Divine Liturgy in Vodocha ( 28.06.2009 )
No One Can Serve Two Masters
The Lord said, “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, 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 soul, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not soul more than food and the body more than clothing?” (Matthew 6:22-25).
Children, I have almost nothing new to tell you in this homily. I want us to recap once again what we have learnt, because repetitio est mater studiorum, also to look at what we have learnt from various angles and in various correlation so that we can once more admire the perfection of the harmony of spiritual life. However, as amusement we have a collateral damage, and that is the comical and harmless Mammon, also named by the Fathers “monkey” or “imitator of God”.
You know from the Holy Fathers that the mind is also known as “the eye of the soul”. If the mind’s essence is pure i.e. illumined, then both our soul and body will also be full of light; if, though, the mind’s essence is defiled and darkened by the evil thoughts accepted and carried into effect, then both our soul and body will be dark, too. The body is also a participant in the uncreated light of the transfiguration. And if the mind in us becomes darkness—that is, if we use the first illumination of the energy of the mind to notice and condemn others’ sins instead of our own ones, then what will the darkness be like of the envy, fear, and hatred toward the person and the success of our fellowman. It is the utter darkness before the utter darkness.
I have talked about this before, also about how the mind becomes illumined through its prayerful sojourn in the heart. Let us only recall now that all this non-love for our fellowman is a consequence of the captivity of our heart to the passions. The more we satisfy the passion, the stronger it becomes. The greater the control the passions have over us, the less we can control ourselves.
You have also seen in one of the previous homilies from what worry does the Godman Christ in His Gospel want us to liberate ourselves. And we know the captivity to what kind of worries makes us all similar to unbelievers—to them who worship the idols i.e. the devil. I will repeat once more, it is the excessive worrying over the physical and in general over all worldly, worrying that is engendered by the captivity of our heart to passions. We have likewise seen what the manifestations are and what the consequences for us of worldly cares.
Thus, the demon, through the satisfaction of the passions, makes people worshippers of idols on the one hand, and darkens their mind and their whole being on the other hand. Such ones not only cannot but often do not want to call themselves Christians. No wonder, as we see later, what happens in the world. Therefore does the Godman Christ warn us that it is not possible for us to serve God and Mammon at the same time.
Children, we should make difference between Him Who is always the Master, both in eternity and in time, and him who is a master only when someone serves him, and this only temporarily. Our God—the Holy Trinity is always the Master. Creator of heaven and earth and of all visible and invisible. God is both our Creator and our Father i.e. the Constructor of our salvation. God is the Master regardless of whether we serve Him or not. The devil is the master only to them who serve him, otherwise he is a funny nothing. Particularly after the Incarnation of Christ and His Dispensation of our salvation, the devil becomes like a toy that infants play with (St Athanasius the Great) or like a sparing partner for them who train themselves in the good; like someone who constantly shows us our weaknesses and passions and like an excellent servant in the process of our self-knowledge.
We can come to love or hate God only consciously. The devil, too. Yet, contempt—in terms of ignoring, happens more unconsciously or in ignorance, when we succumb to the temptation to satisfy our passions. The latter, to me, is more stupid and more hopeless. And it happens most often. The notion “attachment” does not imply some deeper relation.
None of us wants consciously to serve the demon and we all consider ourselves God’s servants. However, everyday life refutes this. Every time we follow our passions and satisfy them, I say every time, we will serve more or less to the demon linked with them. And whenever we retaliate for the evil, we serve the demon. And the heart remains defiled and closed for the prayer in it. It is the worst when we think we serve the One, and in fact we serve the other one. This is called delusion. This happens when the mode of our life is not in line with the stage of spiritual growth at which we are. It is here that the whole skill manifests of the demon as the imitator of God, and this should worry us the most—whether we are on the right road. It is interesting that even when we hear what we should do, we do not want to or do not gather the strength to repent.
Let us not serve by any means to the one who is placed merely and solely to be our servant rather than our master. We surely do not wish to become consciously keepers of swine for their owner, looking to fill our stomach with their food, when we know that there are plenty of workers for our heavenly Father, who have food in abundance.
Most Holy Theotokos save us!
Metropolitan Nahum of Strumica