Patience and the eye of the soul
Patience is to see reality
The Light of the Body is the eye
The things you desire affect your intelligence.
3rd Sunday after Pentecost, New Martyrs of the Turkish yoke
Matthew 6:22-33 Romans 5:1-10, 8:28-39
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,
“In your patience possess ye your souls.”
And then the Apostle says,
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God and who are called according to his purpose.”
This is regarding people who are martyred in many and horrible ways, certainly thousands that we don’t know of, hundreds that we know of, of the Turkish yoke.
But this doesn’t just apply to martyrs; it applies to all of our lives, doesn’t it? “In your patience possess ye your souls.” 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,
“Tribulation 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.”
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 that’s 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, it’s also about desire. If we desire the things of God, then we will know the things of God.
The martyrs didn’t just happen. These were people that had great desire to follow God’s will, especially the Martyrs of the Turkish yoke because they lived in an ongoing persecution for several hundred years. It wasn’t 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 couldn’t 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. That’s why the Lord goes at some length and tells us: What are you worried about, about what you eat or what you wear? It doesn’t 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.
There’s a mystical happening here that I want you to see. The things you desire affect your intelligence.
I’m not talking about being able to add one and one and get two. I’m not talking about book intelligence. I’m talking about spiritual sight. Our spiritual sight is affected by the things we desire. It’s 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 don’t even understand. But it’s the same with us. We might know ourselves a little bit better. But there’s so much of ourselves that we don’t know. Why? Because we’re blind. Why are we blind? Because of our desires. It’s 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. It’s really something not well understood, especially in this day and age when there is rampant immorality, especially sexual immorality and it’s 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 don’t 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. That’s 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: “To feel good, you must do good.” That’s the definition of Christianity. But you do good because you know what’s good and you desire what’s good. That’s what the light of the body being the eye means. The only way is to desire what’s good. That’s 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.
What’s 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 can’t stop doing or can’t 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. It’s 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 that’s 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.
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