Lent, Day 23 — Eyesight

Jesus’s Manifesto: The Sermon on the Mount

The eye is the lamp of the body. Therefore, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how terrible that darkness will be! No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be loyal to the one and have contempt for the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. (Matthew 6:22-24 CEB).

  1. Two metaphors in this section: Eye/body and masters.
  2. The eye is the lamp of the body. Some people argue that Jesus was schooled in Eastern philosophy, and this statement certainly resonates that way. The Bhagavad Gita talks about the body as a “field” of senses, elements, and mind. It says “As the sun lights up the world, the Self dwelling in the field is the source of all light in the field. Those who, with the eye of wisdom, distinguish the field from its Knower and the way to freedom from the bondage of [attachment] attain the supreme goal” (13:33-34).
  3. Jesus just finished talking about our attachment to wealth, so when he starts talking about eyes and light and body, he seems to be saying that the way we see affects our whole being.
  4. There are two ways the light gets into us: There is the inner light of the Self, and the external light of clear seeing. If Jesus were Hindu or Buddhist, he might talk about this clear seeing as “non-attachment.” We might have a strong inner light, which can compensate for our poor perception. Or we might see clearly, but have a weak inner light. Either state is better than the one whose inner light is dim and sees poorly: “How great is the darkness!” Strive to correct your vision, Jesus says, so that your field, your body and internal world, can be full of light.
  5. Listen: First you start talking about inner light and wisdom, and next you’re doing hatha yoga and chanting. Alabama just passed a law that makes yoga legal in schools, but kids can’t say “Namaste.” It’s no wonder the Western church has such a perverse relationship to capitalism. We’ve rejected Jesus’s philosophy of light and clear seeing in favor of the God of the Invisible Hand.
  6. The second metaphor is about servant-master relationships. And I can’t hear this without hearing Bob Dylan’s Gotta Serve Somebody.
  7. Jesus creates a stark contrast, and presents us an either-or decision. You cannot serve both God and wealth. The word for “wealth” here is a loan-word from Hebrew, which in English was translated as “Mammon.” It’s just a colloquial word for money.
  8. To recap, Jesus has so far made three arguments for putting money it its place: Where you locate your heart and treasure, the quality of light in your body, and who you will serve. It seems like our relationship with money is important to Jesus, doesn’t it?