Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015, has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany”: “https://amzn.to/2t1rXwh and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.” https://amzn.to/2WAcfG0
Listen Now. We will now be including the daily reading of Epistle and Gospel with The Prayer Team.
Third Sunday of Matthew
Jesus said, “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is not sound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O men of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well. Matthew 6: 22-33 (Third Sunday of Matthew)
Good morning Prayer Team!
Today’s Gospel lesson could form the basis for at least three reflections, that how much great information it packs in. I’ll try a quick summary of all three.
First, Jesus tells us that the eye is the lamp of the body. If the eye is sound, the rest of the body will be as well. Why is that? First of all, ninety percent of what we take in is through our sense of sight. If your eye sees good things—either good information or goodness in people, you will be filled with light. If your eye sees negative stimuli or consistent negativity in people, you will not have that light.
I have often asked people if they can tell me what the most beautiful part of the human body is. The answer is the eyes. Because the eyes give away who we are. Look someone in the eye and you’ll know who is at peace and who isn’t, who feels loved and who feels alone. Words and actions can try to cover the truth, but the eyes give it away. We all work to have better figures, better hair, better voices, etc. But we all need to work on our eyes—they lead the rest of the body.
Second, we cannot serve two masters. We cannot serve God and mammon (which also means money). We cannot serve the sacred while also being a slave to the secular. We can only have one master, one “number one” in our lives. So, who is number one in your life? The Lord? Your family? Your job? Whom do you serve, and whom do you serve first? Where do material pursuits rank in comparison with spiritual pursuits? Yes, these are hard questions.
Third, we all have a tendency to worry, and to worry about things that in the big scheme of things don’t necessarily matter. We worry about things that won’t matter in a week from now, even a day from now? Do you think someone is going to remember what you wore at a wedding last year? Yet we obsess about things like this. Jesus tells us to consider the lilies of the field, how beautiful they are. And the grass which today is beautiful and tomorrow is cut down and destroyed, look how beautiful it is. He tells us that we are of much more valuable than these things. If these things are so beautiful and yet so temporary, imagine how more beautiful we are, imagine how much He has taken care of us.
The ending line of today’s Gospel is that if we seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, we shouldn’t worry about our bodies, our possessions or our beauty—all these things will be added to us.
It is also interesting to note the one verse the follows today’s reading: “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.” (6:34) The Lord wants us to take things a day at a time, giving our best each day, loving Him and loving one another. As for the material things, in His eyes, they are trivial. It’s the spiritual things that count the most. The sound eye. Serving Him. Not worrying or obsessing but trusting Him. And making the most of today.
When he took down Your immaculate Body from the Cross, the honorable Joseph wrapped it in a clean linen shroud with spices and laid for burial in a new tomb. But on the third day You arose, O Lord, and granted the world Your great mercy. (Kathisma, Second Tone, Sunday Orthros, Trans. by Fr. Seraphim Dedes)
Keep your eye sound by keeping it focused on Christ!
With Roger Hunt providing today’s Daily Reading: Listen Now
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