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

THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED.

MEN who are in debt run away from their creditors, because they know them to be importunate. But not so with me; for I have come to pay my debt, and to fulfil what I promised: and I rather pursue after my creditors than am pursued by them. What therefore is that which I promised, or what is the debt? At our last meeting then, a long parable having been read to us, we completed our exposition only of a certain portion of it, and reserved the remainder for this our holy meeting. And the parable was as follows; “A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And when he had called ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said unto them, Traffic until I come. But his citizens hated him, and sent an embassy after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.” And moreover to this He added, that when the nobleman returned after he had received the kingdom, he demanded of those servants to whom he had distributed the talents an account of their trafficking.

Now in our previous exposition we reined in our words, which, so to speak, were at full speed, at the sentence “but his citizens hated him: and would not have him reign over them.” Now then I shall address you upon those servants who had been entrusted by their Lord with the minas; enquiring both who they were that traded and therefore were honoured; and who, on the other hand, is signified by that indolent and sluggish servant, who hid the talent, and added nothing thereunto, and thereby brought upon himself severe condemnation.

The Saviour therefore distributes to those who believe in Him a variety of divine gifts: for this we affirm to be the meaning of the talent. And great indeed is the difference between these [who receive the talents], and those who have even completely denied His kingdom. For they are rebels, who throw off the yoke of His sceptre: while the others are invested with the glory of serving Him. As faithful servants therefore they are entrusted with their Lord’s wealth, that gaining something by trafficking therewith, they may earn the praises due to faithful service, and also be accounted worthy of those honours which abide for ever.

The manner therefore of the distribution and who the persons are, and what the talents signify which He distributes,—for He continues to distribute even unto this day,—the sacred Scripture clearly shews. For the blessed Paul has said; “There are distributions of gifts, but the same Spirit: and there are distributions of ministries, but the same Lord: and there are distributions of things to be done, but the same God Who worketh all in every man.” And subsequently, explaining what he said, he further states the kinds of the gifts, as follows; “For to one is given the word of wisdom: and to another the word of knowledge: and to another faith: and to another gifts of healing:” and so on. The diversity therefore of the gifts is made plain in these words.

But next I think that I ought to mention who they are who have been entrusted by Christ with these gifts, according to the measure of each one’s readiness and disposition. For He knoweth whatsoever is in us, in that He is very God, Who spieth the reins and hearts. Let us notice, however, that another Evangelist is aware of a difference in the amount of the distribution that was made of the talents. “For to one, he says, He gave five talent; and to another two, and to another one.” Thou seest that the distribution was made suitably to the measure of each one’s faculties. And as to those who were entrusted with them, come, and let us declare who they are to the best of our ability. They are then those who are “perfect in mind, to whom also strong meat is fitting, and whose intellectual senses are exercised for the discerning of good and evil.” They are those who are skilled in instructing rightly, and acquainted with the sacred doctrines: who know how to direct both themselves and others unto every better work: such, in short, as above all others the wise disciples were. And again, next to these come such as succeeded to their ministry, or who hold it at this day, even the holy teachers, who stand at the head of the holy churches: who are the rulers of the nations, and know how to order unto every thing that is useful those who are subject unto them. Upon these the Saviour bestows a diversity of divine gifts, that they may be “lights in the world, holding the word of life:” and they, by admonishing the people under their charge, and giving them such counsel as is useful for life, and rendering them steadfast, and of an upright and blameless faith, gain by traffic unto their talent, and seek spiritual increase. Greatly blessed are they, and win the portion that becometh the saints. For when the nobleman, even Christ, shall have returned after he hath received the kingdom, they will be accounted worthy of praises, and rejoice in surpassing honours. For having multiplied the talent tenfold, or fivefold, by winning many men, they will be set over ten or five cities; that is, they will again be rulers, not merely over those whom they ruled before, but even also over many others. For on this account we find the saints, by the voice of the Psalmist, extolling and making the praises of their gratitude mount up to Christ, Who crowneth them; and saying, “He hath subjected the Gentiles unto us, and nations under our feet.” And that it is the practice and earnest purpose of the saints to make those who are taught by them partakers of the grace given them by Christ, any one may learn from the message which the blessed Paul sent unto certain, saying, “For I desired to see you, that I might give you some spiritual gift, that ye may be established.” And he testifies also to his disciple Timothy, “Despise not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by the laying on of my hands.” For he wished him to excel in his teaching. And the Saviour Himself also somewhere said in another parable, “Who therefore is the faithful and wise servant, whom his lord shall set over his household, to give them their food at its season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when ho cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, that he will set him over all that he hath.” And what is the meaning of his giving his fellow servants food, except it be the distributing to the people committed to his charge the benefit of spiritual instruction, and the satisfying, so to speak, with spiritual victuals those who hunger after righteousness?

There are honours, therefore, and triumphs, and crowns for those who have laboured, and loved service: but shame for those who have been overcome by sloth. For he who hid his mina in a napkin became liable to a terrible condemnation. He drew near, saying, “Lo! thou hast that is thine!” But the purpose, He says, for which thou receivedst it, was not that thou shouldst keep it in concealment. And if thou knewest that I am a hard man, that I reap where I have not sowed, and that I gather whence I have not scattered; lo! this very thing, He says, even makes thy guilt the heavier, and gives no specious pretext for thy slothfulness. For if I am a hard man who reap where I have not sowed, why didst thou not give the grace that was bestowed upon thee;—for this is the meaning of the mina;—to the money-changers: why, that is, didst thou not lay it out for the happiness or the benefit of those who would well know how to put to the test what they had received from thee? “For so when I came, I should have exacted, that is, should have received back my own with its increase.” For it is the duty of teachers to sow, and plant, as it were, in their hearers beneficial and saving counsel: but to call unto obedience those whom they teach, and render their mind very fruitful, is the effect of that power which God bestows. And this is the increase. For when those who have heard the divine words, receive into their mind the benefit of them, and labour with joy in doing good, then do they offer that which was given them with increase.

“Take therefore, he says, from him the mina, and give it unto him that hath ten minas; for to him that hath, there shall more be given: but from him that hath not, even that which he seemeth to have shall be taken away from him.” For that slothful servant was stripped even of the gift which had been bestowed upon him: but those who have advanced in the better course, and proved superior to indolence and sloth, will receive fresh blessings from above, and being filled with divine gifts, will mount up to a glorious and admirable lot.

We have seen the honours of the saints: come and let us examine the torments of the wicked, who would not have that man of noble lineage to rule over them. “But those, my enemies, He says, who would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before Me.” This was the fate of the Israelitish race: for having denied the kingdom of Christ, they fell into extreme miseries: being evil, they evilly perished. And the gangs too of wicked heretics deny the kingdom of Christ, and so also do all those, who, disregarding the duty of living uprightly, spend their lives in impurity and sin. And these also suffering a penalty like unto that of those mentioned above shall go unto perdition.

But over us Christ rules as King, and we have a good hope, that we shall also be counted worthy of the portion of the saints, and twine around our heads the crown that becometh the steadfast; for this also is the gift of Christ our common 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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