Singleness

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“The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is single, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness! No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.  Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life” (Matthew 6)

If you take time to think about, vision is a remarkable thing. It is a difficult thing to be born blind, but how terrible it must be to have had sight and then lose it. Jesus said it- if the eye is bad then there is darkness and how great and terrible is that darkness.

The animal world is filled with all kind of vision. From insects to fish to man, the arrangement of eyes is remarkable. We humans have stereoscopic vision: that is we have two eyes, but because they are placed as they are, we experience vision as if we had one eye. If fact, if we lose one eye, our experience of vision is still the same as before. The stereoscopic nature of our vision allows us many advantages like depth perception and peripheral vision. As I said, it is truly remarkable.

But what happens if we cross our eyes, or if due to a physical ailment or accident, our eyes wander. Suddenly our vision is double or blurred. It is so distracting and troublesome that we try desperately to get back to singleness of vision.

St. John said that Christ is the true light and Jesus spoke of himself as the light of the world.  To see this uncreated light, our vision must be single. The Fathers tell us that the eye that Jesus is referring to is not our physical eyes, but our inner eye, that is the soul. The soul can see God with absolute clarity, or it can become warped so that no light passes through it.

St. Paul spoke of “singleness of heart” and warned us that a “double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” Double-mindedness is a blurring of spiritual vision, and when the eye of the soul is blurred, how terrible is the darkness that follows.

Why do we have so little singleness of heart? What is it that blurs our vision and makes us so cross-eyed? The Master speaks about it.

“You cannot serve two masters.” Serving two masters makes you cross-eyed. A slave has to watch to be ready to respond when called. How can you keep an eye on two people at once?  Of course, the way life is today, we feel fortunate if we only have two masters. With so many commitments and demands, it’s hard to know where our priorities and commitments truly rest. We have to keep an anxious eye on everything. If we had a hundred eyes, like a fly, we still couldn’t keep an eye on everything that concerns us.

Jesus names these two masters as God and mammon.  The word “mammon” is used in the Bible to describe riches, avarice, and worldly gain. I know this idea makes us anxious, but I have said many times that Jesus knows that we must work and need money to get by. It was God who said that we must earn our living “by the sweat of our brow.” Remember, its not money that’s the root of all evil, it’s the LOVE of money that is the problem. When the desire for security and comfort dominate life, then we become slaves to it. God is jealous God, and we find ourselves between two masters. Our eyes cross and the light of soul begins to dim.

I think I can honestly say that I have no intention to get rich nor do I strive for it. All I want are the basics. But wait a minute. No so fast! Its so easy for my wants to quickly become my needs. My basics get more complicated every day. So though I am not rich, I  strive like a slave for things. I am such easy prey for Master Mammon.

There is a hook that mammon uses to catch us.  Jesus said, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life.” Worry and anxiety lead us to slavery. Well, really, how can I keep from not worrying? I mean have you seen the price of gasoline? Who can afford to buy a steak anymore? Will I have enough money to retire?  What about the medical bills? Will there be any social security when I finally hit retirement age?  Oh, the list or worries just goes on and on! You may insert your own worries to the list.

Actually, these fears speak to legitimate concerns and God knows that we must deal with them. But its the power of the fear behind these concerns that binds us with shackles of iron. Fear and anxiety blur my vision and I am filled with darkness.

If I made God my only master, all these things, for which I am so anxious, would be given to me. Sounds nice, but 2hat proof do we have of this? Jesus tells us to consider the lilies of the field or the birds of the air. The point isn’t that we will live like birds or flowers. The point is whether we can trust God or not. Trust and fear do not exist together, and trust restores vision to unity and singleness.

Even with a clear eye, problems will continue. The cost of living will only go up. There will be tribulations and sorrows. Yet with trust and hope, these things will not bind us through fear to another master.  Listen again to the words of St. Paul:  “rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but glory in tribulations, because tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope never disappoints because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5)

Singleness of heart is a gift, and it transforms life because it keeps the eye of the soul single so that light will pour into our being.  With this light, we know that nothing will separate us from God and nothing will be able to destroy us.

It is good to live without fear, but this can only happen when light fills the body. And light only fills the body when the eye is single. Strive, my friends for singleness of heart.


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