Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on Luke (1859) Sermons 135-145 (Luke 20:19-22:38) pp. 630-682.
20:19-26. And the chief priests and scribes sought that same hour to lay hands upon Him; and they feared the people: for they knew that He had spoken this parable concerning them. And having watched for an opportunity, they sent to Him spies, making pretence of being just men, to find occasion against Him in His speech, that they might deliver Him to the rule and authority of the governor. And they asked Him, saying, Teacher, we know that You speak and teach rightly, and don't discriminate in favour of important persons, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar, or not? But He perceived their wickedness, and said to them, Show me a denarius. And they showed one to Him. And He said, Whose is the image upon it and superscription? And they said, Caesar's. And He said to them, Give therefore to Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and to God the things which are God's. And they could not blame the word before the people; and they wondered at His answer, and were silent.
AGAIN is the gang of the Pharisees inflamed with unbridled rage: they draw the bow of their envy; they gnash their teeth at Him Who calls them to life; they savagely attack Him Who seeks to save, and Who humbled Himself from His supreme and godlike glory to our estate; and they plot His death Who became man that He might abolish death. And the sole cause which hindered their shameless audacity, the wise Evangelist shows us by saying, that "they feared the people." He understood therefore that they were restrained by no feeling whatsoever of piety towards God; the commandment given by Moses, which plainly says, "You shall not kill the holy and the just," put no bridle |631 upon their violence: but they had regard to the fear of man far more than to the reverence due to God.
But what was the cause of their giving way to such harsh and unmitigated fury? "They knew, it says, that He had spoken this parable concerning them." And what parable? Plainly that by which He had shown that as being wicked and faithless husbandmen, they had mocked and slain the holy prophets, who had been sent to them by God, to stir them up to honour Him, by bringing forth abundant spiritual fruits: and had similarly treated even the Son Himself, the Lord of the vineyard. For they slew Him also, saying, "This is the heir: come, let us kill Him, that the inheritance may be ours." But they missed their mark, and provoked God to anger, or rather resisted the decrees from above, and whetted against themselves the divine wrath. For "being evil, they perished evilly;" and were rejected from being husbandmen, and the Lord of the farm gave the vineyard to others. This then was the reason for which they murmured against Christ: and yet, how was it not rather their duty, having been taught what was about to happen, to escape from the danger, and leap over its toils? And the way so to do was straightforward and easy. Let them accept Him Who calls them to salvation: let them honour by faith Him Who justifies the wicked; Who absolves from all guilt; and by His grace, that remembers not evil, saves those who are entangled in sins.
But these bold and obdurate men, being ready for evil only,. entertain no such purpose as this, but with their mind full of the craftiness of the devil, betake themselves to wicked devices. They lay snares for Christ, and contrive a trap for an accusation against Him, and gather pretexts for falsely accusing Him. Already are they meditating, and plotting in their bitterness, the lying words they uttered against Him before Pilate. They suborned men therefore who falsely assumed to themselves the reputation of goodness, like a borrowed mask; while really they were wicked in their characters, and their heart full of gall and error and all false speaking. They made pretence then of being kind and just: they imagined that they could deceive Him Who knows secrets, when having one purpose in mind and heart, they utter words altogether unlike their wicked knaveries. For they perchance |632 forgot God, Who says, "Who is this that hides from Me his purpose? and shuts up his words in his heart, and thinks that from Me he hides them? For, as Solomon says, Hell and destruction are open to the Lord: how therefore must not also the minds of men?" But you drew near to Christ the Saviour of all as to a mere man, and therefore you thought that you could deceive Him. This was the cause of your ignorant behaviour: but it had been better to have reflected, that the Word being God was made in fashion like to us; but was nevertheless proved by divine and ineffable miracles, and by His godlike glory, not to be a mere man only, such as you are, but to be God, as the splendour of His deeds proclaimed. He was in appearance a man like to us, but He gave sight to the blind; He raised the dead from their graves; He commanded those who already had seen corruption to hasten back to life; He rebuked the seas, and appeared to the disciples, walking upon the waves, as they were sailing once upon the sea of Tiberias. It was in their power therefore to have seen from actual facts that He was not a man only, but rather God also as well as man.
But this they would not even admit into their minds: how could they? but drew near, tempting Him; and hiding from Him their fraudulent purpose, they address Him with gentle words, being like savage beasts wrapped in lambs' clothing. Such were they whom the prophet David also rebuked, saying, "Their words are smoother than oil: and yet are they the points of spears." And again, "Their tongue pierces like the point of a spear: the words of their mouth are deceitful: he speaks peaceably to his neighbour: and there is enmity in his soul." But what do they say? " Teacher, we know that You speak and teach rightly, nor do You discriminate in favour of important persons, but teach the way of God in truth: Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar, or not?" O what polluted knavery! For the God of all willed indeed for Israel to be exempt from human dominion: but because they trampled under foot the divine laws, and despising utterly the commandment given to them, betook themselves to their own devices, they had fallen under the hand of those who at that time held dominion over them: who also imposed upon them tribute, and tax, and the yoke of an unwonted slavery. |633 For the prophet Jeremiah also lamented over Jerusalem as though she had already suffered this fate, saying, "How has the populous city sat solitary! She that was chief of the countries has become tributary!"
Their object therefore, it says, was to deliver "Him to the authority of the governor:" for they expected that certainly and without doubt they would hear Him say, that it was not lawful to give tribute to Caesar. How therefore did Christ overcome their craftiness? "Show Me, He says, a denarius." And when it was shown Him, again He asks, "Whose is the image upon it and superscription? And they said, Caesar's." And what does Christ reply thereto? "Give to Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and to God the things which are God's." For those whose office it is to govern impose a tribute of money upon their subjects: but God requires of us of things corruptible and transitory even nothing, but rather willing obedience and submission; faith and love; and the sweet savour of good works. These things the Israelites ought to have offered to God: but they were careless and contemptuous, and too ready to betake themselves to every thing that was base.
"They wondered therefore at His answer," and that "before all the people," that is, before many witnesses. And yet, as though they had forgotten these things, when they led Jesus to Pilate, they brought this very accusation against Him: for they said, "We found this man perverting the people, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar." You wonder at His answer; you were unable to deceive Him; you went away ashamed: and how then made you your own wickedness the point of an accusation against Him? What therefore does the Saviour say of them by the voice of the Psalmist? "That without cause have they hid for Me the destruction of their snare: without reason have they reproached My soul. Let a snare come upon them which they know not: and let the net which they hid for Me catch themselves, and let them fall into their own snare." For so verily they did fall; for because they delivered Jesus to Pilate, they were themselves given over to destruction, and the Roman host consumed them with fire and sword, and burnt up all their land, and even the glorious temple that was among them. |634
Such were the wages of their wicked behaviour against Christ: but let us, carefully avoiding these sins, and honouring by faith the Word of God, Who for our sakes and in our stead became man, be diligent in crowning Him with unceasing praises: by Whom and with Whom, to God the Father, be praise and dominion, with the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen. |635
20:27-38. And certain Sadducees drew near, who say there is no resurrection; and they asked Him, saying, Teacher, Moses wrote to us, that if any man's brother die having a wife, and he die without children, that his brother shall take his wife, and raise up seed to his brother. There were therefore seven brethren, and the first took a wife, and died without children. And the second and the third took her; and in like manner also the seven: and they died, and left no children. And afterwards the woman died also. Therefore at the resurrection whose wife of them will she be? for the seven had her to wife. And Jesus said to them, The children of this world marry, and are married: but they who have been accounted worthy to attain to that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are married; for neither can they die any more; for they are equal with the angels, and are the children of God, in that they are the children of the resurrection. But that the dead rise, even Moses indicated at the bush, saying, The Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob: but God is not of the dead, but of the living: for all live to Him.
IGNORANCE is constantly, so to speak, accompanied by rashness, and leads men on to attach great importance to their wretched fancies; and thus those who are the victims of this malady entertain a great idea of themselves, and imagine themselves possessed of such knowledge as no man can gainsay. For they forget, as it seems, Solomon, who says, "Be not wise in your own eyes," that is, according to your own single judgment: and again, that "wisdom not put to the proof goes astray." For we do not necessarily possess true opinions upon every individual doctrine that we hold, but often |636 perhaps abandoning the right path, we err, and fall into that which is not fitting. But I think it right, that exercising an impartial and unprejudiced judgment, and not rendered rash by passion, we should love the truth, and eagerly pursue it.
But the foolish Sadducees had no great regard for such considerations. They were a sect of the Jews, and what was the nature of the opinion which they entertained concerning the resurrection of the dead, Luke has explained to us in the Acts of the Apostles, thus writing, "For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess all." They draw near therefore to Christ our common Saviour, Who is the Life and Resurrection, and endeavour to disprove the resurrection: and being men contemptuous and unbelieving, they invent a story replete with ignorance, and by a string of frigid suppositions wickedly endeavour violently to shake into nothingness the hope of the whole world. For we affirm, that the hope of the whole world is the resurrection from the dead, of whom Christ was the first-born and first-fruits: and therefore the wise Paul also, making our resurrection to depend upon His, says, "If the dead rise not, neither did Christ rise:" and again adds thereto, as if urging the converse thought to its conclusion, "But if Christ rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection from the dead?" And those who said this were the Sadducees, of whom we are now speaking.
But let us examine, if you will, this senseless fiction of their framing. They say then that there were seven brethren, who successively became the husbands of one wife, according to the requirements of the law of Moses; and she died without children: at the resurrection therefore whose wife will she be? The enquiry however was but a senseless one, nor did the question at all accord with the inspired Scriptures: and the answer of our Saviour amply suffices to prove the folly of their narrative, and make us reject both their fiction, and the idea upon which it was founded.
Still I think it right to convict them plainly of foolishly resisting the inspired Scriptures, and to show that they completely mistook the sense of what the sacred writings teach. For come and let us see what the company of the holy prophets has spoken to us upon this point, and what are the |637 declarations which the Lord of hosts has made by their means. He said therefore of those that sleep, "I will deliver them from the hand of the grave; I will redeem them from death: Where is your condemnation, O death? O grave, where is your sting?" Now what is meant by the condemnation of death, and by its sting also, the blessed Paul has taught us, saying, "But the sting of death is sin: and the strength of sin is the law." For he compares death to a scorpion, the sting of which is sin: for by its poison it slays the soul. And the law, he says, was the strength of sin: for so he himself again elsewhere protests, saying, "I had not known sin but by the law:" "for where there is no law, there is no transgression of the law." For this reason Christ has removed those who believe in Him from the jurisdiction of the law that condemns: and has also abolished the sting of death, even sin: and sin being taken away, death, as a necessary consequence, departed with it; for it was from it, and because of it, that death came into the world.
As God therefore gives the promise, "I will deliver them from the hand of the grave, and from death I will redeem them;" so the blessed prophets also accord with the decrees from on high: for they speak to us, "not of their own heart, nor of the will of man, but from the mouth of God," as it is written; inasmuch as it is the Holy Spirit which speaking within them declares upon every matter, what is the sentence of God, and His almighty and unalterable will. The prophet Isaiah therefore has said to us, "Your dead men shall arise: and those in the graves shall be raised; and they who are in the earth shall rejoice: for the dew from You is healing to them." And by the dew I imagine he means the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit, and that influence which abolishes death, as being that of God and of life.
And the blessed David also somewhere in the Psalms says of all those upon earth, "You take away their spirit, and they die, and return to their dust: You send Your Spirit, and they are created, and You renew the face of the earth." Do you hear that the working and life-giving grace of the Holy Spirit will renew the face of the earth? And by its face is meant its beauty; and the beauty of human nature is justly understood to be incorruption. "For it is |638 sown, it says, in corruption, it is raised in incorruption; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory." For the prophet Isaiah again assures us that death which entered in because of sin does not retain its power over the dwellers upon earth for ever, but is abolished by the resurrection from the dead of Christ, Who renews the universe, and refashions it to that which it was at the beginning----" for God created all things for incorruption," as it is written; for he says, "He has swallowed up death, having waxed mighty: and God shall again take away all weeping from every countenance; He shall remove the reproach of the people from the whole earth." Now sin is what he calls the reproach of the people, and when this has been taken away, death also is extinguished with it, and corruption departs from the midst: and by having brought it to an end, He removes every one's weeping; and lamentation also is put to silence; for henceforth there is no more cause for men to weep and lament.
And thus much for our own argument in refutation of the infidelity of the Jews: but let us see also what Christ said to them: "The children indeed of this world," He says, those, that is, who lead worldly carnal lives, full of fleshly lust, for the procreation of children "marry and are married:" but those who have maintained an honourable and elect life, full of all excellence, and have therefore been accounted worthy of attaining to a glorious and marvellous resurrection, will be necessarily raised far above the life which men lead in this world; for they will live as becomes saints, who already have been brought near to God. "For they are equal with the angels, and are the children of God." As therefore all fleshly lust is taken away, and no place whatsoever is left in them for bodily pleasure, they resemble the holy angels, fulfilling a spiritual and not a material service, such as becomes holy spirits; and are at the same time counted worthy of a glory such as that which the angels enjoy. |639
But the Saviour also demonstrated the great ignorance of the Sadducees, by bringing forward their own hierophant Moses, as well and clearly acquainted with the resurrection of the dead. For he has set before us God, He says, as saying in the bush, "I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." But of whom is He God, if, according to their argument, these have ceased to live? for He is the God of the living: and therefore certainly and altogether they will rise, when His almighty right hand brings them thereunto; and not them only, but also all who are upon the earth.
And for men not to believe that this will happen, is worthy perhaps of the ignorance of the Sadducees; but altogether unworthy of those who love Christ. For we believe in Him who says, "I am the Resurrection and the Life." For He will raise the dead, "suddenly, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump. For it shall resound, and the dead in Christ shall rise incorruptible, and we shall be changed." For Christ, our common Saviour, shall transfer us to incorruption, and to glory, and to a life incorruptible: by Whom and with Whom, to God the Father, be praise and dominion, with the Holy Spirit, for over and ever. Amen. |640
20:41-47. And He said to them. How say they of Christ that He is David's Son? For David himself says in the book of Psalms, The Lord said to my Lord, Sit You on My right hand until I place Your enemies as a footstool under Your feet. David therefore calls Him Lord; and how is He his Son? And in the hearing of all the people, He said to His disciples, Beware of the scribes, who desire to walk in stoles, and love greetings in the marketplaces, and the foremost seats in the synagogues, and the highest part of the couches at feasts: who devour widows' houses, and in pretence prolong their prayers: these shall receive more abundant condemnation.
THOSE who love instruction and are fond of hearing receive with joy the profitable word of God, and store it up in the treasure-house of their heart as the seed of life. And what is. the result of their so doing? The divine light rises upon them, and they gain a correct and unerring knowledge of the sacred doctrines. And this quickens them to life, as the Son Himself teaches us, where He says to God the Father in heaven, "And this is life eternal, to know You the only true God, and Jesus Christ Whom You have sent."
See therefore, I say, see Him Who is the Giver to us of all wisdom and understanding, even Christ, endeavouring to implant this great and invaluable blessing in those first of all who were the chiefs of the Jews, the scribes, I mean, and Pharisees. For it was right, as they were the pastors and teachers and governors of the people, that His mystery should not he hidden from them: even that which the law of Moses had proclaimed of old, delineating it by type and shadow in manifold ways; and which the great and glorious company also of the holy prophets had preached. For it is for this reason that Christ is called "the accomplishment of the law and the prophets."
The Saviour therefore asked them, saying, "How say they of Christ that He is David's Son? For David himself says |641 in the book of Psalms, The Lord said to my Lord, Sit You on My right hand, until I place Your enemies as a footstool under Your feet. David therefore calls Him Lord: and how is He his son?" The beginning of understanding is faith: "for if, He says, you will not believe, neither can you understand:" but the examination also of important truths tends to salvation. Confessedly then Emanuel is both the Son and the Lord of David: but if any one would learn in what manner he is to understand this, he must certainly betake himself to the exact and blameless examination of His mystery, which was "kept in silence indeed from the foundation of the world, but has been revealed in the latter ages of the world."
The Pharisees however gave no answer to Christ's question: and this they did in malice, or rather against their own selves, lest being pricked by the enquiry, the word of salvation should shine forth in them. For they did not wish to know the truth, but sinfully seizing for themselves the Lord's inheritance, they denied the heir, or rather wickedly slew Him. For from love of rule, and greed of lucre, and for their base gains, they rejected the faith. For once indeed they even stoned Him with stones, and when asked the reason of their violence, they foolishly said, "For a good work we stone You not, but for blasphemy: because that You being a man make Yourself God." And on another occasion they called Him a Samaritan, a drunkard, and a winebibber, and the carpenter's son, meaning that He was an ignoble person, and born of ignoble parents. Nor verily canst you wonder at this, when they ventured even to accuse His birth in the flesh of the holy virgin, saying, darkly and bitterly, "We are not born of harlotry."
To remove therefore from them the habit of thinking and speaking of Him in a derogatory and contemptuous manner, |642 He asked them, saying, "How say they that Christ is David's Son?" But they, as I have already remarked, were silent from malicious motives, and thereby condemned themselves as unworthy of eternal life, and of the knowledge of the truth.
And we too will put to the Pharisees 1 of later days a similar question: Let them, who deny that He Who was born of the holy virgin is very Son of God the Father, and Himself also God, and divide the one Christ into two sons; let them, I say, explain to us, in what manner David's son is his Lord, and that not so much with regard to human lordship as divine. For to sit at all at the right hand of the Father is the assurance and pledge of supreme glory. For those who share the same throne are equal also in dignity: and those who are crowned with equal honours are understood of course to be equal in nature. But to sit by God can signify nothing else than sovereign authority, and the throne declares to us that He possesses empire over every thing, and supremacy by right of His substance. How therefore is the Son of David David's Lord, and seated also at the right hand of God the Father, and on the throne of Deity? Or is it not altogether according to the unerring word of the mystery, that the Word being God, and sprung from the very substance of God the Father, and being in His likeness and on an equality with Him, became flesh, that is, man, perfectly, and yet without departing from the incomparable excellence of the divine dignities, continuing rather in that estate in which He had ever been, and |643 still being God, though He had become flesh and in form like to us. He is David's Lord therefore according to that which belongs to His divine glory and nature and sovereignty: but his son according to the flesh.
It was the duty therefore, the duty, I say, of the chiefs of the Jews, as they prided themselves so much upon their knowledge of the divine laws, not to let the words of the holy prophets escape their notice. For the blessed Isaiah says, "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son: and they shall call His name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us." But the Word was with us as God, when He took our likeness, and despised not the low estate of human kind, in order that He might save all beneath the heaven. And it is written again, "And you Bethlehem, the house of Ephrata, are small to be among the thousands of Judah: out of you shall He come forth for Me Who shall be the Head of Israel." For Bethlehem was indeed small, and in comparison with the general populousness of the Jews, its inhabitants were very few; yet from it came forth Christ, as having been born in it of the holy virgin: not as one subject to the shadows of the law, but rather as ruler both over the law and the prophets.
We therefore follow neither the ignorance nor the newness of the foolish talking of men, lest with them we fall into a reprobate mind: but join ourselves rather to the pure teachings of the holy apostles and evangelists, who every where show that Christ the Saviour of all is at once both the Son and the Lord of David, in the manner we have already described.
"There is therefore one Lord, one faith, one baptism:" one Lord has purchased us, "not with corruptible things, with silver or with gold, but with His own blood rather," as it is written, in order that we may serve Him, and by and with Him the Father. For in Him and by Him we have an access (to the Father).
But, as I said, the rulers of the Jews had no regard whatsoever for the truth: and if any one would learn the reason of their obdurate dislike of instruction, he shall hear it from me. It was their determination not to depart from their inbred love of praise, nor to abandon their accursed lust of lucre. For the Saviour Himself once rebuked them, saying; "How can you |644 believe, who receive glory one of another, and wish not for the glory that comes from the one God?" For it was their duty to desire the glory which comes from God, rather than that of men, which is but for a time, and like a dream vanishes away.
Usefully therefore, that He may keep the company of the holy disciples free from faults so disgraceful, He testifies, saying, "Beware of the Scribes and Pharisees;" that is, expose not yourselves to be the prey of their vices, nor be you partakers of their disregard of God. For what was their custom? To walk in the streets beautifully attired, dragging with them a pompous dignity, to catch thereby the praises of those who saw them. And while they were wicked, and their heart full of all improbity, they falsely assumed to themselves the reputation of piety: and with a gravity of manners not founded on reality, they diligently lengthened out their speaking in their prayers, supposing perchance that unless they expended many words, God would not know what their requests were. But the Saviour of all did not permit His worshippers to act so shamefully, saying, "When you pray, babble not as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking:" but He commanded them to be humble, and not lovers of boasting, nor to pay any regard to the desire of vain glory, but rather to seek the honour that comes from above, from God. In such He deposits the knowledge of His mystery: such He appoints instructors of others, as possessing an exact and blameless knowledge of the sacred doctrines: such He makes to know how David's Son is also David's Lord: with whom we also will range ourselves, God the Father illuminating us with divine light in Christ: by Whom and with Whom, to God the Father, be praise and dominion, with the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever, Amen. |645
21:1-4. And as He looked He saw the rich casting their gifts into the treasury: and He saw also a certain poor widow who cast in thither two farthings: and He said, Of a truth I say to you, that this poor widow has cast in more than they all. For they all of their superabundance have cast in to the offerings; but she of her want has cast in all the substance that she had.
TO-DAY opens to us the sight of a spectacle of piety, with Christ as the exhibitor of the games, Who by just decree distributes the honours to those who are called to the course. And the men whom these games bring forward and offer to our admiration, are neither trillers of harps, nor skilful wrestlers, nor again such as are accustomed to gain glory by the tuneful sounds of pipes; but such rather as the Saviour of all deigns to regard because He loves virtue: and of these the most honoured class, preferred before all others, are those who are kind and merciful, and of whom the Saviour Himself bears witness, saying, "Blessed are the merciful: for upon them shall be shown mercy."
These Christ watches as they cast their offerings into the treasury: for so we have heard the holy evangelist here declaring to us. But what mouth will suffice for those who would praise God over all! "The praise of the Lord, as Scripture says, conceals the word." For it is impossible worthily to praise His surpassing gentleness, and the greatness of His incomparable love to mankind. He counts as offerings, and takes to Himself, what we do for the brethren who are grieved by poverty. For He has said, "Verily I say to you, that whatsoever you have done to one of these little ones, |646 you have done it to Me." And it is written, that "he that is charitable to the poor lends to the Lord." At this one of the saints very beautifully expressed his admiration, thus saying somewhere to us, or rather to all the sons of men; "For in that you are righteous, what will you give Him? Or what will He receive at your hand? Your wickedness is to the man that is your equal: and your righteousness to the son of man." Our deeds then are indeed done, as I said, to those who are our fellows and brethren, but God takes it to Himself, because He is loving to man, and counts it as spiritual fruitfulness, in order that He may have an occasion of showing mercy upon those who habitually thus act, and may free them from all sin. For it is written, that mercy glories against judgment."
Let us then watch, if you please, the contest of the merciful, and see what is its nature, and to whom the Saviour chiefly assigns His praises by His holy and godlike decree. Some of the rich then drew near, bringing the appointed gifts, and casting their offerings into the treasury: and as being possessed of great wealth, and ample riches, the gifts that each one offered were, as is likely, in themselves large: and yet, on the other hand, small, and not in proportion to the offerers' means. And so after them there came in a woman oppressed by hard and unendurable poverty, and whose whole hope of sustenance lay in the kindness of the compassionate, and who by scraps scarcely and laboriously gathered a scant and miserable provision, barely sufficient for the day. And finally, she offered two farthings: for it was not possible for her to bestow more, but rather, so to speak, she had stripped herself of all that she had, and was leaving the sacred courts with empty hands. Wonderful deed! She who constantly asked alms of others, lends to God, making even poverty itself fruitful to His honour. She therefore vanquishes the rest, and by a just sentence is crowned by God.
But this perchance may vex some among the rich: and therefore we will address a few remarks to them. You delight, O rich man, in the abundance of your possessions: your portion is fertile beyond what your necessities require. You reap fields and districts: you have numerous and |647 broad vineyards, and orchards laden with flavourless 2 delicacies: winepresses, and granaries, and an excessive abundance of cattle: a house beautifully built at great expense, and plentiful stores therein; garments woven in divers colours: and finally you offer not so much in proportion to your means, as merely that which when you givest, you will never miss:----out of great abundance, a little. The woman offered two farthings: but she possessed nothing more than what she offered: she had nothing left: with empty hand, but a hand bountiful of the little she possessed, she went away from the treasury. Did she not therefore justly carry off the crown? Did not the decree of superiority befall her by a holy judgment? Did she not surpass your bountifulness, in regard at least of her readiness?
Something of this sort the wise Paul also writes; "For if the will be ready, a man is accepted according to that he has, and not according to that he has not." Not only may the rich man obtain favour with God by offering fruit to the brethren:----for the Saviour of all will accept his sacrifice:----but even he who possesses but very little may also obtain favour by offering his little; nor will he suffer any loss on this account. For the Omniscient will praise his readiness, and accept his intention, and make him equal with the rich: or rather, will crown him with more distinguished honour.
And this further deserves both our regard and admiration: that multitudes were going up to the temple, some of whom were offering fatted oxen; and some sheep; and frankincense, and other things besides, indispensable for the duo performance of the sacrifices commanded by the law: but the Saviour's look was not fixed upon these so much as upon those who were making their offerings to the treasury: on those, that is, who were kind and charitable. For He accepts the sweet savour of the spiritual service, but turns away His eyes from what is done in types and shadows. For He knew that types profit not, and that the shadow is weak. He therefore honours charity to the poor; and knowing this, one of the holy apostles |648 wrote; "that a pure and undefiled sacrifice before God the Father is this; to visit the fatherless and widows in their afflictions, and that a man should keep himself unspotted from the world."
And we find also that the commandment given by Moses urges us to love for the poor, and arouses us to charity. For it was not one God Who of old appointed the commandment by Moses, and another Who set before us the pathway of Gospel conduct; but rather it was One and the Same, inasmuch as He does not change. For by one of the holy prophets He has said, "I that speak to you am near." He therefore thus spoke by Moses; "But if there be among you a poor man of your brethren in one of your cities in the land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall not turn2 away your heart, nor shut your hand from your brother that is in need. You shall open your hands wide to him; lend him readily whatsoever he needeth, and according to that which he lacks." You hear him call their almsgiving a loan; for it is God that receives, and requites it, not with equal, but rather with overflowing measure. "For good measure, He says, pressed down, and running over, shall they pour into your bosom." And as the very wise Paul says, "God loves a cheerful giver." And that it is right to be compassionate to the brethren, not niggardly, nor as a matter of necessity, but of love rather without respect of persons, and blameless mutual affection, even the law of old made clear by saying, "And you shall not be grieved in your heart when you give to him: for therefore the Lord your God shall bless you in all your works, in whatsoever you put thereto your hand." As therefore Paul says, "He that gives, (let him do so) with bountifulness: he that holds preeminence with earnestness: he that has compassion, with cheerfulness." For love shown to poverty is not unfruitful, but is a debt that will be largely repaid.
We ought therefore to be diligent in fulfilling this duty, as being well assured, that if we distribute with bountiful hand, we shall benefit ourselves: for so the blessed Paul again |649 teaches us. saying, "But this,----he that sows sparingly shall reap also sparingly: and he that sows with blessings shall also reap in blessings: every man as he is prepared in his heart." And, as if to cut away the slothfulness of our good exertions, immediately he adds these words; "And God is able to make all grace abound in you, that in every thing always possessing every sufficiency you may abound in every good work. As it is written, He has dispersed and given to the poor: his righteousness abides for ever." For he who shows mercy to the poor, shall never be forsaken, but shall be counted worthy rather of indulgence from Christ, the Saviour of us all; by Whom and with Whom, to God the Father, be praise and dominion, with the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen. |650
21:5-13. And as some spoke of the temple, that it was adorned with goodly stones and offerings, He said; As for these things that you behold, the days will come in which there shall not be left here stone upon stone which shall not be thrown down. And they asked Him, saying, Teacher, when therefore shall these things be, and what is the sign when these things are about to happen? But He said, Look! Be not deceived: for many shall come in My name, saying, That I am He: and the time is near. Go you therefore not after them. And when you have heard of wars and commotions, be not troubled: for these things must first happen; but the end is not immediately. Then said He to them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: great earthquakes shall be in all places, and famines, and pestilences: and terrors from, heaven, and there shall be great signs. But before all these things they shall lay their hands upon you, and persecute you, delivering you up to synagogues and prisons, and bringing you before kings and rulers for My name sake: but this shall prove to you a witnessing.
FROM Christ we have received the knowledge of things about to happen: for it is even He Who "reveals the deep things out of darkness," and knows those that are hidden: and "in Him are all the treasures of wisdom, and the hidden things of knowledge.'" He changes times and seasons: and refashions the creation to that which it was at the beginning. For it was by His means that when it existed not, it was brought into existence according to the will of God the Father: for He is His living and personal power and wisdom: and again by His means it will easily be changed into that which is better. For as His disciple says, "We expect new heavens, and a new earth, and His promises." |651
Now the cause of this digression has been in part the question put to our common Saviour Christ respecting the temple, and the things therein, and partly the answer He made thereto. For some of them showed Him the mighty works that were in the temple, and the beauty of the offerings; expecting that He would admire as they did the spectacle, though He is God, and heaven is His throne. But He deigned, so to speak, no regard whatsoever to these earthly buildings, trifling as they are, and absolutely nothing, compared I mean to the mansions that are above; and dismissing the conversation respecting them, turned Himself rather to that which was necessary for their use. For He forewarned them, that however worthy the temple might be accounted by them of all admiration, yet at its season it would be destroyed from its foundations, being thrown down by the power of the Romans, and all Jerusalem burnt with fire, and retribution exacted of Israel for the slaughter of the Lord. For after the Saviour's crucifixion, such were the things which it was their lot to suffer.
They however understood not the meaning of what was said, but rather imagined that the words He spoke referred to the consummation of the world. They asked therefore, "When shall these things be? and what is the sign when they are about to happen? What therefore is Christ's answer? He meets the view of those who put to Him the enquiry, and omitting for the present what He was saying about the capture of Jerusalem, He explains what will happen at the consummation of the world, and, so to speak, warns them and testifies, saying, "Look! Be not deceived: for many shall come in My Name, saying, that I am He, and the time is near. Go you not after them.'" For before the advent of Christ the Saviour of us all from heaven, various false Christs and false prophets will appear preceding Him, falsely assuming to themselves His person, and coming into the world like eddies of smoke springing up from a fire about to break forth. "But follow them not," He says. For the Only-begotten Word of God consented to take upon Him our likeness, and to endure the birth in the flesh of a woman, in order that He might save all under heaven. And this to Him was an emptying of Himself, and a humiliation. For what is the measure of humanity compared with |652 the divine and supreme majesty and glory? As one therefore Who had humbled Himself to emptiness, He deigned to remain unknown, even charging the holy apostles before His precious cross that they should not reveal Him. For it was necessary that the manner of His dispensation in the flesh should remain hid, that by enduring as a man for our sakes even the precious cross, He might abolish death, and drive away Satan from his tyranny over us all. For, as Paul says; "The wisdom that was in Christ, by which is meant that which is by Christ, none of the rulers of this world knew: for if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." It was necessary therefore that He should remain unknown during the time that preceded His passion: but His second advent from heaven will not happen secretly as did His coming at first, but will be illustrious and terrible. For He shall descend with the holy angels guarding Him, and in the glory of God the Father, to judge the world in righteousness. And therefore He says, "when there arise false Christs and false prophets, go you not after them.'"
And He gives them clear and evident signs of the time when the consummation of the world is now near. "For there shall be wars, He says, and tumults: and famines and pestilences everywhere: and terrors from heaven, and great signs." For, as another evangelist says, "all the stars shall fall: and the heaven be rolled up like a scroll, and its powers shall be shaken."
But in the middle the Saviour places what refers to the capture of Jerusalem: for He mixes the accounts together in both parts of the narrative. "For before all these things, He says, they shall lay their hands upon you, and persecute you, delivering you up to synagogues and to prisons, and bringing you before kings and rulers for My Name's sake. But this shall prove to you a witnessing." For before the times of consummation the land of the Jews was taken captive, being overrun by the Roman host; the temple was burnt, their national government overthrown, the means for the legal worship ceased;----for they no longer had sacrifices, now that the temple was destroyed,----and, as I said, the country of the Jews, together with Jerusalem itself, was utterly laid waste. And before those things happened, the blessed disciples were |653 persecuted by them. They were imprisoned: had part in unendurable trials: were brought before judges: were sent to kings; for Paul was sent to Rome to Caesar. But these things that were brought upon them were to them for a witnessing, even to win for them the glory of martyrdom.
And He testifies to them, 'Meditate not beforehand what defence you will make: for you shall receive of Me wisdom and a tongue which all those who stand against you shall not be able to resist or to speak against.' And cutting away the grounds of human pusillanimity, He tells them, 'that they shall be delivered up by brethren and friends and kinsfolk:' but He promises that certainly and altogether He will deliver them, saying, that "a hair of your head shall not perish."
And, to make His prediction yet again more clear, and more plainly to mark the time of its capture, He says, "When you have seen Jerusalem girt about with armies, then know that its destruction is nigh." And afterwards again He transfers His words from this subject to the time of the consummation, and says; "And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity: from the sound of the sea, and its surging, as the souls of men depart: from fear and expectation of the things which are coming upon the world: for the hosts of heaven shall be shaken." For inasmuch as creation begins, so to speak, to be changed, and brings unendurable terrors upon the inhabitants of earth, there will be a certain fearful tribulation, and a departing of souls to death. For the unendurable fear of those things that are coming will suffice for the destruction of many.
"Then, He says, they shall see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory." Christ therefore will come not secretly nor obscurely, but as God and Lord, in glory |654 such as becomes Deity; and will transform all things for the better. For He will renew creation, and refashion the nature of man to that which it was at the beginning. "For when these things, He says, come to pass, lift up your heads, and look upwards: for your redemption is near." For the dead shall rise, and this earthly and infirm body shall put off corruption, and shall clothe itself with incorruption by Christ's gift, Who grants to those that believe in Him to be conformed to the likeness of His glorious body. As therefore His disciple says, "The day of the Lord will come as a thief; in which the heavens indeed shall suddenly pass away, and the elements being on fire shall be dissolved, and the earth and all the works that are therein shall be burnt up." And further, he adds thereunto, "Since therefore all these things are being dissolved, what sort of persons ought we to be, that we may be found holy, and without blame, and unreproved before Him?" And Christ also Himself says, "Be you therefore always watching, supplicating that you may be able to escape from all those things that are about to happen, and to stand before the Son of Man." "For we shall all stand before His judgment seat," to give an account of those things that we have done. But in that He is good and loving to mankind, Christ will show mercy on those that love Him; by Whom and with Whom to God the Father be praise and dominion, with the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever, Amen.3 |655
This Exposition is fit to be read on the Thursday of the Mystery. 4
21:37-22:6. And by day He was teaching in the temple, and at night He went out and abode in the mount called of Olives: and all the people came early to Him in the temple to hear Him. And the feast of unleavened bread drew near, which is called the Passover, and the chief priests and scribes sought how they might kill Him: for they feared the people. But Satan entered into Judah, surnamed Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve, and He went and spoke to the chief priests and captains, how he might deliver Him to them. And they were glad, and covenanted to give him money: and he promised, and sought a fitting season when he could deliver Him to them without the multitude.
THE throng of the Jews, together with their ruler, stood up against the glory of Christ, and contended with the Lord of all. But any one may perceive that it was against their own souls that they prepared their snare, for they dug for themselves pitfalls of destruction, and, as the Psalmist says, "The heathen are taken in the snare which they have made: in the trap which they have laid is their foot taken.'" For the Saviour and Lord of all, though His right hand is almighty, and His power overthrows both corruption and death, yet submitted Himself of His own accord by becoming flesh to the tasting of death for the life of all, in order that He might make corruption cease, and do away with the sin of the world, and deliver those that were under the hand of the enemy from his unendurable tyranny. But that rebellious serpent perhaps imagined that He had prevailed even over Him, in that He suffered, as I said, death in the flesh for our sakes, as the dispensation required: but the wretched being was disappointed of his expectation. |656
Let us then see how he missed his game, and shot wide of his mark, when he made Christ his prey, and delivered Him into the hands of those murderers. It says then, that "by day He taught in the temple, but lodged during the nights in the mount called of olives." Now plainly what He taught were things which surpass the legal service: for the time had come when the shadow must be changed into the reality. And they heard Him gladly; for oftentimes they had wondered at Him, "because His word was with power." For He did not, like one of the holy prophets, or as the hierophant Moses, call out to men, "These things says the Lord:" but as Himself being He Who of old spoke by Moses and the prophets, and the Lord of all, He transferred with godlike authority to a spiritual worship what had been prefigured in types, and the weakness of the letter: "for the law made nothing perfect."
And He lodged during the nights, as I said, in the Mount of Olives, avoiding the uproars there were in the city, that He might in this also be a pattern to us. For it is the duty of those who would lead a life quiet and calm, and, so to speak, full of rest, to avoid as far as possible the crowd and tumult.
But let us see the course of the devil's malice, and what was the result of his crafty designs against Him. He had then implanted in the chiefs of the synagogue of the Jews envy against Christ, which proceeded even to murder. For always, so to speak, this malady tends to the guilt of murder. Such, at least, is the natural course of this vice: so it was with Cain and Abel; so plainly it was in the case of Joseph and his brethren; and therefore the divine Paul also very clearly makes these sins neighbours, so to speak, of one another, and akin: for he spoke of some as "full of envy, murder." They sought therefore to slay Jesus, at the instigation of Satan, who had implanted this wickedness in them, and who also was their captain in their wicked enterprises. For he is himself the inventor of murder, and the root of sin, and the fountain of all wickedness. And what was the contrivance of this many-headed serpent? "He entered, it says, into Judah Iscariot, who was one of the twelve." Why not rather into the blessed Peter, or into James, or John, or some other of the rest of the apostles, but into Judah Iscariot? What place did Satan find in him? Of all whom we have here mentioned he could approach |657 none, because their heart was steadfast, and their love to Christ immoveable; but there was a place for him in the traitor. For the bitter malady of covetousness, which the blessed Paul says is "the root of all evil," had overpowered him. For once also when a woman had poured ointment upon the Saviour, he alone of all rebuked her, saying, "To what purpose is this waste? For it could have been sold for much, and given to the poor." But the wise Evangelist rose, so to speak, against his feigned words: for immediately he adds: "But this he spoke, not because he had forethought for the poor, but because he was a thief, and carried the purse, and whatever fell therein, he was the bearer of." And Satan, being crafty in working evil, whenever he would gain possession of any man's soul, does not attack him by means of vice generally, but searches out rather that particular passion which has power over him, and by its means makes him his prey. As he knew therefore that he was covetous, he leads him to the Pharisees and captains; and to them he promised that he would betray his teacher. And they purchase the treachery, or rather their own destruction, with sacred money. Oh! what tears could suffice, either for him who betrayed Jesus for hire, or for those who hired him, and purchased with consecrated money a guilty murder! What darkness had come upon the soul of him who received the bribe! For a little silver, he lost heaven; he missed the crown of immortality, and the desirable honour of the apostleship, and to be numbered among the twelve, to whom Christ somewhere said, "You are the light of the world." He cared not to be a light of the world: he forgot Christ, Who says, "You who have followed Me in My temptations, when the Son of man shall sit upon the throne of His glory, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, and judge the twelve tribes of Israel." But he wanted not to reign with Christ. What a confusion too of error blinded the mind of that covetous man! He delivered to death Him Who is greater than death. Did you not know that Lazarus was raised on the fourth day from the grave, and that at His nod the widow's son also revived, and the daughter of the chief of the synagogue? Did you not hear Him say to the Jews concerning His body, "Destroy this temple: and in three days I will raise it up again?" Did you forget His words, "I am |658 the resurrection and the life?" What therefore was the cause of such utter frenzy? The Evangelist tells us, where he says, "Satan entered into him," having obtained as his pathway and door the passion of avarice. And yet "the fear of God with a sufficiency is great gain:" and, as the sacred Scripture says, "We neither brought anything into the world, nor can we carry [anything] out." And "those who seek to be rich, fall into numerous and unprofitable lusts, which sink men in pitfalls and destruction." And of this the disciple who became a traitor is a manifest proof: for he perished for the sake of a few wretched shekels.
And what shall one say of those who hired him? That they fell into the very same pitfalls with him. Plainly they were the victims of a like intoxication, even though they had the reputation of being well acquainted with the law and the words of the holy prophets. It was their duty to have known the meaning of what had been spoken of old, as being before decreed by God concerning them. For among others are words like these, "My wrath is kindled against the shepherds, and I will visit the lambs." For the wicked shepherds perished miserably: while the calling of those who were obedient to salvation was a kind of visitation; for a remnant of Israel was saved. And, as if already, so to speak, they had fallen into ruin and destruction, and were wailing and weeping on this account, the prophet hoard, he says, "the voice of shepherds wailing, because their might was brought low: the voice of lions roaring, because the pride of Jordan was spoiled." He calls the lions the pride of Jordan, by whom wore figured the chiefs of the Jewish synagogue: who, in just requital of their wickedness against Christ, wailed with their fathers and children, being consumed as with fire and sword, while the temple at Jerusalem was also burnt, and the cities throughout all Judaea abandoned to utter desolation.
Such then was their fate: but Christ saves us by His merciful will; by Whom and with Whom, to God the Father, be praise and dominion, with the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen. |659
This Exposition is fit to be read on Thursday in the week of the Mystery.
22:7-16. Then came the day of unleavened bread, on which it was fitting for the passover to be sacrificed. And He sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare for us the passover, that we may eat. And they said to Him, Where will You that we prepare? And He said to them, Behold, when you have entered into the city, there shall meet you a man carrying a pitcher of water: follow him to the house into which he enters. And say to the master of the house, The Teacher says to you, Where is the guest-chamber, where I may eat the passover with My disciples? And he will show you a large upper room, provided with couches; there make ready. And they went, and found as He said to them; and they made ready the passover. And when the time was come, He lay down to meat, and the twelve apostles with Him. And He said to them, I have desired a desire to eat this passover with you before I suffer: for 1 say to you, that henceforth I twill not eat of it, until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.
THE law by its shadows prefigured from of old the mystery of Christ: and of this He is Himself the witness where He said to the Jews, "If you had believed Moses, you would have believed also Me: for he wrote concerning Me." For everywhere He is set forth, by means of shadows and types, both as slain for us, as the Lamb without blame and true; and as sanctifying us by His life-giving blood. And we further find the words of the holy prophets in complete accordance with those of most wise Moses. But when "the fulness of time was come," as Paul says, in which the Only-begotten Word of God was about to submit to the emptying of Himself, and to endure the birth in the flesh of a woman, and subjection also to the law, according to the measure that was fitting for human |660 nature, then He was also sacrificed for us, as the lamb without blame and true, on the fourteenth day of the first month. And this feast-time was called Phasek, a word belonging to the Hebrew language, and signifying the passing over: for so they explain it, and say that this is its meaning.
We must explain then what it is from which we pass over, and on our journey to what country, and in what manner we effect it.
As then Israel was delivered from the tyranny of the Egyptians, and having loosed its neck from the yoke of bondage, was now free; and fleeing from the violence of the tyrant passed with dry foot in a manner wonderful and beyond the power of language to describe through the midst of the sea, and journeyed onwards to the promised land: so must we too, who have accepted the salvation that is in Christ, be willing no longer to abide in our former faults, nor continue in our evil ways, but manfully cross over the sea, as it were, of the vain trouble of this world, and the tempest of affairs that is therein. We pass over therefore from the love of the flesh to temperance; from our former ignorance to the true knowledge of God; from wickedness to virtue: and in hope at least, from the blame of sin to the glories of righteousness, and from death to incorruption. The name therefore of the feast on which Emmanuel bore for us the saving cross, was the Passover.
But let us behold Him Who is the Truth still honouring the types, and Him Who was represented therein still permitting the shadows to hold good. "For when the day, it says, had come, on which it was fitting for the passover to be sacrificed, He sent to the city two men chosen from the holy apostles, Peter namely and John, saying, that there shall |661 meet you a man carrying a pitcher of water: follow him to the house into which he enters; and say to the master of the house, The Teacher says to you, where is the guest-chamber, where I may eat the passover with My disciples?" 'But why, some one perchance may say, did He not plainly mention the man to those whom He sent? For He did not say, Having gone to such and such a person, whoever it might be, there prepare for us at his house the passover: but simply gave them a sign,----a man bearing a pitcher of water.' To this then what do we reply? That lo! already Judas the traitor had promised the Jews to deliver Him to them, and was continuing in His company watching for an opportunity; and while still making profession of the love that was the duty of a disciple, he had admitted Satan into his heart, and was travailing with the crime of murder against our common Saviour Christ. He gives a sign therefore, to prevent him from learning who the man was, and running to tell those who had hired him. "For there shall meet you, He says, a man carrying a pitcher of water."
Or even perchance He so speaks signifying something mystical and necessary thereby. For whither the waters enter, even those of holy baptism, there lodges Christ. How, or in what manner? In that they free us from all impurity, and we are washed by them from the stains of sin, that we may also become a holy temple of God, and partakers of His divine nature, by participation of the Holy Spirit. In order therefore that Christ may rest and lodge in us, let us receive the saving waters, confessing moreover the faith that justifies the wicked, and raises us aloft so as for us to be accounted "an upper room." For those in whom Christ dwells by faith have a mind raised aloft, unwilling to creep upon the dust, and refusing, so to speak, to be set upon the earth, and everywhere seeking that which is exalted in virtue. For it is written, that "the mighty ones of God are raised high above the earth." "For here they have no abiding city, but seek that which is to come:" and while walking upon earth, their thoughts are set upon those things which are above, and "their dwelling is in heaven." |662
We may also notice something true, but wonderful, that happens, so to speak, constantly among us: namely that those who prize their carnal life are often puffed up, and have their heart full of pride accursed and hated of God; but yet perhaps they are brought to humiliation even upon earth: while those who are poor in spirit obtain exaltation by the honour and glory which comes from God. For as the disciple of Christ writes, "Let the humble brother glory in his exaltation, but "the rich in suffering humiliation: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away." He therefore would not miss the truth, who should say that the soul of every saint is "an upper room."
When then the disciples had prepared the passover, Christ ate it with them, being long-suffering towards the traitor, and deigning to admit him to the table from His infinite loving-kindness: for he was already a traitor, because Satan was lodging within him. And what did Christ also say to the holy apostles? "I have desired a desire to eat this passover with you." Let us examine the deep purport of this expression: let us search out the meaning concealed therein, and what it is which the Saviour intends.
As then I have already said that covetous disciple was seeking an opportunity to betray Him: and, that he might not deliver Him to His murderers before the feast of the passover, the Saviour did not declare either the house or the person with whom He would celebrate the feast. To explain therefore to them the cause of His unwillingness openly to tell them with whom He would lodge, He says, "I have desired a desire to eat with you this passover:" apparently meaning, I have used all diligence to enable me to escape the wickedness of the traitor, that I might not endure My passion before the time.
"But I will not eat of this passover until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God." And in this again Christ utters a profound and mysterious truth, of which He Himself, however, reveals to us the meaning. For it is His custom to give the name of "the kingdom of heaven" to justification by faith, to the cleansing that is by holy baptism and the participation of the Holy Spirit, and to the offering of spiritual service, now rendered possible by the entering in of the gospel laws. But these things are the means of our being made partakers of the |663 promises, and of our reigning together with Christ: and therefore He says, "I will no more draw near to such a passover as this," one namely that consisted in the typical eating,----for a lamb of the flock was slain to be the type of the true Lamb,----"until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God:" that is, until the time has appeared in which the kingdom of heaven is preached. For this is fulfilled in us, who honour the worship that is superior to the law, even the true passover; nor is it a lamb of the flock which sanctifies those who are in Christ, but Himself rather, being made a holy sacrifice for us, by the offering of bloodless oblations, and the mystical giving of thanks, in which we are blessed and quickened with life. For He became for us "the living bread that came down from heaven, and gives life to the world:" by Whom and with Whom to God the Father be praise and dominion, with the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen. |664
22:17-22. And He took a cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it with one another: for I say to you, that I will not drink henceforth of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God is fulfilled. And He took bread, and gave thanks, and broke it, and gave to them, saying, This is My body, which is given for you: do this in remembrance of Me. In like manner also the cup, after He had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in My blood, which is shed for you. But, behold! the hand of him that betrays Me is with Me at the table. And the Son of man indeed goes, according to that which was determined: but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!
TO be made partakers of Christ, both intellectually and by our senses, fills us with every blessing. For He dwells in us, first, by the Holy Spirit, and we are His abode, according to that which was said of old by one of the holy prophets. "For I will dwell in them, He says,. and lead them: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to Me a people."
But He is also within us in another way by means of our partaking in the oblation of bloodless offerings, which we celebrate in the churches, having received from Him the saving pattern of the rite, as the blessed Evangelist plainly shows us in the passage which has just been read. For He tells us that "He took a cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it with one another." Now by His giving thanks, by which is meant His speaking to God the Father in the manner of prayer, He signified to us that He, so to speak, shares and takes part in His good pleasure in granting us the life-giving blessing which was then bestowed upon us: for every grace, and every perfect gift comes to us from |665 the Father by the Son in the Holy Spirit. And this act then was a pattern for our use of the prayer which ought to be offered, whenever the grace of the mystical and life-giving oblation is about to be spread before Him by us: and so accordingly we are wont to do. For first offering up our thanksgivings, and joining in our praises to God the Father both the Son and the Holy Spirit, we so draw near to the holy tables, believing that we receive life and blessing both spiritually and corporeally: for we receive in us the Word of the Father, Who for our sakes became man, and Who is Life, and the Giver of life.
Let us then enquire, to the best of our ability, what is the view held among us of this mystery: for it is our duty to be "ready to give an answer concerning the hope that is in us," as the wise Peter says. "The God of all therefore created all things for immortality, and the beginnings of the world were life; but by the envy of the devil death entered the world:" for it was that rebel serpent who led the first man to the transgression of the commandment, and to disobedience, by means of which he fell under the divine curse, and into the net of death: for it was said to him, "Earth you are, and to the earth you shall return." Was it then right that one who was created for life and immortality should be made mortal, and condemned to death without power of escape? Must the envy of the devil be more unassailable and enduring than the will of God? Not so: for it has been brought to nought; and the clemency of the Creator has transcended the evil effects of his malignity. He has given aid to those upon earth. And what then was the manner in which He aided them? One truly great, and admirable, and worthy of God; yes, worthy in the very highest degree of the supreme Mind. For God the Father is by His own nature Life; and as alone being so, He caused the Son to shine forth Who also Himself is Life: for it could not be otherwise with Him |666 Who is the Word That proceeded substantially from the Life: for He must, I say must, also Himself be Life, as being One Who sprang forth from Life, from Him Who begat Him.
God the Father therefore gives life to all things by the Son in the Holy Spirit: and every thing that exists and breathes in heaven and on earth, its existence and life is from God the Father by the Son in the Holy Spirit. Neither therefore the nature of angels, nor any thing else whatsoever that was made, nor aught that from non-existence was brought into being, possesses life as the fruit of its own nature: but, on the contrary, life proceeds, as I said, from the Substance which transcends all: and to it only it belongs, and is possible that it can give life, because it is by nature life.
In what manner therefore can man upon earth, clothed as he is with mortality, return to incorruption? I answer, that this dying flesh must be made partaker of the life-giving power which comes from God. But the life-giving power of God the Father is the Only-begotten Word: and Him He sent to us as a Saviour and Deliverer. And how He sent Him, the blessed John the Evangelist clearly tells us, saying, "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt in us." But He became flesh, not by having undergone any change or alteration into what He had not been, nor again by having ceased to be the Word;----for He knows not what it is to suffer the shadow of a change;----but rather by having been born in the flesh of a woman, and taken to Himself that body which He received from her, in order that, having implanted Himself in us by an inseparable union, He might raise us above the power both of death and corruption. And Paul is our witness, where he says of Him and of us, "For inasmuch as the children are partakers of blood and flesh, so He in like manner was partaker of the same, that by death He might bring him to nought who has dominion over death, that is, the devil; and deliver all them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For He does not take hold of angels, "but He took hold of the seed of Abraham: for which reason it was right for Him in all things to be made like to His brethren:" that is, to us. For He was made in our |667 likeness, and clothed Himself in our flesh, that by raising it from the dead He might prepare a way henceforth, by which the flesh which had been humbled to death might return anew to incorrupt-ion. For we are united to Him just as also we were united to Adam, when he brought upon himself the penalty of death. And Paul testifies thereunto, thus writing on one occasion, "For because by man is death, by man is also the resurrection of the dead:" and again upon another, "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all live." The Word therefore, by having united to Himself that flesh which was subject to death, as being God and Life drove away from it corruption, and made it also to be the source of life: for such must the body of (Him Who is) the Life be.
And do not disbelieve what I have said, but rather accept the word in faith, having gathered proofs thereof from a few examples. When you cast a piece of bread into wine or oil, or any other liquid, you find that it becomes charged with the quality of that particular thing. When iron is brought into contact with fire, it becomes full of its activity; and while it is by nature iron, it exerts the power of fire. And so the life-giving Word of God, having united Himself to His own flesh in a way known to Himself, endowed it with the power of giving life. And of this He certifies us Himself, saying, "Verily, I say to you, he that believes in Me has everlasting life. I am the bread of life." And again, "I am the living bread, that came down from heaven; if a man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I shall give is My flesh for the life of the world. Verily, I say to you, that if you eat not the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh, and drinks My blood, has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. He that eats My flesh, and drinks My blood, abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father; so He that eats Me shall also live because of Me." When therefore we eat the holy flesh of Christ, the Saviour of us all, and drink His precious blood, we have life in us, being made |668 as it were, one with Him, and abiding in Him, and possessing Him also in us.
And let none of those whose wont it is to disbelieve say, 'Since therefore the Word of God, being by nature life, dwells in us also, is the body of each one of us too endowed with the power of giving life?' Rather let him know that it is a perfectly different thing for the Son to be in us by a relative participation, and for Himself to become flesh, that is, to make that body His own which was taken from the blessed Virgin. For He is not said to become incarnate and be made flesh by being in us: but rather this happened once for all when He became man without ceasing to be God. The body therefore of the Word was that assumed by Him from the holy virgin, and made one with Him; but how, or in what manner this was done, we cannot tell: for it is incapable of explanation, and altogether beyond the powers of the mind, and to Himself alone is the manner of the union known.
It was titling therefore for Him to be in us both divinely by the Holy Spirit, and also, so to speak, to be mingled with our bodies by His holy flesh and precious blood: which things also we possess as a life-giving eucharist, in the form of bread and wine. For lest we should be terrified by seeing (actual) flesh and blood placed upon the holy tables of our churches, God, humbling Himself to our infirmities, infuses into the things set before us the power of life, and transforms them into the efficacy of His flesh, that we may have them for a life-giving participation, and that the body of (Him Who is the) Life may be found in us as a life-producing seed. And do not doubt that this is true, since Himself plainly says, "This is My body: "This is My blood:" but rather receive in faith the Saviour's word; for He, being the Truth, cannot lie. And so will you honour Him; for as the very wise John says, "He that receives His witness has set his seal that God is true. For He Whom God sent speaks the words of God." For the words of God are of course true, and in no manner whatsoever can they be false: for even though we understand not in what way God works acts such as these, yet He Himself knows the way of His works. For when Nicodemus could not understand His words concerning holy baptism, and foolishly said, |669 "How can those things be?" he heard Christ in answer say, "Verily I say to you, that we speak that which we know, and testify that which we see, and you receive not our testimony. If I have spoken to you the earthly things, and you believe not, how will you believe if I tell you the heavenly things?" For how indeed can a man learn those things which transcend the powers of our mind and reason? Let therefore this our divine mystery be honoured by faith.
But Judas the traitor, who was eating with Him, was reproved in those words which Christ spoke, "But behold the hand of him who betrays Me is with Me at the table." For he imagined perchance in his great senselessness, or rather as being filled with the haughtiness of the devil, that he could deceive Christ, though He be God. But, as I said, he was convicted of being altogether wicked, and hateful to God, and traitorous: and yet admission was deigned him to the table, and he was counted worthy of the divine gentleness even to the end: but thereby is his punishment made the more severe. For Christ has somewhere said of him by the Psalmist's voice, "That if an enemy had reproached Me, I had borne it: and if he that hated Me had spoken against Me proud things, I had hid myself from him. But it was you, My like in soul, My neighbour and My acquaintance, who in My company had sweetened for Me meats, and we went to the house of the Lord in concord." Woe therefore to him, according to the Saviour's word! For He indeed, according to the good will of God the Father, gave Himself in our stead, that He might deliver us from all evil: but the man who betrayed into the hands of murderers the Saviour and Deliverer of all, will have for his inheritance the condemnation which is the devil's fitting punishment. For his guilt was not against one such as we are, but against the Lord of all: by Whom and with Whom to God the Father be praise and dominion, with the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever, Amen. |670
22:24-30. And there was also a strife among them, Which of them seems to be the most important. And He said to them, The kings of the Gentiles are their lords: and they who rule over them are called benefactors. But with you it is not so; but he who is great among you, let him be as the youngest 5: and let him who governs be as he that serves. For which is the chief he that reclines at table, or he that serves? Is not he that reclines? But I am in the midst of you as he that serves. But you are they who have remained with Me in My temptations: and I will make a covenant with you, as My Father has appointed for Me a kingdom, that you shall eat and drink at My table in My kingdom: and you shall sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
"AWAKE you, and watch," is the summons to us of one of the holy apostles: for every where the net of sin is spread, and Satan makes us his prey in various ways, seizing hold of us by many passions, and so leading us on to a reprobate mind. Those therefore must be awake who would not willingly be subject to his power: for thereby they will gain the victory by Christ's help, Who cares for our souls, and delivers them from every passion, that so with sound and vigorous mind they may run along the praiseworthy and gainful pathway of that mode of life which is pleasing to Him. For how great His mercy is towards us, the purport of the lessons set before us once again declares. For the disciples had given way to a human infirmity, and were contending with one another, who of them is the chief, and superior to the rest; for those perchance who held the second rank among them were not willing to give way to those who held the first. But even this arose, and was recorded for our benefit, that that which happened to the holy apostles may prove a reason for humility in us. For Christ immediately rebukes the malady, and like a vigorous physician cut away, by an earnest and deep-reaching commandment, the passion which had sprung up among them. |671
Now it was from an unprofitable love of glory, the root of which is pride, that this vain and senseless ambition had, so to speak, shot up. For the very fact of wishing at all to be sot over others, and to strive for this end, renders a man liable to be justly blamed: though, on the other hand, it is not absolutely destitute of that which may fitly be praised. For to be exalted in virtue is worthy of all estimation: but those who would attain to it must be of modest mind, and possess such humbleness of feeling as to abandon out of love to the brethren all idea of preeminence. And such the blessed Paul would also have us be, thus writing, "Consider as regards your companions, that in honour they are better than you." For so to feel is highly worthy of the saints, and renders them glorious, and makes our piety to God more worthy of honour: it tears the net of the devil's malice, and breaks his manifold snares, and rescues us from the pitfalls of depravity: and finally, it perfects us in the likeness of Christ the Saviour of us all. For listen how He sets Himself before us as the pattern of a humble mind, and of a will not set on vainglory: for "Learn, He says, of Me, Who am meek and lowly in heart."
Here, however, in the passage which, has just been read He says, "For which is the chief, he that reclines at table, or he that serves? Is not he that reclines? But I am in the midst of you as he that serves." And when Christ thus speaks, who can be so obdurate and unyielding as not to cast away all vaingloriousness, and banish from his mind the love of empty honour? For He Who is ministered to by the whole creation of rational and holy beings; Who is lauded by the seraphim; Who is tended by the services of the universe; He Who is the equal of God the Father in His throne and kingdom; taking a servant's place, washed the holy apostles feet. And in another way moreover He holds the post of servitude, by reason of the dispensation in the flesh. And of this the blessed Paul bears witness, where he writes; "For I say that Christ was a minister of the circumcision to fulfil the promises of the fathers; and the Gentiles shall praise God for mercy." He therefore Who is ministered to became a minister; and the Lord of glory made Himself poor, "leaving us an example," as it is written.
Let us therefore avoid the love of vainglory, and deliver |672 ourselves from the blame attached to the desire of chieftainship. For so to act makes us like to Him Who submitted to empty Himself for our sakes: while superciliousness and haughtiness of mind make us plainly resemble the princes of the Gentiles, to whom an arrogant bearing is ever, so to speak, dear, or even perhaps fitting. "For they are called, He says, benefactors," that is, are flattered as such by their inferiors. Be it so then, that they, as not being within the pale of the sacred laws, nor obedient to the Lord's will, are the victims of these maladies: but let it not be so with us; rather let our exaltation consist in humility, and our glorying in not loving glory; and let our desire be set upon those things which are well-pleasing to God, while we bear in mind what the wise man says to us, "The greater you are, humble yourself the more, and you shall find grace before the Lord." For He rejects the proud, and counts the boastful as His enemies, but crowns with honours the meek and lowly in mind.
The Saviour therefore drives away from the holy apostles the malady of vaingloriousness: but they perchance might think among themselves, and even say, 'What therefore will be the reward of fidelity? or what advantage shall they receive, who have laboured in attendance upon Him, when temptations from time to time befall? In order therefore that being confirmed by the hope of the blessings that are in store, they may cast away from their minds all slothfulness in virtuous pursuits, and choose rather with earnest mind to follow Him, and take pleasure in labours for His sake, and count the doing so a cause of gain, and the pathway of joy, and the means of eternal glory, He necessarily says, "You are they who have remained with Me in My temptations: and I will make a covenant with you, as My Father has appointed for Me a kingdom, that you shall eat and drink at My table in My kingdom: and you shall also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." Observe, I pray, that He does not yet quit the limits of humanity, but for the present confines Himself within them, because He had not as yet endured the precious cross; for He speaks as one of us: but after the resurrection from the dead He revealed His glory, the season calling Him thereto: for He said, "All power has been given Me in heaven and in earth." He speaks therefore, as I said, |673 in human fashion, as not having yet mounted above the measure of His humiliation. For this reason He says, that "as My Father has made with Me a covenant of a kingdom, so I also will make a covenant with you, that you shall eat and drink constantly at My table in My kingdom." Is it the case then, that even after the resurrection from the dead, when the time has come in which we shall be with Christ, and He will endow us with the likeness of His glorified body; even after we have thus put on incorruption, is it, I say, the case, that we shall again be in need of food and of tables? Or is it not then utterly foolish to say or wish to imagine anything of the sort? For when we have put off corruption, of what bodily refreshment shall we henceforth be in need? And if so, what is the meaning of the expression, "You shall eat at My table in "My kingdom?" I answer, that once again from the ordinary matters of life He declares to us things spiritual. For those who enjoy the foremost honours with earthly kings banquet with them, and eat in their company: and this is counted by them the summit of glory. And there are too others, esteemed worthy of honour by those in power, who nevertheless are not permitted to draw near to the same table with them. To show then that they will enjoy the highest honours with Him, He uses an example taken from ordinary life, and says, "I will make a covenant with you, that you shall eat and drink at My table in My kingdom: and you shall sit also upon twelve thrones judging Israel."
How or in what manner? It means that the disciples being of Israelitish race, obtained the foremost honours with Christ, the Saviour of all, because by faith and constancy they seized upon the gift: whom may we also endeavour to imitate, for so will He Who is the Saviour and Lord of all receive us into His kingdom: by Whom and with Whom to God the Father be praise and dominion, with the Holy Spirit for ever and ever, Amen. |674
22:31-34. Simeon, Simeon, behold Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you that your faith fail not: and do you also hereafter when converted strengthen your brethren. And he said to Him, Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death. But He said, I tell you, Peter, that the cock shall not crow to-day until you have thrice denied that You know Me.
THE prophet Isaiah bids those who embrace a life of piety towards Christ to go to the proclamations of the Gospel, saying, "You who thirst, go to the waters." But these waters are not the material waters of earth, but rather are divine and spiritual, poured forth for us by Christ Himself. For He is the river of peace, and the torrent of pleasure, and the fountain of life. And so we have heard Himself plainly saying, "Whosoever thirsts, let him come to Me and drink." Come therefore, that here also we may delight ourselves in the sacred and divine streams which now from Him: for what says He to Peter? "Simeon, Simeon, behold Satan has asked for you to sift you like wheat: but I have prayed for you that your faith fail not."
Now it is, I think, both necessary and profitable for us to know what the occasion was which led our Saviour's words to this point. The blessed disciples then had been disputing with one another, "which of them was the great one:" but the Saviour of all, as the means whereby they obtained whatsoever was useful and necessary for their good, delivered them from the guilt of ambition, by putting away from them the striving after objects such as this, and persuading them to escape from the lust of preeminence, as from a pitfall of the devil. For He said, "he who is great among you, let him be as the youngest, and he who governs as he that serves." And He further taught them that the season of honour is not so much this present time as that which is to be at the coming of His kingdom. For there they shall receive the rewards of |675 their fidelity, and be partakers of His eternal glory, and wear a crown of surpassing honour, eating at His table, and sitting also upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
But lo! He also offers them a third assistance, as we read in the lessons before us. For He teaches us, that we must think humbly of ourselves, as being nothing, both as regards the nature of man and the readiness of our mind to fall away into sin, and as strengthened and being what we are only through Him and of Him. If therefore it is from Him that we borrow both our salvation, and our seeming to be something in virtue and piety, what reason have we for proud thoughts? For all we have is from Him, and of ourselves we have nothing. "For what have you that you did not receive? But if you also received it, why do you glory, as though you did not receive it?" So spoke the very wise Paul: and further, the blessed David also at one time says, "In God we shall make strength:" and at another again, "Our God is our house of refuge and our strength." And the prophet Jeremiah also has somewhere said, "O Lord, my strength and my house of refuge, and my help in the days of trouble." And the blessed Paul also may be brought forward, who says with great clearness, "I can do all things through Christ, Who strengthens me." Yes, Christ Himself also somewhere says to us, "Without Me you can do nothing.11
Let us then glory not in ourselves, but rather in His gifts. And if this be the state of any one's mind, what place can the desire of being set above other men find in him, when thus we are all both partakers of the same one grace, and also have the same Lord of hosts as the Giver both of our existence and of our ability to do well. To humble therefore our tendency to superciliousness, and to repress ambitious feelings, Christ shows that even he who seemed to be great is nothing and infirm. He therefore passes by the other disciples, and turns to him who is the foremost, and set at the head of the company, and says; "that Satan has many times desired to sift you as wheat:" that is, to search and try you, and expose you to intolerable blows. For it is Satan's wont to attack men of more than ordinary excellence, and, like some fierce and arrogant barbarian, he challenges to single combat those of chief repute in the ways of piety. So he challenged Job, but was defeated |676 by his patience, and the boaster fell, being vanquished by the endurance of that triumphant hero. But human nature he makes his prey, for it is infirm, and easy to be overcome: while he is harsh and pitiless and unappeasable in heart. For, as the sacred Scripture says of him, "His heart is hard as a stone: and he stands like an anvil that cannot be beaten out 6." Yet he is placed under the feet of the saints by Christ's might: for He has said, "Behold, I have given you to tread on serpents and scorpions, and upon all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you." "Satan therefore, He says, has desired to sift you like wheat: but I have offered supplication in your behalf, that your faith fail not."
See again, He humbles Himself to us, and speaks according to the limits of man's estate, and yet He is God by nature, even though He became flesh. For though He is the power of the Father, by Whom all things are preserved, and from Whom they obtain the ability to continue in well-being, He yet says that He offers supplication as a man. For it was necessary, yes necessary, for Him Who, for the dispensation's sake, became like to us, to use also our words, when the occasion called Him thereto in accordance with what the dispensation itself required. "I have supplicated therefore, He says, that your faith fail not." Now by this then He shows, that if he had been yielded up to Satan to be tempted, he would have proved altogether unfaithful: since, even when not so yielded up, he proved weak from human feebleness, being unable to bear the fear of death. For he denied Christ, when a young girl troubled him in the high priest's palace by saying, "And you also are one of His disciples."
The Saviour then forewarned him what would have been the result had he been yielded up to Satan's temptation: but at the same time He offers him the word of consolation, and says, "And do you also hereafter, when converted, strengthen your brethren:" that is, be the support, and instructor and teacher of those who draw near to Me by faith. And moreover, admire the beautiful skill of the passage, and the surpassing greatness of the divine gentleness! For, lest his impending fall should lead the disciple to desperation, as though he would be expelled from the glories of the apostleship, and |677 his former following (of Christ) lose its reward, because of his proving unable to bear the fear of death, and denying Him, at once Christ fills him with good hope, and grants him the confident assurance that he shall be counted worthy of the promised blessings, and gather the fruits of steadfastness. For He says, "And do you also, when converted, strengthen your brethren." O what great and incomparable kindness! The disciple had not yet sickened with the malady of faithlessness, and already he has received the medicine of forgiveness: not yet had the sin been committed, and he receives pardon: not yet had he fallen, and the saving hand is held out: not yet had he faltered, and he is confirmed: for "do you, He says, when converted, strengthen your brethren." So to speak belongs to One Who pardons, and restores him again to apostolic powers.
But Peter, in the ardour of his zeal, made profession of steadfastness and endurance to the last extremity, saying that he would manfully resist the terrors of death, and count nothing of bonds; but in so doing he erred from what was right. For he ought not, when the Saviour told him that he would prove weak to have contradicted Him, loudly protesting the contrary; for the Truth could not lie: but rather he ought to have asked strength of Him, that either he might not suffer this, or be rescued immediately from harm. But, as I have already said, being fervent in spirit, and warm in his love towards Christ, and of unrestrainable zeal in rightly performing those duties which become a disciple in his attendance upon his Master, he declares that he will endure to the last extremity: but he was rebuked for foolishly speaking against what was foreknown, and for his unreasonable haste in contradicting the Saviour's words. For this reason He says, "Verily I tell you, that the cock shall not crow to-night, until you have thrice denied Me." And this proved true. Let us not therefore think highly of ourselves, even if we see ourselves greatly distinguished for our virtues: rather let us offer up the praises of our thanksgivings to Christ Who redeems us, and Who also it is that grants us even the desire to be able to act rightly: by Whom and with Whom to God the Father be praise and dominion, with the Holy Spirit, for over and ever, Amen. |678
22:35-38. And He said to them, When I sent you without purse and without bag and shoes, lacked you anything? And they said, Nothing. And He said to them, But now, he that has a purse, let him take it: and in like manner also a bag: and he that has not one, let him sell his garment, and buy a sword. For I say to you, that this that is written must be accomplished in Me, that he was numbered also with the transgressors. For that which concerns Me has an end. And they said, Lord, behold here are two swords. And He said to them, It is enough.
THE blessed Moses impressed the fear of God upon the Israelites by saying, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God: for our God is a consuming fire." And another holy prophet has also said concerning Him, "His wrath consumes the princes, and the rocks are melted at Him." Moreover the blessed David says of Him somewhere in the Psalms, "You are to be feared, and who shall rise up before You at Your wrath?" For what power of man, or of ought whatsoever that is created, can stand against the irresistible force of Almighty God? But His wrath does not descend upon any righteous man whatsoever;----for God does not commit injustice;----but upon those rather whose sins are numerous and intolerable, and their wickedness beyond bounds.
And as an example of what we have said, take that which happened to the Jewish multitudes after Christ rose from the dead, and ascended up to heaven. For God the Father sent to them His Son, inviting them to a service superior to the law, and to the knowledge of all good: He sent Him to free them from all guilt, and deliver them from the stains of sin; to bring them to the adoption of sons, to glory, to honour, and to the communion of the Holy Spirit; to life incorruptible; to never-ending glory; and to the kingdom of heaven. But though they ought eagerly to have hastened to this |679 grace, and with grateful praises have honoured Him Who came to aid them, and joyfully have accepted the grace that is by faith, they did verily nothing of the kind, but betook themselves to the very reverse: for they rose up against Him, setting Him at nought by their disobedience, reviling even His divine signs, and after doing and saying every thing that was abominable, finally they crucified Him. And so it became their lot to suffer those things which the company also of the holy prophets had before proclaimed. For one of them said, "God shall put them far away, because they did not hear Him, and they shall be wanderers among the nations." And again, "Because Jerusalem is forsaken, and Judah is fallen, and their tongues are with iniquity; they disobey the Lord; therefore now is their glory brought low, and the shame of their faces has stood up against them." And in another place they are thus addressed as in the person of God over all; " And now, because you have done all these works, and I spoke to you and you did not hear, and I called to you and you answered not: therefore will I do to this house, on which My name is called, and wherein you trust; and to this place which I have given to you and to your fathers as I did to Shilom: and I will cast you from before My face, as I cast away your brethren, even the whole seed of Ephraim." For they were delivered up, as I have said, to desolation, and were dispersed over all the earth, their temple being consumed with fire, and all Judaea taken captive.
That this would be the case Christ had before announced to the disciples, the occasion which caused Him to speak upon this subject being some such as follows: He had forewarned the admirable Peter, that he would thrice deny Him, at the time namely of His seizure, when the band of Pilate's soldiers with the officers of the Jews brought Him to the chief priests for judgment: for there Peter denied Him. And inasmuch as mention had now once been made of His seizure, and of his being taken before Caiaphas, there naturally followed upon this allusion a reference to that also which was next to come to pass, even His passion upon the cross: and then it was that He foretold the war about to burst upon the Jews, and which with unendurable violence spread like some |680 river over all their land. On this account He says; "When I sent you without purse and without bag and shoes, lacked you anything? And they said, No." For the Saviour sent the holy apostles, with the command to preach to the inhabitants of every village and city the gospel of the kingdom of heaven, and to heal every grief and every sickness among the people. And on their journey He bade them not to occupy themselves with things that concern the body, but rather without baggage and unencumbered, and resting all their hope of sustenance on Him, so to traverse the land: and this they also did, making themselves an example of praiseworthy and apostolic conduct. "But now, He says, he that has a purse, let him take it, and a bag in like manner." Tell me then, was this because on second thoughts a more serviceable plan was devised? Would it have been better on the former occasion also to have had bag and purse? Or if not, what was the cause of so sudden a change? What need had the holy apostles of purse and bag? What answer must we give to this? That the saying in appearance had reference to them, but in reality applied to the person of every Jew: for they it rather was. whom Christ addressed. For He did not say that the holy apostles must get purse and bag, but that "whosoever has a purse, let him take it," meaning thereby, that whosoever had property in the Jewish territories, should collect all that he had together, and flee, so that if he could any how save himself, he might do so. But any one who had not the means of equipping himself for travel, and who from extreme poverty must continue in the land, let even such one, He says, sell his cloak, and buy a sword: for henceforth the question with all those who continue in the land will not be whether they possess anything or not, but whether they can exist and preserve their lives. For war shall befal them with such unendurable impetuosity, that nothing shall be able to stand against it.
And next He tells them the cause of the evil, and of a tribulation so severe and irremediable befalling them, saying, "that He is about according to the Scriptures to be numbered with the transgressors," plainly referring to His being hung upon the cross with the thieves who were crucified with Him, and so enduring a transgressor's punishment: "and the |681 dispensation, having come to this, will now have an end." For He endured indeed for our sakes His saving passion, and thus far the daring wickedness of the Jews proceeded, and this was the consummation of their unbridled fury: but after the passion upon the cross every hand was powerless, "for the enemy had no advantage over Him, and the Son of wickedness could no more hurt Him.'" For He arose, having trampled upon the grave; He ascended up into heaven, He sat down on the right hand of God the Father; and hereafter He shall come, not in mean estate, as of old, nor in the measure of human nature, but in the glory of the Father, with the holy angels as His body-guard; and He shall sit also upon the throne of His glory, "judging the world in righteousness," as it is written. Then, as the prophet says, "they shall look on Him Whom they pierced:" and Him Whom these wretched beings ridiculed, as they saw Him hang on the precious cross, they shall behold crowned with godlike glory, and in just retribution of their wickedness towards Him, shall fall into the pit of destruction. "What therefore, He says, concerns Me, has an end," as far, that is, as relates to My suffering death in the flesh. And then shall those things which were foretold by the holy prophets in old time, happen to those who slew Him.
And in foretelling these things, the Lord was speaking of what was about to happen to the country of the Jews. But the divine disciples did not understand the deep meaning of what was said, but supposed rather that He meant that swords were necessary, because of the attack about to be made upon Him by the disciple who betrayed Him, and by those who were assembled to seize Him. For this reason they say, "Lord, behold, here are two swords." And what is the Saviour's reply? "It is enough." Observe how, so to say, He even ridicules their speech, well knowing that the disciples not having understood the force of what was said, thought that swords were required, because of the attack about to be made upon Himself. Fixing His look therefore upon those things which happened to the Jews because of their wicked conduct towards Him, the Saviour, as I said, ridicules their speech, and says, "It is enough:" yes, forsooth, two swords are enough to bear the brunt of the war about to come upon them, to meet which |682 many thousand swords were of no avail. For a mighty resistance was made by the pride of the Jews against the forces of Augustus Caesar: but they availed nothing; for they were besieged with overpowering might, and suffered all misery. For as the prophet Isaiah says, "That which the holy God purposes, who shall bring to nought? and His hand, when lifted up, who shall turn aside?" Let us beware therefore of provoking God to anger: for it is a fearful thing to fall into His hands. But to those who believe in Christ He is merciful; even to those who praise Him; who call Him their Redeemer and Deliverer; who minister to Him with spiritual service, and by all virtuous conduct: for if so we act and speak, Christ will make us His own; by Whom and with Whom to God the Father be praise and dominion, with the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever, Amen.
1. u The Nestorians, as explained in the margin. I have before however shown that Nestorius denied that he held the doctrine of two sons: and so S. Cyril quotes his words in lib. ii. c. 6. adversus Nest. (Aubert vol. vi. 44.)
"For we hold not two Christs, nor two Sons; for in our view there is no first and second, nor one and another, nor one again and again another: but the same one Son is twofold not in rank, but in nature."
Against this Cyril argues, that "Christ is not twofold, but one and the same Lord and Son, being the Word from God the Father, not without flesh;" and concludes with these words,
"You then who say that we ought not to speak of two Christs, nor to acknowledge two Sons, putting on the semblance of dogmatic orthodoxy upon this point, are nevertheless convicted of saying that there are two Christs, and of separating into their specific difference man and God."
In Cyril's view therefore the essence of Nestorianism consists in the endeavour to distinguish the limits of the two natures in Christ: and so to do, he argued, was virtually to make two Sons.
2. y Explained in the margin thus: "Plantations of trees laden with fruit which has passed the season, and become flavourless."
3. f Mai has two passages on v. 27. not found in the Syriac, the first of which is principally a string of quotations to prove that the Deity is always described as sitting on a cloud: and the second is as follows; "For just as if one say of a man, that he received of his father the property of being rational, it really signifies that the rational is begotten of the rational, so also the Only-begotten God of God proceeded as Judge from Him Who judges all the earth. And though the Father gave all judgment to the Son, He is not Himself left destitute of sovereign authority: for the Only-begotten is inseparable from God as the light is from the sun; for He exists in Him by nature, and all that the Father has is the Son's, and vice versa." He has also a rather fuller exposition of vv. 29-36, consisting evidently of short detached passages collected from various places, and given as such in Cramer. One of them to the effect that by "generation" is meant not the people then living, but those like them in morals, has occurred verbatim before, and was not then acknowledged by the Syriac.
4. g By the Thursday of the Mystery is meant Thursday in Passion week.
5. p Or rather, "as the serving-boy."
6. q That is, not ductile, incapable of being spread out by hammering.
This text was transcribed by Roger Pearse, 2008. All material on this page is in the public domain - copy freely.
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