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

And John answered and said: Teacher, we saw one casting out devils in Thy Name, and we forbade him because he followeth not with us. But Jesus said unto him: Forbid him not: for he is not against you. For whosoever is not against you, is on your part.

PAUL requires us to “prove every thing,” and says, “Be wise money-changers.” But an exact and scrupulous knowledge of each particular matter we can obtain from no other source than from divinely-inspired Scripture. For David in the Psalms, addressing as it were Christ, the Saviour of all, declares; “Thy law is a lamp to my feet, and a light unto my paths.” And Solomon also writes, that “the commandment of the law is a lamp and a light.” For just as this sensible light that is in the world, by falling on our bodily eyes, dispels the darkness; so also the law of God, when admitted into the mind and heart of man, illuminates it thoroughly, and does not suffer it to fall against the stumblingblocks of ignorance, nor be caught in the wickednesses of sin.

And this I say from admiration of the skilfulness here also displayed in the lessons from the Gospel just set before us, and the purport of which ye doubtless wish to be taught, seeing ye have assembled here from love of the sacred doctrines, and with eagerness have formed the present meeting. What therefore do the wise disciples say, or what do they wish to learn from Him Who endoweth them with all wisdom, and revealeth to them the understanding of every good work? “Teacher, we saw one casting out devils in Thy name, and we forbade him.” Has the sting of envy troubled the holy disciples? Do they grudge those highly favoured? Have even they admitted within them a passion so abominable and hateful to God? “We saw one, they say, casting out devils in Thy name, and we forbade him.” Tell me, dost thou forbid one who in Christ’s name troubles Satan, and crushes evil demons? How was it not thy duty rather to reflect, that he was not the doer of these wonders, but that the grace which was in him wrought the miracle by the power of Christ? How therefore dost thou forbid him who in Christ wins the victory? “Yes,” he saith; “for he followeth not with us.” Oh blind speech! For what if he be not numbered among the holy Apostles, who is crowned with Christ’s grace, yet is he equally with you adorned with apostolic powers. There are many diversities of Christ’s gifts, as the blessed Paul teacheth, saying; “that to one is given the word of wisdom, but to another the word of knowledge: and to another faith; and to another gifts of healings.”

What therefore is the meaning of his “not walking with us,” or what is the force of the expression? Look then; for I will tell you as well as I can. The Saviour gave the holy Apostles authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all disease and all sickness among the people. And so they did; nor was the grace given them ineffectual. For they returned with joy, saying; “Lord, even the devils are subject to us in Thy name.” They imagined, therefore, that leave was given not to any one else but to themselves alone to be invested with the authority which He had granted them. For this reason they draw near, and want to learn, whether others also might exercise it, even though they had not been appointed to the apostleship, nor even to the office of teacher.

We find something like this also in the ancient sacred Scriptures. For God once said to the hierophant Moses: “Choose thee seventy men of the elders of Israel, and I will take of the Spirit that is upon thee, and give it,” He says, “to them.” And when those who were chosen had assembled at the former tabernacle, two men only excepted, who had remained in the camp, and the spirit of prophecy descended upon them, not only those who were assembled in the holy tabernacle prophesied, but those also who had remained in the camp. But “Jeshua, it says, who stood before Moses, said, Eldad and Midad, lo! they prophesy in the camp. My lord Moses forbid them. And Moses said unto Jeshua, Enviest thou me? Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, the Lord putting His Spirit upon them”. But it was Christ Who at that time made the hierophant Moses thus speak by the Holy Ghost: and here also in person He saith to the holy Apostles; “Forbid not him who is crushing Satan,” that is, in His name, “for he is not against you, He says; for he who is not against you is on your part.” For on the part of us who love Christ, are all who wish to act to His glory, and are crowned by His grace. And this is a law to the churches continuing even to this day. For we honour only those who lift up holy hands, and purely and without fault or blame, in Christ’s name, rebuke unclean spirits, and deliver multitudes from various diseases: for we know that it is Christ Who worketh in them.

We must, however, examine such things carefully. For there are verily men, who have not been counted worthy of Christ’s grace, but make the reputation of being saints and honourable an opportunity of gain. Of such one may say, that they are bold and shameless hypocrites, who seize honours for themselves, even though God has not called them thereto; they praise themselves, and imitate the bold doings of the false prophets of old, of whom God said; “I have not sent the prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken unto them, yet they prophesied.” And so too may He say of these, I have not sanctified them, but they falsely assume the gift for themselves: they have not been counted worthy of My grace, but wickedly seize those things which I bestow on such alone as are worthy to receive them. These, making a show of fasting, walk sadly with downcast looks, while full of fraud and baseness. And often they pride themselves on letting their nails grow long: and are especially fond of their complexion being sallow: and though no one compel them, they delight in enduring such misery as men have to bear in prison, hanging collars on their necks, and putting fetters sometimes on their hands and feet. Such persons the Saviour has commanded us to avoid, saying; “Beware of those who come to you in sheep’s clothing: but within are ravening wolves.”

To this, however, some one may object, ‘But who, O Lord, knows the heart of man? Who sees what is concealed within us, but Thou alone, Who by Thyself didst form our hearts, and tryest hearts and reins?’ Yes, He says: “By their fruits ye shall know them:” not by appearances, not by outward show, but by fruits. For what is the object of their hypocrisy? Plainly it looks to the love of gain. For they gape at the hands of those who visit them: and if they see them empty, they are greatly distressed, and stung with annoyance. For piety is with them merchandize. If, however, thou lovest wealth, and lusteth after base gains, and hast given a place in thy mind to that most base passion,—the love of money,—put off the sheep’s skin; why labourest thou in vain, by making a pretence of an austere and unworldly conduct? Abandon this excessive rigour of life, and aim instead at being one who is contented with little. Ask this of God: seek His righteousness: “Cast thy care upon the Lord: and He shall nourish thee.”

But there are even some who use from time to time incantations and certain abominable mutterings, and wickedly make certain fumigations, and command the use of amulets. ‘But yet,’ says one, ‘who has without thought taken part in these practices, in their incantations they use the Name of the Lord of Sabaoth.’ Are we, then, to acquit them of blame because they bestow on a wicked and impure devil an expression suitable to God only, and call the wicked Satan the Lord of Sabaoth; asking of him as the reward of blasphemy, aid in the things they request of him? Not that he really aids them, for he is powerless; but rather brings down to the pit of destruction those that call upon him. For the Lord speaketh not untruly where He says that Satan casteth not out Satan.

It is necessary, therefore, for our salvation and well-pleasing to God, to flee far from every thing like this. But when thou seest one who has been brought up in the church, innocent, simple, without hypocrisy, whose mode of life is worthy of emulation, who is known of many as the companion of holy monks, who flees from the arts of the city, who is fond of desert places, who loves not gain, nor schisms, and, besides all this, has a correct faith, and is made honourable by the grace of Christ, through the operation of the Holy Ghost, so as to be even able to work those things that are by Christ; unto such a one draw near with confidence: he shall pray for thee purely, and his grace shall minister unto thee. For the Saviour and Lord of all grants the requests of those who ask Him: 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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