Cyril of Alexandria: Christ was carried into the temple… Friday, Feb 3 2017 

cyril_alexandriaChrist was carried into the temple, being yet a little child at the breast.

And the blessed Symeon being endowed with the grace of prophecy, takes Him in his arms, and filled with the highest joy, blessed God, and said:

“Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace according to Thy Word, for mine eyes have seen Thy Salvation, Which Thou hast prepared before the face of all the nations, the Gentiles’ light for revelation, and a glory of Thy people Israel.”

For the mystery of Christ had been prepared even before the very foundation of the world, but was manifested in the last ages of time, and became a light for those who in darkness and error had fallen under the devil’s hand.

These were they “who serve the creation instead of the Creator,” worshipping moreover the dragon, the author of evil, and the impure throng of devils, to whom they attach the honour due unto God: yet were they called by God the Father to the acknowledgment of the Son Who is the true light.

Of them in sooth He said by the voice of Isaiah, “I will make signs unto them, and receive them, because I will ransom them, and they shall be multiplied, as they were many: and I will sow them among the nations, and they who are afar off shall remember Me.”

For very many were they that were astray, but were called through Christ: and again they are many as they were before; for they have been received and ransomed, having obtained as the token of peace from God the Father, the adoption into His family and the grace that is by faith in Jesus Christ.

And the divine disciples were sown widely among the nations: and what is the consequence? Those who in disposition were far from God, have been made near. To whom also the divine Paul sends an epistle, saying, “Now ye who some time were afar off have been made near in the blood of Christ.”

And having been brought near, they make Christ their glorying: for again, God the Father has said of them, “And I will strengthen them in the Lord their God, and in His Name shall they glory, saith the Lord.”

This also the blessed Psalmist teaches, speaking as it were unto Christ the Saviour of all, and saying, “Lord, they shall walk in the light of Thy countenance, and in Thy Name shall they exult all the day, and in Thy righteousness shall they be exalted: for Thou art the glorying of their strength.”

Cyril of Alexandria (c. 376-444): Commentary on St Luke’s Gospel, Sermon 4 (on Luke 2:25-35).

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Cyril of Alexandria: Christ is the vine, and we are dependent on Him as branches, drinking in by the Spirit spiritual power to bear fruit Sunday, Jul 24 2016 

cyril_alexandriaContinued from here….

If we are convinced that the Son is really and truly in His own Father, and He has Him that begat Him in His own nature, and all things are brought to perfection by Both in the Spirit as by One Divinity, neither will the Father be without His share in nourishing us, nor can the Son be thought not to partake in His husbandry.

For where Their identity of nature is seen in unmistakeable language, there too there is no division of activity, though any one may think that they have manifold diversities of operations.

And, as there is one Substance, that is the true and real Godhead conceived of in three Persons, that is in the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, is it not extremely clear and incontrovertible that when we speak of an activity of one, it is a function of the One and entire Divinity, in the way of inherent power?

Moreover, our Lord Jesus Christ, accepting His Father as His Fellow-worker in all He did, once…said: Many good works have I showed you from My Father: for which of those works do ye stone Me? And again, about working on the Sabbath-day: My Father worketh even until now, and I work. 

And no one would think He said that the Father acts separately in His dealings with the world, and so also the Son. For since the Father does all things by the Son, and could not otherwise act, as He is His wisdom and power, for this reason He, on the other hand, called the Father the doer of His own works, when He said: I do nothing of Myself; but the Father abiding in Me doeth His works. 

I think, therefore, we ought to take this view and no other, that Christ takes the place of the vine, and we are dependent on Him as branches, enriched as it were by His grace, and drinking in by the Spirit spiritual power to bear fruit.

[…] Christ, being as it were the root, is the Vine, and we are the branches. And if He called the Father the Husbandman, do not think that He spoke of Him as being different in substance.

For He does not mean this, as we have said; but wishes to point out that the Divine Nature is the root and origin in us of the power of producing the fruits of the Spirit of life, besides the blessings we have spoken of, tending us like a husbandman, and extending over those who are called by faith to partake in it the providence of love.

Cyril of Alexandria (c. 376-444): Commentary on John, Book 10 (on John 15:1ff).

Cyril of Alexandria: The rectification of our condition is the function of the whole sacred and consubstantial Trinity Wednesday, Jun 1 2016 

cyril_alexandriaContinued from here….

I am the true Vine, and My Father is the Husbandman (John 15:1).

And when He calls the Father Husbandman, why does He give Him this title?

For the Father is not idle or inert in His dealings with us, and while the Son nourishes us and sustains us in a perfect state by the Holy Spirit, the rectification of our condition is as it were the function of the whole sacred and consubstantial Trinity, and the will and power to do all the actions done by It pervades the whole Divine Nature. 

Therefore It is glorified by us in its entirety, and in one single aspect. For we call God a Saviour, not gaining the graces which are compassionately bestowed upon us partly from the Father, and partly from the Son Himself or the Holy Spirit, but calling our salvation the work of One Divinity.

And if we must apportion the gifts which are bestowed upon us, or those activities which They display about creation, to each person of the Trinity separately, none the less do we believe that everything proceeds from the Father by the Son in the Spirit.

You will think then quite rightly that the Father nourishes us in piety by the Son in the Spirit. He husbands us, that is He watches over us, and cares for us, and deems us worthy of His sustaining providence by the Son in the Spirit.

[…]  For it is the function of the vine to nourish the branches, and of the tiller of the soil to tend them. And if we think aright, we shall believe that neither the one function, if performed apart from the Father, nor the other apart from the Son or the Holy Ghost, could sustain the whole. For all proceeds from the Father by the Son in the Spirit, as we have said.

Very appropriately now the Saviour called the Father a Husbandman, and it is not at all difficult to assign the cause. For it was to the intent that no one might think that the Only-Begotten merely exercised care over us that He represents God the Father as co-operating with Him, calling Himself the Vine that quickens His own branches with life and productive power, and the Father a Husbandman, and for this reason teaching us that providential care over us is a sort of distinct activity of the Divine Substance.

For we were bound to know that God did not only make us partakers of His nature, conceived of as belonging to the Holy and consubstantial Trinity, but also He watches over us with, the most diligent care, which is illustrated to us very appropriately on this occasion by the figure of husbandry.

Cyril of Alexandria (c. 376-444): Commentary on John, Book 10 (on John 15:1ff).

Cyril of Alexandria: By the newness of the sepulchre is meant the untrodden and strange pathway whereby we return from death unto life Saturday, Apr 30 2016 

cyril_alexandria“So they took the Body of Jesus, and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new tomb, wherein was never man yet laid” (John 19:40-41).

Christ was numbered among the dead, Who for our sake became dead, according to the Flesh, but Whom we conceive to be, and Who is, in fact, Life, of Himself, and through His Father.

And, that He might fulfil all righteousness, that is, all that was appropriate to the form of man, He of His own Will subjected the Temple of His Body not merely to death, but also to what follows after death, that is, burial and being laid in the tomb.

The writer of the Gospel says that this sepulchre in the garden was a new one; this fact signifying to us, as it were, by a type and figure, that Christ’s death is the harbinger and pioneer of our entry into Paradise.

For He entered as a Forerunner for us. What other signification than this can be intended by the carrying over of the Body of Jesus in the garden?

And by the newness of the sepulchre is meant the untrodden and strange pathway whereby we return from death unto life, and the renewing of our souls, that Christ has invented for us, whereby we baffle corruption.

For henceforth, by the death of Christ, death for us has been transformed, in a manner, into sleep, with like power and functions. For we are alive unto God, and shall live for evermore, according to the Scriptures.

Therefore, also, the blessed Paul, in a variety of places, calls those asleep who have died in Christ. For in the times of old the dread presence of death held human nature in awe.

For death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the likeness of Adam’s transgression; and we bore the image of the earthy in his likeness, and underwent the death that was inflicted by the Divine curse.

The Second Adam appeared among us, the Divine Man from heaven, and, contending for the salvation of the world, purchased by His death the life of all men, and, destroying the power of corruption, rose again to life.

Then we were transformed into His Image, and we undergo, as it were, a different kind of death, that does not dissolve us in eternal corruption, but casts upon us a slumber which is laden with fair hope, after the Likeness of Him Who has made this new path for us, that is, Christ.

Cyril of Alexandria (c. 376-444): Commentary on John, Book 12 (on John 19:40-41) [slightly adapted].

Cyril of Alexandria: When God’s life-giving Word came to dwell in human flesh, he remade it for its good, that is, for its life Saturday, Apr 16 2016 

cyril_alexandria“I am dying”, said the Lord, “for all men, so that through me all may have life.

“By my flesh I have redeemed the flesh of all men.

“For in my death, death will die, and fallen human nature will rise again with me.

“In this way l have become, like you, a man descended from Abraham, so that I may be made like my brethren in every respect.”

Saint Paul understood this well when he said:

Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared in them, that through death he might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.

There was never any other way to destroy the one who had the power of death, and therefore death itself.

Christ had to give himself up for us; the one had to be the ransom for all, for he was the head of all.

Accordingly, he said in another place, namely in the psalms, when he offered himself to God his Father as a spotless sacrifice on your behalf:

You wanted no sacrifice or oblation, but you prepared a body for me. You took no pleasure in holocausts or sacrifices for sin. Then I said, “Here I am.”

He was crucified on behalf of us all and for the sake of us all, so that, when one had died instead of all, we all might live in him.

For it was impossible that he should be defeated by death or that one who is life by its very nature should yield to corruption.

Indeed, Christ’s own words prove to us that he offered his flesh for the life of the world:  Holy Father, keep them. And again: For their sake I make myself holy.

He said, I make myself holy, meaning “I consecrate and offer myself as a spotless sacrifice with a sweet savour.”

For what was offered on the altar was made holy or called holy according to the Law. Therefore Christ gave his body or the life of all, and through his body planted life among us again.

How this came about I shall explain as best I can. When God’s life-giving Word came to dwell in human flesh, he remade it for its good, that is, for its life.

Being linked with flesh in this unique form of union, he made it a source of life, just as he is by his own nature, a source of life.

Thus the body of Christ gives life to those who share with him. By being among those who are liable to death, his body drives death out; by bringing forth in itself a principle capable of utterly destroying corruption, his body expels corruption.

Cyril of Alexandria (c. 376-444): Commentary on St John’s Gospel 4, 2; from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Thursday of the Fourth Week in Eastertide, Year 1.

Cyril of Alexandria: Little by little, we advance toward the ideal we see in Christ Thursday, Mar 17 2016 

cyril_alexandriaThe glory of Christ filled the true Tabernacle, which is the Church, from the very moment it was set up on earth.

This, surely, is what is signified by the cloud that covered the first Tabernacle.

Christ has filled the Church with his glory, and now like a fire, he shines forth to give light to those who live in the darkness of ignorance and error.

He shades and protects those already enlightened by the dawn of his day in their hearts.

He refreshes them with the heavenly dew of his consolations sent down from above through the Spirit.

This is what we should understand by the saying that by night he appeared in the form of fire, and by day in the form of cloud.

Those who were as yet uninstructed in the teaching of Christ required spiritual enlighten­ment to bring them to a knowledge of God;

but the more advanced, whose minds had been illumined by faith, were in need of protection from the scorching heat of the day, and of courage to bear the burdens of this present life.

[…] Whenever the cloud moved forward, the Tabernacle went with it; when the cloud settled, the Tabernacle came to rest with it and the Israelites broke their journey.

Now the meaning of this for us is that wherever Christ leads, the Church, the holy multi­tude of believers, follows him. The faithful are never separated from the Saviour who calls them to himself.

We may not be able to find any special meaning in the constant halts and new depar­tures throughout our spiritual journey under Christ’s guidance. It is the whole journey, following the cloud whether it moves forward or settles, that symbolizes our desire to be with God.

Nevertheless, if we would have a more subtle interpretation, we could perhaps say that our first departure is from unbelief to faith, from ignorance to knowledge, and from having no percep­tion of the true God to clear recognition of the Creator and Lord of the universe.

The second stage, and an essential one, is conversion from sin and licentiousness to a desire for amend­ment both in thought and deed.

But the best and most glorious is the third part of the journey, because in it we leave behind what is deficient and move onward toward what is perfect both in our actions and in our belief.

So, little by little, we advance toward the ideal we see in Christ, to become the perfect man, sharing in the perfection of Christ himself.

This surely is what Saint Paul means by saying: Forgetting what lies behind me and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the goal, the heavenly reward to which God calls me in Christ Jesus.

Cyril of Alexandria (c. 376-444): The Adoration and Worship of God in Spirit and in Truth, 5 (PG 68:393-396); from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Friday of the Fourth Week in Lent, Year 2.

Cyril of Alexandria: “For seven days you shall eat unleavened bread and bitter herbs” Tuesday, Mar 1 2016 

cyril_alexandriaIn Egypt the Israelites sacrificed a lamb at the bidding of Moses, who told them to eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.

For seven days, says Scripture, you shall eat unleavened bread and bitter herbs.

Must we then continue to observe customs that are only types and symbols?

Remember the words of Paul, for he was truly learned in the Law and very wise.

He says: We know that the Law is spiritual. Can anyone doubt that he who had Christ within him spoke the plain truth and did not deceive?

Moreover, Christ himself said clearly: Do not imagine that 1 have come to do away with the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to do away with them, but to fulfil them.

 I assure you that the Law will not lose a single dot or stroke until its purpose is achieved. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

In what way then must we also fulfil the ancient law?

For us who have been called to live a life of holiness through faith the true lamb has been sacrificed, the lamb that takes away the sin of the world.

To this sacrifice we must add a food that is spiritual, wholly good and truly sacred, a food typified in the Law by the unleavened bread, which we now understand in a spiri­tual way.

In the divinely inspired Scriptures yeast always signifies wickedness and sin. Our Lord Jesus Christ, warning his holy disciples to be on their guard, said: Beware of the yeast of the scribes and Pharisees.

And Paul in his great wisdom wrote that those who have once been sanctified should put far from them the yeast of impurity that corrupts mind and heart.

Purify yourselves of the old yeast, he urged, and become a fresh batch of bread, since you really are unleavened.

This urgent plea prompted by concern for our well-being shows that spiritual communion with Christ the Saviour of us all is not only a benefit to us but also a real need.

It also shows how important it is for us to keep our minds pure by refraining from sin and washing away every stain.

In a word, we must avoid everything that defiled us in the past, for it is then, when no fault of ours bars the way and we are wholly free from reproach, that we shall open the way to this communion with Christ.

But we also have to eat bitter herbs. These stand for the bitter sufferings we must undergo, and we should greatly value the endurance they demand.

Cyril of Alexandria (c. 376-444): Paschal Homilies 19.2 (PG 77:824-825); 392); from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Saturday of the First Week in Lent, Year 2.

Cyril of Alexandria: “The acceptable year of the Lord” Monday, Feb 1 2016 

cyril_alexandriaThe Father says…unto the Son Himself:

“I have given Thee for a covenant of kindred, for a light of the Gentiles, to open the eyes of the blind, to bring out the prisoners from their bonds, and from the guard-house those that sit in darkness, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord”

(cf. Luke 4:18-19; Isaiah 42:6-7; Isaiah 61:1-2).

For the Only-begotten came into this world and gave a new covenant to His kindred, the Israelites, of whom He was sprung according to the flesh, even the covenant long before announced by the voice of the prophets.

But the divine and heavenly light shone also upon the Gentiles: and He went and preached to the spirits in Hades, and showed Himself to those who were shut up in the guard-house, and freed all from their bonds and violence.

And how do not these things plainly prove that Christ is both God, and of God by nature? And what means the sending away the broken in freedom? It is the letting those go free whom Satan had broken by the rod of spiritual violence.

And what means the preaching the acceptable year of the Lord? It signifies the joyful tidings of His own advent, that the time of the Lord, even the Son, had arrived.

For that was the acceptable year in which Christ was crucified in our behalf, because we then were made acceptable unto God the Father, as the fruit borne by Him.

Wherefore He said, “When I am lifted up from the earth, I shall draw all men unto Myself.” And verily He returned to life the third day, having trampled upon the power of death: after which He said to His disciples, “All power has been given Me….”

That too is in every respect an acceptable year in which, being received into His family, we were admitted unto Him, having washed away sin by holy baptism, and been made partakers of His divine nature by the communion of the Holy Ghost.

That too is an acceptable year, in which He manifested His glory by ineffable miracles: for with joy have we accepted the season of His salvation, which also the very wise Paul referred to, saying, “Behold, now is the acceptable time, behold now is the day of salvation.”

This is the day, when the poor who formerly were sick by the absence of every blessing, having no hope and being without God in the world, such as were the gentiles, were made rich by faith in Him, gaining the divine and heavenly treasure of the Gospel message of salvation.

By this they have been made partakers of the kingdom of heaven, co-partners with the saints, and heirs of blessings such as neither the mind can conceive nor language tell.

Cyril of Alexandria (c. 376-444): Commentary on Luke, Sermon 12 (on Luke 4:18-19) [slightly adapted].

Cyril of Alexandria: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me; therefore He hath anointed Me: He hath sent Me to preach the Gospel to the poor” Friday, Jan 8 2016 

cyril_alexandriaThe Spirit of the Lord is upon Me; therefore He hath anointed Me: He hath sent Me to preach the Gospel to the poor (Luke 4:13).

He plainly shews 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.”

These words the incarnate Word of God speaks: for being very God of very God the Father, and having become for our sakes man without undergoing change, with us He is anointed with the oil of gladness, the Spirit having descended upon Him at the Jordan in the form of a dove.

For in old time both kings and priests were anointed symbolically, gaining thereby a certain measure of sanctification:

but He Who for our sakes became incarnate, was anointed with the spiritual oil of sanctification, and the actual descent of the Spirit, receiving It not for Himself, but for us.

For inasmuch as the Spirit had taken its flight, and not made His abode in us because of our being flesh, the earth was full of grief, being deprived of the participation of God.

And He proclaimed also deliverance to captives, which also He accomplished by having bound the strong one, Satan, who in tyrant fashion lorded it over our race, having torn away from Him us his goods.

As the words “He anointed Me” befit the manhood: for it is not the divine nature which is anointed, but that which is akin to us: so also the words “He sent Me” are to be referred to that which is human.

Those also whose heart was of old obscured by the darkness of the devil, He has illuminated by rising as some Sun of Righteousness, and making them the children no longer of night and darkness, but of light and day, according to Paul’s word: and those who were blind–for the Apostate had blinded their hearts–have recovered their sight, and acknowledged the truth;

and, as Isaiah says, “Their darkness has become light:” that is, the ignorant have become wise: those that once were in error, have known the paths of righteousness.

Cyril of Alexandria (c. 376-444): Commentary on Luke, Sermon 12 (on Luke 4:13).

Cyril of Alexandria: “And the Word was made Flesh” Monday, Dec 28 2015 

cyril_alexandriaAnd the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14).

The Only-Begotten became and is called son of man; for this and nought else does St John’s saying that the Word was made Flesh signify.

For it is as though he said more nakedly The Word was made Man.

[…] Man then is a creature rational, but composite: of soul, that is, and of this perishable and earthly flesh.

And when it had been made by God, and was brought into being, not having of its own nature incorruption and imperishableness (for these things appertain essentially to God alone), it was sealed with the spirit of life.

By participation with the Divinity it gained the good that is above nature (for He breathed, it says, into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul). 

But when he was being punished for his transgressions, then with justice hearing Dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return, he was bared of the grace.

The breath of life, that is the Spirit of Him Who says I am the Life, departed from the earthy body and the creature falls into death, through the flesh alone, the soul being kept in immortality, since to the flesh too alone was it said, Dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return. 

It needed therefore that that in us which was specially imperilled, should with the greater zeal be restored, and by intertwining again with Life that is by nature be recalled to immortality.

It needed that at length the sentence Dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return should be relaxed, the fallen body being united ineffably to the Word that quickens all things. For it needed that becoming His Flesh, it should partake of the immortality that is from Him.

For it were a thing most absurd, that fire should have the power of infusing into wood the perceptible quality of its inherent power and of all but transfashioning into itself the things wherein it is by participation, and that we should not fully hold that the Word of God Which is over all, would energise in the flesh His own Good, that is Life.

For this reason specially I suppose it was that the holy Evangelist, indicating the creature specially from the part affected, says that the Word of God became Flesh —

— that so we might see at once the wound and the medicine, the sick and the Physician, that which had fallen unto death and Him Who raised it unto life,

—that which was overcome of corruption and Him Who chased away the corruption, that which was holden of death and Him Who is superior to death, that which was bereft of life and the Giver of life.

Cyril of Alexandria (c. 376-444): Commentary on John, Book 1, Chapter 9 (on John 1:14) [slightly adapted].

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