Jordan and in the Tomb, as He did on the holy disciples, as He did on the waters of creation, and He gathered you under His wings and raised you up into the New Creation, the Life and Resurrection of Christ God incarnate.

Beloved faithful, if the Church is the Body of Christ, then she is all light, all fire. She is the living flesh of God and the Fiery Cloud of the Glory of the LORD, the Holy Spirit, rests upon her. That Cloud descends on us in the doctrines, the prayers, the worship, the icons, the Scriptures, the ascetic disciplines of the Church. If our eye is good – if the eye of our heart is fixed on the Light shining in these words of Christ’s Holy Church so that we are walking in the Light as He is in the Light – then our heart is created anew and our body is filled with Light, the Glory of the LORD’s Holy Spirit. And, when we partake of Christ’s Body and Blood as our food and drink, we become members of His Body. We become in our union with Him temples of the Holy Spirit, tents of testimony. In His Light we see Light; we see God in the joy of Christ who lives in us. Amen.