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

Upon, “Our Father, Who art in heaven.”

OUR Lord Jesus Christ counted the insatiate desire of learning as worthy of all praise, thus saying: “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” For it is right constantly to hunger and thirst after those things, by means of which a man becomes a warm lover of saintly glories, and earnest in every good work. And to all who are thus minded, Christ reveals the way by which they can accomplish their desire. But serviceable is it above all things besides for the religious unto salvation, that they know how to pray, and offer not supplications displeasing to Almighty God. For as the wise Paul wrote to us, “We know not what to pray for as we ought.” Let us therefore draw near unto Christ, the Giver of wisdom, and say, “Teach us to pray.” Let us be like the holy apostles, who above all other things asked of Him this profitable and saving lesson.

Now at our last meeting we heard the gospel read, which says of Christ, the Saviour of us all, that “it came to pass, that as He was in a certain place praying by Himself.” And we addressed you, explaining as well as we could the dispensation, by reason of which Christ prayed: and when we had carried our argument to this point, we reserved the rest for some fitting occasion. This has now arrived, and is present. Let us then proceed to what follows; for the Saviour said, “When ye pray, say, Our Father.” And another of the holy evangelists adds, “who art in heaven.”

O boundless liberality! O incomparable gentleness, and that befitteth Him alone! He bestows upon us His own glory: He raises slaves to the dignity of freedom: He crowns man’s estate with such honour as surpasseth the power of nature: He brings that to pass which was spoken of old by the voice of the Psalmist: “I said, Ye are gods: and all of you children of the Most High.” For lo! He rescues us from the measure of slavery, bestowing upon us by His grace that which by nature we possessed not: and permits us to call God Father, as being admitted to the rank of sons. Of Him have we received this, together with all our other privileges: and the wise John the Evangelist witnesses thereto, thus writing of Him: “He came to His own, and His own received Him not: but to all who received Him He gave power to become the sons of God, even to those who believe in His Name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” For we have been fashioned unto the sonship by that birth which is spiritually wrought in us, “not by corruptible seed, but rather by the living and abiding Word of God,” as Scripture says. “By willing it He begat us by the Word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures;” for so one of the holy apostles declares. And Christ Himself, in a certain place, clearly explained the manner of this birth by declaring; “Verily I say unto you, that unless a man be born of water and Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” Or rather,—for to you it is right to speak even of those things that are mysterious,—He Himself became both the way and the door, and the cause of a grace being bestowed upon us thus glorious and worthy of our gaining by having taken upon Him our likeness. For although in that He is perceived to be, and is God, He is free, yet He took the form of a slave, that He might bestow upon us those things which are His, and enrich the slave with His own excellencies. For He alone is by nature free, because He alone is Son of the Father, even of Him Who is supreme above all, and ruleth over all, and Who is by nature and verily free. For whatsoever has been brought into existence bows the neck of slavery to Him Who created it. For the Psalmist singeth unto Him, saying, that “all things are Thy slaves:” but inasmuch as in the dispensation He transferred to Himself what was ours, He has given us what was His. And most wise Paul, the minister of His mysteries, is our proof, thus writing: “That when He was rich, He made Himself poor, that we by His poverty might be rich.” For our things, by which is meant the condition of human nature, is poverty to God the Word: while it is wealth to human nature to receive what things are His. And of these one is the dignity of freedom,—a gift peculiarly befitting those who have been called to sonship. And this, as I mentioned, is also His gift: for He said unto us, “And call no man your Father on earth: for One is your Father, Who is in heaven: and ye all are brethren.” And again, He Himself too, from His infinite love to mankind, is not ashamed to call us brethren, thus saying; “I will preach Thy name to My brethren.” For because He became like unto us, we thereby have gained brotherhood with Him.

He commands us therefore to take boldness, and say in our prayers, “Our Father.” We children of earth and slaves, and subject by the law of nature to Him Who created us, call Him Who is in heaven Father. And most fittingly He makes those who pray understand this also: that if we call God Father, and have been counted worthy of so distinguished an honour, must we not necessarily lead holy and thoroughly blameless lives, and so behave as is pleasing to our Father, and neither think nor say anything unworthy or unfit for the freedom that has been bestowed upon us? And so one of the holy apostles spake: “If ye call Him Father, Who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, let your conversation during the time of your sojourning be in fear.” For it is a most serious thing to grieve and provoke a father, by turning aside unto those things which are not right. How do earthly fathers act, or what is their feeling towards their sons? When they see them willing to conform themselves to their wishes, and choosing that course of conduct which is pleasing to them, they love and honour them; they open to them their house; they multiply their presents of whatsoever they wish, and acknowledge them as their heirs. But if they are disobedient, and untractable, having no respect for the laws of nature, and indifferent to that affection which is implanted in us, they drive them from their house, and deem them unworthy of any honour, or indulgence, or love: they even refuse to acknowledge them as sons, and do not write them as their heirs.

Mount now, I pray, from things as they are with us to those that transcend us. Thou callest God Father: honour Him with ready obedience: yield submission as that which is His due: live so as He pleaseth: shew not thyself harsh or proud, but, on the contrary, tractable and submissive, and ready without delay to follow His directions, so that He may honour thee in return, and appoint thee fellow-heir with Him Who is the Son by nature. For if “He gave Him for us, how will He not with Him also give us all things,” according to the expression of the blessed Paul. But if thou hast no regard for thyself, and therefore heedest not the bounteous gift that is bestowed, thou art proved to be bold, and, so to speak, without salt, loving pleasure more than thou lovest the Father. Fear, therefore, lest of thee also God say that which was spoken of the Israelites by the word of Isaiah; “Hear, O heavens; and give ear, O earth, for the Lord hath spoken: I have begotten and brought up children, but they have rejected Me.” Heavy in every way, my beloved, is the guilt of those who rebel; and most wicked the crime of rejecting (God). Very wisely therefore, as I said, does the Saviour of all grant us to call God Father, that we, well knowing that we are sons of God, may behave in a manner worthy of Him Who has thus honoured us; for so He will receive the supplications which we offer in Christ: 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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