Excerpt from Gospel of the Day – Ask of the Father in my Name – John 16:20-33, 14th of Hathor – St. Cyril the Pillar of Faith

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“Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy. A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.

“And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” (John 16:20-24)

He says that His holy disciples will increase in wisdom and knowledge when they should be clothed with power from on high (Luke 24:29) according to the Scripture, and with their minds illumined by the torchlight of the Spirit should be able to conceive all wisdom, even though they asked no question of Him Who was no longer present with them in the flesh. The Saviour does not indeed say this because they will have no more need of light from Him, but because when they had received His own Spirit, and had Him indwelling in their hearts, they would have in their minds no lack of every good thing, and would be fulfilled with the most perfect knowledge. And by perfect knowledge we mean that which is correct and incapable of error, and which cannot endure to think or say any evil thing, and which has a right belief concerning the Holy and Consubstantial Trinity.

For if we see now in a mirror darkly, and we know in part (1 Cor 13) still while we wander not astray from the doctrines of the truth but adhere to the spirit of the holy and inspired writings, the knowledge that we have is not imperfect, a knowledge which no man can acquire save by the light of the Holy Spirit given unto him. Hereby he exhorts the disciples to pray for spiritual graces, and at the same time gives them this encouragement – that what they ask they will not fail to obtain; adding the comforting assurance of the word “verily” to His promise that if they will go to the Father’s throne and make any request, they will receive it of Him, He Himself acting as Mediator and leading them into the Father’s Presence.

For this is the meaning of the words in my Name; for we cannot draw near unto God the Father save by the Son alone. For through Him we have obtained access in One Spirit unto the Father (Eph 2:18), according to the Scripture. Therefore also He says: I am the Door: I am the Way: no one comes unto the Father but by Me (John 14:6). For inasmuch as the Son is also God, together with the Father He conveys good gifts to the Saints, and associates Himself with Him in granting us the portion of the blessed. Moreover, the inspired Paul most evidently confirms our belief herein by writing these words: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. And in right of His titles, Mediator, High Priest, and Advocate, He conveys to the Father prayers on our behalf, for He gives us all boldness to address the Father.

In the Name then of Our Saviour Christ we must make our requests, for so will the Father most readily grant them, and will give to those that ask good gifts, that we may take them and rejoice therein. So being fulfilled with spiritual graces, and enriched with the grant of knowledge from Him through the Holy Spirit dwelling in our hearts, we shall gain a very easy triumph over every strange and abominable lust; and thus being active in good works, and attaining to the practice of every virtue with fervent zeal, and strengthened with everything whatsoever that makes for sanctification, we rejoice with exceeding joy at the prospect of the reward that awaits us; and, dismissing the despondency that springs from an evil conscience, we have our hearts enriched with the joy that is in Christ. This did not enter into the life of the men of old time; they never practiced this manner of prayer, for they knew it not. But now is it ordained for us by Christ, at the appropriate season, when the time of the accomplishment of our redemption was fulfilled, and the perfect fruition of all good was gained for us by Him. For just as the Law accomplished nothing, and as righteousness according to the Law was incomplete, so also was the mode of prayer inculcated thereby.

 [St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Gospel of St. John, Book XI]

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Excerpt from Gospel of the Day – The Sinner Woman at the Pharisee’s house – Luke 7:36-50, 23rd of Tout– St. Cyril the Pillar of Faith

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Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. And He went to the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to eat. And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil. Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, “This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.”
And Jesus answered and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.”
So he said, “Teacher, say it.”
“There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?”
Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.”
And He said to him, “You have rightly judged.” Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”
Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”
Then He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.” 
(Luke 7:36-50)

All you people, clap your hands, and praise God with the voice of thanksgiving.’ And what is the cause of the festival? It is that the Saviour has newly constructed for us a way of salvation, untrodden by them of old time. For the law, which the all-wise Moses ordained, was for the reproof of sin, and the condemnation of offences: but it justified absolutely no one. For the very wise Paul writes, Whoever rejected the law of Moses, was put to death without mercy at the mouth of two or three witnesses (Heb 10:28). But our Lord Jesus Christ, having removed the curse of the law, and proved the commandment which condemns to be powerless and inoperative, became our merciful High Priest, according to the words of the blessed Paul. For He justifies the wicked by faith, and sets free those held captive by their sins.

And this He proclaimed to us by one of the holy prophets, saying, In those days, and at that time, says the Lord, they shall seek for the sin of Israel, and there shall be none: and for the sin of Judah, and you shall not find it: for I will be merciful to those that have been left in the land, says the Lord (Jer 50:20). But lo! the fulfilment of the promise came to pass for us at the time of His Incarnation, as we are assured by the message of the holy Gospels. For he was invited by one of the Pharisees, and being kind and loving unto man, and willing that all men should be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim 2:4), He consented, and granted the favour to him who requested it. And having entered, He reclined at table: and immediately there entered a woman defiled with filthy lewdness: who, like one scarcely roused from wine and intoxication, and made sensible of the guilt of her transgressions, offered supplication unto Christ, as able to cleanse her, and deliver her from all fault, and free her from her former sins, as not remembering iniquities (Heb 10:17). And this she did, washing His feet with tears, and anointing them with ointment, and wiping them with her hair. Thus a woman, who before had been lewd, and guilty of sensuality, a sin difficult to wash away, missed not the path of salvation; for she fled for refuge to Him Who knows how to save, and is able to raise from the depths of impurity.

She did not then fail in her purpose. But the foolish Pharisee, the blessed Evangelist tells us, was offended, and said within himself, if this were a prophet, He would have known who and of what sort the woman is that touches Him, that she is a sinner. The Pharisee therefore was boastful, and utterly without understanding. For it was instead his duty to regulate his own life, and earnestly adorn it by all virtuous pursuits; and not to pass sentence upon the sick, and condemn others. But we affirm of him, that having been brought up in the customs of the law, he gave too wide an influence to its institutions, and required the Legislator Himself to be subject to the commandments of Moses. For the law commanded the holy to keep apart from the impure: and God also blamed those whose lot it was to be the chiefs of the congregation of the Jews, for their unwillingness in this respect. For so He spoke by one of the holy prophets: they make no distinction between the holy and the profane (Eze 22:26). But Christ arose for us, not to subject our state to the curses that are by the law, but to redeem those subject to sin by a mercy superior to the law. For the law was instituted because of transgressions, as Scripture declares, that every mouth might be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God, because by the works of the law no flesh is justified (Rom 3:19). For there was no one so far advanced in virtue, spiritual virtue I mean, as to be able to fulfil all that had been commanded, and that blamelessly. But the grace that is by Christ justifies, because, doing away with the condemnation of the law, it frees us by means of faith.

That proud and foolish Pharisee therefore did not even deem Jesus to have attained to the measure of a prophet: but He made the woman’s tears an opportunity for clearly instructing him in the mystery. For He taught the Pharisee, and all who were assembled there, that the Word being God, came into the world in our likeness, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved by Him (Jn 3:17). He came that He might forgive the debtors much and little, and show mercy upon small and great, that there might be no one whatsoever who did not participate in His goodness. And as a pledge and plain example of His grace, He freed that unchaste woman from her many iniquities by saying, Your sins are forgiven you. Worthy indeed of God is a declaration such as this! It is a word joined with supreme authority. For since the law condemned those that were in sin, who, I ask, was able to declare things above the law, except Him only Who ordained it? Immediately therefore He both set the woman free, and directed the attention of that Pharisee, and those who were dining with him, to more excellent things: for they learned that the Word being God, was not as one of the prophets, but rather far beyond the measure of humanity, even though He became man. And one may say to him who invited Him, You were trained, O Pharisee, in the sacred Scriptures; you know I suppose of course the commands given by most wise Moses: you have examined the words of the holy prophets: Who then is This That walking in a path contrary to the sacred commands, has delivered from guilt? Who That has pronounced them free who have boldly broken the things ordained? Recognise therefore by the facts themselves One superior to the prophets and the law: remember that one of the holy prophets proclaimed these things in old time of Him, and said, “They shall be in wonder at our God, and shall be afraid of You. Who is a God like You, That forgives the transgressions, and passes over the iniquities of the remnant of His inheritance, nor retains His anger unto the end, because He wills mercy?” (Mic 7:18).

Those therefore who were at dinner with the Pharisee, were astonished and wondered at seeing Christ the Saviour of all possessed of such godlike supremacy, and using expressions above the right of man. For they said, Who is This That forgives sins also? Do you want me to tell you Who He is? He Who is in the bosom of God the Father, and was begotten of Him by nature: by Whom every thing was brought into being: Who possesses supreme sovereignty, and is worshipped by every thing in heaven and in earth. He submitted Himself to our estate, and became our High Priest, in order that He might present us unto God, pure and clean, having put off the ill savour of sin, and having Him instead in us as a sweet savour. For, as most wise Paul writes, We are a sweet savour of Christ unto God (2 Cor 2:15). This is He Who spoke by the voice of the prophet Ezekiel, And I will be to you a God, and I will save you from all your uncleannesses (Eze 36:29). See therefore, that the actual accomplishment agreed with what had before been promised by the holy prophets. Acknowledge Him as God – Him so gentle and loving to men. Seize upon the way of salvation: flee from the law that kills: accept the faith which is above the law. For it is written, The word kills even the law: but the spirit gives life (2 Cor 3:6), which is the spiritual purification that is in Christ. Satan had bound the inhabitants of earth with the cords of sin: Christ has loosed them; He has made us free, has abolished the tyranny of sin, has driven away the accuser of our infirmities; and the Scripture is fulfilled, that all iniquity shall stop its mouth (Ps 107:42), for it is God who justifies: Who is he that condemns? (Rom 8:33-4). This the divine Psalmist also prayed might be accomplished, when addressing Christ the Saviour of all. Let sinners perish from off the earth: and the wicked, so that they may not be found (Ps 104:35). For truly we must not say of one clothed with the Spirit, that he curses those who are infirm and sinful – for it is not fitting for the saints to curse any – but rather that he prays this of God. For before the coming of the Saviour we all were in sin: there was no one who acknowledged Him Who by nature and verily is God. There was no one doing good, no not one; but they all had turned aside together, and become reprobate (Rom 3:12). But because the Only-begotten submitted Himself to emptiness, and became flesh, and was made man, sinners have perished, and exist no longer. For the dwellers upon earth have been justified by faith, have washed away the pollution of sin by holy baptism, have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, have sprung out of the hand of the enemy; and having bidden as it were the hosts of devils to depart, dwell under the yoke of Christ.

Christ’s gifts therefore raise men to a hope long looked for, and to a most dear joy. The woman who was guilty of many impurities, and deserving of blame for most disgraceful deeds, was justified, that we also may have confidence that Christ certainly will have mercy upon us, when He sees us hastening to Him, and endeavouring to escape from the pitfalls of wickedness. Let us too stand before Him: let us shed the tears of repentance: let us anoint Him with ointment: for the tears of him that repents are a sweet savour to God. Call him to mind who said, Awake, they who are drunken with wine: weep and howl all they who drink wine to drunkenness (Joel 1:5). For Satan intoxicates the heart, and agitates the mind by wicked pleasure, leading men clown to the pollutions of sensuality. But while there is time, let us awake; and as most wise Paul says, Let us not be constantly engaged in revels and drunkenness, nor in chambering and wantonness; but rather let us work what is good: for we are not of the night, nor of darkness, but children of light and of the day. Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and clothe ourselves with the works of light (Rom 13:13).  Do not be troubled when you meditate upon the greatness of your old sins: but rather know, that still greater is the grace that justifies the sinner, and absolves the wicked.

Faith then in Christ is found to be the pledge to us of these great blessings: for it is the way that leads to life: that bids us go to the mansions that are above: that raises us to the inheritance of the saints: that makes us members of the kingdom of Christ: by Whom and with Whom, to God the Father be praise and dominion with the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever, Amen.

 [St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke, Sermon XL]

Excerpt from Gospel of the Day – The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me – Luke 4:14-30, 1st of Tout– St. Cyril the Pillar of Faith

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“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me; therefore He has anointed Me: He has sent Me to preach the Gospel to the poor.” (Luke 10:21-24)

He plainly shows by these words that He took upon Him the humiliation and submission to the emptying (of His glory), and both the very name of Christ and the reality for our sakes: for the Spirit, He says, which by nature is in Me by the sameness of Our substance and deity, also descended upon Me from without. And so also in the Jordan, It came upon Me in the form of a dove, not because It was not in Me, but for the reason for which He anointed Me. And what was the reason for which He chose to be anointed? It was our being destitute of the Spirit by that denunciation of old, “My Spirit shall not abide in these men, because they are flesh” (Gen 6:3).

But let us consider the words which He addresses to His Father respecting us and in our behalf. “You have hidden, He says, all these things from the wise and prudent, and revealed them unto babes: Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight” (Mat 11:25-6). For God the Father has revealed unto us the mystery, which before the foundations of the world was hidden and reserved in silence with Him: even the Incarnation of the Only-begotten, which was foreknown indeed before the foundations of the world, but revealed to its inhabitants in the last ages of the world. For the blessed Paul writes, that “to me who am the least of all saints, has this grace been given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and clearly teach them all, what is the dispensation of the mystery that for ages has been hid in God Who created all” (Eph 3:8). The great and adorable mystery of our Saviour was hidden therefore even before the foundations of the world, in the knowledge of the Father. And in like manner we also were foreknown and foreordained to the adoption of sons. And this again the blessed Paul teaches us, thus writing, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in heaven in Christ, according as He has chosen us in Him before the foundations of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him, having foreordained us in love to the adoption of sons by Jesus Christ unto Himself” (Eph 1). To us therefore, as unto babes, the Father has revealed the mystery that for ages had been hidden and reserved in silence.

And yet multitudes of men have preceded us in the world past numbering, who, as far as words went, were wise, who had a practised and skilful tongue, and beauty of writing, and grandeur of expression, and no mean reputation for wisdom: but as Paul said, “They had become empty in their reasonings, and their foolish heart was darkened: while professing to be wise, they had made themselves fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into the likeness of the image of corruptible man, and into that of birds, and four-footed beasts and reptiles. For this cause they were given up to a reprobate mind;” “and God made the wisdom of this world to be folly” (1 Cor 3:19) neither did He show unto them the mystery. And to us too it is written, “Whosoever seems to be wise in this world, let him become foolish, in order that he may become wise: for the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God” (1 Cor 3:18). It may truly therefore be affirmed, that he who possesses merely and by itself the wisdom of the world, is foolish and without understanding before God: but that he who seems to be a fool to the wise men of the world, but possesses in his mind and heart the light of the true vision of God, is wise before God. And Paul again confirms this, saying, “For Christ sent me not to baptise, but to preach: not with wisdom of speech, lest the cross of Christ be made ineffectual. For the speech of the cross is to them who are perishing foolishness; but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and take away the understanding of the prudent” (1 Cor 1:17-19). And to others also he sent, saying, “For see your calling, brethren: that there are not among you many wise men after the flesh: nor many mighty, nor many of high birth; but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world, that He may confound the wise” (1 Cor 1:26-7). To those therefore who seemed to be foolish, by which is meant, men of an innocent and guileless mind, and simple as a child in wickedness, the Father has revealed His Son, as being themselves also foreknown and foreordained to the adoption of sons.

Nor is it in my opinion unreasonable to add also the following. The Scribes and Pharisees, who held high rank among the Jews, as having the reputation of legal learning, were regarded as wise men. But they were convicted by the very result of not being so in reality. For even the prophet Jeremiah thus somewhere addressed them: “How say you, that we are wise, and the word of the Lord is with us? The lying cord of the scribe is for emptiness. The wise men are ashamed; they fear and are taken: what wisdom is in. them, because they have rejected the word of the Lord?” (Jer 8:8-9). Because then they rejected the word of the Saviour, that is, the saving message of the Gospel, or in other language, the Word of God the Father, Who for our sakes became man, they have themselves been rejected. For again the prophet Jeremiah said of them, “Call you them rejected silver, because the Lord has rejected them” (Jer 6:30). And the mystery of Christ was also hid from them: for He somewhere even said to his disciples concerning them, “To you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven; but to them it is not given” (Mat 13:11). “To you,” that is, to whom? Plainly to those who believed: to those who have recognised His appearing, who understand the law spiritually, who can perceive the meaning of the previous revelation of the prophets, who acknowledge that He is God and the Son of God, to them the Father is pleased to reveal His Son: by Whom and with Whom, to God the Father be praise and dominion, with the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen.

 [St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke, Sermon XII]

He seeks those who were lost – St. Cyril of Alexandria

the prodigal son

Then He said: “A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, “Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood. And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.

“But when he came to himself, he said, “How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.”‘

“And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

“But the father said to his servants, “Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.

“Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, “Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’

“But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. So he answered and said to his father, “Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’

“And he said to him, “Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.”‘

[Luke 15:11-32]

What then is the object of the parable? Let us examine the occasion which led to it; for so we shall learn the truth. The blessed Luke therefore had himself said a little before of Christ the Saviour of us all, “And all the publicans and sinners drew near unto Him to hear Him. And the Pharisees and Scribes murmured saying, This man receives sinners and eats ” with them.” As therefore the Pharisees and Scribes made this outcry at His gentleness and love to man, and wickedly and impiously blamed Him for receiving and teaching men whose lives were impure, Christ very necessarily set before them the present parable, to show them clearly this very thing, that the God of all requires even him who is thoroughly steadfast, and firm, and who knows how to live holy, and has attained to the highest praise for sobriety of conduct, to be earnest in following His will, so that when any are called unto repentance, even if they be men highly blameable, he must rejoice rather, and not give way to an unloving vexation on their account.

For we also sometimes experience something of this sort. For some there are who live a perfectly honourable and consistent life, practising every kind of virtuous action, and abstaining from every thing disapproved by the law of God, and crowning themselves with perfect praises in the sight of God and of men: while another is perhaps weak and trodden down, and humbled unto every kind of wickedness, guilty of base deeds, loving impurity, given to covetousness, and stained with all evil. And yet such a one often in old age turns unto God, and asks the forgiveness of his former offences: he prays for mercy, and putting away from him his readiness to fall into sin, sets his affection on virtuous deeds. Or even perhaps when about to close his mortal life, he is admitted to divine baptism, and puts away his offences, God being merciful unto him.

And perhaps sometimes persons are indignant at this, and even say, ‘This man, who has been guilty of such and such actions, and has spoken such and such words, has not paid unto the judge the retribution of his conduct, but has been counted worthy of a grace thus noble and admirable: he has been inscribed among the sons of God, and honoured with the glory of the saints.’

Such complaints men sometimes give utterance too from an empty narrowness of mind, not conforming to the purpose of the universal Father. For He greatly rejoices when He sees those who were lost obtaining salvation, and raises them up again to that which they were in the beginning, giving them the dress of freedom, and adorning them with the chief robe, and putting a ring upon their hand, even the orderly behavior which is pleasing to God and suitable to the free.

It is our duty, therefore, to conform ourselves to that which God wills: for He heals those who are sick; He raises those who are fallen; He gives a helping hand to those who have stumbled; He brings back him who has wandered; He forms anew unto a praiseworthy and blameless life those who were wallowing in the mire of sin; He seeks those who were lost; He raises as from the dead those who had suffered the spiritual death. Let us also rejoice: let us, in company with the holy angels, praise Him as being good, and loving unto men; as gentle, and not remembering evil. For if such is our state of mind, Christ will receive us, by Whom and with Whom, to God the Father be praise and dominion with the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever, Amen.

[St. Cyril the Pillar of Faith, Commentary on Luke, Sermon CVII]

Excerpt from Gospel of the Day – In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit – Luke 10:21-24, 19th of Paope – St. Cyril the Pillar of Faith

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In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.”  Then He turned to His disciples and said privately, “Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see; for I tell you that many prophets and kings have desired to see what you see, and have not seen it, and to hear what you hear, and have not heard it.” (Luke 10:21-24)

One of the holy prophets has said : “Whoever thirsts, come to the waters” (Is 55:1).  For he sends us to the writings of the holy Evangelists as to fountains of water. For just as “waters are pleasant to the thirsty soul,” (Pro 25:25) as the Scripture says, so to the mind that loves instruction is the life-giving knowledge of the mysteries of our Saviour. Let us, therefore, draw from the sacred springs the living and life-giving waters, even those that are rational and spiritual. Let us take our fill, and weary not in your drinking, for in these things more than enough is still for edification and greediness is great praise. What then was it that the Saviour said, That fountain which came down from heaven, That river of delight, so we learn from what has here been read to us: “In that same hour, Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit, and said.” Whoever then loves instruction, must approach the words of God not carelessly, and without earnestness; but, on the contrary, with eagerness, for it is written, “That for every one that takes care, there is something over” (Pro 14:23). Let us, therefore, examine them, and especially what is meant by the expression, that He “rejoiced in the Holy Spirit.”

The Holy Spirit then proceeds from God the Father as from the fountain; but is not foreign from the Son: for every property of the Father belongs to the Word, Who by nature and verily was begotten of Him. Christ saw therefore that many had been won by the operation of the Spirit, Whom He bestowed on them that were worthy, and whom He had also commanded to be ministers of the divine message: He saw that wonderful signs were wrought by their hands, and that the salvation of the world by Him, I mean by faith, had now begun: and therefore He rejoiced in the Holy Spirit, that is, in the works and miracles wrought by means of the Holy Spirit. For He had appointed the twelve disciples, whom He also called apostles, and after them again seventy others, whom He sent as His forerunners to go before Him unto every village and city of Judaea, preaching Him, and the things concerning Him. And He sent them, nobly adorned with apostolic dignities, and distinguished by the operation of the grace of the Holy Spirit. “For He gave them power over unclean spirits to cast them out.” They then, having wrought many miracles, returned saying, “Lord, even the devils are subject unto us in Your Name.” And therefore as I have already said, well knowing that those who had been sent by Him had benefited many, and that above all others, they had themselves learned by experience His glory, He was full of joy, or rather of exultation. For being good and loving unto men, and wishing that all should be saved, He found His cause of rejoicing in the conversion of those that were in error, in the enlightenment of those that were in darkness, and in the answer of the understanding to the acknowledgment of His glory, of those who had been without knowledge and without instruction.

What then does He say ? “Father, I confess You, Lord of the heaven and the earth.” And these words,”I confess You,” He says after the manner of men, instead of, “I accept Your kindness,” that is,”I praise You.” For it is the custom of the divinely inspired Scripture to use the word confession in some such way as this. For it is written, that “they shall confess, O Lord, Your great name; for it is terrible and holy” (Ps 99:3). And again,”I will confess You, Lord, with all my heart, and I will tell all Your wonders” (Ps 86:12).

But I perceive again, that the mind of these perverted men departs not from its depravity; and some of them perhaps will object to us the following argument: “Look ! the Son makes confession of gratitude to the Father: and how must He not be inferior to Him?” But whosoever is skilful in defending the doctrines of truth may well reply to this: “And what hinders, worthy sir, the Son, though equal in substance, from thanking and praising His Father, for saving by His means all beneath the heaven? But if  you think that because of this thanksgiving He is inferior to the Father, observe that also which follows; for He calls the Father ‘Lord of the heaven and the earth.” But of a certainty the Son of Almighty God is equally with Him Lord of all, and above all: not as being inferior, or different in substance, but as God of  God, crowned with equal honours, and possessing by right of His substance equality with Him in all things.” And so much then in answer to them.

But let us consider the words which He addresses to His Father respecting us and in our behalf. “You have hidden, He says, all these things from the wise and prudent, and revealed them unto babes: Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight.” For God the Father has revealed unto us the mystery, which before the foundations of the world was hidden and reserved in silence with Him: even the Incarnation of the Only-begotten, which was foreknown indeed before the foundations of the world, but revealed to its inhabitants in the last ages of the world. For the blessed Paul writes, that “to me who am the least of all saints, has this grace been given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and clearly teach them all, what is the dispensation of the mystery that for ages has been hid in God Who created all” (Eph 3:8). The great and adorable mystery of our Saviour was hidden therefore even before the foundations of the world, in the knowledge of the Father. And in like manner we also were foreknown and foreordained to the adoption of sons. And this again the blessed Paul teaches us, thus writing, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in heaven in Christ, according as He has chosen us in Him before the foundations of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him, having foreordained us in love to the adoption of sons by Jesus Christ unto Himself” (Eph 1). To us therefore, as unto babes, the Father has revealed the mystery that for ages had been hidden and reserved in silence.

And yet multitudes of men have preceded us in the world past numbering, who, as far as words went, were wise, who had a practised and skilful tongue, and beauty of stylo, and grandeur of expression, and no mean reputation for wisdom: but as Paul said, “They had become empty in their reasonings, and their foolish heart was darkened: while professing to be wise, they had made themselves fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into the likeness of the image of corruptible man, and into that of birds, and four-footed beasts and reptiles. For this cause they were given up to a reprobate mind;” “and God made the wisdom of this world to be folly” (1 Cor 3:19) neither did He shew unto them the mystery. And to us too it is written, “Whosoever seems to be wise in this world, let him become foolish, in order that he may become wise: for the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.” It may truly therefore be affirmed, that he who possesses merely and by itself the wisdom of the world, is foolish and without understanding before God: but that he who seems to be a fool to the wise men of the world, but possesses in his mind and heart the light of the true vision of God, is wise before God. And Paul again confirms this, saying, “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach: not with wisdom of speech, lest the cross of Christ be made ineffectual. For the speech of the cross is to them who are perishing foolishness; but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and take away the understanding of the prudent.” And to others also he sent, saying, “For see your calling, brethren: that there are not among you many wise men after the flesh: nor many mighty, nor many of high birth; but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world, that He may confound the wise.” To those therefore who seemed to be foolish, by which is meant, men of an innocent and guileless mind, and simple as a child in wickedness, the Father hath revealed His Son, as being themselves also foreknown and foreordained to the adoption of sons.

Nor is it in my opinion unreasonable to add also the following. The Scribes and Pharisees, who held high rank among the Jews, as having the reputation of legal learning, were regarded as wise men. But they were convicted by the very result of not being so in reality. For even the prophet Jeremiah thus somewhere addressed them: “How say ye, that we are wise, and the word of the Lord is with us? The lying cord of the scribe is for emptiness. The wise men are ashamed; they fear and are taken: what wisdom is in. them, because they have rejected the word of the Lord?” Because then they rejected the word of the Saviour, that is, the saving message of the Gospel, or in other language, the Word of God the Father, Who for our sakes became man, they have themselves been rejected. For again the prophet Jeremiah said of them, “Call ye them reprobate silver, because the Lord has rejected them.” And the mystery of Christ was also hid from them: for He somewhere even said to his disciples concerning them, “To you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven; but to them it is not given.” “To you,” that is, to whom? Plainly to those who believed: to those who have recognised His appearing, who understand the law spiritually, who can perceive the meaning of the previous revelation of the prophets, who acknowledge that He is God and the Son of God, to them the Father is pleased to reveal His Son: by Whom and with Whom, to God the Father be praise and dominion, with the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever. Amen.

 [St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke, Sermon LXV]

He seated Himself upon an ass, teaching us not to be lifted up by praises – St. Cyril the Pillar of Faith

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12, 13 On the morrow a great multitude that had come to the feast when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took the branches of the palm-trees, and went forth to meet Him, and cried out, saying: Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the Name of the Lord.

The multitudes, being more obedient and yielding to the effect of the sign, went to meet the Christ, hymning Him as One Who had conquered death, and carrying palm branches. And they do not praise Him with ordinary language, but quote from the inspired Scripture that which was beautifully spoken with regard to Him; confessing that He was indeed King of Israel, Whom also they called specially their own King, accepting the lordship of the Christ. And the Son, they say, is Blessed: not because He Who blesseth all things and guards them from destruction, and Who is of the ineffable Essence of the Father, receives the blessing which comes from the Father; but because the blessing which is due to One Who is God and Lord by Nature is offered to Him from us, inasmuch as He came in the Name of the Lord. For all the saints did not come with the authority of lordship, but as trusted servants; This One, on the contrary, as Lord. Wherefore the prophetic language was quoted very suitably with regard to Him. For indeed some are called lords, who are not such by nature, but have the honourable name granted to them by favour. As also, to take another case, men are called “true,” when they abstain from falsehood: but this is not the thing to say with regard to Christ; for He is not called “Truth” for the reason that He does not speak falsely, but because He has that Nature which is altogether superior to falsehood.

14, 15 And Jesus, having found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written, Fear not, daughter of Zion: behold, thy King cometh unto thee, sitting on an ass’s colt.

For when a great multitude were escorting Him like a body-guard and shouting His praises, with the most perfect self-restraint He seated Himself upon an ass, teaching us not to be lifted up by praises, and omitting no necessary thing. Matthew therefore related at greater length the circumstances concerning the ass; but John comes at once to the point of the affair that was most suited to the occasion, as it is his custom to do. And since, contrary to His usual habits, on this occasion only, Christ appears seated on an ass, we do not say that He so sat for the reason that it was a long distance to the city; for it was not more than fifteen furlongs off: nor because there was a multitude; for it is certain that on other occasions when He was found with a multitude He did not do this: but He does so, to indicate that He is about to make subject to Himself as a new people the unclean among the Gentiles, and to lead them up to the prerogative of righteousness, and to the Jerusalem above, of which the earthly is a type; into which this people being made clean shall enter with Christ, Who will be hymned by the guileless angels, of whom the babes are a type. And He calls the ass a colt, because the people of the Gentiles had been untrained to the piety which faith produces.

16 And His disciples understood not these things at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of Him, and that they had done these things unto Him.

At first therefore they were ignorant that these words had been written with regard to Him; but after the Resurrection, they did not continue to suffer from the Jewish blindness, but the knowledge of the Divine words was revealed to them through the Spirit. And then was the Christ glorified, when after being crucified He came to life again. And the Evangelist does not blush to mention the ignorance of the disciples, and again their knowledge, since his object was, to take no heed of respect for men, but to plead for the glory of the Spirit; and to show what sort of men the disciples were before the Resurrection, and what sort of men they became after the Resurrection. If therefore these disciples were ignorant, how much more were the other Jews. And after He was crucified, the veil was rent, in order that we may know that nothing any longer remains hidden and concealed from the faithful and godly. They were enlightened therefore with knowledge from the time of the Resurrection, when the Christ breathed into their face, and they became different from the rest of men. And to a still greater extent they were enlightened on the Day of Pentecost, when they were transformed into the power of the Holy Spirit Who came upon them.

17, 18 The multitude therefore that was with Him when He called Lazarus out of the tomb, and raised him from the dead, bare witness. For this cause also the multitude went and met Him, for that they heard that He had done this sign.

The gathering of the common people, having heard what had happened, were readily persuaded by those who bare witness that the Christ had raised Lazarus to life, and annulled the power of death, as the prophets said: for this cause also they went and met Him.

19  The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Do ye see how ye prevail nothing? Lo, the whole world is gone after Him.

This they say, finding fault with themselves, that they had not long ago put Jesus and Lazarus also to death, urging themselves to murder; being angry concerning the believing multitude, as though deprived of their special possessions – those which really belonged to God.

[St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Gospel of St. John]