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A Commentary Upon The Gospel According To Saint Luke -St. Cyril

And having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God cometh, He answered and said unto them, The kingdom of God cometh not by watchings; neither shall they say, Lo! here, or Lo! there: for behold! the kingdom of God is within you. And He said unto the disciples, The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and shall not see it. And if they shall say unto you, Lo! here, or Lo! there, go ye not, neither run thither. For as the lightning that lighteneth from under heaven giveth light to that which is under heaven, so shall the Son of man be in His day. But first He must suffer many things, and be rejected by this generation. And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it also be in the days of the Son of man. They were eating, and drinking, and were taking wives, and being made the wives of men, until the day that Noah entered into the ark; and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot: they were eating and drinking; they were buying and selling; they were planting, were building: but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom, there rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. So shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.

AGAIN is the Pharisee fighting against God, nor feels that he is kicking against the pricks: for while assuming the appearance of being anxious to learn, he makes a mock at divine mysteries so holy, that “the angels desire to look into them,” according to the word of the blessed Peter. For this reason “blindness in part hath happened unto Israel,” and darkness hath blinded their eyes. For that they were dark and blind, so as even often to make the mystery of Christ an occasion of ridicule, any one may learn from what has now been read to us. For they drew near asking Him, and saying, “When will the kingdom of God come?” Moderate thy pride, O foolish Pharisee: desist from a mockery that exposes thee to heavy and inevitable guilt. “For he, it says, that believeth not the Son, is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the Name of the Son of God.” For the divine Moses shewed before by type and shadow that the Word is the world’s way and door of salvation, in that though He is God, He appeared in human form, and endured the death of the flesh for the sake of the whole earth. And the declarations also of the holy prophets agree with what was said by Moses. For they foretold that He would come in due time in form like unto us. And this also came to pass: for He was manifested to those upon earth, having assumed the form of a slave; but even so He retained His natural lordship, and power, and glory such as befitteth God, as is proved by the splendour of the works He wrought. But thou didst not believe in Him: thou didst not accept justification by His means, in that thou wast obdurate and proud. And after this thou askest, “When the kingdom of God shall come?”

As I said therefore, he mocks at a mystery thus truly holy and worthy of admiration. For because the Saviour of all in His public discourses spake from time to time of the kingdom of God, therefore these miserable men, in contempt of Him,—or perhaps even having it in their mind that being entrapped by their malice, He will have to endure the death upon the cross,—ask in mockery, “When the kingdom of God will come;” as much as to say, that before this kingdom which Thou talkest about, the cross and death will seize Thee. What therefore does Christ reply? Again He displays His long-suffering and incomparable love unto man: for “being reviled, He revileth not again: suffering, He threateneth not.” He does not therefore harshly chide them, nor yet because of their wickedness does He deign to give them an answer to their question, but says that only which is for the benefit of all men, that “the kingdom of God cometh not by watchings: for behold! the kingdom of God is within you.” For ask not, He says, about the times in which the season of the kingdom of heaven shall again arise and come: but rather be in earnest, that ye may be found worthy of it, for “it is within you,” that is, it depends upon your own wills, and is in your own power, whether or not you receive it. For every man who has attained to justification by means of faith in Christ, and is adorned by all virtue, is counted worthy of the kingdom of heaven.

Having therefore made this plain to all men, He now transfers His words to the holy disciples, to whom as His true companions He says, “The days will come when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and shall not see it.” Is the Lord then in so speaking working cowardice in His disciples? Does He enervate them beforehand, and make them without heart for the endurance of those persecutions and temptations which they would have to bear? This is not His meaning, but the contrary: for He would have them prepared for all that can grieve men, and ready to endure patiently, that so being approved, they may enter the kingdom of God. He forewarns them therefore that before His advent from heaven, at the consummation of the world, tribulation and persecution will precede Him, so that they will wish to see one of the days of the Son of man; that is, one such as those when they were still going about with Christ, and conversing with Him. And yet the Jews even then were guilty of no little violence against Him. They stoned Him with stones: they persecuted Him not once only, but oftentimes: they led Him to the brow of the hill, that they might throw Him down from the precipice: they vexed Him with reproaches and calumnies, and there was no form of wickedness which the Jews did not practise against Him. How then did He say that the disciples would desire to see one of His days? It was because, by comparison with the greater evils, the less are, so to speak, desirable.

But that He will descend from heaven in the latter times of the world, not obscurely nor secretly, but with godlike glory, and as “dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto,” He declared, saying, that His coming shall be as the lightning. He was born indeed in the flesh of a woman, to fulfil the dispensation for our sakes, and for this reason He emptied Himself, and made Himself poor, and no longer shewed Himself in the glory of the Godhead: for the season itself, and the necessity of the dispensation, summoned Him to this humiliation. But after the resurrection from the dead, having ascended to heaven, and sat down with God the Father, He shall descend again, not with His glory withdrawn, nor in the meanness of human nature, but in the majesty of the Father, with the companies of the angels guarding Him, and standing before Him as God and Lord of all. He shall come therefore as the lightning, and not secretly.

Nor must we believe any one saying, “Lo! Christ is here, or lo! He is there. But first He must suffer many things, and be rejected by this generation.” He cuts away another expectation from the heart of the disciples: for they supposed, that when He had gone round about Judæa, and afterwards been in Jerusalem, that He would immediately manifest the kingdom of God. They even drew near to Him and said, “Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” Yea, even the mother of Zebedee’s sons, expecting that this would be the case, drew near and said, “Lord, say that my two sons shall sit, the one on Thy right hand, and the other on Thy left, in Thy kingdom.” That they might know therefore that He was about first to undergo His saving passion, and to abolish death by the death of His flesh, and put away the sin of the world, and bring to nought the ruler of this world, and so to ascend unto the Father, and in due time to appear to “judge the world in righteousness,” He says, that “He must first suffer many things.”

And to shew that He will appear unexpectedly, and with no man knowing it, and the end of the world come, He says, that the end shall be “as it was in the days of Noah and Lot. For they were eating, He says, and drinking: and were taking wives, and being made the wives of men: they were selling and buying, and building; but the coming of the waters destroyed the one, while the’ others were the prey and food of brimstone and fire.” What therefore is signified by this? That He requires us to be always watchful, and ready to make our defence before the tribunal of God. For as Paul says, “We are all about to be revealed before the judgment-seat of Christ, that every man may receive a retribution for the things that are by the body, according to that he hath done, whether good or bad.” “Then shall He set the sheep on His right hand, and the goats on His left: and He shall say unto the sheep, Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundations of the world.” But upon the goats He will utter a terrible sentence; for He will send them to the flame that shall never be appeased.

If therefore, O Pharisee, thou desirest to be accounted worthy of the kingdom of God, become one of the sheep. Offer unto Christ the fruit of faith in Him, and the praise of holy conduct, even that which is by the Gospel. But if thou continuest to be a goat, that is, one unfruitful, and destitute both of faith and good works, why dost thou enquire when the kingdom of God will come? For it concerns not thee. Fear rather because of the torment which is decreed against the unbelieving, and the unappeasable flame appointed for those who sin against Christ: by Whom and with Whom to God the Father be praise and dominion, with the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever, Amen.








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