Following the Wrong Master Leads us into Darkness

On the Third Sunday after Pentecost, we read from the Gospel of Matthew a passage containing three of Jesus’ teachings about how we should live, using images that at first don’t seem to be related.  In his homily, below, Fr James Graham shows how the passages are related and how they all emphasize our need to seek God’s light by following God as our only Master, trusting God to provide for us as God provides for the birds of the air and the lilies of the field.

94FE8466-C56D-41D7-AED8-F3991A3FA519FOLLOWING THE WRONG MASTER LEADS US INTO DARKNESS

Homily for Third Sunday after Pentecost

Romans 5:1-10…………….Matthew 6:22-33

At first, it seems as though the three parts of today’s reading from the Holy Gospel according to St Matthew don’t really connect with one another.

The first part consists of those confusing verses comparing the eye to the lamp of the body, and the very difficult verse that says, “If the light in you is darkness, how great the darkness will be!”  When I read that, I always wonder how light can be darkness.

The second part seems pretty easy:  You can’t serve two masters—God and money.

And the third part tells us that we should be like birds and flowers, who don’t worry about anything, but let God take care of them.  I’m sure most of us hear that and think, “Yeah, but the birds and flowers don’t have mortgages or car payments or taxes or electric bills.”  Then this last section ends with the advice to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you besides.”

But if we read these three parts carefully, and study them, we will realize that they’re actually all talking about the same thing.  They do connect with one another.  And they contain key sentences that tell us the same message in different ways.

Look first at the sentence that says that if the light in you is darkness, it is very dark indeed.  The idea in that first part is the opposition of light and darkness.  In our modern world, we don’t worry much about darkness; in fact, it’s getting harder and harder to find real darkness.  I lived in San Jose, California, for 15 years, and on Mount Hamilton, about five miles from my house, is the Lick Observatory, which has one of the largest telescopes in the world.  But the astronomers can’t use it very much anymore, because too much light comes from the city of more than a million people right at the base of the mountain.

In Jesus’ time, however, the darkness was very dark.  People had only little oil lamps, or maybe torches, which didn’t provide much light.  So darkness was very scary.  Criminals, attackers, wild animals, and all kinds of dangers roamed around in the dark.  Consequently, if your light was bad—if your lamp didn’t work—you were in darkness and danger.  Your light was darkness.  This is why darkness was so often used to symbolize sin and evil—they are dangerous to our souls.  And if we trust evil (darkness) to be our truth (light), we have turned away from God, who is light and life.

The same is true about whom we serve.  We can’t serve or be faithful to two opposing masters.  If we love money or power or pleasure—or even family—more than we love God, then we have chosen darkness instead of light.

And if we worry only about the cares and responsibilities of the world—food, clothing, houses, cars, bills, taxes—we are again giving our faith to the wrong master.  Caring only about such things, and believing that we can deal with them all on our own, using our own resources and our own power, will lead us into darkness.  We have to realize that all of our capacity to accomplish anything comes from God.

So we have to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness in everything we do, in every way we use our skills or talents—and our money and our power—and that will bring us out of darkness in the light.  It will make us serve the only true Master.  And it will put us on the right path to have everything we need for a good and holy life, giving thanks and praise and glory to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and ever and to ages of ages.  Amen.

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