In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ in the Holy Gospel today we heard our Lord speak about the manner in which we live our lives.
The first thing we heared in the Gospel is about the eye of the body. Is it full of darkness or light? This question is speaking about our state of mind. Is the mind enlightened and full of the knowledge of God or is it empty, dark and separated from God. In order to live a Christ centered life we must have knowledge of God. This knowledge of God does not just come from books. Our St. Bishop Nikolai Velimirovic speaks about how we as Orthodox Christians have our minds enlightened by five candles of knowledge. These five candles are the following: our own minds, the Old Revelation, the New Revelation, the Church and the power of the Holy Spirit. He goes on to say with the guidance given to us by these five candles Orthodox Christians are given the most amount of light to come to the knowledge of God. He also states that when we fail and become dark, empty and separated from God we are also denied the most. This is the standard we will be held against at the final judgment.
When I think of these five candles I see them with the bishop when he is blessing with the Trikrije and Dikrije. At the start of Liturgy, the deacon hands these candles to the bishop and says “Let Your light so shine before men that they may see Your good works and glorify our Father who is in Heaven always now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen”. This is a call for all of us to shine forth as these five candles with the knowledge of God.
How then do we obtain this light of the knowledge of God? We obtain it through our experience of Him. Christ our God is our salvation. It is through our relationship with Him through prayer and communion that we obtain enlightenment and knowledge of Him. Our whole purpose in life should be to obtain the Holy Spirit, to live a Godly life, to be like Christ our God, to become divine as God is divine. When we live this way we realize that our whole life depends on God.
The Gospel speaks of the birds of the air and the lilies of the field and how God provides for them with all they need to survive. It also speaks to our human nature to worry about how we will be clothed, eat, or drink. The simple message here is trust in God and you will be provided what you need.
This is a simple message but, a difficult message. How many of us truly place our trust in God? Do we believe that God will give us the things we need to survive? We need to be clear here that there is a difference between needs and wants. Do I trust God enough that no matter what He will provide me with a roof over my head, enough food to eat and clothing to cover me? If we look at life these are the only things we truly need.
We can only do this if we act in concert with God by fulfilling his commandments. Another way of looking at it is that by being obedient to the teachings of God we are set free from the cares of this world; as Christ our God says in another place in the Gospel; “take up your cross and follow Me.”
How then do we take up the cross and follow Him? First and foremost we must work for the daily bread with the talents God has given us. Secondly, we must resist the temptation to take a short cut by lying, cheating, and the lust of power and money as we conduct our work. We must remember that we are Orthodox Christians in all of our affairs conducting ourselves in a Godly manner even if it is unpopular and difficult.
Why must we do this? Because we are obedient to those five candles of knowledge; the teachings of Our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ in the Old and New Testament, the teachings of the Church, the inspiration of the life creating Holy Spirit and the innocent mind that was given to us when we were created. All of these direct our lives to live in a Godly manner.
Obedience to these five candles of knowledge also has a direct bearing on how we conduct our lives within the Church. I ask you are we supporting our parish in a Godly manner? Is our parish involved in works of charity and mercy? Do we support the works of the Church and the Diocese for recognition, positions of power or do we do it out of our love for God? Supporting the Church in a Godly manner, caring for our needy brothers abroad and at home and doing the works of the Church and Diocese out of love of God is definitely the harder road but, it leads to living a Godly life.
It leads to living a Godly life because we are being obedient to those five candles out of love for God. When we give away our life to God, He gives it back to us in a new way. In a way in which we become truly free so that the cares of this world no longer tie us down so that we can embrace Him alone.
O Lord our God we ask that you receive from us Your servants all of our being that we may be obedient to all Your teachings in order to be set free from the cares of this world and care only for You our only True God. Amen.
Delivered on the 3rd Sunday after Pentecost by Fr. Milan Medakovic at Holy Ascension Serbian Orthodox Church, Youngwood, PA