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

But why call ye Me Lord. Lord, and do not the things which I say? Every one that cometh unto Me, and heareth My words, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like. He is like a man building a house, who dug and made it deep, and laid a foundation upon the rock: and when there was a flood, the river beat against that house, and could not shake it, because it was well built. But he that hath heard and not done, is like a man who built a house upon the earth without foundation, against which the river beat, and that moment it fell, and the fall of that house was great.

THERE is “one Lord, one faith, one baptism,” for so the wise Paul writeth. For both the name of lordship, and also the reality, are appropriate solely to that nature Which transcends all, and is supreme; even That Which is divine, and to be worshipped, as possessing and governing all things. For so Paul again somewhere says of Him; “For even, if there be Gods many and Lords many, in heaven or in earth; yet for us there is one God, the Father, from Whom is all, and we by Him: and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by Whom is all, and we by Him.” As therefore we acknowledge God the Word alone. Who reigneth with God the Father, as by nature and verily Lord, we accordingly give this name to Him. “But why, He asks, call ye Me indeed Lord, but do not the things which I say?” For if He possess no real authority, nor glory of lordship, but, on the contrary, it is conferred upon Him from without, and bestowed by favour, do not offer Him thy obedience: refuse His service: consent not to be subject unto Him. But if He be verily, and in its precise meaning Lord, and the whole nature of things created bow beneath His sceptre, and as a thing set under the feet of its Lord, then pay what is due: accept the yoke: and as being due, offer Him thy obedience; that thou mayest not hear Him blaming thee in words spoken by one of the holy prophets to them of old time; “A son honoureth his father, and a servant his lord: if I then am a father, where is My honour? and if I am a lord, where is My fear? saith the Lord Almighty.”

For come, and let us see by what takes place among us the blame to which we become liable by disobedience. We are ourselves accustomed to require of our servants obedience mingled with fear: and when they plan rebellion, and throw off the yoke of servitude, we make them humble by bonds and tortures and the scourge. When therefore we, who are of earth, and by nature the brethren of those who are bowed beneath the yoke, cannot tolerate them when rebellious, how will God endure it;—He Whom principalities, thrones, and lordships worship: in Whose presence the high-exalted Seraphs stand, readily rendering their service? For the divine David somewhere says of them in the Psalms; “Bless the Lord, all ye His angels, who hearken to the voice of His words. Bless the Lord, all ye His hosts: His ministers, who do all of them His pleasure.”

It is dangerous, therefore, and merits final condemnation, to be unwilling to submit to Christ the Almighty: but those who prize His service, shall receive the most excellent blessings. For He has said by one of the holy prophets to those who run away from His yoke, and will not submit to be set under His authority; “Behold, they that serve Me shall eat; but ye shall suffer hunger: behold, they that serve Me shall drink; but ye shall suffer thirst: behold, they that serve Me shall exult; but ye shall mourn: behold, they that obey Me, shall be merry with joy; but ye shall cry out for the grief of your heart, and howl for contrition of your spirit.” Thou seest that the crown of those who bear the yoke of servitude is very beautiful, worthy of being acquired, and precious: while severe and manifold condemnation is decreed against the rest.

And yet again in another place thou mayest see that the true servant is adorned with surpassing honour, while the disobedient and careless is rejected with disgrace, or rather is banished to the outer darkness. For they who received the talents, and doubled for the owner what had been given them, were honoured by him with praises: for he said to each one of them, “O good and faithful servant, thou hast been faithful over a few things; I will set thee over many things: enter the joy of thy lord.” But him who hid in the ground what had been given him, as not loving service and indolent, he condemned to severe and inevitable punishment.

Elsewhere too He has said, Who then is that faithful and “wise servant, whom his lord shall set over his household to give them meat at 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 hath.”

Those therefore who keep our Saviour’s will are made glorious, and worthy of emulation, and adorned with praises for their fidelity: yea, moreover, they have a name given them, for He has said again of them in a certain place, “On them that serve Me, there shall be called a new name, even That Which is blessed upon earth.”

And there is yet another point which I think must be added to what has been already said, namely, that by being willing to submit to our Saviour’s words and serve Him, we shall gain in return the honour of freedom by His decree. For He said to those that believe in Him, “If ye abide in My Word, ye are truly My disciples, and ye shall acknowledge the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” We gain therefore the glory of freedom by subjection: that is, by servitude under Him. This makes us sons and heirs of God, and fellow heirs with Christ: of which He again shall be thy proof, saying; “that every one that doeth sin is the servant of sin: but the servant abideth not in the house for ever. If therefore the Son make you free, ye are really free.”

The being willing therefore to serve is that which invites us to freedom, and the honour which is the especial prerogative of sons: but disobedience humbles us to a base and ignominious servitude, if it be true, as true certainly it is, that “every one that doeth sin is the servant of sin.”

But yes! says some one, obedience unto Christ’s service is a most excellent thing, and highly to be appreciated; but it is by no means an easy matter: for there is much that stands in the way, and is able to exhaust our zeal. Yes, so say I too:—for first of all Satan resists whatever is excellent:—and the flesh, in its fondness for pleasure, strives against the Spirit, “for they are contrary one to the other,” according to the expression of the wise Paul: and the law of sin that is in the members, savagely and very bitterly makes opposition. For I know that Paul, who was instructed in the law, excellently discusses these questions. For he said, “For I rejoice in the law of God in the inner man: but I see another law warring against the law of the mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin, that is in my members.” And again; “I therefore in my mind serve indeed the law of God, but in my flesh the law of sin.” And besides this, there is a certain powerful inclination of the mind of man, which makes the will wander after pleasures: and engenders the delights of worldly lusts, and leads it away from the wish to labour in the cause of virtue. Shall we, therefore, on this account, refuse our service? Is He ever seen to command ought that is impossible, and that cannot be done? Does He demand of us anything that exceeds the limits of our nature? And who would venture to say this? For certainly He adapts to our minds whatever is commanded. When, therefore, thou tellest me of the difficulty of obedience, I tell thee also: Do those things that are great and excellent come of themselves? or do those who seek to win them succeed without toil? or, on the contrary, are they attained to by earnestness and labours? Who are the men that in the conflicts of the palestra are accustomed to win the crown? Is it those who have entirely devoted themselves to skill in the art of wrestling, and have gone through bitter toils? for “they endure all things,” according to the expression of St. Paul: or, on the contrary, is it the indolent and luxurious, and those entirely unacquainted with what is suitable for athletes? Who of those that till the ground have their threshing-floor full of sheaves? Is it such as neglect ploughing, and will not undertake the severe toil of the mattock: or, on the contrary, is it the diligent and industrious, and such as apply themselves to the labours necessary for ensuring a prolific crop? The answer is known, even if no one speak it; that it is with those who are willing to labour, and not with those whose wont it is to be at ease, that a life of happiness is to be found, and nothing wanting for a tranquil existence. The Psalmist also bears witness, in a passage where he makes mention of the tillers of the ground as an exemplification of something else, “They went out, and that with tears, carrying their seed: but they shall surely come with joy bringing their sheaves.” Joy therefore is the fruit of labour.

Moreover, the Lord Himself somewhere quickens us for the love of exertion in every praiseworthy pursuit, by saying, “Enter at the strait gate: because narrow is the gate, and strait the way that leadeth unto life; but broad and wide is that which leadeth down those that run thereon unto destruction.” Observe therefore that the end of that strait path leadeth unto life, while the easy descent of the broad way sends men to the flame and never-ending torments.

If therefore we call Christ, the Saviour of us all, Lord, let us do the things which He says. For He teaches us Himself what the benefit is of our being willing to do that which is commanded: and what the loss of our refusing to obey: for He says, “Every one that heareth My words and doeth them, is like a man who builds a house, and firmly places its foundations upon the rock:” while he who does not obey, he also is like a man building a house, but who has taken no care for its stability. For he who is obedient and tractable holds a thoroughly firm position in every thing that is honourable and good, by reason of his being not so much a hearer of the law, as a doer of its works: he resembles therefore a house firmly settled, and having a foundation that cannot be shaken, so that even though temptations press upon him, and the savageness of the passions that dwell within us assail him like some winter torrent, or a waterflood, he will sustain no serious loss. But he who merely inclines his ear to what Christ saith, but stores nothing up in his mind, nor performs anything that is commanded, he, on the other hand, is like a house just ready to fall. For he will be led away at once into things unseemly whenever pleasure allures him, and leads him into the pitfalls of sin.

The service therefore of Christ invites us, as we affirm, unto every blessing: and if we will blamelessly fulfil it, Christ will crown us with His grace; 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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