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

And He said also to the multitudes, When ye have seen a cloud rising out of the west, straightway ye say, that rain cometh; and so it is. And when [ye see] the south wind blowing, ye say, There will be heat: and so it is. Ye hypocrites! ye know how to prove the face of the sky, and of the earth: how then know ye not how to prove this time? and why even of yourselves judge ye not what is just? For whilst thou art going with him who hath a suit against thee in the way to the magistrate, give diligence that thou mayest be delivered from him; lest he drag thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the exactor, and the exactor cast thee into prison. I tell thee, thou shalt not come out thence, until thou hast made compensation unto the last mite.

THOSE physicians who are exact in their art, and have become proficients by great practice, deliver the sick from their maladies, by making use of many kinds of drugs, by the aid of which they appease the anguish of men’s sufferings, gathering from all quarters whatever may benefit them. And this we also find Christ, the Saviour of all, here doing: for He is the Physician of spirits, and delivers us from the maladies of the soul. For He even said by one of the holy prophets; “Return, ye returning sons; and I will heal your breaches.” And as knowing this, the prophet Jeremiah offered up his supplications unto Him in these words: “Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed: save me, O Lord, and I shall be saved: for Thou art my glory.”

Observe, therefore, how he prepares for us the medicine of admonition, not using as He so often did direct discourse, but mingling, so to speak, and entwining with it images drawn from examples, to make it the more abundantly profitable. For He cried unto the multitudes, saying; “When ye see a cloud rising out of the west, straightway ye say that rain cometh; and it is so. And when [ye see] the south wind blowing, ye say there will be heat: and so it is.” For men fix their attention on things of this kind, and from long observation and practice tell beforehand when rain will fall, or gusts happen of violent winds: and one especially sees sailors very skilful in this matter. Well therefore, He says, well would it become those who can calculate things of this sort, and foretell, it may be, storms that are about to happen, to fix the penetrating glance of the mind also upon matters of importance. And what are these? The law shewed beforehand the mystery of Christ; and that certainly He would shine forth in the last ages of the world upon the inhabitants of the earth, and submit to be a sacrifice for the salvation of all. For it even commanded a lamb to be sacrificed as a type of Him towards evening, and at lamp-lighting; that we might understand, that when, like the day, this world was declining to its close, the great and precious and truly-saving passion would be fulfilled: and the door of salvation be thrown widely open unto those who believe in Him, and abundant happiness be their lot. For also in the Song of Songs we find Christ calling to the bride there described, and who represents the person of the Church, in these words: “Arise, come, My neighbour, My beautiful dove: for lo! the winter is past, and the rain is gone: it hath passed away. The flowers appear on the ground: the time of the pruning is come.” As I said, therefore, a certain springlike calm was about to arise for those who believe in Him.

But against those, who, in the greatness of their wickedness, have scorned His goodness, and rejected the Saviour, there is decreed wrath and misery; and, as it were, a winter of torment and punishment, from the blast of which hard will it be to escape. For, as the Psalmist says; “Fire, and brimstone, and the whirlwind, is the portion of their cup.” And why so? Because they have rejected, as I said, the grace that is by faith; and therefore the guilt of their sins cannot be wiped away, and they must bear, as they deserve, the punishment due to those who love sin. For so, when speaking of the Jews, He said; “Verily I say unto you, that if ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins.”

And that the blessed prophets also in manifold ways preached the mystery of Christ, no one can doubt. For one of them thus speaks as in the person of God the Father: “Behold I lay in Sion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence: and whosoever believeth in Him shall not be ashamed.” For those who are in their sins are full of shame. For so it is somewhere said of the Israelites, who violated the law of Moses: “Like the shame of a thief when he is caught, so shall the children of Israel be ashamed.” But those who are in Christ by faith, escaping from the pollutions of sin, are not only not full of shame, but have that boldness which becometh those who are free.

It was their duty, therefore, yes! their duty, He says, as being possessed of understanding, and able to discern the face of the sky and of the earth, to examine also things future, and not to let those tempests escape their observation, which come after this world. For there will be the south wind and rain: that is to say, fiery torment. For the south wind is hot: and the infliction of that punishment is vehement and inevitable, like the rain falling upon those overtaken by it. They must not, therefore, let the time of salvation pass by unnoticed: that time in which our Saviour came, and at which perfect knowledge of the truth reached mankind, and the grace shone forth which purifieth the wicked. And that, not by means of the law: for “it made nothing perfect,” having only types and shadows; but by faith rather in Christ, not rejecting the law, but fulfilling it by a spiritual service. For the very wise Paul wrote; “Do we then make void the law through faith? It may not be: but we establish the law.” For we who are justified by Christ establish that law of faith, which in manifold ways was proclaimed beforehand by Moses and the prophets.

That it is our duty, therefore, to be watchful, in seeking quickly to attain to deliverance from our sins, and the means of escaping from blame, before we arrive at the termination of our natural lives, He has shewn, by saying; “And why even of yourselves judge ye not what is just? For while thou art going with him who hath a suit against thee, in the way to the magistrate, give diligence that thou mayest be delivered from him; lest he drag thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the exactor, and the exactor cast thee into prison. I tell thee, thou shalt not come out thence, until thou hast made compensation unto the last mite.”

Now perhaps it may be imagined that the sense of this passage is difficult to comprehend: but it will become very easy if we examine the metaphor by what takes place among ourselves. For let there be supposed, He says, some one who has brought a charge against thee before one of those in authority, and has pointed thee out to those whose office it is to carry the accused into court, and is causing thee to be taken thither. “While therefore, He says, thou art still with him in the way,” that is, before thou hast come to the judge, “give diligence,” that is, weary not, in using all thy earnestness that thou mayest be delivered from him. For otherwise he will give thee up to the judge; and then, when thou hast been proved to be indebted to him, thou wilt be delivered to the exactors, to those, that is, whose office it is to exact the money; and they will cast thee into prison, and make thee pay the last mite.

Now all of us, without exception, upon earth are guilty of offences: he who has a suit against us and accuses us is the wicked Satan: for he is “the enemy and the exactor.” While therefore we are in the way: that is, ere yet we have arrived at the termination of our life here, let us deliver ourselves from him: let us do away with the offences of which we have been guilty: let us close his mouth: let us seize upon the grace that is by Christ, which frees us from all debt and penalty, and delivers us from fear and torment: lest if our impurity be not cleansed away, we be carried before the judge, and given over to the exactors, that is, the tormentors, from whose cruelty no man can escape: yea, rather, who will exact vengeance for every fault, whether it be great or small.

Far removed from this danger are those who search for the time of Christ’s coming, and are not ignorant of His mystery, but well know that the Word, though He be God, has shone forth upon the inhabitants of earth in likeness as one of us, that freeing them from all blame, He may bless with exceeding happiness those who believe in Him, and acknowledge Him as God and the Son of God: 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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