42 - LAMP OF THE BODY, July 11, 2021

Romans 5.1-10

Matthew 6.22-33

Our LORD says, ‘The lamp of the body is the eye.’ The eye is our heart or spirit; it is the image of God that we are, it is our ‘who’, our personal center, the font from which flows our erotic desire, our longing for wholeness, for beauty, for eternal life, for salvation. It is that unseen point in us where we open out onto the deep beyond all things (Jer 17.9 LXX). Note the LORD’s emphasis on our body. The eye is the lamp of our body. ‘Body’ comprehends our mind and our soul as well as our flesh; i.e., all of us. So, note how the health and well-being of our body, of our mind and soul and flesh, depend on the health of the eye, whether it is full of light or darkness.

The LORD goes on to say: do not be worried about your life—the word is psyche or soul. Note how our life or soul, the hidden part of us, is one with the body, the visible part of us; for the LORD says, don’t worry about your life, what you will wear or eat or drink. And then the LORD says: ‘Is not your life, your soul, more than meat and clothing? Therefore, if you seek first the things of this world that make your body comfortable and attractive (mammon), your soul, your life, will be full of darkness. For you were not made for the things of this world. You were made for God. You were not made in darkness. You were made in Light for you were made in the image and likeness of God, the True Light in whom is the Life of men. (Jn 1.3). The Life in which you—i.e., in which your life or soul were made to live is found in the Living Waters of the Holy Spirit and not in the ‘living waters’ of your sexuality. Therefore, seek first the Kingdom of Heaven and its righteousness; that is, its Life and the Light that carries it, which is Jesus Christ—and everything that you need will be given to you. Your body will be clothed in the uncreated Glory of God, which is His Holy Spirit; your food and drink will be the Body and Blood of the only-begotten God in which He destroyed your death by His death and gave life, the eternal, uncreated Life of the Holy Spirit, to you in the tomb of your heart.

Our Gospel this morning is the cap, if you will, on our daily scripture lessons this last week, which have been taken from St Paul’s letter to the Romans, chptrs 7 & 8. In these chapters, St Paul gives the theological meaning or reality of our body of flesh and blood. We see that in the biblical vision, man is an enfleshed spirit or a spiritual body. That is, he is not a soul or spirit trapped for a time in a body as though the body is a disposable appendage to our soul. We are flesh and blood; and our body was created in the capacity to receive the uncreated Spirit of God, like a sponge that receives the water and becomes moist and soft. Adam became a ‘living soul,’ it says, when the breath of life, the Spirit of God, was breathed into him. His soul isn’t what made man ‘living’; it was the Spirit of God that made his soul or his life living because he was living in God.

Living in God, Adam was incorruptible and glorious. The tabernacle built by Moses, the temple built by Solomon, the eschatological Temple seen by Ezekiel in his vision of the Messianic kingdom, when they were ‘overshadowed’ and filled with the Glory of God such that no one, not even Moses or the priests could enter, are therefore images, copies, of man as he was created by God. He was created in body, soul and mind as a temple of the Holy Spirit, created to be radiant and fragrant in the incorruptible Life of the Glory of God.

Therefore, when the Bible shows the Holy Spirit ‘overshadowing’ the Virgin, so that she becomes Theotokos, and when it shows us the LORD Jesus transfigured on Tabor, and when it shows us the LORD Jesus Christ in the Glory of His risen Body, the Bible is showing us nothing that is ‘supernatural’. The Bible is showing us what is absolutely natural to us. It reveals to us that there is an essential property of our body as well as of our mind and soul that makes us ‘kin’ to God, so that we are able to receive Him and become ‘partakers of the divine nature.’ (2 Pt 1.4)

The mystery of the Virgin Theotokos and her Son, Jesus Christ, the WORD of God incarnate, is the Theophany that shows forth the true anthropology: what it is to be man. It is to live in God. Our body, our mind and soul, are created to be living temples of God, filled with the Glory of God, the Spirit of God, so that it is not we who live—for we have no life in ourselves—but it is Christ, the Light of God in whom is the Life of men, who lives in us, in our body—in our mind and our soul and flesh—as in His Holy Temple, making us radiant and fragrant in the uncreated Light of His Glory, the Holy Spirit.

This means that how we exist now is ‘unnatural’ to us; what we take to be ‘life’ is not life but death because it is not the uncreated life of God; it is the biological life of the flesh that comes from the dust and returns to the dust. How great is our darkness that we accept as given that this life in which we are destined for death is ‘natural,’ and that we look at the glorious anthropology of the Bible as something ‘supernatural’—or even as a fantastic fairy tale. The birth, death and resurrection of Christ are not ‘supernatural’. They are the mighty works of God by which He has healed our soul and body, restoring us to our original beauty, and translating us to His Kingdom of Light which is where we belong and which is our true natural destiny.

What does the LORD say? ‘Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you!’ (Jn 6.53) Why must we eat and drink the flesh and blood of the incarnate Son of God, Jesus Christ if we want to live in the life that is true life, the uncreated and eternal life of God, for which God created us? Why can’t we just believe in Him and be done with it? Because, St Paul answers in Rm 7, the law of sin and death has become embodied, incarnate in our flesh and blood such that he calls our body a ‘body of death’ (Rm 7.24). That is, sin has palpable and concrete manifestations; it becomes incarnate in us; it alters our mind, it fragments our soul, it cripples our body.  It darkens us, enveloping us in the darkness of confusion, anxiety, trauma, despair. ‘And what the law could not do because it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh.” This ‘flesh’ of Christ is filled with the Heavenly Spirit—it was conceived in the womb of the Virgin by the Holy Spirit, and it was raised from the dead by the Holy Spirit. It is this very flesh and blood, by which He destroyed death and gave life to those in the tombs (Heb 2.14) that is given to us as our food and drink in the Church’s mystery of Holy Eucharist. Eating and drinking Holy Eucharist, we are eating and drinking the ‘Resurrection and the Life’ which are Christ Himself (Jn 11.25)

Therefore, when St Paul says, “If Christ is in you,” (Rm 8.10) we take him quite literally. Christ God is in you because you have received His flesh and blood in the mystery of Holy Eucharist. And if you have received Christ, then you have received His Heavenly Spirit who now broods over you as He did the waters of creation. His arms were stretched out on the Cross to gather you to Himself in the baptismal font where you can be united to Christ in the likeness—that is in the partaking of—His death and resurrection and be born of the Holy Spirit from above as a child of God.

This Life of God is in you, you have received it not as an idea but as your food and drink in the sacramental mysteries of the Church. You don’t have to go out looking for it. You have been translated from death to life in the Body of Christ if you have been immersed in the Living Waters of the Font. The healing and life-giving flesh and blood of Christ are in you if you have eaten His flesh and drunk His blood in Holy Eucharist. And so, St Paul exhorts us to walk according to the Holy Spirit of Christ that we have received in the sacramental mysteries of the Church—which is Christ’s Body—and to walk no more according to the flesh. Do not live anymore seeking first after what you will wear and what you will eat and drink. Concern yourself first with how to live according to this Spirit of Christ who is in you, and no more according to the life of the flesh. (Rm 8.4)

If we turn the energy of our mind, our soul and our body to the Light of Christ that is in us, having received the Church’s sacramental mysteries, then we are clothing ourselves in the Robe of Light the Holy Spirit is weaving for us in the trials and afflictions of this life. That Robe of Light, says St Paul, is the love of God that is poured into our hearts through His Holy Spirit that brings us peace and joy. This Robe of Light, says St Paul, is the pledge from God Himself that on the Last Day, our mortal bodies will be raised from the dead in Glory—that is, in the Holy Spirit—as members of Christ’s resurrected body. With this garment the LORD begins robing us, if in our body, mind and soul in this life, we seek first the Kingdom of Heaven and its righteousness, if we seek to live in the Life of the Spirit we have received in the Church’s sacramental mysteries, and not in the life of the flesh. May the LORD help us and illumine us! Amen!