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St Alphonsus Ligouri’s Sermon on Luke 6:36-38

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 11, 2017

“For with the same measure that you shall mete withal, it shall be measured to you again.”—Luke 6:38.

In this day’s gospel we find that Jesus Christ once said to his disciples: “Be ye merciful, as your Father also is merciful.” (Luke 6:36.) As your heavenly Father is merciful towards you, so must you be merciful to others. He then proceeds to explain how, and in what, we should practise holy charity to our neighbour. “Judge not,” he adds, “and you shall not be judged” (v. 37). Here he speaks against those who do not abstain from judging rashly of their neighbours. “Forgive, and you shall be forgiven” (ibid). He tells us that we cannot obtain pardon of the offences we have offered to God, unless we pardon those who have offended us. “Give, and it shall be given to you” (v. 38). By these words he condemns those who wish that God should grant whatsoever they desire, and are at the same time niggardly and avaricious towards the poor. In conclusion he declares, that the measure of charity which we use to our neighbour shall be the same that God will use towards us. Let us, then, see how we should practise charity to our neighbour: we ought to practise it, first, in our thoughts; secondly, in words; thirdly, by works.

First Point. How we should practise charity to our neighbour in our thoughts.

1. “And this commandment we have from God, that he who loveth God, love also his brother.” (1 John 4:21.) The same precept, then, which obliges us to love God, commands us to love our neighbour. St. Catherine of Genoa said one day to the Lord: “My God, thou dost wish me to love my neighbour; but I can love no one but thee.” The Lord said to her in answer: “My child, he that loves me loves whatsoever I love.” Hence St. John says: “If any man say: I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar.” (1 John 4:20.) And Jesus Christ has declared that he will receive, as done to himself, the charity which we practise towards the least of his brethren.

2. Hence we must, in the first place, practise fraternal charity in our thoughts, by never judging evil of any one without certain foundation. “Judge not, and you shall not be judged.” He who judges without certain grounds that another has committed a mortal sin, is guilty of a grievous fault; if he only rashly suspects another of a mortal sin, he commits at least a venial offence. But, to judge or suspect evil of another is not sinful when we have certain grounds for the judgment or suspicion. However, he that has true charity thinks well of all, and banishes from his mind both judgments and suspicions. “Charity thinketh no evil.” (1 Cor. 13:5.) The heads of families are obliged to suspect the evil which may be done by those who are under their care. Certain fathers and foolish mothers knowingly allow their sons to frequent bad company and houses in which there are young females, and permit their daughters to be alone with men. They endeavour to justify the neglect of their children by saying: “I do not wish to entertain bad thoughts of others.” O folly of parents! They are in such cases bound to suspect the evil which may happen; and, in order to prevent it, they should correct their children. But they that are not entrusted with the care of others, ought to abstain carefully from inquiring after the defects and conduct of others.

3. When sickness, loss of property, or any misfortune happens to a neighbour, charity requires that we regret, at least with the superior part of the soul, the evil that has befallen him. I say, “with the superior part of the soul;” for, when we hear of the misfortunes of an enemy, our inferior appetite appears to feel delight; but, as long as we do not consent to that delight, we are not guilty of sin. However, it is sometimes lawful to desire, or to be pleased at, the temporal evil of another, when we expect that it will be productive of spiritual good to himself or to others. For example: it is lawful, according to St. Gregory, to rejoice at the sickness or misfortune of an obstinate and scandalous sinner, and even to desire that he may fall into sickness or poverty, in order that he may cease to lead a wicked life, or at least to scandalize others. Behold the words of St. Gregory: “Evenire plerumque potest, ut non amissa charitate, et inimici nostri ruina lætificet, et ejus gloria sine invidiæ culpa contristet; cum et, ruente eo, quosdam bene erigi credimus, et proficiente illo plerosque injuste opprimi formidamus.” (Lib. xxii., Moral., cap. ii.) But, except in such cases, it is unlawful to rejoice at the loss of a neighbour. It is also contrary to charity to feel regret at a neighbour’s prosperity merely because it is useful to him. This is precisely the sin of envy. The envious are, according to the Wise Man, on the side of the devil, who, because he could not bear to see men in heaven, from which he had been banished, tempted Adam to rebel against God. “But by the envy of the devil death came into the world; and they follow him that are of his side.” (Wis. 2:25.) Let us pass to the next point.

Second Point. On the charity which we ought to practise towards our neighbour in words.

4. With regard to the practice of fraternal charity in words, we ought, in the first place, and above all, to abstain from all detraction. “The tale-bearer shall defile his own soul, and shall be hated by all.” (Eccl. 21:31.) As they who always speak well of others are loved by all, so he who detracts his neighbour is hateful to all—to God—and to men, who, although they take delight in listening to detraction, hate the detractor, and are on their guard against him. St. Bernard says that the tongue of a detractor is a three-edged sword. “Gladius equidem anceps, immo triplex est lingua detractoris” (in Ps. 56). With one of these edges it destroys the reputation of a neighbour; with the second it wounds the souls of those who listen to the detraction; and with the third it kills the soul of the detractor by depriving him of the divine grace. You will say: “I have spoken of my neighbour only in secret to my friends, and have made them promise not to mention to others what I told them.” This excuse will not stand: no; you are, as the Lord says, the serpent that bites in silence. “If a serpent bite in silence, he is nothing better that backbiteth secretly.” (Eccl. 10:11.) Your secret defamation bites and destroys the character of a neighbour. They who indulge in the vice of detraction are chastised not only in the next, but also in. this life, because their uncharitable tongues are the cause of a thousand sins, by creating discord in whole families and entire villages. Thomas Cantaprensis (Apum, etc., cap. xxxvii.) relates, that he knew a certain detractor, who at the end of life became raging mad, and died lacerating his tongue with his teeth. The tongue of another detractor, who was going to speak ill of St. Malachy, instantly swelled and was filled with worms. And, after seven days, the unhappy man died miserably.

5. Detraction is committed not only when we take away a neighbour’s character, by imputing to him a sin which he has not committed, or exaggerating his guilt, but also when we make known to others any of his secret sins. Some persons, when they know anything injurious to a neighbour, appear to suffer, as it were, the pains of childbirth, until they tell it to others. When the sin of a neighbour is secret and grievous, it is a mortal sin to mention it to others without a just cause. I say, “without a just cause;” for, to make known to a parent the fault of a child, that he may correct him and prevent a repetition of the fault, is not sinful, but is an act of virtue; for according to St. Thomas (2, 2, qu. 2, art. 73), to let others know the sins of a neighbour is unlawful, when it is done to destroy his reputation, but not when it is done for his good, or for the good of others.

6. They who listen to detraction, and afterwards go and tell what was said to the person whose character had been injured, have to render a great account to God. These are called talebearers. Oh! how great is the evil produced by these talebearing tongues that are thus employed in sowing discord. They are objects of God’s hatred. “The Lord hateth … him that soweth discord among brethren.” (Prov. 6:16, 19.) Should the person who has been defamed speak of his defamer, the injury which he has received may, perhaps, give him some claim to compassion. But why should you relate what you have heard? Is it to create ill-will and hatred that shall be the cause of a thousand sins? If, from this day forward, you ever hear anything injurious to a neighbour, follow the advice of the Holy Ghost. “Hast thou heard a word against thy neighbour? let it die with thee.” (Eccl. 19:10.) You should not only keep it shut up in your heart, but you must let it die within you. He that is only shut up may escape and be seen; but he that is dead cannot leave the grave. When, then, you know anything injurious to your neighbour, you ought to be careful not to give any intimation of it to others by words, by motions of the head, or by any other sign. Sometimes greater injury is done to others by certain singular signs and broken words than by a full statement of their guilt; because these hints make persons suspect that the evil is greater than it really is.

7. In your conversations be careful not to give pain to any companion, either present or absent, by turning him into ridicule. You may say: “I do it through jest;” but such jests are contrary to charity. “All things, therefore,” says Jesus Christ, “that you will that men should do to you, do you also unto them.” (Matt. 7:12.) Would you like to be treated with derision before others? Give up, then, the practice of ridiculing your neighbours. Abstain also from contending about useless trifles. Sometimes, certain contests about mere trifles grow so warm that they end in quarrels and injurious words. Some persons are so full of the spirit of contradiction, that they controvert what others say, without any necessity, and solely for the sake of contention, and thus violate charity. “Strive not,” says the Holy Ghost, “in matters which do not concern thee.” (Eccl. 11:9.) But they will say: “I only defend reason; I cannot bear these assertions which are contrary to reason.” In answer to these defenders of reason, Cardinal Bellar-mine says, that an ounce of charity is better than an hundred loads of reason. In conversation, particularly when the subject of it is unimportant, state your opinion, if you wish to take part in the discourse, and then keep yourself in peace, and be on your guard against obstinacy in defending your own opinion. In such contests it is always better to yield. B. Egidius used to say, that he who gives up conquers; because he is superior in virtue, and preserves peace, which is far more valuable than a victory in such contests. St. Joseph Calasanctius was accustomed to say, that “he who loves peace never contradicts any one.”

8. Thus, dearly beloved brethren, if you wish to be loved by God and by men, endeavour always to speak well of all. And, should you happen to hear a person speak ill of a neighbour, be careful not to encourage his uncharitableness, nor to show any curiosity to hear the faults of others. If you do, you will be guilty of the same sin which the detractor commits. “Hedge in thy ears with thorns,” says Ecclesiasticus, “and hear not a wicked tongue.” (Eccl. 28:28.) When you hear any one taking away the character of another, place around your ears a hedge of thorns, that detraction may not enter. For this purpose it is necessary, at least, to show that the discourse is not pleasing to you. This may be done by remaining silent, by putting on a sorrowful countenance, by casting down the eyes, or turning your face in another direction. In a word, act, says St. Jerome, in such a way that the detractor, seeing your unwillingness to listen to him, may learn to be more guarded for the future against the sin of detraction. “Discat detractor, dum te videt non libenter audire, non facile detrahere.” (S. Hier. ep. ad Nepot.) And when it is in your power to do it, it will be a great act of charity to defend the character of the persons who have been defamed. The Divine Spouse wishes that the words of his beloved be a veil of scarlet. “Thy lips are as a scarlet lace.” (Cant. 4:3.) That is, as Theodoret explains this passage, her words should be dictated by charity (a scarlet lace), that they may cover, as much as possible, the defects of others, at least by excusing their intentions, when their acts cannot be excused. “If,” says St. Bernard, “you cannot excuse the act, excuse the intention.” (Serm. xl. in Cant.) It was a proverb among the nuns of the convent of St. Teresa, that, in the presence of their holy mother, their reputation was secure, because they knew she would take the part of those of whom any fault might be mentioned.

9. Charity also requires that we be meek to all, and particularly to those who are opposed to us. When a person is angry with you, and uses injurious language, remember that a “mild answer breaketh wrath.” (Prov. 15:1.) Reply to him with meekness, and you shall find that his anger will be instantly appeased. But, if you resent the injury, and use harsh language, you will increase the flame; the feeling of revenge will grow more violent, and you will expose yourself to the danger of losing your soul by yielding to an act of hatred, or by breaking out into expressions grievously injurious to your neighbour. Whenever you feel the soul agitated by passion, it is better to force yourself to remain silent, and to make no reply; for, as St. Bernard says, an eye clouded with anger cannot distinguish between right and wrong. “Turbatus præ ira oculus rectum non videt.” (Lib. 2 de Consid., cap. xi.) Should it happen that in a fit of passion you have insulted a neighbour, charity requires that you use every means to allay his wounded feelings, and to remove from his heart all sentiments of rancour towards you. The best means of making reparation for the violation of charity is to humble yourself to the person whom you have offended. With regard to the meekness which we should practise towards others, I shall speak on that subject in the thirty-fourth Sermon, or the Sermon for the fifth Sunday after Pentecost.

10. It is also an act of charity to correct sinners. Do not say that you are not a superior. Were you a superior, you should be obliged by your office to correct all those who might be under your care; but, although you are not placed over others, you are, as a Christian, obliged to fulfil the duty of fraternal correction. “He gave to every one of them commandment concerning his neighbour.” (Eccl. 17:12.) Would it not be great cruelty to see a blind man walking on the brink of a precipice, and not admonish him of his danger, in order to preserve him from temporal death? It would be far greater cruelty to neglect, for the sake of avoiding a little trouble, to deliver a brother from eternal death.

Third Point. On the charity we ought to practise towards our neighbour by works.

11. Some say that they love all, but will not put themselves to any inconvenience in order to relieve the wants of a neighbour. “My little children,” says St. John, “let us not love in word, nor in tongue, but in deed and truth.” (1 John 3:18) The Scripture tells us that alms deliver men from death, cleanse them from sin, and obtain for them the divine mercy and eternal life. “Alms delivereth from death, and the same is that which purgeth away sins, and maketh to find mercy and life everlasting.” (Job 12:9.) God will relieve you in the same manner in which you give relief to your neighbour. “With what measure you shall mete, it shall be measured to you again.” (Matt. 7:2.) Hence St. Chrysostom says, that the exercise of charity to others is the means of acquiring great gain with God. “Alms is, of all acts, the most lucrative.” And St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi used to say, that she felt more happy in relieving her neighbour than when she was wrapt up in contemplation. “Because,” she would add, “when I am in contemplation God assists me; but in giving relief to a neighbour I assist God;” for, every act of charity which we exercise towards our neighbour, God accepts as if it were done to himself. But, on the other hand, how, as St. John says, can he who does not assist a brother in want, be said to love God? “He that hath the substance of this world, and shall see his brother in need, and shall shut up his bowels from him, how doth the charity of God abide in him?” (1 John 3:17.) By alms is understood, not only the distribution of money or other goods, but every succour that is given to a neighbour in order to relieve his wants.

12. If charity obliges us to assist all, it commands us still more strictly to relieve those who are in the greatest need; such as the souls in Purgatory. St. Thomas teaches, that charity extends not only to the living, but also to the dead. Hence, as we ought to assist our neighbours who are in this life, so we are bound to give relief to those holy prisoners who are so severely tormented by fire, and who are incapable of relieving themselves. A deceased monk of the Cistercian order appeared to the sacristan of his monastery, and said to him: “Brother, assist me by your prayers; for I can do nothing for myself.” (Cron. Cist.) Let us, then, assist, to the utmost of our power, these beloved spouses of Jesus Christ, by recommending them every day to God, and by sometimes getting Mass offered for their repose. There is nothing which gives so much relief to those holy souls as the sacrifice of the altar. They certainly will not be ungrateful; they will in return pray for you, and will obtain for you still greater graces, when they shall have entered into the kingdom of God.

13. To exercise a special charity towards the sick, is also very pleasing to God. They are afflicted by pains, by melancholy, by the fear of death, and are sometimes abandoned by others. Be careful to relieve them by alms, or by little presents, and to serve them as well as you can, at least by endeavouring to console them by your words, and by exhortations to practise resignation to the will of God, and to offer to him all their sufferings.

14. Above all, be careful to practise charity to those who are opposed to you. Some say: I am grateful to all who treat me with kindness; but I cannot exercise charity towards those who persecute me. Jesus Christ says that even pagans know how to be grateful to those who do them a service. “Do not also the heathens this?” (Matt. 5:47.) Christian charity consists in wishing well, and in doing good to those who hate and injure us. “But I say to you: Love your enemies; do good to them that hate you; and pray for them that persecute and calumniate you.” (Matt. 5:44.) Some seek to injure you, but you must love them. Some have done evil to you, but you must return good for evil. Such the vengeance of the saints. This is the heavenly revenge which St. Paulinus exhorts us to inflict on our enemies. “To repay good for evil is heavenly revenge.” (Epis. xvi.) St. Chrysostom teaches, that there is nothing which assimilates us so much to God as the granting of pardon to enemies. “Nothing makes men so like to God as to spare enemies.” (Hom. xxvii. in Gen.) Such has been the practice of the saints. St. Catherine of Genoa continued for a long time to relieve a woman who had endeavoured to destroy the saint’s reputation. On an assassin, who had made an attempt on his life, St. Ambrose settled a sum for his support. Venustanus, governor of Tuscany, ordered the hands of St. Sabinus to be cut off, because the holy bishop confessed the true faith. The tyrant, feeling a violent pain in his eyes, entreated the saint to assist him. The saint prayed for him, and raised his arm, from which the blood still continued to flow, blessed him, and obtained for him the cure of his eyes and of his soul; for the tyrant became a convert to the faith. Father Segneri relates, that the son of a certain lady in Bologna was murdered by an assassin, who by accident took refuge in her house. (Christ. Instr., part 1, disc. 20, n. 20.) What did she do? She first concealed him from the ministers of justice, and afterwards said to him: Since I have lost my son, you shall henceforth be my son and my heir. Take, for the present, this sum of money, and provide for your safety elsewhere, for here you are not secure. It is thus the saints resent injuries. With what face, says St. Cyril of Jerusalem, can he that does not pardon the affronts which he receives from his enemies, say to God: Lord, pardon me the many insults which I have offered to thee? “Qua fronte dices Domino: remitte mihi multa peccata mea, si tu pauca conservo tuo non remiseris?” (Catech. ii.) But he that forgives his enemies is sure of the pardon of the Lord, who says: “Forgive, and you shall be forgiven.” (Luke 6:37.) And when you cannot serve them in any other way, recommend to God those who persecute and calumniate you. “Pray for them that persecute and calumniate you.” This is the admonition of Jesus Christ, who is able to reward those who treat their enemies in this manner.

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St Cyril of Alexandria’s Homiletic Commentary on Luke 21:5-13

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 15, 2016

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 (source)

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Luke 17:11-19

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 24, 2016

Luk 17:11 And it came to pass, as he was going to Jerusalem, he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.

We cannot determine for certain, to which journey of our Lord from Galilee to Jerusalem reference is made here. Nor, indeed, does the context here afford us any clue for ascertaining it. It may, possibly, refer to the journey mentioned (Lk9:42, &c.), on which He had been treated so inhospitably by the Samaritans, towards whom He returned good for evil, by curing one of their countrymen of a loathsome leprosy. For, of the ten cured, one was a Samaritan. And His having passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee, is mentioned in allusion to the cure of the Samaritan leper with the nine others. This was His direct route to Jerusalem, through the confines of both provinces, by the road which passes between both.

Luk 17:12 And as he entered into a certain town, there met him ten men that were lepers, who stood afar off.

“As He entered,” or was about to enter, “a certain village,” which was on the confines of both provinces. The cure here referred to took place outside the village, from which, by the law of Moses, those infected with leprosy were excluded. Hence, “they stood afar off,” as they were not allowed to come too near, for sanitary and mystical reasons, contemplated by the law of Moses. At what distance, lepers were obliged to keep aloof cannot be ascertained.

Luk 17:13 And lifted up their voice, saying: Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.

“They lifted up their voice.” As they could not approach too near (Leviticus 13:46), in order to be heard by Him, and also to show the earnestness and fervour of their supplication. They also joined in one common cry, in the hope that their joint cry for relief would be more efficacious. Jews and Samaritans, between whom there was no communication (John 4:9), cast aside their mutual religious differences, and became united from a sense of their common misery, and a strong desire of a cure, of which all were equally in quest.

“Jesus, Master.” The Greek word for “Master”—επιστατα—which is peculiar to St. Luke, and applied by him in several parts of his Gospel to our Lord only, (5:5; 8:24–45; 9:33–49), signifies, not merely a teacher, but a teacher vested with authority. It conveys, You can command all things, command this disease to depart from us. Comparing Luke 9:49, with Matthew 17:4; Mark 9:5, it signifies the same as κυριε, Lord, and Rabbi, Master. In Luke (9:49), it corresponds with διδασκαλε, Master, Teacher, in Mark 9:38.

“Have mercy on us.” They don’t specify in what they hoped to have Him exercise mercy. But, firmly believing in His power, they confided in His beneficent will to restore them to health, and remove their bodily leprosy.

Luk 17:14 Whom when he saw, he said: Go, shew yourselves to the priests. And it came to pass, as they went, they were made clean.

“Whom when He saw,” not only with the eyes of the body, but also with the eyes of mercy, “He said: Go, show yourselves to the priests.” (See Matthew 8:4, &c.) Our Lord sends them to the priests, before He actually cures them, as He cured the leper (Matthew 8), in order to try their faith and test their obedience, and also make it clear, to whom they were indebted for their cure. Understanding our Lord’s command to contain an assurance that He would cure them—the priests had no power to cure, their part simply was to attest the cure and offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving as prescribed in the law of Moses, and restore them to society (Leviticus 13:14)—they obeyed at once, and were miraculously cared on their way. It is said by some, that, as our Lord could not recognise the Samaritan priests—priests of a false faith and worship—He meant that even the Samaritan would go to Jewish priests. Others say, that the “priests” meant, those belonging to each one’s religion. The Jewish priests, for the Jews; the Samaritan priest, for the Samaritan leper. Without raising any question as to our Lord’s sending the Samaritan to his own priest, as a minister of a schismatical worship, the advocates of this latter opinion might say, he was sent merely for a certificate of his restoration to health, which, likely, the Jewish priests would not give; and even, if given by them, it would not avail him. This did not necessarily entail a journey to Jerusalem on the part of the Jewish lepers. The priests of any locality could give the required attestation of the cure; and thus enable a cured leper to return to his house and kindred.

Luk 17:15 And one of them, when he saw that he was made clean, went back, with a loud voice glorifying God.

Whether he returned, after having shown himself to the priest, as our Lord commanded, and received the required certificate of his cure, or before it, when on his way he saw himself cured, is not quite clear from the context, although the words, “when he saw that he was made clean, he went back,” would seem in favour of the opinion that he returned the moment he saw himself cured. Having gone some distance, and probably out of our Redeemer’s sight, they perceived their cure. Most likely, they were also cleansed from the leprosy of sin. Our Redeemer, it is thought, usually conferred the grace of justification on those on whom He wrought a bodily cure, inspiring them with sentiments of true contrition.

“With a loud voice,” showing the intensity of his grateful feelings.

“Glorifying God,” who displayed His power and goodness in his cure, through Christ.

Luk 17:16 And he fell on his face before his feet, giving thanks. And this was a Samaritan.

“And fell down on his face,” in prostrate adoration, “at His feet.” Before, he kept aloof; now, seeing himself cured, he ventured to approach nearer, even to His very feet.

“And he was a Samaritan.” The Evangelist adds this, to contrast the gratitude of this stranger, who belonged to a people who were not so favoured as the Jews, with the ingratitude of the nine others who were Jews.

Luk 17:17 And Jesus answering, said: Were not ten made clean? And where are the nine?
Luk 17:18 There is no one found to return and give glory to God, but this stranger.

This interrogatory form is a more forcible way of enunciating the fact of their cure.

Our Lord would seem to reproach the nine others for their want of gratitude in not imitating the example of the Samaritan, who returned and gave thanks to his benefactor. “To give glory to God,” by openly proclaiming the exercise of His power and goodness in their cure through Christ. He does not say, “give glory to Me,” to convey, that the glory of every thing should be given to God alone, and that He sought His Father’s glory in all He did.

“But this stranger,” alien in religion and extraction. The circumstance of this man being a stranger to the Jewish religion, a member of a false and schismatical Church, between which and the Synagogue there was no communication, not even civil intercourse, only set forth, in a clearer light, the ingratitude of the Jews, God’s chosen people, on whom He bestowed so many and such signal favours; to whom the Son of God was sent to preach first, and by them ungratefully rejected.

“Where are the nine?” How applicable is not this question, in many instances, to Christians, who, after receiving wonderful cures of their bodily ailments and spiritual distempers from God, ungratefully forget all, and insult and outrage afresh the best of benefactors, relapsing into sin, like the swine wallowing in the mire, or the dog returning to his vomit; thus, crucifying again the Son of God, and making a mockery of Him.

Luk 17:19 And he said to him: Arise, go thy way; for thy faith hath made thee whole.

“Arise,” from the posture in which he lay prostrate at His feet. “Go thy way?” Thou hast shown thy gratitude, in which the nine others were signally wanting.

“Thy faith,” whereby thou didst unhesitatingly believe in My power; and, confiding in My implied assurance of curing thee, on thy way to the priest, didst obey My mandate. “Hath made thee whole,” restored his bodily health, and most likely, cured him of the spiritual leprosy of sin, signified by the corporal leprosy from which he suffered. Our Lord, by ascribing the cure to faith, which concurred as a necessary disposition for effecting it, showed His great modesty, in not ascribing it to Himself, who accomplished it.

He, as usual, commends the great virtue of faith, as it was the foundation of the whole system of spiritual life, and of the religion He was about to establish. It was the virtue most needed to bring man back to God. For, as man first departed from God by pride of intellect, the affectation of knowledge like unto that of God; so, his first step in his return to God must be, by humbling that proud intellect, and rendering it captive to faith in embracing, on the sole authority of God, truths which it could not understand, since faith is the “argumentum non apparentium” (Heb. 11:1). (See 2 Cor. 10:4, 5.)

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Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Luke 17:11-19

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 24, 2016

Luk 17:11 And it came to pass, as he was going to Jerusalem, he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.

And it came to pass as He was going up to Jerusalem from the borders of Cæsarea Philippi or Paneas, as is clear from S. Matt 17:22, to Jerusalem; to the feast of tabernacles, as appears from S. John 7:2. He went through the midst of Samaria and Galilee; for this was the direct road for one journeying from Cæsarea to Jerusalem. Mention is made of Samaria to suggest a reason why, among the ten lepers that were healed by Christ, one was a Samaritan; namely, that as Christ was going through Samaria, although He had been inhospitably received by the Samaritans, nay, shut out from one of their towns, Lk 9:53, He yet wished to do good to a Samaritan, that He might return kindness for ill-treatment. See the chronological order of events which I have prefixed to this commentary.

Luk 17:12 And as he entered into a certain town, there met him ten men that were lepers, who stood afar off.

And as He entered into a certain town. Lepers, as being unclean, were not able to enter cities, towns and villages, lest they should communicate their leprosy to the inhabitants, as well as their legal defilement, which under the old law was communicated by contact with a leprous and unclean person; as in Num 5:2. Hence they met Christ before the village.

There were ten lepers, says Euthymius, whom their disease had united together; for otherwise the Jews hold no communication with the Samaritans, Jn 4:9. These ten leper’s seem to have agreed, as soon as they met Jesus, to demand to be healed with one voice. They made an attack upon the clemency of Jesus.

They stood afar off, as being unclean and out of communion with the clean, being banished lest they should affect them by their breath. In figure leprosy is concupiscence, heresy, and every kind of sin, as is shown in Lev 13:14 and Mt 8:2.

Luk 17:13 And lifted up their voice, saying: Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.

And lifted up their voices. They cried out aloud, because they stood afar off. The voice was one and proceeded from all, “Jesus, Master,” have mercy on us, and free us from this heavy and incurable disease. Master here does not so much mean teacher as Lord, one who directs his servants and tells them his wishes. The Greek is ε̉πίστατα, that is Præfect—Præses; one whose right it is to rule and command: for they do not ask Christ to teach them, and give them precepts of virtue, but to command the leprosy and cause it to depart from them. So the Hebrew, Rabbi, means not only master but also Lord, and Mighty, and One of the first rank. Moreover, S. Luke everywhere calls Christ ε̉πίστατα, as is seen Lk 5:5, 8:24, 8:45, 9:33, 9:49;  S. Matt. also, Mt 8:25, 17:4, and elsewhere, has κύζιε, that is Lord. So the Gauls, Germans, and Belgians call their masters Lords, Domini, mon maistre, mein meister.

Luk 17:14 Whom when he saw, he said: Go, shew yourselves to the priests. And it came to pass, as they went, they were made clean.

Whom he saw, he said. Theophylact says, “They stood afar off indeed in position, but they were near in speech, for ‘The Lord is nigh unto all that call upon Him,'” Ps 145:18.

Go, shew yourselves to the priests. That is, if you go to them and obey Me, you shall assuredly be healed of your leprosy by My power and providence.

And it came to pass, as they went. Christ commanded them to go to the priests, not that they might be healed by them, for this was impossible, but firstly, for the honour and deference due to the priest-hood; secondly, because the law commanded lepers, if they were healed, to show themselves to the priests, that by their means they might be brought back to the city and temple, and to the society of men. The priests, moreover, had their own signs by which they might know whether a man were a leper or not, as I have shown before. Thirdly, to prove the faith and obedience of the lepers, for they knew themselves to be lepers, and that they could not be healed by the priests, but only that their leprosy could be declared. Yet they went to them at the command of Christ, believing that they would thus be healed by Him before they came to the priests. For if they had not so believed they would assuredly not have gone to them. Fourthly, that Christ might make the priests witnesses of the miraculous healing done by Him, and that from this they might know that He was the Christ.

Allegorically: Christ wished to signify that mystical lepers, that is sinners in the New Law, ought to come to the priests that they may be healed by penance, and absolved from the leprosy of sin. “It is not,” says S. Chrysostom, “the duty of the priest, under the New Law, to prove the leprosy, as it was under the Old, but to cleanse and expiate it when proved.” Lib. iii. de Sacerdotio.

And as they went, they were cleansed. “In certain faith and blind obedience, not judging of the command,” says Euthymius. It is probable that immediately on their going they were healed, that they might know it to have been done by Jesus. Hence the Samaritan, perceiving what had happened, and that he was cured, returned to Jesus and gave thanks. Thus is God wont to reward prompt faith and obedience.

They were cleansed. From their leprosy, which among the Jews was the greatest of uncleannesses, both natural and legal; especially because it was contagious, and made those who came near, leprous and unclean.

Luk 17:15 And one of them, when he saw that he was made clean, went back, with a loud voice glorifying God.

And one of them, when he saw that he was made clean. He left the road and went back to Jesus, the Author of his healing, magnifying God with a loud voice, who, through Jesus, had healed him.

Luk 17:16 And he fell on his face before his feet, giving thanks. And this was a Samaritan.

And fell down on his face before His feet. That by profound humiliation he might show his great reverence to Him, as in the Greek and Syriac. And this was a Samaritan: a Samaritan, and therefore an alien from and abhorrent to the Jews, a schismatic moreover, so that it was wonderful that he alone gave thanks so earnestly to Jesus, who was a Jew, when the other lepers, who were Jews by nation and religion, passed Him by and gave no thanks for so great a benefit.

Luk 17:17 And Jesus answering, said: Were not ten made clean? And where are the nine?

And Jesus answering said, Why do not the nine, equally with this Samaritan, return and acknowledge their cure, and give Me thanks? In truth the nine were rejoiced at their cure, and went to the priests, that they might be declared to be clean, and restored to the society of men, thinking wholly of themselves, and caring very little for the glory of Jesus.

Luk 17:18 There is no one found to return and give glory to God, but this stranger.

There is no one found to return. By confessing and declaring themselves cured by God through Christ of their leprosy, which was a great glory to God.

But this stranger. That is, except this Samaritan, who was a stranger to the nation and religion of the Jews. For the Samaritans were Babylonians, Assyrians and Medians, and were transferred by Shalmanezer to Samaria. 2 Kings17:24. The Syriac says, “Why were they separated, so that none gave glory to God except this one?” He represents the Gentiles, who were to believe in Christ, and give Him thanks, when the unbelieving Jews would hold Him in contempt. We thus see that strangers are often more grateful than natives, because strangers wonder at strange benefactors more, and pay them greater respect than natives, who, as familiar with their benefactors, think that benefits are their due from the right of country. Moreover, they were ashamed to humble themselves before their own countrymen, and to acknowledge the misery from which they had been delivered. Rightly therefore does Christ blame them; and He might with justice have deprived them of the benefit of the cure, and allowed them to fall back again into their leprosy. But He would not do this, because His mercy was so great that it extended even to the ungrateful. S. Bernard sharply rebukes the Wickedness of ingratitude, Serm. li. on Canticles. He says, “It is the enemy of our souls, the inanition of our merits, the dispenser of our virtues, the ruin of our benefactions. Ingratitude is a burning wind, drying up the Fountain of Holiness, the dew of mercy, the streams of grace.”

Luk 17:19 And he said to him: Arise, go thy way; for thy faith hath made thee whole.

And He said to him, Arise, go thy way: for thy faith. Faith, by which you have believed that I am able to save you, nay that I will do so, if you obey Me, and go to the priests. For this faith has worked with your healing, even though I be the primary author. Hence very likely the prompting of God elicited from this leper some act of contrition by which he was justified; and that he then left the schism of the Samaritans, and joined the true religion of the Jews. In the end he became a disciple of Jesus, and received His baptism, and became a Christian and preached the power and miracle of Christ and converted many to Him.

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St Cyril of Alexandria’s Homiletic Commentary on Luke 12:8-10

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 20, 2016

This post contains a sermon on Luke 12:8-10.

12:8-10. And I say unto you, that whosoever shall confess Me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God. But he that shall deny Me before men, shall be denied before the angels of God. And whosoever shall speak a word against the son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him.

HERE too, you who love to hear, replenish yourselves with the words of holiness: receive within you the knowledge of the sacred doctrines, that advancing prosperously in the faith, you may obtain the crown of love and steadfastness in Christ. For He bestows it, not upon those whose heart is faint and easily shaken, but rather on those who can with fitness say; “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” For those who live holily, live unto Christ; and those, who for piety towards Him, endure dangers, gain the life incorruptible, being crowned by His decree before the judgment seat of God. And this He teaches us, saying; “Whosoever shall confess Me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God,”

It is then a thing above all others worthy of our attention to see who it is that confesses Christ, and in what way one may rightly and blamelessly confess Him. Most wise Paul, therefore writes to us, “Say not in yours heart, Who shall ascend unto heaven? that is to bring Christ down: or who shall descend into the deep? that is, to bring Christ up from the dead. But what says the Scripture? The Word is nigh you, in your mouth and in your heart; that is, the Word of faith which we preach: because if you shall say with your mouth that Jesus is the Lord, and shall believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall live. For with the heart man believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth |404 confession is made unto salvation.” In which words the mystery of Christ is most excellently explained. For first of all it is our duty to confess that the Son, Who sprang from God the Father, and Who is the Only-begotten of His substance, even God the Word, is Lord of all: not as one on whom lordship has been bestowed from without, and by imputation, but as being by nature and in truth Lord, as the Father also is. And next we must believe, that ” God raised Him from the dead,” that is, when having become man, He had suffered in the flesh for our sakes: for so He arose from the dead. The Son therefore is, as I said, Lord; yet must He not be reckoned with those other lords, to whom the name of lordship is given and imputed: for He alone, as I said, is Lord by nature, being God the Word, Who transcends every created thing. And this the wise Paul teaches us saying; “That though there be in heaven or in earth certain Gods many, and Lordships many: yet to us there is one God the Father, from Whom is everything and we from Him: and one Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom is everything and we by Him.” But even though there be but one God, Whose name is the Father; and one Lord, Who is the Son; yet neither is the Father put aside from being Lord, by reason of His being God by nature: nor docs the Son cease from being God, because He is Lord by nature. For perfect freedom is the attribute of the divine and supreme substance only, and to be entirely separate from the yoke of servitude: or rather, to have the creation put in subjection under Its feet. And therefore, though the Only-begotten Word of God became like unto us, and, as for as regarded the measure of the human nature, was placed under the yoke of slavery:—-for He purposely paid the Jewish tax-gatherers the two drachms according to the law of Moses; —-yet He did not conceal the splendour of the glory that dwelt in Him. For He asked the blessed Peter; “The kings of the earth, of whom do they receive tribute and poll-tax; of their own children, or of strangers? And when he had said, Of strangers: Then, said He, are the children free.” The Son therefore is in His own nature Lord as being free: as the wise Paul has again taught us, thus writing: “But we all, with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same likeness, from glory to glory, as by |405 the Lord, the Spirit.” “Now the Spirit is the Lord: but where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” Observe therefore how he affirms that the Spirit is Lord: not as possessed of sonship; for He is the Spirit, and not the Son; but as being co-essential with the Son, Who is Lord and free, and proved by this natural equality with Him to possess that freedom which befits God.

Whosoever therefore confesses Christ before men, as God and Lord, shall be acknowledged by Him before the angels of God. But where and how? Evidently at that time, when He shall descend from heaven in the glory of His Father with the holy angels at the end of this world: then shall He crown His true confessor, who possessed an unwavering and genuine faith, and so made profession. There also shall the company of the holy martyrs shine, who endured the conflict even unto life and blood, and honoured Christ by their patient endurance: for they denied not the Saviour, nor was His glory unknown to them, but they kept their fealty to Him. Such shall be praised by the holy angels; and shall themselves glorify Christ the Saviour of all, for bestowing upon the saints those honours which especially are their due. And so the Psalmist also declares, “And the heavens shall declare His righteousness; because God is judge.” And such then shall be the lot of those who confess Him.

But the rest, those who denied and despised him, shall be denied: when the Judge shall say to them that, as it were, which was spoken by the holy prophets to certain of old; “As you have done, it shall be done unto you; and your requital shall be requited upon yours own head;” and shall deny them in these words: “Depart from Me, you workers of iniquity, I know you not.” And who then are they that shall be denied? First of all, those who when persecution was pressing upon them, and tribulation had overtaken them, deserted the faith. The hope of such shall depart utterly from its very root: for such no human words can suffice; for wrath and judgment and the unappeasable fire shall receive them.

And in like manner both the followers and teachers of heresy deny him. For they venture to say that the Only-begotten Word of God is not by nature and in truth God; and they |406 traduce His ineffable generation, by saying that He is not of the substance of the Father: yes rather, they count among things created Him Who is the Creator of all, and wickedly class with those who are under the yoke Him Who is Lord of all; although Paul affirms, that we must say that “Jesus is Lord.”

The disciples also of the vain babbling of Nestorius deny Him by acknowledging two sons, one false, and one true; the true one, the Word of God the Father: the false one, to whom the honour and name of a son belongs by imputation only, who in their phrase is the son only, and sprung from the seed of the blessed David, according to the flesh. Most heavy is the judgment of these also; for they have denied “the Lord Who bought them.” They have not understood the mystery of His dispensation in the flesh: for “there is one Lord, one faith,” as it is written. For we do not believe in a man and a God, but in one Lord, the Word Who is from God the Father, Who became man, and took upon Him our flesh. And thus then these also are numbered among those Who deny Him.

And that blasphemy is a most wicked crime for men to commit, He has further taught us by saying, “that whosoever shall speak a word against the son of man”, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven.” And in what way is this too to be understood? Now if the Saviour means this, that if any scornful word be used by any one of us towards some more man, he will obtain forgiveness if he repent, the matter is free from all difficulty. For as God is by nature good, He will free from blame all those who repent. But if the declaration |407 has reference to Christ himself, the Saviour of all, how can he he innocent, or secure from condemnation, who has spoken against Him? What then we say is this; that whenever any one, who has not yet learnt the meaning of His mystery, nor understood that being by nature God, He humbled Himself to our estate, and became man, speaks anything against Him, blasphemous to a certain extent, but yet not so wicked as to pass forgiveness, such things God will pardon in those who have sinned from ignorance. And to explain my meaning by an example; Christ somewhere said, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven, and gives life to the world.” Because therefore some did not know His glory, but thought that he was a mere man, they said, “Is not this the carpenter’s son, Whose father and mother we know? How does He now say that I came down from heaven?” And again, He was once standing teaching in a synagogue, and was wondered at by them all. But some, it tells us, said, “How knows this man learning, having never been taught?” For of course they knew not that “in Him are all the treasures of wisdom, and the hidden things of knowledge.” Such things might well be forgiven, as being spoken inconsiderately from ignorance.

But for those who have blasphemed the Godhead itself, condemnation is inevitable, and the punishment eternal both in this world and in that which is to come.

For by the Spirit He here means not only the Holy Spirit, but also the whole nature of the Godhead, as understood (to consist) in the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And the Saviour Himself also somewhere said, “God is a Spirit.” Blasphemy therefore against the Spirit, is against the whole supreme substance: for as I said, the nature of the Deity, as offered to our understanding in the holy and adorable Trinity, is one.

Let us therefore, as the writer of the book of Proverbs says, “put a door and a bar to the tongue,” and draw near to the God over all, thus saying, “Set a watch, O Lord, upon my mouth; and a door of safety about my lips; incline not my heart to wicked words;” for those are wicked words which are against God. And if thus we rightly fear Him, Christ |408 will bless us: by Whom and with Whom to God the Father be praise and dominion, with the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen. (source)

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Luke 1:1-4, 4:14-22

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 9, 2016

Luk 1:1 Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a narration of the things that have been accomplished among us,

1. “Many,” cannot refer to St. Matthew or St. Mark, who were not “many.” Moreover, Matthew was himself an “eye-witness,” and did not, therefore, derive his information from, “eye-witnesses.” Nor is it likely Matthew and Mark are referred to with others who with them might constitute “many,” as St. Luke would hardly class inspired with uninspired writers of the Gospel. Neither is it likely that reference is made to the writers of Apocryphal Gospels, under the names of Matthias, Thomas, Twelve Apostles, &c., as there is no evidence that these were in existence at the time. To whom, then, does St. Luke refer? Probably, to some incompetent, but well-meaning compilers of incomplete and confused histories of the actions and sayings of our Divine Lord, according as they ascertained them from the traditions, which existed at the time, whose motive in undertaking a Gospel History St. Luke neither praises nor censures.

Have taken in hand” (επεχειρησαν). These words of themselves imply neither success nor failure, though generally taken in the latter sense, and very probably they mean it here, as the failure of those referred to in giving a full narrative of the Gospel incidents, and the uncertainty which their confused histories might create in the minds of the faithful, would seem to be put forward by St. Luke as his motive for undertaking a well-arranged, authentic narrative of the doings and sayings of our Blessed Lord.

To set forth in order.” The Greek compound—αναταξασθαὶ—would seem to signify to re-arrange, and is so understood by Patrizzi, as if St. Luke referred to men who would fain give a more accurate and orderly account than that of Matthew and Mark. However, it more probably signifies here to give a well-arranged narrative of the events of Gospel History without implying reference to any already existing written records requiring to be put in order.

Of the things,” events, embracing doctrinal teachings and external actions.

Accomplished.” The Greek word, πεπληροφορημένῶν, sometimes signifies to fulfil, or accomplish (2 Tim. 4:5; Col. 2:2; Heb. 6:11), in which sense the Vulgate translator understands it, as if reference were made to the accomplishment of the ancient prophecies and types in the words and actions of our Lord recorded in the Gospel. Sometimes, the word means, fully credited, producing a most unhesitating conviction. (Rom. 4:21; 14:5, &c.) This latter would seem to be its meaning here, as appears from the following words, as it was meant, that they had the firmest persuasion, &c., owing to the testimony of “eye-witnesses,” &c.

Among us,” in our time, if “accomplished” be taken in the first sense above given; to our knowledge, if taken in the second meaning.

Luk 1:2 According as they have delivered them unto us, who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word:

2. “According as they have delivered them,” &c. There is a diversity of opinion as to the connexion of these with the foregoing words. By some, they are connected with “accomplished,” or firmly believed, as if in them was assigned a reason for that firm belief, because of the tradition which transmitted them with undoubted truthfulness from sources above all suspicion, viz., the “eye-witnesses,” among whom we may reckon primarily the Blessed Virgin, the shepherds of Bethlehem, in regard to the earliest incidents, the Apostles from the time of their vocation. The latter were also “ministers of the Word,” having been divinely engaged in divulging to the world the sacred truths of which it is meant to transmit a well-digested record. Others connect them with the words, “have taken in hand,” as if it were meant to convey, that the writers in question meant, perhaps, unsuccessfully, to transmit a history of the teachings and actions of our Lord in accordance with the traditions received from “eye-witnesses,” &c. Others connect them with the words of v. 3, “in order,” as if St. Luke meant to convey that he undertook to give an orderly account in accordance with the accurate traditions of “eye-witnesses,” &c. These place a full stop after v. 1.

From the beginning.” The origin of the Christian dispensation, the commencement of the events and incidents recorded in the Holy Gospel, viz., the birth and infancy of the Precursor, the birth and infancy of our Lord, &c.

Of the Word,” although sometimes referring to the Increated Word or Eternal Son of God, here most likely refers to the Gospel incidents, embracing our Lord’s discourses and actions.

Luk 1:3 It seemed good to me also, having diligently attained to all things from the beginning, to write to thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,

3. “It seemed good to me also,” &c., under the impulse and inspiration of the Holy Ghost, which we reverently believe to have guided the hand and pen of St. Luke, preserving him from error in his narrative. To such inspiration, however, St. Luke here lays no claim, when referring to the sources from which, humanly speaking, he derives the incidents of an authentic history, so as to satisfy all reasonable men, even on human grounds, in regard to his claims to be believed.

Good,” in the sense in which “it seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us,” Apostles (Acts 15:28).

Having diligently attained to.” Accurately investigated and traced out with the greatest diligence and exactness.

All things from the beginning.” All the things that appertained to the Gospel history from the commencement to the end (see v. 2).

In order.” Avoiding all confusion in narrating the series and succession of events in the general complexion of the history. Hence, he puts the account of the conception and birth of the Baptist before that of Christ; the conception and birth of Christ before His baptism; His baptism before His preaching; His preaching and miracles before His death; His death before His Resurrection and Ascension. As our Lord often delivered His instructions repeatedly, and on various occasions, the order in which they were repeated is not strictly adhered to in regard to them, nor in regard to certain minute circumstances. “Order,” may refer to subjects rather than dates, to the grouping of events and incidents in cases of similarity rather than to time, regarding which he is less definite than the two other Synoptists, especially in his loose and fragmentary narrative from chap. 9:51 to 18:14, which is exclusively his own, save v. 18, chap. 16.

Most excellent Theophilus”—literally, a friend of God, a lover of God, or beloved of God—is not a common name, belonging to the representative of a class, as held by some, or, to a particular Church, as held by others; but a proper name, undoubtedly referring to a particular man. Who he was cannot be fully ascertained. Most likely he was one of St. Luke’s converts, distinguished for great moral worth; hence, styled “most excellent.” It is, however, more probable still, that this title which the Greeks were wont to bestow on governors, and men occupying high official station, was addressed to Theophilus on account of his exalted rank and high official position. In this latter sense, the same title—κρατίστος—is applied to Felix (Acts 23:26; 24:3) and to Festus (Acts 26:25). He was very likely a Gentile convert of high station, and also an inhabitant of Rome. For, while St. Luke is very particular in topological details, both in his Gospel and in the Acts of the Apostles, when treating of Asia Minor, Palestine, and Greece, he is silent on such matters when he treats of Italy. From this it is inferred that Theophilus was a Roman, in regard to whom it would be superfluous to treat of Italian topography, with which, on this assumption, he must have been thoroughly conversant. But although addressed to Theophilus, we are not to suppose that the Gospel was written for him alone, but for the entire Christian world, to the end of time, of whom Theophilus may be regarded as the representative. Even in our own day, we frequently see writings meant for the public, addressed and dedicated to individuals.

Luk 1:4 That thou mayest know the verity of those words in which thou hast been instructed.

4. “That thou mayest know,” become thoroughly convinced of, “the verity,” the secure ground of your belief (ασφαλειαν, security) in.

Of those words.” In those things. “Word” is a term commonly used by the Hebrews to denote any event or thing.

Instructed”—κατηχηθηςcatechised, instructed orally, or by word of mouth. It was by means of oral, catechetical instruction Theophilus was first brought to embrace the faith. St. Luke deems it right to leave a written record, under the influence of inspiration, of the Gospel History, in order to confirm the faith of Christians during all succeeding ages.

Luk 4:14 And Jesus returned in the power of the spirit, into Galilee: and the fame of him went out through the whole country.

14. “And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee.” He “returned” to Galilee, whence He had come, to the part of the Jordan where He was baptized by John; “in the power of the Spirit,” under the strong impulse and influence of the Holy Ghost. He now displays and externally manifests in His preaching and wondrous works, the power of the Holy Ghost, with which He was filled from His Incarnation, which He possessed without measure, and with which He was anointed in the unction of the hypostatic union. The Evangelist now wishes to have us to understand, that in all the words and actions of our Lord about to be narrated, He was always guided by, and always acted under the influence and power of, the Holy Ghost. This was the second return of our Lord into Galilee, since His fast and baptism. John (1:43), records His first return. Hence, the Evangelist passes over several events in the life of our Lord, which occurred before the return referred to here, viz., His coming to John (John 1:29), who speaks of Him in the most exalted terms; the marriage feast of Cana; the wonders performed at Capharnaum (v. 23, here); His going up to Jerusalem at the Pasch (John 2:13); the time spent by Him in Judea, baptizing (John 3:22); the intimation He received that John was imprisoned, which occasioned His going to Galilee, as recorded here (see Matthew 4:12, Commentary on).

And the fame of Him,” on account of the wonderful things He did and said, “went out through the whole country,” viz., Galilee and the adjacent districts, Samaria, Phœnicia, Syria, &c.

Luk 4:15 And he taught in their synagogues and was magnified by all.

15. “And,” is interpreted by some to mean, “for,” “He taught in their synagogues.” This was the chief cause of His being so celebrated among them. “And was magnified (extolled) by all,” on account of what He taught, and His authoritative mode of teaching. “He was teaching them, as one having authority, and not as their Scribes and Pharisees” (Matthew 7:29).

(For meaning ofsynagogue,” see Matthew 4:23, Commentary on).

Luk 4:16 And he came to Nazareth, where he was brought up: and he went into the synagogue, according to his custom, on the sabbath day: and he rose up to read.

16. “And He came to Nazareth,” which He passed by on a former occasion (Matthew 4:13), “where He was brought up.”

Nazareth” was His native place, where He spent the period of boyhood and youth.

He went into the synagogue according to His custom,” &c. It was usual with the Jews to assemble on Sabbath and festival days in their synagogues for devotional exercises, such as, reading and hearing the Word of God, as also, prayer. “His custom,” may signify the custom He observed from infancy, of frequenting the places of devotion on Sabbath days; or, His custom of frequenting the synagogues since He commenced His mission, for the purpose of expounding the SS. Scriptures. Our Lord taught everywhere, all those who came to Him for instruction; and He availed Himself of every befitting occasion, especially when He wrought miracles, to expound His heavenly doctrines. But, on Sabbath days, He availed himself of the religious meetings in the synagogues to instruct the assembled people.

He rose up to read,” and expound the SS. Scriptures. It was usual with the Jews to have a certain portion of the Pentateuch read for the people in the synagogue on Sabbath days, to which was subjoined a section from the prophetical books bearing in sense on the passage read from the Pentateuch. Any one learned in the law, might be invited to read and expound such passages. See Acts (13:15), where “the reading of the law and the prophets” is referred to, also Acts (15:21). Our Lord “rose up to read,” thereby intimating, that He had “an exhortation to make to the people” (Acts 13:15). He read the SS. Scriptures in a standing posture, not only to be better heard, but chiefly out of reverence for the Word of God.

Luk 4:17 And the book of Isaias the prophet was delivered unto him. And as he unfolded the book, he found the place where it was written:

17. The Book of the Prophet Isaias was delivered to Him by “the minister” of the synagogue (v. 20). This, although humanly speaking, apparently accidental, was arranged by God’s providence, to afford Him an opportunity of showing His Divinity and Divine mission, from the writings of their own prophets.

Unfolded the book.” Unlike our modern form of books, the parchment was folded round a roller, in the form of a map—whence the term, Volume—and on unfolding it off the roller, “He found the place where it was written.” He lighted, doubtlessly, by the deliberato guidance of God’s providence, on the following passage (Isaias 41:1). This passage is quoted by St. Luke, according to the Septuagint version, save that Luke himself adds to the passage, according to that version, the words, “to set at liberty them that are bruised,” probably taken from Isaias (58:6), where these words are used in the Septuagint, in the imperative mood.

Luk 4:18 The spirit of the Lord is upon me. Wherefore he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor, he hath sent me to heal the contrite of heart,

18. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.” In Isaias (61:1, 2), the Lord promises the Jewish people a Redeemer; some say, the Prophet primarily refers to the deliverance of the Jewish people from the Babylonish captivity, under Cyrus, which mystically and principally signifies their spiritual deliverance through Christ—“He shall come like a violent stream which the Spirit of the Lord driveth on” (59:19). In the passage quoted hero by St. Luke (Isaias 61:1), the Prophet represents the Deliverer or Redeemer as having already come, and saying, “the (promised) Spirit of the Lord is upon me,” or as is said elsewhere (Isaias 11:2), “rests upon Him.” I am filled with His gifts, which are bestowed upon me without stint or measure. This Spirit our Lord received at His Incarnation and from the hypostatic union. This Spirit guided and influenced all His actions.

Wherefore He”—the Hebrew has, “the Lord, hath anointed me.” “Anointed” is allusive to the rite employed in consecrating Kings, Prophets, and Priests. Here Christ is the Messiah or Anointed. It is because He had the fulness of all Divine gifts given Him without measure, at His Incarnation, therefore did the Lord anoint Him with the oil of gladness at His baptism; by this unction consecrating and preparing Him for the great office of preaching the Gospel. The words, “the Spirit of the Lord is upon me,” have reference to His Incarnation; and the words, “wherefore He hath anointed me,” to His baptism. The former is the cause of the latter. Some Commentators connect the words, “He hath anointed me” with, “to preach to the poor,” this being the office for which He was anointed and consecrated, to fit Him for it. “He hath anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor,” and these connect the words, “sent me,” with “to heal the contrite,” &c., “He sent me to heal the contrite of heart.”

The poor.” This is the Septuagint rendering. The Hebrew has, “to the meek” (see Matthew 11:4). “To heal the contrite of heart,” whose hearts are heavily bruised with the heavy load of sin. These words are wanting in some Greek copies.

Luk 4:19 To preach deliverance to the captives and sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord and the day of reward.

19. “To preach deliverance to the captives,” captive in the bonds of sin. “Deliverance,” from their chains, and also the providing of means for effectively accomplishing such deliverance.

And sight to the blind,” To bestow the light of faith and truth on those who are sitting in darkness and the shadow of death, and open the eyes of their understanding to the light of faith, against which they have been hitherto shut.

To set at liberty them that are bruised.” These words would seem to signify the same as the words, “to heal the contrite of heart.” Hence, some Expositors regard one or the other as redundant; and as the words, “to set at liberty, &c.,” are not found either in the Hebrew, or Chaldaic, or Greek, it is, most likely, the redundant phrase. A similar sentence is found in Isaias (58:6), “let them that are broken go free.” Probably, St. Luke inserted these words in the quotation here, taken from chap. 61:1 of Isaias, as illustrating the benefits conferred by our Redeemer, and more fully explaining the sense of the passage.

The Hebrew phrase, Laasurim Peqach, signifies, Laasurim, “those bound,” and Reqach, “an opening.” St. Jerome then rendered the words, “clausis apertionem,” “deliverance to them that are shut up.” But the Septuagint rendered them, τυφλοις αναβλεψιν, “sight to the blind.” For, assurim signifies, those bound. This is true of the blind, whose eyes are bound, and Peqach signifies, an opening. The blind, when restored to sight, have their eyes opened; hence, the Septuagint rendering of the words.

To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” “Year,” is put for time. There is manifest allusion here to the year of Jubilee, which occurred every fiftieth year among the Jews, when slaves were set at liberty, and the possessions that were sold, reverted to their original owners. This Jubilee year among the Jews, and the blessings it brought with it, were a type of the entire period of the Christian dispensation, a period of time productive of the greatest blessings to mankind, when they are rescued from the slavery of Satan and sin; the greatest gifts of grace are conferred on them, and they are restored to their lost inheritance of heaven. Our Lord proclaimed this as present, “appropinquavit regnum, &c.” (Matthew 4:17.) This is the period of benevolence on the part of God; of His good-will towards man. This shall continue now to the end of the world. Hence, the Apostle says, “Ecce nunc tempus acceptabile; ecce nunc, dies salutis” (2 Cor. 6:2). Our Lord was sent to announce these glad tidings of a year of jubilee and perpetual reconcilation of God with man. “Pascha nostrum immolatus est Christus” (1 Cor. 5:7.)

And the day of reward.” St. Jerome renders the Hebrew, Jom naquam, “diem ultionis,” “the day of vengeance,” which some understand of the last day of general judgment, when the Lord, while rewarding the good, shall take vengeance on His enemies. Others, seeing that the entire prophetic quotation regards the benefits to be conferred by Christ on the children of the New Law, understand “vengeance,” of the evil spirits, the enemies of men’s souls, on whom our Lord will take signal vengeance, by publicly exposing them, to public view, to grace His triumph (Coloss. 2:15); judging the Prince of this world and casting him out. To this, reference is made in Isaias (35), “Behold your God shall bring the revenge of recompense; God Himself will come and will save you” (35:4). It is the same as the acceptable year. “Acceptable,” as regards God’s servants; “the day of vengeance,” as regards His and their enemies.

Luk 4:20 And when he had folded the book, he restored it to the minister and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.

20. “And when He had folded the book,” on the roller round which it was folded, “He returned it to the minister,” the person who was in attendance on the chief officer of the synagogue, and had charge of the sacred books. “He sat down,” as was usually done in such cases before delivering a discourse on the subjects read previously in a standing posture by the speaker.

And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him.” Probably, on seeing Him read who had not learned letters. It may be also that a Divine effulgence shone from His countenance; and as the Jews knew, that the prayer read had reference to the Messiah, they were anxious to know, if He might not Himself be the Messiah, considering the wonders wrought by Him elsewhere (v. 23), and the fame that went abroad regarding Him.

Luk 4:21 And he began to say to them: This day is fulfilled this scripture in your ears.

21. “This day is fulfilled this scripture in your ears.” “In your ears.” A Hebrew phrase for, in your hearing. This oracle of the prophet, which, as you know, regards your expected Messiah, is now fulfilled in me, whom you see preaching to the poor, and of whom you heard it stated, that He performed elsewhere the works described by the prophets, as the distinguishing characteristics of the Messiah. He thereby, without expressly stating it, insinuated that He Himself was the Messiah spoken of by Isaias.

Luk 4:22 And all gave testimony to him. And they wondered at the words of grace that proceeded from his mouth. And they said: Is not this the son of Joseph?

22. “Gave testimony to Him;” not exactly that He was the Messiah, as appears from their calling Him “the son of Joseph,” and their attempt at precipitating Him down the hill; but, they testified to the superior way in which He acquitted Himself, as expressed in the following words, “and wondered at the words of grace, &c.,” the graceful, eloquent words that were uttered by Him, full of persuasiveness, so calculated to move and convince. “He spoke like one having authority, not as their Scribes and Pharisees” (Matthew 7:29).

Is not this the son of Joseph?” (Matthew 13:55). The son of a poor carpenter, Himself a carpenter, brought up in our midst, without influence or consideration or education of any kind. Hence, their wonder. Likely with this, at least in some of them, were mixed up feelings of scorn at His low extraction and humble occupation. “They were scandalized in His regard” (Matthew 13:57).

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St Cyril of Alexandria on Luke 4:14-22 (Fragments)

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 3, 2016

4:14. And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit unto Galilee.

Having left the habitations of cities, He dwelt in deserts: there He fasted, being tempted of Satan; there He gained victory in our behalf: there He crushed the heads of the dragons: there, as the blessed David says, “The swords of the enemy utterly failed, and cities were destroyed,” that is, those who were like towers and cities. Having therefore mightily prevailed over Satan, and having crowned in His own person man’s nature with the spoils won by the victory over him, He returned unto Galilee in the power of the Spirit, both exercising might and authority, and performing very many miracles, and occasioning great astonishment. And He wrought miracles, not as having deceived the grace of the Spirit from without and as a gift, like the company of the saints, but rather as being by nature and in truth the Son of God the Father, and taking whatever is His as His own proper inheritance. For He even said unto Him, “That all that is Mine is Thine, and Thine Mine, and I am glorified in them.” He is glorified therefore by exercising as His own proper might and power that of the consubstantial Spirit.

4:16. And He came to Nazareth: and entered into the synagogue.

Since therefore it was now necessary that He should manifest Himself to the Israelites, and that the mystery of His incarnation should now shine forth to those who knew Him not, and inasmuch as He was now anointed of God the Father for the salvation of the world, He very wisely orders this also, [viz. that His fame should now spread abroad.] And this favour He grants first to the people of Nazareth, because, humanly speaking, He had been brought up among them. Having entered, therefore, the synagogue, He takes the book to read: and having opened it, selected a passage in the prophets, which declares the mystery concerning Him. And by these words He most plainly Himself tells us by the voice of the prophet, that He both would be made man, and come to save the world. For we affirm, that the Son was anointed in no other way than by having become according to the flesh |59 such as we are, and taken our nature. For being at once God and man, He both gives the Spirit to the creation in His divine nature, and receives it from God the Father in His human nature; while it is He Who sanctifies the whole creation, both as having shone forth from the Holy Father, and as bestowing the Spirit, Which He Himself pours 6 forth, both upon the powers above as That Which is His own, and upon those moreover who recognised His appearing.

4:18. The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me; therefore He hath anointed Me: He hath sent Me to preach the Gospel to the poor.

He plainly shews by these words that He took upon Him the humiliation and submission to the emptying (of His glory), and both the very name of Christ and the reality for our sakes: for the Spirit, He says, which by nature is in Me by the sameness of Our substance and deity, also descended upon Me from without. And so also in the Jordan It came upon Me in the form of a dove, not because It was not in Me, but for the reason for which He anointed Me. And what was the reason for which He chose to be anointed? It was our being destitute of the Spirit by that denunciation of old, “My Spirit shall not abide in these men, because they are flesh.” |60

These words the incarnate Word of God speaks: for being very God of very God the Father, and having become for our sakes man without undergoing change, with us He is anointed with the oil of gladness, the Spirit having descended upon Him at the Jordan in the form of a dove. For in old time both kings and priests were anointed symbolically, gaining thereby a certain measure of sanctification: but He Who for our sakes became incarnate, was anointed with the spiritual oil of sanctification, and the actual descent of the Spirit, receiving It not for Himself, but for us. For inasmuch as the Spirit had taken its flight, and not made His abode in us because of our being flesh, the earth was full of grief, being deprived of the participation of God.

And He proclaimed also deliverance to captives, which also He accomplished by having bound the strong one, Satan, who in tyrant fashion lorded it over our race, and having torn away from Him us his goods.

As the words “He anointed Me” befit the manhood: for it is not the divine nature which is anointed, but that which is akin to us: so also the words “He sent Me” are to be referred to that which is human.

Those also whose heart was of old obscured by the darkness of the devil, He has illuminated by rising as some Sun of Righteousness, and making them the children no longer of night and darkness, but of light and day, according to Paul’s word, And those who were blind,—–for the Apostate had blinded their hearts,—-have recovered their sight, and acknowledged the truth; and, as Isaiah says, “Their darkness has become light:” that is, the ignorant have become wise: those that once were in error, have known the paths of righteousness. And the Father also says somewhere unto the Son Himself, “I have given Thee for a covenant of kindred, for a light of the Gentiles, to open the eyes of the blind, to bring out the prisoners from their bonds, and from the guard-house those that sit in darkness.” For the Only-begotten came into this world and gave a new covenant to His kindred, the Israelites, of whom He was sprung according to the flesh, even the covenant long before announced by the voice of the prophets. But the divine and heavenly light shone also upon the Gentiles: and He went and preached to the spirits in |61 Hades, and showed Himself to those who were shut up in the guard-house, and freed all from their bonds and violence. And how do not these things plainly prove that Christ is both God, and of God by nature?

And what means the sending away the broken in freedom? It is the letting those go free whom Satan had broken by the rod of spiritual violence. And what means the preaching the acceptable year of the Lord? It signifies the joyful tidings of His own advent, that the time of the Lord, even the Son, had arrived. For that was the acceptable year in which Christ was crucified in our behalf, because we then were made acceptable unto God the Father, as the fruit borne by Him. Wherefore He said, “When I am lifted up from the earth, I shall draw all men unto Myself.” And verily He returned to life the third day, having trampled upon the power of death: after which He said to His disciples, “All power has been given Me, &c.” That too is in every respect an acceptable year in which, being received into His family, we were admitted unto Him, having washed away sin by holy baptism, and been made partakers of His divine nature by the communion of the Holy Ghost. That too is an acceptable year, in which He manifested His glory by ineffable miracles: for with joy have we accepted the season of His salvation, which also the very wise Paul referred to, saying, “Behold, now is the acceptable time, behold now is the day of salvation:” the day, when the poor who erewhile were sick by the absence of every blessing, having no hope and being without God in the world, such as were the gentiles, were made rich by faith in Him, gaining the divine and heavenly treasure of the Gospel message of salvation; by which they have been made partakers of the kingdom of heaven, copartners with the saints, and heirs of blessings such as neither the mind can conceive nor language tell. “For eye, it saith, hath not seen, and car hath not heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things that God hath prepared for them that love Him.” Though it may also be true, that the text here speaks of the abundant supply of graces bestowed by Christ upon the poor in spirit,

But by the bruised in heart, He means, those who have a weak and yielding mind, unable to resist the attacks of their |62 passions, and so carried along by them, as to seem to be captives: to these He promises both healing and forgiveness.

And to those who are blind, He gives the recovering of sight. For those who serve the creature instead of the Creator, “and say to the wood, Thou art my father, and to the stone, Thou hast begotten me,” without recognising Him Who is by nature and in truth God, how can they be ought else than blind, seeing they have a heart devoid of the light that is divine and spiritual? And on these the Father bestows the light of the true knowledge of God: for they are called through faith, and acknowledge Him, or rather are acknowledged of Him, and whereas they were children of night and darkness, they have been made children of light. For the day has shone upon them, and the sun of righteousness has arisen, and the bright morning star has dawned.

There is no objection, however, to any one’s referring all these declarations to the Israelites. For they were poor, and crushed in heart, and, so to speak, prisoners, and in darkness. “For there was not upon earth that was doing good, not even one. But all had turned aside, together they had become unprofitable.” But Christ came, preaching to the Israelites before all others, the glories of His advent. And like to their maladies were those of the Gentiles; but they have been redeemed by Him, having been enriched with His wisdom, and endowed with understanding, and no longer is their mind weak and broken, but healthy and strong, and ready to receive and practise every good and saving work. For in their error they had need of wisdom and understanding, who in their great folly worshipped the creature instead of the Creator, and inscribed stocks and stones with the name of Gods. But those who long ago lived in gloom and darkness, because they knew not Christ, now acknowledge Him as their God.

These words having been read to the assembled people, He drew upon Himself the eyes of all, wondering perhaps how He knew letters Who had not learnt. For it was the wont of the Israelites to say, that the prophecies concerning Christ were fullilled, either in the persons of some of their more glorious kings, or, at all events, in the holy prophets. For not correctly understanding what was written of Him, they missed the |63 true direction, and travelled on another path. But that they might not again thus misinterpret the present prophecy, He carefully guards against error by saying, “This day is this prophecy fulfilled in your ears,” expressly setting Himself before them in these words, as the person spoken of in the prophecy. For it was He Who preached the kingdom of heaven to the heathen, who were poor, having nothing, neither God, nor law, nor prophets; or rather, He preached it unto all who were destitute of spiritual riches: the captives He set free, having overthrown the apostate tyrant Satan, and Himself shed the divine and spiritual light on those whose heart was darkened; for which reason He said, “I am come a light into this world:” it was He Who unbound the chains of sin from those whose heart was crushed thereby: Who clearly shewed that there is a life to come, and denounced the just judgment. Finally, it was He Who preached the acceptable year of the Lord, even that in which the Saviour’s proclamation was made: for by the acceptable year I think is meant His first coming; and by the day of restitution the day of judgment.

4:22. And all bare Him witness and wondered.

For not understanding Him Who had been anointed and sent, and Who was the Author of works so wonderful, they returned to their usual ways, and talk foolishly and vainly concerning Him. For although they had wondered at the words of grace that proceeded out of His mouth, yet their wish was to treat them as valueless: for they said, “Is not this the son of Joseph?” But what does this diminish from the glory of the Worker of the miracles? What prevents Him from being both to be venerated and admired, even had He been, as was supposed, the son of Joseph? Seest thou not the miracles? Satan fallen, the herds of devils vanquished, multitudes set free from various kinds of maladies? Thou praisest the grace that was present in His teachings; and then dost thou, in Jewish fashion, think lightly of Him, because He accounted Joseph for His father? O great senselessness! True is it to say of them, “Lo! a people foolish, and without understanding: they have eyes and see not, ears, and hear not.” |64 (source)

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Luke 16:9-15

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 27, 2015

Luk 16:9  And I say to you: Make unto you friends of the mammon of iniquity: that when you shall fail, they may receive you into everlasting dwellings.

9. “And I say unto you.” This is the conclusion drawn from the above parable by our Lord for the guidance of His followers at all times. “I” and “you,” are very emphatic. The steward said to himself, I know what I shall do; I shall make friends for myself of my master’s debtors. I say also to you, imitating the steward’s cunning and prudence, do you also make friends for yourselves out of the unjust, unrighteous mammon, which your Sovereign Master has deposited in your hands, to be dispensed by you, as faithful stewards, according to His will, by laying up your riches in the bosom of the poor, “that when you shall fail,” and shall be deprived of the stewardship at the hour of death, when you shall be called upon to render an account of your dispensation, “they” like the master’s debtors, whom the steward desired to conciliate in order to be admitted into their houses, “may receive you into” their houses, in the kingdom which is properly theirs (Matthew 5:3; Luke 6:20), houses, or “tabernacles,” which are to endure for ever.

“Mammon of iniquity,” a common Hebraism for unrighteous, iniquitous mammon. “Mammon ” is a Syriac word, signifying riches (Matthew 6:24). Riches are termed iniquitous or unjust for several reasons, either, because they are, generally speaking, the fruit of injustice on the part of our forefathers, by rapine, plunder, &c, or, on our own part. Hence, the common phrase, “dives aut injustus aut hæres injusti,” quoted by St. Jerome (Ep. 1, ad Hebridiam, Qusest. 1), and as the heir of injustice knows not precisely to whom he should make restitution, he should give it to the poor; or, because they occasion injustice in their possessors, unless greatly on their guard, such as pride, avarice, luxury. In this way St. Paul terms concupiscence “sin” being the cause and effect of sin, “quod habitat in me peccatum” (Rom. 7:17); or, because, it is the unrighteous or unjust alone, that regard riches as their sovereign good, place their whole trust in them, and value them unduly, although false, deceitful, and transitory, never satisfying the human heart; the just, on the other hand, in possessing riches, regard them as transitory, and value heavenly riches alone; or, because, men often regard the riches they possess as absolutely their own, whereas, in reality they are God’s, to whom belongs the earth and its fulness. Men, in reference to God, hold them by the mere title of dispensation or stewardship. This latter meaning well suits the parable, in which God is signified by the “rich man.” We are only stewards, who unjustly employ for our own selfish ends what belongs to Him. Riches are not unjust or unrighteous of themselves, but only in their abuse.

“When you fail.” When at death, you are called upon to render an account of your stewardship, now to be taken away from you.

“They may receive you,” or, rather, God shall admit you, owing, in some cases, to their intercession, into His heavenly kingdom, which is peculiarly the inheritance of the poor; but He shall do so, especially in consideration of the pure motive of charity, which dictates the giving of alms to the poor, which are, therefore, given to Himself, whom they represent. This latter reason will hold, whether there be question of the faithful and just poor, themselves occupants of heaven, or of the unjust poor excluded from it, when we relieve them for God’s sake, whom in their poverty they represent.

“Into everlasting dwellings,” which peculiarly belong to the poor, as such. No doubt, many among the poor shall be excluded, who die impenitent, and many among the rich admitted, who shall merit by their charity the graces necessary to fulfil the other precepts of God. For, mere alms-giving will not save; but, alms-giving will move God to grant forgiveness of sin and the graces necessary for salvation. The rich have great difficulties in gaining heaven ; and from this passage, it is clear, that unless they discharge the duty of alms- giving they shall be excluded from God’s everlasting kingdom. “Everlasting” solid, enduring mansions, in opposition to these dwellings “made with hands ” in this world, whose duration is but temporary.

From this entire passage is clearly seen the duty of relieving the poor by almsgiving under pain of exclusion from the kingdom of heaven. We are mere stewards of the goods we possess in this world. If we appropriate them to our own use, instead of dispensing them according to the will and for the interests of our Master, we act the part of unjust, unfaithful stewards; and we shall be excluded from God’s everlasting mansions, when the accounting day arrives.

The precept of alms-giving may be also clearly seen from the providence of God in the present order of things. While arranging the unequal distribution of earthly goods, He appoints the rich as His own stewards and representatives in regard to His poor. In order to bind together more firmly the several members of the great human family, He has ordered that they should mutually depend on each other, as He had done in regard to the several members of the human body; and He has made the reciprocal exhibition of love, the great bond of indissoluble union. When the rich, then, neglect to succour their indigent brethren, and follow not the example of Him whose place they hold, Who “opens His hand and fills every animal with benediction;” Who “makes His sunfrom heaven rise on the good and bad, and rains upon thejust and the unjust,” they become instrumental in subverting the order of Providence, established by God. Through them His name is blasphemed; and an order of things established directly at variance with His divine ordinances; and their neglect made chargeable, with wicked men, on His infinite goodness and wisdom. Hence, our Lord regards the salvation of a rich man as so very difficult; because, it is so hard to find a rich man who complies, to the requisite extent, with the precept of relieving the poor.

The same precept is clearly referred to (1 John 3:17), where He condemns those who, having a knowledge of their neighbour’s wants, and the means of relieving him, still neglect doing so. Also, James 1:13-27; 2:15; Matthew 25:34-46. The same may be also clearly seen from the fate of the hard-hearted rich man, whose history and miserable end are given towards the close of this chapter, vv. 19-31.

In what follows in verses 10-12 our Redeemer would seem to have for object in these three verses, to inculcate charity towards the poor, and the faithful discharge, on the part of the rich, of their office as stewards, in the dispensation of the goods of this world, which, properly speaking, are God’s. This He inculcates, on the ground, that infidelity in the discharge of their office, of properly dispensing temporal goods, would entail the withholding or withdrawal from them, of spiritual goods, and their final exclusion from the eternal bliss, for obtaining which spiritual gifts and graces are indispensable. He also inculcates due correspondence with spiritual graces, and the proper use of them.

Luk 16:10  He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in that which is greater: and he that is unjust in that which is little is unjust also in that which is greater.

“He that is faithful in that which is least,” &c. This is an adagial expression, founded on the common opinion of mankind and experience, conveying what generally happens. It is understood of fidelity or want of fidelity in small things, arising from an innate principle of honesty or dishonesty. Men who find their servants honest in small things regard them as deserving of credit in regard to great things. Hence, we find the reward given in the Gospel, “quia super pauca fuisti fidelis, super multa te constituam,” &c. “The least” and “little,” are generally understood of temporal matters, which are “little” compared with spiritual treasures; and “greater” of the more precious treasures of the spiritual life. The man, who is not faithful in the administration of temporal goods, according to the will of God, shows that he does not deserve to be entrusted with the spiritual treasures of grace, which he would be sure to employ unprofitably. “Si quis domui suæ præsse nescit, quomodo Ecclesiæ Dei diligentiam habebit?” (1 Timothy 3:5.)

Luk 16:11  If then you have not been faithful in the unjust mammon, who will trust you with that which is the true?

This is an inference from the foregoing adage “If you have not been faithful,” in the dispensation of “unjust mammon,” the goods of this world, which are fugitive, uncertain, deceitful and never satisfy the cravings of the human heart, “who will trust you with that which is true?” He refers to the spiritual treasures of grace, which are in reality “true” riches, alone capable of satisfying the heart, alone conducting to the true and permanent end for which we were created. This may be understood of all men, to whom God commits His treasures of grace, to be employed by them for their own sanctification and final salvation. Our Lord here threatens the rich and avaricious, that by the misuse of temporal wealth, they will deserve to be refused spiritual graces, or, to have the graces which they possess, withdrawn from them. In verse 9, He proposes the reward of alms-deeds; in these verses, the punishment of neglecting it.

Luk 16:12  And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?

12. “Another’s,” temporal wealth, which belongs to God—like that which the steward squandered—given as His own to us for administration. We have merely the use of it from Him. Riches were never ours ; we brought none of them into this world, nor shall we bring any out of it. They are external to us, and by no means belong to us, foreign to the rational and spiritual nature of man. “Your own,” the spiritual treasures of grace, which may be called ” our own,” because they remain with us; they adhere to us, and conduct us to our last end, for which we were destined and created, and which we cannot lose. “Who will give?” &c. No one; God will withhold or take away spiritual goods in punishment of our abuse or maladministration of the temporal goods confided to our stewardship (Psalm 48:17, 18; Job 27:19).

Luk 16:13  No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one and love the other: or he will hold to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

Our Lord in this verse employs an adage founded on experience, regarding the impossibility of serving two masters of opposite characters, demanding opposite and contrary things, in order to dissuade His followers, and the Pharisees, also, whom He specially censures, from the pursuit of avarice. (See Matthew 6:24, Commentary on.) The adage is suggested by the idea, that those who neglect alms-deeds, show an inordinate attachment to riches, which they serve as an idol. Now, such service is incompatible with the service of God. We can serve only one or the other.

Luk 16:14 Now the Pharisees, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him. ‎

Now the Pharisees, who were covetous”—fond of money—“heard all these things.” The Greek has, “the Pharisees also,” as well as the disciples, whom He addressed, “heard all these things.”

And they derided Him.” The Greek word for “derided,” εξεμυκτηριζον, conveys the external expression of their contempt—literally, they turned up their noses at Him—a common metaphor, denoting derision—“naso suspendere adunco” (Horace). They sneered derisively at our Lord—Himself poor and bereft of all earthly riches—for inculcating on the rich the duty of distributing their wealth among the poor. Not considering the selfish accumulation of wealth, opposed to the teaching of Moses, and to the high standard of legal perfection they proposed to follow, they sneered at the doctrine, that they were mere stewards of their earthly wealth; that riches were unjust “mammon;” that the amassing of wealth was incompatible with the service of God, especially as the law of Moses promised temporal blessings to its faithful observers. Hence, these men sneered at our Lord’s teaching, just as, now-a-days, we find the haughty, the libidinous, &c., despise the Evangelical teaching regarding humility, charity, &c., so opposed to their loose, dissolute morals. “The sensual man perceiveth not those things that are of the Spirit of God” (1 Cor. 2:14).

Luk 16:15 And he said to them: you are they who justify yourselves before men, but God knoweth your hearts. For that which is high to men is an abomination before God.

Having observed their sneers, our Lord, in order to cover them with confusion, reproaches them publicly, with vainly affecting to be just, though not so in reality, and forces them to enter into themselves, that they might discover what God sees in their interior, viz., hypocrisy, secret injustice, avarice, and envy. He conveys, that while they affected to be just, they were abominable in the sight of God.

You are they who justify yourselves before men”—that is, affect legal justice, and wish to be regarded as just before men, putting on the appearance of sanctity and disinterestedness.

But God knoweth your hearts.” By this, our Lord conveys, that He clearly saw into their interior, and knew the vices with which they were tainted; but, as these vices were too great to be exposed, He insinuates so much by saying that God, “the searcher of hearts,” saw how their hearts were tainted with avarice and other corrupt passions. “For,” is a proof of the assertion tacitly conveyed in the words, “God knoweth your hearts,” viz., that their secret vices, with which they were stained, were well known to God, and their acts prized at their proper value. “What is high to men”—what is held in esteem by men, riches, station, and apparent sanctity, which men can only judge of from what they see—“is an abomination before God,” “abominatio Domini est omnis arrogans,” &c. (Proverbs 16) Sometimes God approves of what men approve; but, oftentimes what men approve of is detested by God, if avarice, pride, hypocrisy, reign in the heart, and sincerity be wanting. The sentence here uttered by our Lord has reference to the pride and hypocrisy of the Pharisees, whose external sanctity men prized and valued, but, God hated and detested, as the interior dispositions were wanting. All their external show was the sheerest hypocrisy, which is an abomination before God.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Luke 13:10-17

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 20, 2015

10 And he was teaching in their synagogue on their sabbath.

“And He was teaching,” means, He was in the habit of teaching—“in their,” or, (as in Greek) “in one of their synagogues”—“synagogue, on the Sabbath.” On the Sabbath days, the Jews assembled in their synagogues, for the purpose of having the Sacred Scriptures explained, and of prayer, as Christians frequent their churches, on Sundays and holidays (see Matthew 4:23). Our Lord avails Himself of the public occasion of their assembling in the synagogue to perform the miracle here recorded.

11 And behold there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years. And she was bowed together: neither could she look upwards at all.

“A spirit of infirmity,” an inveterate infirmity caused by an evil spirit (v. 16). “Eighteen years,” of an inveterate nature and incurable by human skill. Evil spirits, by Divine permission, cause diseases and bodily harm in many instances (Job 2; Psalms 79:49; 91:6; Mark 9:5; Luke 4:33). “Bent down,” &c. She almost crept along the ground.

12 Whom when Jesus saw, he called her unto him and said to her: Woman, thou art delivered from thy infirmity.
13 And he laid his hands upon her: and immediately she was made straight and glorified God.

Our Lord rarely worked miracles, unasked. Here, with the view of reprehending the superstition of the Pharisees, in regard to Sabbatical observances, for which reprehension He saw that the murmuring about to take place, would furnish a befitting occasion—He calls the woman to Him, and viewing her with the eyes of mercy, lays His hand upon her, which indicates His power, and He pronounces her cured; He Himself, by His Almighty power, curing her, at the same time. “Loosed from thy infirmity.” Loosed, because her sinews and muscles had been hitherto contracted. “Immediately she was straight,” the curvature was gone, and she assumed her natural straightness of body. She “glorified God,” acknowledging and loudly proclaiming the intervention of Divine power in her favour. No doubt, the multitude present, joined her in doing so.

14 And the ruler of the synagogue being angry that Jesus had healed on the sabbath answering, said to the multitude: Six days there are wherein you ought to work. In them therefore come and be healed: and not on the sabbath day.

“The ruler of the synagogue,” one of the presidents of the synagogue, speaking in the name of the rest. It seems there were several rulers in each synagogue, no doubt, with due subordination (Matthew 9:18; Mark 5:22; Acts 13:5, 15). “Being angry,” or affecting to be so.

“That Jesus had healed,” miraculously effected a cure, without human appliances, by the sole operation of His power. His anger was ostensibly caused by his great zeal in regard to what he affected to consider as a violation of the Sabbath publicly, in the very synagogue, where the ordinances of the law are inculcated; but, in reality it proceeded from envy, and the knowledge that a miracle thus publicly performed would redound to the glory of our Lord.

“Answering said to the multitude.” Our Redeemer had frequently before this chastised the Pharisees for their ignorance and hypocrisy. Fearing a similar castigation, the man addressed not our Lord, but the multitude. He would rather see the wretched woman for ever suffering and bent to the earth, than see our Lord glorified by curing her.

15 And the Lord answering him, said: Ye hypocrites, doth not every one of you, on the sabbath day, loose his ox or his ass from the manger and lead them to water?

“Ye hypocrites,” who affect sanctity which you do not possess;—in this case, they affected zeal for the law, when envy alone influenced them (see Matthew 7:5; 15:7).—He addresses the Ruler and those who shared in his sentiments. He exposes them by a reference to their own mode of acting, in certain cases, on the Sabbath day.

16 And ought not this daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?

He shows that the cure of the woman was not a servile, but a Divine work, most worthy of the Sabbath, as it tended to glorify God, the Lord of the Sabbath. Every word is emphatic, and shows the indignity of preferring a brute beast to a human being. The antithesis is most marked, between “the daughter of Abraham,” and “an ox or ass;” the loosing of spiritual bonds in a human being, and the corporal loosing of a brute animal; the length of time this woman had been suffering, “eighteen years,” and the few hours the brute animal had been bound; the loosing of the animal required time and labour; that of the woman was performed in an instant; the woman was restored to perfect health and sanctity, the beast was only watered for the time (A. Lapide). “Loosed from this bond,” so grievous and afflicting.

17 And when he said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed: and all the people rejoiced for all the things that were gloriously done by him.

“Were ashamed,” because, being convicted of calumny, and unable to make any reply, the exposure of their dishonesty and ignorance rendered them subjects of derision.

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St Cyril of Alexandria’s Homiletic Commentary on Luke 11:52-12:7

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 7, 2015

This post contains two sermons encompassing Lk 11:52-12:7.

11:52 … 12:1-3. Woe unto you, lawyers: for you have taken away the key of knowledge: you entered not in, and those that are entering in you hindered. And as He came out from thence, the scribes and Pharisees began to urge Him vehemently, and to put Him to silences about many things, lying in wait to catch something out of his mouth. Meanwhile many myriads of the people having assembled, so that they trod one upon another, He began to say unto His disciples first of all, Beware in yourselves of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed: neither hid, that shall not be known. All things whatsoever you have spoken in darkness, shall be heard in the light: and that which you have spoken in the ear in chambers, shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.

THOSE who search the sacred Scriptures, and know the Lord’s will, if they are virtuous men, and anxious for the people’s good, and skilled in leading them aright unto every thing that is admirable, shall be rewarded with every blessing, if they discharge their duties with earnestness. And of this the Saviour assures us where He says, “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his Lord has set over his household, to give them meat in its season? Blessed is that servant, whom his Lord shall come and find so doing: verily, I say unto you, that he will set him over all that he has.” But if he be indolent, and neglectful, and a cause of offence to those entrusted to his charge, so as for them to fall from the right way, most miserable is he, and in danger of hopeless punishment. For again Christ Himself has said; “Whosoever therefore shall offend one of these little ones, which believe in Me, it were better for him that the millstone of an ass were hung about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depths of the sea.”  |394

Of faults thus grievous, Christ proved them guilty who professed to be skilled in the law; the scribes, I mean, and lawyers: and for this reason he said unto them; “Also to you lawyers woe! who have taken away the key of knowledge.” By the key of knowledge we consider that the law itself is meant, and justification in Christ, by faith I mean in Him. For though the law was in shadow and type, yet those types shape out to us the truth, and those shadows depict to us in manifold ways the mystery of Christ. A lamb was sacrificed according to the law of Moses; they ate its flesh, they anointed the lintels with its blood, and overcame the destroyer. But the blood of a mere sheep could not turn away death. It was Christ then Who was typified under the form of a lamb, Who endures to be the victim for the life of the world, and saves by His blood those who are partakers of Him. And one might mention many other instances as well, by means of which we can discern the mystery of Christ, sketched out in the shadows of the law. And He Himself once when speaking to the Jews said, “There is one that accuses you, even Moses, in whom you trusted. For if you had believed Moses, you would have also believed Me; for he wrote of Me.” And again; Search the Scriptures: for in them you think that you have eternal life; and it is they that testify of Me. And you are not willing to come unto Me, that you may have life.” For every word of divinely inspired Scripture looks unto Him, and refers to Him. And whether it be Moses who speaks, he, as has been shown, was typifying Christ: or be it the holy prophets that you name, they also proclaimed to us in manifold ways the mystery of Christ, preaching beforehand the salvation that is by Him.

It was the duty therefore of those who were called lawyers, because they studied the law of Moses, and were well acquainted with the words of the holy prophets, to open, so to speak, to the Jewish multitudes the doors of knowledge. For the law directs men unto Christ, and the pious announcements of the holy prophets lead, as I said, to the acknowledgment of Him. But this the so-called lawyers did not do, but on the contrary they took away the key of knowledge, by which you are to understand the guidance of the law, or really faith in Christ. For by faith is the knowledge of the truth, as the |395 prophet Isaiah somewhere says; ” If you will not believe, neither shall you understand.” This same way of salvation by faith in Christ He before declared unto us by the holy prophets, saying; “Yet a little, a little while, and he that comes shall come, and shall not tarry. And whosoever shall draw back, in him My soul shall have no pleasure.” And what is meant by a person’s drawing back is his giving way to slothfulness. When therefore He says, that no one of those who have been called must draw back, it means, that if he grow slothful in his progress towards the grace which is by faith, My soul shall have no pleasure in him.

But that the fathers were proved by faith, the examination of their deeds demonstrates. Take, for instance, the patriarch Abraham, who was called the friend of God: what is written of him? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness: and he was called the friend of God.” And it is written again; “By faith Noah, when it was revealed to him of things not seen as yet, prepared the ark for the saving of his house, in which few, that is, eight persons, were saved by water.” And the blessed Paul has laid down for us a definition, so to speak, or rather a general law, thus saying; “Without faith it is impossible for any one whatsoever to please God.” “For by it, he said, the elders, that is, those in old time, obtained a good report.”

But these so-called lawyers had taken away the key of knowledge; for they would not let men believe in Christ the Saviour of all. He wrought miracles in manifold ways; raising the dead from their graves; restoring beyond all hope their sight to the blind; making the lame whole in their feet; cleansing lepers; and rebuking unclean spirits. But they, though it was their duty to regard Him with admiration because of these things, despised His divine signs: and making the people entrusted to their charge to stumble, they said; “This man casts not out devils but in Beelzebub the prince of the devils.” Here then you see them taking away the key of knowledge. He taught in their synagogues; He revealed to His hearers that good and acceptable and perfect will of God the Father; but they cannot leave even these His instructions without blame: for they called out to the multitudes, “He has a devil, and is utterly mad. Why hear you |396 Him?” In truth therefore they took away the key of knowledge: they went not in themselves, and the others they hindered.

And thus being indignant at this reproof, ”they began,” it says, “to urge Him vehemently;” by which is meant, to attack Him with cunning, and oppose Him, and show their hatred of Him. And they ventured also, it says, even “to put Him to silence about many things.” And what again is the meaning of their putting Him to silence? It is that they required Him at once, and so to speak, without consideration to make answer to their wicked questions; expecting forsooth that he would fall, and say something or other open to objection. But they knew not that He was God; or rather, they were despisers, and proud and contemptuous. And therefore it was that Christ told His friends, that is, His disciples, to “beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and scribes,” meaning by leaven their false pretence. For hypocrisy is a thing hateful to God, and abominated by man, bringing no reward, and utterly useless for the salvation of the soul, or rather the cause of its perdition. For though sometimes it may escape detection for a little, yet before long it is sure to be laid bare, and bring upon them disgrace; like ill-featured women, when they are stripped of that external embellishment which they had produced by artificial means.

Hypocrisy therefore is a thing foreign to the character of the saints: for that it is impossible for those things that are done and said by us to escape the eye of the Deity, He showed by saying; “For there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed: neither hid that shall not be known.” For all our words and deeds shall be revealed at the day of judgment. Hypocrisy therefore is superfluous trouble; and our duty is to prove ourselves true worshippers, serving God with free and open countenance, not submitting our judgment to those who take away the key of knowledge, but seeing even in the law the mystery of Christ, and seizing upon the words of the holy prophets to confirm our knowledge of Him. For this His disciple also taught us thus saying; “We have for confirmation the word of prophecy, into which you do well to look, as upon a torch shining in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the star of light arise in your hearts.” |397 On us then who are in Christ the day has shone, and the star of the rational dawn has arisen, possessing as we do a correct and blameless knowledge of Him: for He has Himself put into our mind and heart divine knowledge, being the Saviour and 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. |398

12:4-7. And I say unto you, My friends, Fear not them that kill the body, and afterwards have nothing more to do. But I will show you Whom you shall fear: fear Him Who after He has killed has power to cast into hell: yea, I say unto you, fear Him. Are not five sparrows sold for two halfpence; and not one of them is forgotten before God. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not: you are of more value than many sparrows.

PATIENCE, and an enduring and courageous mind, form the impenetrable armour of the saints: for they render them approved and resplendent with the praises of piety. For one also of the holy apostles thus spake, at one time; “In patience possess you your souls:” at another; “You have need of patience, that by doing the will of God, you may receive the promise.” By such manly virtues we become famous, and praiseworthy, and renowned among men everywhere, and worthy of honours and the blessings that are prepared for the saints: even those which “eye has not seen, nor ear heard,” as wise Paul says. And how must not those things be worth the gaining and admirable, which surpass our understanding and reason? And therefore, as I said, He prepares those who love Him for spiritual fortitude, thus speaking; “I say unto you, My friends.”

His present discourse therefore does not, as it seems, belong to every one absolutely: but, on the contrary, to those only who evidently love Him with all their heart, and can fitly say; “Who shall separate me from the love of Christ? shall  |399 tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” For those who have as yet no sure and certain and well-founded love of Him, as long as they live in tranquil times, may indeed possibly preserve their faith in Him: but if distress or persecution harass them a little, they turn away and forsake Him, losing, together with their faith, that which stirred them up to love Him. For just as young plants, which have lately sprung up, cannot endure the violence of too tempestuous a wind, because they have not as yet struck their roots deep; while those which are firmly fixed, and well rooted, remain secure in the ground, even though a gale of fierce winds shake them: so those whose mind is not yet firmly and securely fixed upon Him are very easily drawn aside, and readily desert; while those who have stored up and possais in mind and heart a secure and unwavering love of Him, are unalterable in mind, and unwavering in heart, being superior to all indolence, and looking with contempt upon the most intolerable dangers, and making a mock at terrors, so as even to ridicule the violence of death. The commandment therefore so to act belongs to those who love Him.

But who are those who love Him? They are, so to speak, such as are like-minded with Him, and anxious to follow in His footsteps. And to this His disciple encourages us by saying; “Forasmuch then as Christ has suffered for us in the flesh, do you for His sake arm yourselves with the same mind.” He laid down His life for us, and was “among the dead as one free.” For death did not attack Him, as it attacks us, because of sin: for He was and is far removed from all sin, and incapable of iniquity: but of His own will He endured it for our sakes, because of His boundless love toward us. For listen to Him as He plainly says; “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” And how then is it not a most base thing not to return to Christ, as a most necessary debt, that which we have received of Him? |400 And, to put it in another light; as being His friends, we ought not to fear death, but rather imitate the faith of the holy fathers. The patriarch Abraham, when tempted, offered his only-begotten son Isaac, “accounting that God was able to raise him up even from the dead.” What terror of death, therefore, can assail us, now that “Life has abolished death?” for Christ is “the Resurrection and the Life.”

And this too we must bear in mind, that the crowns are to be won by labour. It is strong exertion united with skill that perfects those mighty athletes in the games. It is courage and a brave mind that are most serviceable to those who are skilled in battles: while the man who throws away his shield is ridiculed even by the foe: and if the runaway live, he leads a life of disgrace. But he who was steadfast in the battle, and stood stoutly and courageously with all his might against the enemy, is honoured if he win the victory; and if he fall, is looked upon with admiration. And so ought we to reckon for ourselves; for to endure patiently, and maintain the conflict with courage, brings with it great reward, and is highly desirable, and wins for us the blessings bestowed by God: while to refuse to suffer death in the flesh for the love of Christ, brings upon us lasting, or rather never-ending punishment. For the wrath of man reaches at most to the body, and the death of the flesh is the utmost that they can contrive against us: but when God punishes, the loss reaches not to the flesh alone;—-how could it?—-but the wretched soul also is cast alone; with it into torments. Let our lot therefore rather be the honoured death; for it makes us mount up to the commencement of an eternal life, to which of necessity are attached those blessings also which come from the divine bounty: and let us flee from and despise a life of shame; a life accursed, and of short duration, and which leads down to bitter and everlasting torment.

And to bestow yet another means of succour upon our minds, He forcibly added; “that five sparrows are scarcely perhaps worth two halfpence, and yet not one of them is forgotten before God.” And further, He said; “that also the |401 separate hairs of your head are all numbered.” Consider, therefore, how great care He takes of those that love Him. For if the Preserver of the universe extends His aid to things thus worthless, and descends, so to speak, to the smallest animals, how can He forget those who love Him, especially when He takes so great care of them, and deigns so to visit them, as to know exactly each particular of their state, and even how many are the hairs of their head?

Where, then, is the vain and senseless babbling of heathen boasting? “Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For some of them entirely deny the providence of God: while others make it reach down as far only as the moon, and set bounds to it, as though they had had this authority committed to them. Unto such we would say: Is the providence of God too weak to reach down to that which is below, and even as far as unto us, or is the Creator of all too weary to see what we do? If then they say that it is too weak, this is mere stupidity, and nothing else. But if they represent the divine nature as subject to indolence, they make it thereby liable also to envy. And this again is blasphemy, and a crime than which none is greater. But they answer, it is giving trouble to the divine and supreme will to impose upon it the care of all these earthly matters. They know not how great is that nature which the mind cannot understand nor speech describe, and which rules over all. For to it all things are small: and so the blessed prophet Isaiah teaches us where he says; “If it is true that all the nations are as a drop from a cask, and are reckoned as the turn of a balance, and shall be counted as spittle, to what have you likened the Lord?” For what is one drop from a cask? and what is the turn of a balance? and what too is spittle?—-that is, a single expectoration? If therefore this be the position of all things towards God, how can it be a great matter to Him, or one that occasions Him trouble, to have the care of all things? The noxious sentiments therefore of the heathen are bereft of reason.

Let us therefore not doubt but that with rich hand He will bestow His grace upon those who love Him. For either He |402 will not permit us to fall into temptation: or if, by His wise purpose, He permit us to be taken in the snare, in order that we may gain glory by suffering. He will most assuredly grant us the power to bear it. And of this the blessed Paul is our witness, who says; “God is powerful, Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able, but will with the temptation also make a way of egress, that you may be able to bear it.” For He Who is the Saviour and Lord of us all, is the Lord of powers: by Whom and with Whom, to God the Father be praise and dominion, with the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever, Amen. |403 (source)

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