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

Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give alms: make you purses that grow not old: and a treasure that faileth not in heaven, where thief approacheth not, nor moth destroyeth. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

AGAIN the Saviour deigns to bestow upon us a pathway to eternal life, and opens wide the door of salvation; that travelling thereon, and adorning the soul with every virtue, we may attain to the city which is above, and of which the prophet Isaiah also bore witness, saying; “Thine eyes shall see Jerusalem, the wealthy city, even the tents that shake not.” For immoveable is that tabernacle which is in heaven, and unending joy is the lot of those that dwell therein. And the nature of the way that leads us thereto He shews us, by saying; “Fear not, little flock: for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” This therefore is indeed spiritual consolation, and the pathway that leads us to assured faith.

I think, however, that I ought first of all to shew you the reason why the Saviour spake words such as these; for so the full signification of the passage before us will become the more plain to the hearers. In teaching therefore His disciples not to be covetous of wealth, He also withdraws them from worldly anxiety, and from vain toils and luxury and splendour of attire, and whatsoever evil habits follow upon these things: and bids them rather courageously be earnest in the pursuit of these things, [which are good and more excellent, by saying; “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?” And He also] added to this, that “your Father which is in heaven knoweth that these things are needed by you.” And, so to speak, He enounced as a general law, useful and necessary for salvation, not only to the holy apostles, but to all who dwell upon the earth, that men must seek His kingdom, as being sure that what He gives will be sufficient, so as for them to be in need of nothing. For what does He say? “Fear not, little flock.” And by Do not fear, He means that they must believe that certainly and without doubt their heavenly Father will give the means of life to them that love Him. He will not neglect His own: rather He will open unto them His hand, which ever filleth the universe with goodness.

And what is the proof of these things? “It is,” He says, “your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” And He Who gives things thus great and precious, and bestows the kingdom of heaven, what unwillingness can there be on His part to be kind towards us; or how will He not supply us with food and clothing? For what earthly good is equal to the kingdom of heaven? or what is worthy to be compared with those blessings, which God is about to bestow, and which neither the understanding can conceive, nor words describe? “For eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.” When thou praisest earthly wealth, and admirest worldly power, these things are but as nothing compared with that which is in store. “For all flesh,” it says; “is grass: and all the glory of man as the flower of grass.” And if thou speakest of temporal affluence and luxuries and banquets, yet “the world,” it says, “passeth away, and the desire thereof.” The things therefore which are of God surpass in an incomparable degree ought which this world possesses. If therefore God bestow the kingdom of heaven upon those that love Him, how can He be unwilling to give food and raiment?

And He calls these on earth a “little flock.” For we are inferior to the multitude of the angels, who are innumerable, and incomparably surpass in might our mortal things. And this too the Saviour has Himself taught us, in that parable in the Gospels so excellently framed for our instruction: for He said, “What man of you, that has a hundred sheep, and one of them go astray, will not leave the ninety and nine upon the mountains, and go to seek that which has strayed? And if he chance to find it, verily I say unto you, that he will rejoice in it more than in the ninety and nine which went not astray.” Observe therefore, that while the number of rational created beings extends to ten times ten, the flock that is upon earth is but as one out of a hundred. But though it is little, both by nature and number and dignity, compared with the countless troops of the spirits that are above, yet has the goodness of the Father, which surpasses all description, given also to it the portion of those transcendent spirits, I mean the kingdom of heaven: for permission is given to whosoever will to attain thereunto.

[And the means by which we may attain to it, we learn from the Saviour’s words: for He says, “Sell that ye have, and give alms.” And this perchance] is a commandment hard and difficult for the rich to endure: for so He Himself has somewhere said; “That hardly shall they that have riches enter the kingdom of God.” And yet the commandment is not impossible for them that are of perfect mind. For come, let me address a few words to those who are rich. Withdraw your attention a little from these temporal things; cease from too worldly a mind; fix the eye of the understanding upon the world that is to be hereafter: for that is of long duration; but this is limited and short: the time of every individual’s life here is allotted by measure; but his life in the world to come is incorruptible and enduring. Let our earnestness therefore after things to come be unwavering: let us store up as our treasure the hope of what will be hereafter: let us gather beforehand for ourselves those things, by which we shall even then be counted worthy of the gifts which God bestows.

To persuade us, however, to take due care of our souls, come, and let us consider the matter among ourselves with reference to men’s ordinary calculations. Suppose one of us wanted to sell a fertile and productive farm, or, if you will, a very beautifully-built house; and so one of you, who had plenty of gold and plenty of silver, were to conceive the desire of purchasing it; would he not feel pleasure in buying it, and readily give the money that was laid up in his coffers, and even add to what he had by him other money on loan? Of this I think there can be no doubt, and that he would feel pleasure in giving it: for the transaction would not expose him to loss, but rather the expectation of his future gains would make him in a flutter of joy. Now what I say is somewhat similar to this. The God of all offers to sell thee paradise. There thou wilt reap eternal life; an unending joy; an honourable and glorious habitation. Once there, right blessed wilt thou be, and wilt reign with Christ. Draw near therefore with eagerness: purchase the estate: with these earthly things obtain things eternal: give that which abideth not, and gain that which is secure: give these earthly things, and win that which is in heaven: give that which thou must leave, even against thy will, that thou mayest not lose things hereafter: lend to God thy wealth, that thou mayest be really rich.

And the way in which to lend it He next teaches us, saying; “Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make you purses that grow not old: and a treasure that faileth not, eternal, in heaven.” And the very same the blessed David also teaches us in the Psalms, where he says by inspiration of every merciful and good man: “He hath dispersed, and given to the poor, and his righteousness is stored up for ever.” For worldly wealth has many foes: for thieves are numerous, and this world of ours is full of oppressors; of whom some are wont to plunder by secret means, while others use violence, and tear it away even from those who resist. But the wealth that is laid up above in heaven, no one injures: for God is its Keeper, Who sleepeth not.

And besides it is a very absurd thing, that while we often entrust men of probity with our earthly wealth, and feel no fear lest any loss should result from our confidence in the uprightness of those who receive it; we will not trust it to God, Who receives from us these earthly things, so to speak, as a loan, and promises to give us things eternal, and that with usury. “For good measure,” He says, “and pressed close, and weighing down the scale, and running over, shall they give into your bosom.” And for the measure to run over, is a direct proof of its great abundance. Away then with this pleasure-loving wealth; this parent of base lusts; this inciter to carnal impurity; this friend of covetousness; this worker of boasting: which, as with indissoluble bonds, chains the human mind in effeminacy and indolence towards all that is good, and stretches out, so to speak, a stiff and haughty neck against God: for it yields not itself to that yoke which would lead it unto piety. And be gentle, and merciful, ready to communicate, and courteous. For the Lord is true, Who says; “that where thy treasure is, there is thy heart also.” For the whole earnestness of those who value these temporal things is set upon them; while those who wish for that which is in heaven, direct thither the eye of the mind. Be therefore, as I said, friendly to thy companions, and merciful. And the blessed Paul makes me speak unto thee, where he writes; “Charge them who are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in riches, wherein is no reliance, but on God, Who giveth us all things richly to enjoy: that they do good: that they be rich in good works, ready to give, and willing to share with others; laying up for themselves treasures that shall be a good foundation for that which is to come, that they may lay hold upon true life.” These are the things which, if we earnestly practise, we shall become heirs of the kingdom of heaven, by 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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