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

And He was casting out a dumb devil: and it came to pass, when the devil was gone out, the dumb spake. And the multitudes wondered: but some of them said, He casteth out devils through Beelzebub, the prince of the devils: and others tempting, sought of Him a sign from heaven. But He, knowing their thoughts, said unto them; Every kingdom divided against itself is laid desolate: and a house against a house falleth. And if Satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? Because ye say that I cast out devils through Beelzebub.

“I HAVE been very jealous for the Lord,” as Scripture saith; and I too would say, fixing an accurate attention upon the lessons from the Gospel set before us, that the frantic tongue of Israel was bold and unbridled in insult, tyrannized over by harsh and unrestrainable wrath, and vanquished by unappeasable envy. For consider how, so to speak, they were even gnashing their teeth at Christ, the Saviour of all, because He made the multitudes wonder by His many divine and astonishing miracles; and because the very devils cried out at His ineffable and godlike power and authority. And this, I suppose, was what was celebrated by David when thus addressing Him: “Through the greatness of thy power shall Thy enemies be found liars unto Thee.”

But the reason for which those who warred against His glory thus acted, this lesson plainly teaches us. “There was brought unto Him one who was possessed with a dumb devil.” Now dumb devils are, so to speak, difficult for any one whatsoever of the saints to rebuke; and are more obstinate than any other kind, and excessively audacious. But there was nothing difficult to the all-powerful will of Christ, the Saviour of us all. For He immediately set the man who was brought to Him free from the wicked and impure devil; and he whose tongue had before been closed by door and lock, once again poured forth his customary speech. For we say that he is called dumb in this passage as being without tongue, that is, without speech. And upon the accomplishment of this wonderful act, the multitude extolled Him with praises, and hastened to crown the worker of the miracle with godlike honour.

But certain of them, it says, being Scribes and Pharisees, with hearts intoxicated with pride and envy, found in the miracle fuel for their malady; and not only did they not praise Him, but betook themselves to the very opposite. For having stripped Him of the godlike deeds He had wrought, they assigned to the Devil almighty power, and made Beelzebub the source of Christ’s might. “For by him, they said, He casteth out devils.” And others being afflicted, so to speak, with a kindred wickedness, and running without discernment into a disgraceful forwardness of speech, and being stung by the like goadings of envy, required, it says, to see of Him a sign from heaven; calling out, as it were, and saying, ‘Even if Thou hast expelled from a man a bitter and malicious demon, that as yet is no such great matter, nor worthy of admiration. What as yet is done is no proof of divine ability. We see nothing as yet equal to the miracles of old. Shew us some deed of which there is no doubt of its being wrought by power from above. Moses made the people pass over, having causedthe sea that was between to become capable of being walked upon: the waters were piled up like a wall. He smote the rock with his rod, and made it the mother of rivers, so that fountains burst forth from the flinty stone. Likewise also Jeshua, his successor, made the sun stand still in Gibeon, and the moon in the valley of Arnon. He laid bonds on the streams of Jordan. But Thou shewest no such deed as these. Thou castest out a devil: this authority the prince of the devils, even Beelzebub, grants to men. Of him Thou borrowest the power of doing those things, which in unlearned and ignorant people beget wonder.’ Such were their froward fault-findings. For the fact of their wishing to ask a sign from heaven proves nothing else than that they entertained such thoughts as these respecting Him.

And what said Christ to these things? First, indeed, He proves Himself to be God, by knowing even that which was secretly whispered among them: for He knew their thoughts. And it is an act that altogether belongs to God, to be able to know what is in the mind and heart, and even what is spoken anywhere by men secretly. To draw them away then from so obdurate a crime, He says, that “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid desolate: and a house against a house falleth. And if Satan be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand?” For He well might have said to those who babbled thus foolishly about Him, Ye depart from the right way: verily ye err, and without doubt are ignorant of My nature. The greatness of My might, and the splendour of My glory, is unperceived by you. Moses was a servant: I am Lord. He was the minister of the law: but I the legislator; for I am by nature God. He was the minister of the signs; but I the doer of them, and the worker of the miracles. I divided the sea: it was the work of My power, that the waters were divided, and the people passed over: I displayed the flint stone as the mother of rivers. I made the sun stand still in Gibeon, and the might of My commands stayed the moon in the valley of Arnon. It was I Who laid bonds on the streams of Jordan. Had He, however, used words such as these, it is perhaps not improbable to imagine that they would have conceived in them a yet more violent flame of envy: for they would at once have said, ‘He exalts Himself above the glory of the saints: He boasts Himself over the illustrious patriarchs, who, He says, were nothing: He appropriates to Himself their glory.’ And they would have added to these other words, which in unlearned persons would have given occasion for wickedness towards Him.

Very wisely therefore, omitting these things, He proceeds to arguments, drawn indeed from common things, but which have the force of truth in them; “For every kingdom,” He says, “divided against itself, becomes desolate; and every house against a house, falleth: and if Satan be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand?” For that which establishes kingdoms is the fidelity of subjects, and the obedience of those under the royal sceptre: and houses are established when those who belong to them in no way whatsoever thwart one another, but, on the contrary, accord both in will and deed. And so I suppose it would establish the kingdom too of Beelzebub, had he determined to abstain from every thing contrary to himself. How then does Satan cast out Satan? It follows then that devils do not depart from men of their own accord, but retire unwillingly. Satan, He says, does not fight with himself. He does not rebuke his own satellites. He does not permit himself to injure his own armour-bearers. On the contrary, he aids his kingdom. It remains therefore for you to understand, that I crush Satan by divine power.

So must we be persuaded who believe in Him, and have departed far away from the wickedness of the Jews. For what is at all impossible to that Almighty right hand? Or what is great and difficult to Him, Who can accomplish every thing by His will alone? He Who established the heavens, and founded the earth, Who is the Creator of all, Who is perfect power, how can He be in need of Beelzebub? Oh, thoughts never to be spoken! Oh, wickedness never to be endured! A people foolish and without understanding! Very justly may one say of the Israelites, “They have eyes, and see not: they have: ears, and hear not.” For though they were spectators of the wonderful deeds wrought by Christ, and by the holy prophets, and heard of them, and knew them long before, nevertheless they continued obdurate and intractable. Therefore “they eat the fruit of their way,” as Scripture saith. But let us be earnest in extolling Christ with endless praises; for thus shall we be heirs of the kingdom of heaven, by the gift of the same Christ: by Whom, and with Whom, to God the Father be praise and dominion with the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever, Amen.

Here ends the first portion of the Explanation of the Evangelist Luke, by the holy Cyril, Patriarch of Alexandria; containing eighty Sermons.

Blessed be God for ever; and praised be His Name for generations.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, now and always, and for ever and ever, Amen and Amen.








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