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

And Peter said, Lo we have left all, and followed Thee. And He said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or wife, or brethren, or parents, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake, who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come eternal life.

HE Who is the fountain of sacred doctrines causes here also a healthful stream to flow for us, and the very season, as it seems, bids us say unto those who search into the divine words, “Ye who thirst, come to the waters.” For there is set before you that ye may partake thereof “the torrent of pleasure,” even Christ. For by this name the prophet David makes mention of Him, saying unto God the Father in heaven; “But the sons of men shall trust in the protection of Thy wings: they shall be satisfied with the fatness of Thy house, and Thou shalt make them drink of the torrent of Thy pleasure.”

And what the stream is which here gushes forth for us from Him, the purport of the evangelic lessons now set before us clearly teaches: “For Peter, it says, said unto Him, Lo! we have left all and followed Thee.” And to this another Evangelist, Matthew, adds, “What then shall we have?” Let us however, before proceeding to any of the other points, first enquire into the occasion which brought the discourse to this present subject.

When therefore our common Saviour Christ said unto one of the chiefs of the synagogue of the Jews, “Go, sell all that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven, and come, follow Me,” the disciples ask, What they shall have from God who keep this precept: and usefully they take upon themselves, as representing a class, the outline of the matter. But, as I imagine, to this some may reply, ‘What after all had the disciples given up? for they were men who gained the necessaries of life by their sweat and labour, being by trade fishermen, who at most perhaps owned somewhere a boat and nets: who had neither well-built houses, nor any other possessions. What therefore had they left, or for what did they ask of Christ a recompense?’ What therefore do we answer to this? Chiefly, that for this very reason they made this most necessary enquiry. For inasmuch as they possessed nothing but what was trifling and of slight value, they would learn in what manner God will requite, and gladden with His gifts those who likewise have left but little for the sake of the kingdom of God, for the desire, that is, of being counted worthy of the kingdom of heaven for their love’s sake towards Him. For the rich man, as one who has disregarded much, will confidently expect recompense: but he who possessed but little, and abandoned it, how was it not right to ask, what hopes he might entertain? For this reason, as representing those in like condition with themselves, in respect of their having left but little, they say, “Behold, we have left all and followed Thee.”

And it is further necessary to observe this also; that, correctly considered, the pain of abandoning is the same whether it be of much or little. For come let us see the real import of the matter by a trifling example. Supposing that two men had to stand naked, and in so doing the one stripped himself of raiment of great price, while the other put off only what was cheap and easy of acquisition, would not the pain of the nakedness be equal in both cases? What possible doubt can there be upon this point? As far therefore as regards obedience and good-will, those must be placed upon an equal footing with the rich, who though differently circumstanced, yet practised equal readiness, and willingly bore the selling of what they had. And the very wise Paul also takes up their cause, where he thus wrote: “For if there be a ready mind, it is accepted according to what a man hath, and not according to what he hath not.” The enquiry therefore of the holy apostles was not an unreasonable one.

What then said Christ unto them, Who accepteth not persons? “Verily I say unto you, There is no man who hath left houses or brethren, or children, or parents, for the kingdom of God’s sake, who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in that which is to come eternal life.” Worthy of God is the declaration, and holy and admirable the decree. For observe how He raises up all who hear to an assured hope, promising not merely the fulness of the bounteous gift which is bestowed upon the saints, but confirming His promise by an oath, by prefixing to His declaration the word Verily, which, so to speak, performs the part of an oath. And not only does He include within His promises those who disregard wealth, but those also, He says, who leave father or mother, or wife or brethren, for the kingdom of God’s sake, shall receive manifold more in this world, and in that which is to come eternal life.

But that those who have led a virtuous life necessarily gain the life eternal, there can be no doubt whatsoever: some inquiry is however necessary, in the first place, as to who they are who leave father and mother, and wife, and brethren, and houses: and secondly, a still more exact examination of the way in which those who thus act shall receive manifold more in this world.

Men therefore leave father and mother, and wife and brethren, and oftentimes count for nought the natural affection due to the ties of kindred, for love’s sake unto Christ. And in what manner they do so, He teaches us by saying, at one time, “He that loveth father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me:” and at another time again, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth; I tell you nay, I am not come to send peace, but division: for I am come to divide a man from his father, and the daughter from her mother, and the daughter-in-law from her mother-in-law.” For when the divine message of the gospel is catching as in a net the whole world unto faith in Him, and raising it up unto the light of the true knowledge of God, there are those who would readily enter in, did they not suffer from an injurious shame, as being afraid either on their father’s account, or their mother’s, and taking too much into consideration their anger or their sorrow. For if these are idolaters, they will not consent that their sons or daughters should yield themselves unto Christ’s service, and abandon the error in which they have been brought up, and which has become habitual with them. And often when the sons are unbelieving and ill-disposed, their fathers have not the courage to vex them by hastening unto the faith, and seizing the salvation which is by Christ. And the same explanation may be given respecting brethren with brethren, and the daughter-in-law with her mother-in-law, and the latter with the former. But those who are strong in mind, and prefer nothing to the love of Christ, eagerly grasp the faith, and earnestly endeavour to gain admission into His household by a spiritual relationship, heeding nothing the wars, or rather divisions which will follow, with those who are their kindred according to the flesh. And in this way then men leave house and kindred for Christ’s sake, that they may win His Name, being called Christians; or rather for His glory’s sake, for frequently His Name means His glory.

But next let us see, in what way one who leaves house or father or mother or brethren, or it may be his wife even, receives manifold more in this present time. Shall he become the husband of many wives, or find on earth many fathers instead of one, and thus have his earthly kindred greatly multiplied? This is not what we say, but rather, that abandoning these carnal and temporal things, he shall receive what is far more valuable, and so to speak, manifold times as much as what was disregarded by him. For let us take, if you please, the holy apostles as our examples; and we say then of them, that they were men not distinguished in worldly station, nor skilled in eloquence, nor did they possess a polished tongue, or elegance of words; on the contrary they were untrained in speech, and by trade fishermen, who gathered by their labour the means of life: but whatever they had they left, that they might be the constant attendants and ministers of Christ; nor could any thing hinder them, or draw them away to other occupations, or worldly pursuits. Having left them but little, what did they gain? They were filled with the Holy Ghost: they received power over unclean spirits, to cast them out: they wrought miracles: the shadow of Peter healed those that were sick: they became illustrious among mankind everywhere: foremost in glory; worthy of emulation, and renowned, both while they were still living, and afterwards as well. For who knows not those who taught the world Christ’s mystery? Who wonders not at the crown of glory that was bestowed upon them?

But perchance thou sayest, ‘Shall we all of us therefore become like them?’ To this we answer, that each one of us also who have believed in Christ and loved His Name, if he have left a house shall receive the mansions that are above: and if he have abandoned a father, shall gain that Father Who is in heaven. If he be abandoned by his brethren, yet will Christ admit him to brotherhood with Him. If he leave a wife, he shall have as the inmate of His house Wisdom who cometh down from above, from God. For it is written, “Say unto Wisdom that she is thy sister, and make Understanding thy friend.” By her shalt thou bring forth beautiful spiritual fruits, by means of which thou shalt be made a partaker of the hope of the saints, and join the company of the angels. And though thou leave thy mother, thou shalt find another incomparably more excellent,—even “the Jerusalem that is above, which is free, and our mother.” How are not these things manifold times more than those that were left? For they were but transitory, and rapidly do they waste, and lightly fail us utterly! for as the dew, and like a dream, so they pass away. But he who is counted worthy of these things becomes even in this world illustrious and enviable, being adorned with glory both before God and men. Manifold more therefore are these things than all that is earthly and carnal, and the Giver of them is our common Lord and Saviour: 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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