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

And He said unto His disciples; Therefore I say unto you, Be not anxious for your life, what ye shall eat: nor for your body, what ye shall put on. For the life is more than meat, and the body than raiment. Consider the ravens, that they sow not nor reap: which have neither closet nor store, and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add to his stature one cubit? If ye then be not able to do even that which is least, why are ye anxious about any thing else? Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, neither do they spin: but I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is today in the field, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, how much more will He you, O ye of little faith? And seek not what ye shall eat, nor what ye shall drink, neither let your mind be unsettled: for all these things the nations of the world seek after: but your Father knoweth that ye have need of them. But seek His kingdom, and all these things shall be added unto you.

THE law of Moses was ordained for the Israelites, to guide them unto all which it was their duty to do, and to set clearly before them whatever was for their benefit. And they made this a matter of the greatest joy, saying, “Blessed are the children of Israel: for unto us are made known the things that please the Lord.” But I affirm, that we can even more fitly and appropriately use these words: for it was not a prophet, nor yet an angel, who spake unto us, but the Son in His own person, even He Who is Lord of the holy angels and of the prophets. And this the wise Paul, the minister of His mysteries, clearly teaches us, thus writing; “God, Who in manifold parts and manifold manners spake in old times to the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by the Son, Whom He hath appointed Heir of all; and by Whom also He made the worlds.” Blessed therefore are we, in that we are taught by Himself His good and saving will, by which we are guided into all virtuous pursuits, that having so fulfilled a life worthy of emulation, such as befits the elect, we may reign with Him.

Observe therefore how carefully, and with what great skill He fashions the lives of the holy apostles unto spiritual excellence. But with them He benefits us also: for He wills that all mankind should be saved, and should choose the wise and more excellent life. For this reason He makes them abandon superfluous anxiety, and does not permit them to practise a careworn and urgent industry through the wish of gathering what exceeds their necessities; for in these matters a superfluity adds nothing to our benefit. “Be not anxious therefore, He says, for your life, what ye shall eat: nor for your body, what ye shall put on. For the life is more than meat, and the body than raiment.” He did not simply say, “Be not anxious;” but added “for your life:” that is, do not expend any careful study on these things, but bestow your earnestness on things of far higher importance. For the life indeed is of more importance than food, and the body than raiment. Since therefore a risk is laid upon us that concerns both life and body, and pain and punishment are decreed against those who will not live uprightly, let all anxiety be laid aside respecting raiment and food.

And besides how is it not a base thing for those who are lovers of virtue, and earnest followers after such manly virtues as are excellent and approved of God, to be intoxicated with fine apparel like young boys, and to run after expensive banquets! For there follow immediately upon these things a savage crowd also of other lusts: and the result is apostasy from God: for it is written, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.” And again; “Know ye not that the love of the world is enmity with God!” It is our duty therefore to keep our foot apart from all worldly desires, and rather to take delight in those things which please God.

But perchance thou wilt reply to this, ‘Who then will give us the necessaries of life?’ And to this be our answer as follows; The Lord is worthy to be trusted; and He clearly promises it to thee, and by little things gives thee full assurance that He will be true also in that which is great. “For consider, He says, the ravens: that they sow not, nor reap: they have neither closet nor store: and God feedeth them.” For just as, when He was strengthening us unto spiritual fortitude, He taught us to despise even death itself by saying, “Fear not them that kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul;” and in the same way to make His providence plain to thee, used for His proof things utterly valueless, saying; “Are not two sparrows sold for one halfpenny? and not one of them falleth to the ground without your Father: and the individual hairs of your head are all counted: fear not therefore; for ye are of more value than many sparrows:” so also here, from the birds and the flowers of the field, he produces in thee a firm and unwavering faith. Nor does He permit us at all to doubt, but that most certainly He will grant us His mercy, and stretch out His comforting hand, to bestow upon us in all things a sufficiency. It is moreover a very wicked thing, that while those who are placed under the yoke of bodily slavery depend upon their masters, as sufficient to supply them with food and clothing; we will not consent to put our trust in Almighty God, when He promises us the necessaries of life.

And what benefit at all is there in living luxuriously? Or rather, will it not bring with it utter destruction? For quickly of a certainty there enter along with luxurious pleasures the infamies of sensuality, and the assaults of base and contemptible lusts;—things whose approach is difficult to combat. And the being clad too in splendid apparel is of no benefit whatsoever. “For consider,” He says, “the lilies, how they grow. They toil not, neither do they spin. I tell you, that not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed like one of these.” And this also is true: for both in lilies and other flowers that spring up in the fields, the lustre of the colours possesses an admirable beauty, both by the diversity of the hues, and the variety of the arrangement, as they glitter in their natural purple, or shine with the brilliancy of other colours: but all that is made by the art of man in imitation of them, whether by the painter’s skill, or in embroidery, altogether falls short of the reality: and even though it be successful as a work of art, it scarcely even approaches the truth. If therefore these representations by means of art, are so inferior to the glory of the lily, and the beautiful colours of other flowers, how is it not true, that even Solomon, though so magnificent a king, in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these? Vain therefore is our toil for beautiful apparel. Sufficient is it for men of sense that their raiment being such as necessity requires should be decorous, and easily procurable; and with it such a bare sufficiency of food as merely satisfies the demands of nature. Let their banquet in Christ be sufficient for the saints: a banquet spiritual, divine, and intellectual: and the glory that will follow. “For He shall change the body of our humiliation into the likeness of the body of His glory;” and as He Himself says, “They shall shine like the sun in the glory of their Father.” What garments therefore are not surpassed in splendour by the magnificence that is in Christ?

And in another view it was unbefitting for those who were to be the type and pattern for others of holy conduct, themselves carelessly to fall into those things, which as soon as they became the world’s teachers, they would have to warn others to abandon. And it would have been no slight injury both to their zeal, and to the usefulness of their sacred preaching, for the disciples to have been burdened with the care of worldly pursuits. On the contrary, it was their duty with determined mind entirely to disregard such things, and simply and earnestly to be anxious for apostolic victories. Very justly for this reason He openly reprobates the pursuit of the things of time, “for the nations of the world,” He says, “seek after them:” and raises them to the unwavering conviction, that certainly and under all circumstances they will have enough, because their Father well knoweth of what things they have need, even He Who is in heaven. And at a most fitting season He calls Him Father, that they may know, that He will not forget His children, but be kind and loving unto them.

Let us seek, therefore, not such food as is unnecessary and superfluous, but whatsoever tends unto the salvation of the soul: not raiment of great price, but how to deliver our body from the fire, and from judgment. And this let us do, seeking His kingdom; even all that will aid us in becoming partakers of the kingdom of 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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