Revelations from the Word

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If your eye is simple...

by Jean-Louis Coraboeuf

"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust spoils, and where thieves dig through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust spoils, and where thieves do not dig through nor steal; for where thy treasure is, there will be also thy heart. The lamp of the body is the eye; if therefore thine eye be single [aplous], thy whole body will be light [photeinos]: but if thine eye be wicked, thy whole body will be dark. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great the darkness! No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and will love the other, or he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon" (Matthew 6:19-24 Darby).

The Greek word aplous means 'simple', 'without a detour', 'without mixture', 'without artifice', 'frank', 'honest'. It is formed from the privative a and the word plous which means 'to form cunning entwinements', 'plaiting a crown' (Matthew 27:29). According to Proverbs 22:9, "A good eye, that will be blessed for it has given its bread to the poor", the expression 'good eye' means 'generous' and in contrast 'evil eye' signifies 'mean'. The eye reveals the state of the heart. When the master of the house says to the worker of the first hour who was contesting his earnings, "Is your eye evil because I am good?" (Matthew 20:15), the heart of the worker was revealed.

The Greek word photeinos means 'light', 'luminous', that is to say 'composed of light', 'full of light' as this verse indicates, "As he was still speaking, a luminous cloud [photeinos] covered them" (Matthew 17:5). At the time of the Transfiguration of Jesus, a luminous cloud enveloped Jesus, Moses and Elijah because God was present at that moment and made His voice heard, "This is My Beloved Son, in whom I have put all my affection: listen to Him!" The cloud was luminous thanks to the presence of God, and it is the same for our body, when Christ, the Light, is present in us.

The apostle Paul wrote, "Enlarge your heart also" (2 Corinthians 6:13) and "Give us a place in your hearts" (2 Corinthians 7:2). Between these two verses, he explains that the heart is restricted when there is the presence of a foreign yoke, because there cannot be any communion [koinonia] between darkness and light, Christ and Belial, between the Temple of God and idols (2 Corinthians 6:14-16). Paul therefore asks them to separate themselves from every foreign yoke, which leads to darkness and to the detriment of the presence of Christ. They also had to purify themselves from all uncleanness of the flesh and the mind, in order to be sanctified before God.

It is not because we are generous that the light is in us, but it is because the light is in us, that we are generous. The presence of Christ in our lives opens our hearts to the needs of others and in such a way that we respond to them. That is why we must be careful that this light always shines in us and is not covered up by darkness. In this case the darkness or mammon symbolises greed. Every appearance of mammon in our hearts will obscure the light of Christ. That is why Jesus puts us on our guard against all attachment to earthly values at the expense of heavenly values, "If all your body is full of light, having no dark part, it will be entirely in the light, as when a lamp illuminates you with its brightness" (Luke 11:36).