Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov

The Third Sunday After Pentecost: Seek First His Kingdom And His Righteousness

Posted in Sermons by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 11 June 2010

In today’s Gospel reading (Matt. 6:22-33), Christ urges us not to be anxious about our lives and bodies—what we shall eat, drink, or wear (25).  But how can this be, if we must eat and drink, and clothe ourselves?  Are we not earthly beings, who are bound by laws of biological existence?  Do we not come from our forefather Adam, who is dust (Gen. 3:19), and as he was so we also are (1 Cor. 15:48)?  This is true; we are descendants of Adam, and find ourselves in a fallen state.  We sustain our lives by devouring the created world, we wrap out bodies in that which is corruptible, our soul draws its inspiration from the lusts and desires of our bodies, and our spirit feeds on the passions of the soul.  This is the order of life that has become habitual to us, but it is not natural for us; God did not create us for such an existence.

Christ came to restore our nature, to lift us out of the fallen state, and to give a new and original order to our lives.  Our spirit must now find nourishment in God, the source of being; our soul must be inspired by things divine, even as the spirit draws it to God; even our bodies must not live “by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4; RSV here et passim), that is to say, by Christ Himself, Who is the Word of God; and instead of our old corrupt nature, we must now put on new nature (Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10)—Christ Himself (Gal. 3:27).  And as He is, so we also are (1 Cor. 15:48).

Finding the basis of our being in the things of this temporal world, we mold our lives in accordance with that which is not the source of being, and today is, “but tomorrow is thrown into the oven” (Luke 12:28).  By being anxious about corruptible things, in other words, by treating them as treasure, as something that has worth, we unite our hearts to corruption; for where our treasure is, there our heart will be also” (Matt. 6:21).

On the contrary, seeking “first the kingdom and his righteousness” (Matt. 6:33), that is to say, directing our lives toward God, finding the basis of our lives in Him Who is life itself, we “become heirs of the kingdom” (Jas. 2:5) and of eternal life with God.

Christ is not calling us to stop eating—He Himself ate and drank, and His disciples did the same; He is not calling us to disregard our clothing—He Himself wore a robe made for Him by His Most Pure Mother.  Christ is not calling us to reject our life, but to sanctify it: to bring every aspect of our life to the service of the kingdom, to remember that the goal of Christian life is theosis—a union with Christ and ascension of our nature to the right side of the Father, not shop-osis—a union with groceries and ascension to the nearest shopping mall.

“Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well” (Matt. 6:33).  Note that Christ is saying that these things will be yours as well.  God knows that we need all these things (Matt. 6:32).  He placed us in this world, and He blesses the labor of our hands.  But let us not be like the man to whom God said “Fool! This night your soul is required of you; and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?” (Luke 12:20).  Let us instead firmly bind our hearts to heaven by making it—heaven—our treasure.  Only such a life is pleasing in God’s sight, because only such a life is truly life—life in the fullness of being and life abundant (John 10:10).

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