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

And when He had ended all His words in the hearing of the people, He entered into Capernaum. And a certain centurion’s servant who was dear unto him was sick, and near to die. And when he heard of Jesus, he sent unto Him elders of the Jews, beseeching Him to come and save his servant. And when they came unto Jesus, they besought Him earnestly, saying, that he is worthy that Thou shouldst grant this unto him: for he loveth our nation, and hath also built us himself a synagogue. And Jesus went with them. And when He was now not far distant from the house, the centurion sent his friends unto Him, saying unto Him, Lord, trouble not Thyself; for I am not sufficient that Thou shouldest enter under my roof: therefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto Thee: but speak only with a word, and my child will be healed. For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers; and I say to this one, Go, and he goeth: and to another, Come, and he cometh: and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. And when Jesus heard these things, He marvelled at him, and turned Himself, and said to the multitude that followed Him, I say unto you, that I have not found so great faith even in Israel. And when they who had been sent returned unto the house, they found the servant whole.

THE wise Evangelist filleth our minds with sacred lessons, and endeavours to throw abundant light upon whatever makes our faith assured: for this is the object of his tidings concerning Christ. Very appropriately therefore he introduces Him as at one time teaching the holy Apostles things superior to the service enacted in the law, and pointing out to them a path new and untrodden by them of old time of the conversation that becometh saints: and at another, he very beautifully displays to us the manifestation of a godlike power, in order that in every way it may be known that the Only-begotten Word of the Father is very God even though He became flesh, that is, man,—“and produces every thing by the word of his power:”—as is proved unto us by the examination of what is written concerning Him.

When then, so to speak, he had satiated the holy Apostles with the most perfect doctrines, and had set before them a banquet of evangelical commands, and had mingled the wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and very clearly told them the means by which they would become triumphant and praiseworthy, He goes down to Capernaum. And there also He works a great and wonderful deed, worthy of the greatness of His majesty: there a glorious theatre was moved with astonishment, in which angels and men were spectators. For Israel is rebuked, and is dull of understanding, and unready for faith: while the multitude of the heathen, in mind at least, is ready thoroughly both to understand and believe: so that Christ is seen by just decree rejecting His servant Israel, while He accepts and honours and crowns by His grace those who of old served the creature apart from the Creator: who were in gloom and darkness, and without the knowledge of God: and had bowed the neck of their slavish mind to the wickedness of demons.

What, then, was that which was accomplished, or what was the miracle? There was a pious man, distinguished for the excellence of his conduct, and the commander of a body of soldiers, who was a fellow inhabitant with the people of Capernaum. A faithful servant of his as it chanced fell sick, and, so to speak, had already reached the gates of death, and to all appearance was now at his last gasp. “And he was dear to him,” so that he was pierced with anguish. What remedy, then, can he find for what has happened, or what aid can he procure for him who is lying ill? “He heard, it says, the things of Jesus;” and so he sends unto Him, asking of Him manifestly as of God things that exceed the nature and power of man. For his request was, that one who was laid prostrate in the last stage of sickness might be delivered from the bands of death. And whence, then, did he know Jesus, since he was not as yet of the number of those who believed on Him? for hitherto he had been one of the mass wandering in error. He heard, it says, the things concerning Him. And since certainly he had never heard His personal instruction, nor seen any of His miracles, nor had met with the writings of Moses, nor searched the divine Scriptures, he could only have attained to faith in Him from simple rumours and hearsays. But as being fully assured that by the mere act of His will He could accomplish his request, he sends as supplicants in his behalf the principal men of the Jews; and these were the elders.

Upon their arrival they offer their request, saying, “that he is worthy that Thou shouldest grant this unto him.” O marvellous act! They who slandered Christ’s glory, request Him to work a miracle! Those who refused to believe in Him, ask Him to display before men who had not yet believed such acts as lead on to faith! Tell me in what character dost thou approach with thy request? Dost thou know and believe that He is able to perform things that are the prerogative of God? Art thou fully convinced that it belongs solely to the supreme Substance, Who is above all, to be able to make alive, and to deliver men from the snares of death? If so, how then didst thou say when thou sawest Jesus working miracles, “This man casteth not out devils but by Beelzebub, Prince of the devils?” And when that man who had been blind from his mother’s womb was wonderfully healed, and gained an unwonted light, thou advisedst him, saying, “Give God the glory, we know that this man is a sinner.” Dost thou then ask this sinner, as thou calledst Him, to perform an act of Deity? Is not this madness, and sheer stupidity? Are not those who hitherto had not believed far better than those who had been taught by the law and the prophets?

Wouldst thou see the fact that such is the case and such only? Observe what follows; The Saviour had now set out upon His way to restore the sick man: but the centurion sent unto Him, saying, “Lord, trouble not Thyself; but speak with a word, and my child will be healed.” Consider then, that these elders of the Jews begged Jesus to go to the house of him who requested His aid, as not being able in any other way to raise him up who was lying ill, except by going to his side:—whereas the other believed that He could do it even at a distance, and effect it by the inclination of His will. He asked for the saving word, the loving assent, the all mighty utterance; and justly therefore did he win a sentence of surpassing-worth: for Jesus said, “Verily I say unto you, that not even in Israel have I found so great faith.” The proof then and demonstration, follows closely and immediately from what we have now said. Finally, He delivered that same hour from his sickness him who a little before had been the prey of death: for He Who willed the undoing of what had happened was God.

As I said then at the beginning of this discourse, by God’s holy decree Israel fell from his relationship unto Him, and in his stead the heathen were called and admitted, as having a heart better prepared for that faith in Him, which justly is required. And of this the divine Psalmist shall again be our proof, where he says concerning them; at one time, “Thou hast inclined Thine ear because of the preparation of their heart;” and at another, “Many were their infirmities, and afterwards they went quickly.” For many indeed were the offences laid to their charge, to which he gently gives the name of infirmities: for they were wandering in error, and guilty of abominable crimes, not merely in one way, but in many: but they went quickly to the faith, that is, they were not slow in accepting the commands of Christ, but very readily embraced the faith. For that they were to be caught in Christ’s net, He teacheth thee where He saith by one of the holy prophets, “For this wait for Me, saith the Lord, until the day of My rising up to bear witness, because My judgment is for the congregations of the heathen.” For when Christ rose from the dead, He bestowed on those that were in error that judgment which is for their happiness and salvation. For He even commanded the holy disciples, “Go make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: and teaching them to observe all those things that I have commanded you.”

By the holy decree therefore, and just sentence of our common Saviour Christ, the heathen were honoured; but Israel we see rejected from His love and affection. For what do we find the chief Shepherd of all saying to them by one of the holy prophets? “And I have declared. He says, that I will not feed you, and that which is dying shall die: and that which is fainting shall faint: and those that are left shall devour every one the flesh of his neighbour.” And again; “God hath rejected them, because they have not heard Him: and they shall be wanderers among the heathen.” And again by the voice of the prophet Ezechiel, “Thus saith my Lord, the Lord; that I will drive them among the heathen, and disperse them over the whole earth.” Take the actual result of facts for your persuasion and faith in what is here said. For they are vagabonds and strangers in every land and city, neither preserving in its purity the worship enjoined by the law, nor submitting to accept the gloriousness of the excellency of the Gospel life: while we, who have received the faith are fellow-citizens with the saints, and called the sons of the Jerusalem that is above, in heaven, by the grace of God which crowneth us. And Him we affirm to be the completion of the law and the prophets: we confess His glory; we admire Him as He worketh miracles; 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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