The Thoughts and Adventures of Sarah Harris

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And they knew that they were naked…

In his book, On the Human Condition, St. Basil of Caesarea, a very influential Church Father from AD 300, talks about how Adam and Eve ate of the fruit and noticed, for the first time, that they were naked:

Image“’For they ate,’ it says ‘and their eyes were opened, and they knew that they were naked’ [Gen 3.7]. But it was necessary that they not know their nakedness, that the mind of the human being might not turn toward the fulfillment of lesser needs, to consider clothes for himself and relief from nakedness, and through concern for the flesh be entirely dragged away from gazing intently toward God.”[1]

Concern for the flesh tears the Church away from communion with God. When selfishness takes precedence, communion with God and others are naturally severed. Seeking self can never be for others. It can never be for the oppressed. It can never be for the Church. God is seeking to redeem the world and He has asked His Church to follow Him in this pursuit.

Basil continues with the famous scripture verse: “’Do not be anxious about your lives, what you will eat, neither what you will wear” [Mt 6:25].[2]

This passage is often presented as a scripture in reference to those who are worried that they will not be provided for – and this is assurance that God will take care of them. However, upon looking at the entire chapter in context, we see that all the verses leading up to verse 25 are admonitions to refrain from performing “good deeds” in public so that others might see you and give you glory.

“Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full…No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth” (Mt 6:16, 24 NASB).

Then verse 25 starts: “For this reason, I say to you, do not be worried about your life.”

Two things are being emphasized here. The first is in regards to hypocrisy and the second is in regards to wealth. Thus, Christ is urging his audience not to be concerned with looking good for the outside world, with putting on a show, with preparing the best meals, with wearing the most expensive clothes, or with performing good deeds for others to see. Don’t be anxious about those things!

“Is not life more than food? And the body more than clothing?…But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Mt 25b, 33). And what is His Kingdom? It is when this world is redeemed and Christ sets up His rule. This is far more important than getting noticed by the community for our “good deeds” and more important than our self seeking glory. Seek first His Kingdom – the redemption of this world.

[1] St. Basil the Great, On the Human Condition, trans. Nonna Verna Harrison, ed. John Behr, Popular Patristics Series (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2005), 77.

[2] Ibid., 78


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