cyril_alexandriaI am come to cast fire upon the earth: and what will I, if already it be kindled?(Luke 12:49).

God the Father for the salvation of all sent down for us the Son from heaven.

For to the Israelites indeed He gave the law to be their helper, according to the Scripture; and also spoke to them by the holy prophets such things as were profitable for their salvation, promising them the deliverance that is by Christ.

But when the season had arrived, in which those things that had been prophesied of old were to be accomplished, He Who is God and Lord shone forth upon us.

And He tells us the cause thereof in these words; “I am come to cast fire upon the earth; and what will I if already it be kindled?”

Come therefore, and let us examine of what nature is this fire, concerning which He here speaks. Is it useful for those upon earth?

Is it for their salvation? Or does it torture men, and cause their perdition, like that which is prepared for the devil and his angels?

We affirm therefore that the fire which is sent forth by Christ is for men’s salvation and profit. God grant that all our hearts may be full thereof.

For the fire here is, I say, the saving message of the Gospel, and the power of its commandments; by which all of us upon earth, who were so to speak cold and dead because of sin, and in ignorance of Him Who by nature and truly is God, are kindled unto a life of piety, and made “fervent in spirit,” according to the expression of the blessed Paul.

And besides this we are also made partakers of the Holy Spirit, Who is as fire within us. For we have been baptized with fire and the Holy Spirit.

And we have learnt the way thereto, by what Christ says to us: for listen to His words; “Verily I say unto you, that except a man be born of water and spirit, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

It is the custom moreover of the divinely inspired Scripture to give the name of fire sometimes to the divine and sacred words, and to the efficacy and power which is by the Holy Spirit, and whereby we are made, as I said, “fervent in spirit.”

[…] Christ…comes “like the fire of a furnace…, like one that smelts and purifies as silver and as gold.” (Malachi 3:2-3).

Just therefore as those who know how to refine gold and silver, melt out the dross contained in them by the use of fire; so also the Saviour of all cleanses by the doctrines of the Gospel in the power of the Spirit, the mind of all those who have believed in Him.

Cyril of Alexandria (c. 376-444): Commentary on St Luke’s Gospel, Sermon 114.

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