cyril_alexandria(on Luke 15:1-10)

God sent not his son into the world, to judge the world, as the Son tells us, but that the world may be saved by him (John 3:17).

But how could the world be saved, caught as it was in the net of sin?  By exacting punishment of it?

No, rather, by showing it kindness, so that, God being merciful and forbearing, man’s past sins were forgotten, and those who had not been living worthily began a purer way of life?

Why then, tell me, O Pharisee, do you murmur because Christ does not disdain to consort with publicans and sinners, prudently preparing the way for their conversion? It was for this He emptied himself, and became like to us.

[…] The race of man wandered upon the face of the earth; it had slipped away from the hand of the Supreme Shepherd.

Because of this He came to us Who feeds His heavenly flocks above, that He might lead us also into His fold, that He might unite us to those who had not wandered, that He might drive away the wild beast that works evil, and frustrate the unholy robber band of the unclean spirits of evil.

He came therefore seeking the one that was lost…. And now reflect together with me, Beloved, upon the extent of the Kingdom of our Saviour, and upon the wondrous wisdom of His divine purposes.

For, He says, the number of the sheep is a hundred; here referring to the full and perfect number of the rational beings subject to Him.  The number hundred is ever the perfect number, made up often decades.

From the inspired Scripture we learn that a thousand thousands minister to Him, and ten thousand times a hundred thousand surround His throne (Dan. 7:10).

A hundred therefore is the number of His sheep, of whom one wandered from the flock, namely, the race of men, and for which the Supreme Pastor of all goes searching, leaving the rest, that is, the remaining ninety-nine, in the desert; that is, in a remote and lofty place that is full of peace.

Was He then neglecting the greater number, and concerned only for this one? He was far from neglecting them.  How is this? Because they remain in total security, sheltered within the right hand of the Almighty.

But it was becoming that He should have compassion on the one that was lost, in order that nothing might appear wanting to the remaining multitude: for when this one was brought back He had then once more a hundred, the perfect number.

Cyril of Alexandria (c. 376-444): Commentary on St Luke’s Gospel, ch. 15:1-10, Translated by M.F. Toale, D.D. @ Lectionary Central.

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