November 8, 2020

Sermons on the Healing of the Woman With the Issue of Blood and the Raising of Jairus' Daughter (St. Cyril of Alexandria)


Sermons on the Gospel of Luke

By St. Cyril of Alexandria

Sermon 45

Luke 8:40-48 - And when Jesus returned, the multitude received Him; for they were all waiting for Him. And behold there came a man named Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue: and he fell down at Jesus' feet, and besought Him to come to his house; for he had an only daughter, about twelve years old, and she was dying. And as He went, the multitudes thronged Him. A woman who had had an issue of blood twelve years, and had spent all her substance upon physicians, and could be healed of none, came near behind Him, and touched the hem of His garment: and immediately her issue of blood staunched. And Jesus said, "Who touched Me?" And when all denied, Peter and they that were with him said, "Master, the multitudes press and throng Thee." But Jesus said, "Some one touched Me; for I know that power has gone forth from Me." And when the woman saw that she was not hid from Him, she came trembling, and fell down before Him, and declared before all the people, for what cause she had touched Him, and that she was healed immediately. And He said unto her, "My daughter, thy faith hath saved thee: go in peace."

Those who are skillful in elucidating the mystery of the dispensation of the Only-begotten in the flesh, and whose minds are illuminated with divine light, the Spirit commanded, saying, "Declare His praise among the Gentiles, and His miracles among all nations." Did He then command them to declare the praise of our universal Savior Christ among the multitudes of the Gentiles, to the inhabitants, that is, of the whole world, for no other reason than that He might be admired, or was it not that He might also be believed on by all men? I verily affirm that it was both in order that He might be admired, and also that we might believe that the Word of God the Father is very God, even though, as John says, He was made flesh. For He also somewhere declares unto the Jews, "If I do not the works of My Father, believe Me not: but if I do them, though ye believe not Me, believe the works."

Let us then once again behold Him benefiting multitudes by the miracles He wrought for their good. For there was a ruler and teacher of the synagogue of the Jews, called Jairus; and him the Gospel narrative here announces to us. For he fell down before the feet of Christ our common Savior, to ask for the unloosing of death, and the annulling of corruption. For his daughter was, so to speak, at the very gates of the grave. Come then, and let us ask Jairus to tell us in what light he regards Him to Whom he offers his request. For if thou drawest near regarding Him as a mere man, and like unto one of us; as one, that is, Who possesses no power superior to ourselves, thou missest thy mark, and hast wandered from the right road, in asking of a man that which requires the power of God. The supreme nature alone is able to give life to the dead. It alone has immortality: and from It every thing that is called into being borrows its life and motion. Ask therefore of men the things that belong unto men, and of God the things that belong unto God.

Moreover thou worshippest Him as the Almighty God: and doest so, as certainly knowing and testifying that He is able to give thee the accomplishment of thy requests. What argument therefore is sufficient for thy defense, that once thou stonedst Christ the Savior of all; and with the rest didst persecute Him, and most foolishly and impiously say, "For a good work we stone Thee not, but for blasphemy: because that Thou being a man, makest Thyself God."

And not only must we wonder at this, but at the following as well. For Lazarus indeed arose from the dead at the summons of Christ, Who made him come forth from the very grave, when he had been there four days, and corruption had already begun. And those indeed who were spectators of the miracle were astonished at the majesty of the deed. But the rulers of the synagogue of the Jews made the very miracle food for envy, and an act thus great and excellent was stored up in their memory as a seed whence sprung the guilt of murder. For when they had assembled, they took counsel one with another, certainly for no lawful deed, but for one rather that brought upon them their final doom. For they said, "What do we? for This man doeth many miracles. If we let Him thus alone, the Romans will come, and take away both our nation and our place." What then sayest thou to this, O Jairus? Thou sawest death abolished in the case of Lazarus; death which always and to every one before had been stern and unyielding. Thou sawest destruction lose its power, from which no one on earth had escaped. And how then dost thou imagine thou canst make Him subject unto death Who is supreme over death: the Overthrower of destruction, and the Giver of life? How can He Who delivered others from the snares of death, Himself be liable to suffer it, unless He wills so to do for the plan of salvation's sake. The text therefore concerning them is true, "that they are foolish children, and unwise."

But the fate of the damsel was not without profit to her father. For just as sometimes the violence of the reins brings the spirited steed that has bounded away from the road back to its proper course, so also trouble often compels the soul of man to yield obedience to those things which are for its good, and are commanded. To this effect we find the blessed David also addressing God over all, concerning those men who, not being as yet willing to walk uprightly, were led on, so to speak, by the disorderly impulses of their mind to the pit of destruction. "With bridle and bit Thou shalt restrain the jaws of those who draw not near to Thee." For the force of circumstances brings men, as I said, even against their wills to the necessity of bowing their neck to God, as we may see indirectly shewn in the Gospel parables. For Christ somewhere said, that when the banquet was ready, a servant was sent to call them to the supper, and gather those that were bidden: but they, employing fictitious excuses of various kinds, would not come. Then the Lord, it says, spake to that servant: "Go into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in that My house may be filled." What then is the meaning of men being invited from the hedges, - and that as it were by force, - if it be not what is here referred to? For sometimes misfortunes beyond the power of endurance hedge men into extreme misery: and meeting, it may be, with care and assistance from those who fear Christ, they are thus led on unto faith in Him and love: and being weaned from their former error received by tradition from their fathers, they accept the saving word of the Gospel. And such we may well affirm to be those who are called from the hedges. It is indeed more excellent and praiseworthy, when the withdrawal from former error to hasten to the truth is the fruit of freewill: and such converts gathering the confirmation of their belief from the sacred Scriptures, and enjoying the instruction of such as are skillful in initiating men into the mysteries, will advance onwards to a correct and blameless faith. But those others, who are kindled, if we may so speak, by force and the troubles they meet with to the acknowledgment of the truth, are not upon an equality with the former, but when admitted must be careful to maintain constancy, and flee from a fickle levity: for it is their duty to preserve an unwavering faith, lest they be found reprobate and feeble workers, deserters after the seal 13, cowards and traitors after taking up arms. Let them not hasten back to their former deeds, lest that be said of them which was spoken by one of the holy apostles: "For it had been better for them not to have known the way of truth, than having known it to turn back from the holy commandment that was delivered unto them. The case of the true proverb has befallen them: the dog that returns to his vomit, and the sow that was washed to wallowing in the mire."

Not however to make this digression too long, let us return to our original subject. Jairus then drew near; but we deny that his coming was the fruit of freewill; rather it was the fear of death which made him thus act against his will: for it had already, so to speak, assailed his daughter; and she was |190 his only one. He set utterly at nought then the reputation of consistency in his wicked words and thoughts. For he who had ofttimes made the attempt to slay Christ, for raising the dead from the grave, asks of Him the unloosing of death. In order then that his character may be seen to be harsh and abominable, and that he may be convicted of being such by the very facts, Christ accompanied him, and yielded to his request.

But there was also a sort of wise management in what was done. For had He not yielded to his request for grace, both himself and whosoever else suffered under the same ignorance, or rather, want of common sense, would have said forsooth, that He was not able to raise the damsel, nor drive death away from her, even if He had gone to the house: that being then without power, and unequal to the accomplishment of the divine miracle, He made His displeasure at Jairus a pretext for keeping away. To put a stop therefore to the impure and unbridled calumny of the Jews, and restrain the tongues of the numerous persons ever ready for fault-finding, He consents immediately, and promises to raise up her who was in danger. And the promises were followed by the fulfillment, in order that disbelief on their part might be without excuse, and that this miracle, like the rest, might be for their condemnation. For Christ also said of them, "If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now they have both seen and hated both Me and My Father."

The Savior then wont to raise the damsel, and to implant in the dwellers upon earth the sure hope of the resurrection of the dead. But as He was midway on His road, another miracle, not unlike the former, was wonderfully wrought. For there was a woman afflicted with an issue of blood, the prey of a severe and violent malady, which refused to yield to the skill of physicians, and set at nought all the appliances of human remedies. For she could "not be healed, it says, by any," even though she had unsparingly lavished all her substance upon those who promised to deliver her from her disease. When therefore the unhappy woman had given up all hope from men, and now survived only for utter misery, she conceived in her a wise plan. For she had recourse to the Physician Who is from above, from heaven, as One Who is able readily and without effort to effect those things that are beyond our power, and Whose decrees, whatever it be He would accomplish, nothing can oppose.

Her faith in this was perhaps occasioned by seeing Jairus leading Him to his house, to prove Himself mightier than death, by delivering his daughter from its inevitable bonds. For she thought perchance within herself, that if He be mightier than death, and the destroyer of corruption, how much more can He also alleviate the malady that afflicts her, staunching by ineffable power the fountains of her issue of blood! She draws near therefore and touches the hem of His garment; but secretly and not openly: for she hoped to be able to escape notice, and. as it were, to steal healing from One Who knew not of it. But why, tell me, was the woman careful to escape notice? For why should she not draw near to Christ with more boldness than that leper, and ask for the remission of her incurable pain?, For he said, "Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean." Why should not she act like those blind men, who when Christ passed by called out and said, "Have mercy upon us, Lord Jesus, the Son of David"? What then was it made that sick woman wish to remain hid? It was because the law of the all-wise Moses imputed impurity to any woman who was suffering from an issue of blood, and everywhere called her unclean: and whoever was unclean, might neither touch any thing that was holy, nor approach a holy man. For this reason the woman was careful to remain concealed, lest as having transgressed the law, she should have to bear the punishment which it imposed. And when she touched, she was healed immediately and without delay.

But the miracle did not remain hid; for the Savior, though knowing all things, asked as if He knew it not, saying, 'Who touched Me?' And when the holy apostles with good reason said, "The multitudes throng Thee and press Thee," He sets before them what had been done, saying, "Somebody touched Me: for I know that power has gone forth from Me." Was it then for love of glory that the Lord did not allow this instance of His godlike working----the miracle, I mean, that had happened to the woman to remain concealed? By no means do we say this, but rather, that it was because He ever keeps in view the benefit of those who are called to grace through faith. The concealment then of the miracle would have been injurious to many, but being made known, it benefited them in no slight degree; and especially the ruler of the synagogue himself. For it gave security to the hope to which he looked forward, and made him firmly trust that Christ would deliver his daughter from the bonds of death.

But it is itself a fit subject for our admiration. For that woman was delivered, being saved from a state of suffering thus bitter and incurable; and thereby we again obtain the firm assurance, that the Emmanuel is very God. How and in what manner? Both from the miraculous event itself, and from the words which with divine dignity He spake. "For, I know, He said, that power has gone forth from Me." But it transcends our degree, or probably that even of the angels, to send forth any power, and that of their own nature, as something that is of themselves. Such an act is an attribute appropriate solely to the Nature That is above all, and supreme. For every created being whatsoever that is endued with power, whether of healing, or the like, possesses it not of itself, but as a thing given it by God. For to the creature all things are given, and wrought in it, and of itself it can do nothing. As God therefore He said "I knew that power has gone forth from Me."

And the woman now made confession; and inasmuch as with her malady, with the disease, I mean, which had afflicted her, she had put off the fear, which made her wish to remain concealed, she proclaimed the divine miracle: and therefore was very fitly deemed worthy of His tranquilizing words, and received security that she should suffer from her malady no more; for our Savior Christ said unto her, "Daughter, thy faith hath saved thee: go in peace."

And this too was for the benefit of Jairus, though it was indeed a hard lesson. For he learns, that neither the legal worship, nor the shedding of blood, nor the slaying of goats and calves, nor the circumcision of the flesh, nor the rest of the sabbaths, nor ought besides of these temporary and typical matters, can save the dwellers upon earth; faith only in Christ can do so, by means of which even the blessed Abraham was justified, and called the friend of God, and counted worthy of especial honors. And the blessing of God has been given also to those, who according to the terms of the promise were to be his sons: even unto us. "For they are not all Israel; who are of Israel, neither because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all sons: but the children of the promise are accounted as the seed." To us then this grace belongs: for we have been adopted as Abraham's sons, "being justified not so much by the works of the law, as by faith in Christ;" by Whom, and with Whom, to God the Father be praise and dominion with the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever, Amen.

Sermons on the Gospel of Luke

By St. Cyril of Alexandria

Sermon 46

Luke 8:49-56 - And while He is speaking, there cometh one from the ruler of the synagogue's house, saying, "Thy daughter is dead: trouble no more the Teacher." But when Jesus heard it, He answered and said, "Fear not: believe only, and she shall live." And when He came unto the house, He suffered no one to go in with Him, save Peter, and James, and John, and the father and the mother of the maiden. And all wept and bewailed her. But He said, "Weep not: for the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth." And they laughed at Him, knowing that she was dead. But He made them all go out, and took her by the hand, and called, saying, "Maiden, arise." And her spirit returned, and she arose immediately: and He commanded to give her somewhat to eat. And her parents were astonished. And He commanded them to tell no one what was done.

O Come, all ye who love the glory of the Savior, and thereby weave crowns for your heads, come once again, that we may rejoice in Him, and as we extol Him with endless praises, let us say in the words of the prophet Isaiah: "O Lord, my God, I will praise Thee; and I will laud Thy name; for Thou hast wrought wonderful works, even a counsel true from the beginning." What then is the counsel and purpose of God the Father, which was from the beginning, and was true? Plainly that respecting us. For Christ foreknew, even before the foundations of the world, His mystery: but it was in the last ages of the world that He arose for the inhabitants of earth, that having borne the sin of the world, He might abolish both it and death, which is its consequence, and was brought upon us by its means. For so He Himself plainly said, "I am the resurrection and the life:" and "he that believeth on Me hath everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but hath passed from death unto life." And this then we shall see fulfilled in actual facts. For the ruler of the synagogue of the Jews drew near, and embracing the Savior's knees, besought Him to deliver his daughter from the bonds of death: - for lo! already she had been brought down unto this, and was in extreme danger. And the Savior consented, and set out with him, and was even hastening onward to the house of him who asked the favor, as well knowing that what was being done would profit many of those who followed Him, and would also be for His own glory. And thus on the way the woman was saved, who was the victim of a severe and incurable malady. For she had an issue of blood, which no one could stanch, and which set at nought the art of physicians: but no sooner had she touched the hem in faith, than she was forthwith healed; and a miracle thus glorious and manifest was, so to speak, the work merely of Christ's journey.

And afterwards there met them from the ruler of the synagogue's house a messenger, saying: "Thy daughter is dead: trouble not the Teacher." What, then, was Christ's answer, seeing that He possesses universal sovereignty; that He is Lord of life and death; and by the all-powerful determination of His will accomplishes whatsoever He desires? He saw the man oppressed with the weight of sorrow, swooning, and stupefied, and all but despairing of the possibility of his daughter being rescued from death. For misfortunes are able to disturb even an apparently well-constituted mind, and to estrange it from its settled convictions. To aid him, therefore, He gives him a kind and saving word, fit to sustain him in his fainting state, and work in him an unwavering faith, saying, "Fear not: only believe, and she shall live."

And having now come to the house of His supplicant, He quiets their lamentations, silences the musicians, and stops the tears of the weepers, saying, "The damsel is not dead, but rather sleepeth." And they, it says, laughed at Him. Observe here, I pray, the great skill of the management. For though He well knew that the damsel was dead, He said, "She is not dead, but rather sleepeth." For what reason? That by their laughing at Him, they might give a clear and manifest acknowledgment that the damsel was dead. For probably there would be some of that class who always resist His glory, who would reject the divine miracle, and say, that the damsel was not yet dead; and that in being delivered from sickness, there was nothing done by Christ very extraordinary. To have, therefore, the acknowledgment of many that the damsel was dead, He said, that she was rather sleeping. And let no man affirm that Christ spake untruly. For to Him, as being Life by nature, there is nothing dead. And this is the reason why we, having a firm hope of the resurrection of the dead, call them "those that sleep." For in Christ they will arise: and, as the blessed Paul says, "They live to Him," in that they are about to live.

But observe this also. For as if to teach us to avoid vainglory - though certainly no such admirable deeds can be wrought by us; - when He came to the house in which the damsel was lying dead, He took in with Him but three of the holy Apostles, and the father and the mother of the damsel.

And the manner in which He wrought the miracle was worthy of God. For having taken her, it says, by the hand, He said, Damsel, arise: and she arose immediately. O the power of a word, and the might of commands that nothing can resist!

O  the life-producing touch of the hand, that abolishes death, and corruption! These are the fruits of faith, for the sake of which the law also was given to those of old time by the hand of Moses.

But perhaps some one may say to this: 'But lo! any one can see that the ceremonial ordained by the law is unlike and at variance with faith in Christ: for the law commands us to

make use of bloody sacrifices; but faith rejects everything of the kind, and has brought in for mankind a worship to be offered in spirit and in truth. For even Christ is somewhere found thus speaking by the harp of the Psalmist to God the Father in heaven: "Sacrifices and offerings Thou didst not desire: whole burnt offerings, and for sins, Thou hadst no pleasure in: but a body hast Thou framed for Me. Then said I, Lo! I come: for in the chapter of the books it is written of Me: I delight to do Thy will, O God," Offerings therefore by blood are unavailing; but the sweet savor of spiritual worship is very acceptable to God. And this no man can present unto Him, unless first he possess that faith which is by Christ. And the blessed Paul bears witness to this, where he writes: "Without faith, no man can ever do that which is well pleasing."'

It is necessary, therefore, for us to explain in what sense we say that the law was given because of faith. The blessed Abraham then was justified by obedience and faith. For it is written: "That Abraham believed God; and he was called the friend of God, and faith was counted to him for righteousness." And God promised him both that he should be the father of many nations, and that all nations should be blessed in him; that is to say, by the imitation of his faith. One can see, therefore, that the grace that is by faith is prior to the ceremonial enjoined by the law, in that Abraham attained unto it while still uncircumcised. And afterwards, in process of time, the law entered by the hand of Moses. Did it then thrust away the justification that is by faith, - that I mean which God promised to those who follow the steps of the faith of our father Abraham, which he had while still uncircumcised? But how can this be true? The blessed Paul, therefore, writes: "This I say then, that the covenant, which was confirmed of old by God, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years afterwards, does not disannul, so as to make the promise given to the fathers of no effect." And again: "Is the law then against the promises of God? It may not be." And the same divine Paul further teaches us the reasons for which the law at length entered by the ministration of angels, and the manner in which it confirms the faith in Christ, by having been brought in before the time of the incarnation of the Only-begotten, saying at one time, that "the law entered that sin might abound:" and at another again, "that the Scripture hath included all things under sin:" and again, "The law, therefore, was added, because of transgressions."

Do you wish to learn how the Scripture included all things under sin? If so, I will explain it to the best of my ability. The heathen, then, as those who were without God, and destitute of hope, were in this world as men imprisoned in the pitfalls of baseness, and entangled without hope of escape in the cords of sin. On the other hand, the Israelites possessed indeed the law as a schoolmaster: but no man could be justified by its moans. For there is no profit to them that are in their sins in an offering by blood. And to this Paul again bears witness, saying; "For the blood of bulls, and of goats, cannot take away sins." The law is the proof of the infirmity of all men: and therefore the blessed Paul calls it "the ministry of condemnation." Sin abounded by its means: and that, not as though it made any man sin, but rather because it declared the condemnation of him who was subject to offenses. It was enacted, therefore, because of transgressions, that as now no man was able to attain to a blameless life, the bringing in of the justification that is by Christ might be altogether necessary. For there was no other way by which the inhabitants of earth could escape from the tyranny of sin. The law, then, entered first for the sake of faith, to declare the guilt of those who were liable to infirmities, and prove them to be sinners. It sent men, therefore, so to speak, to the cleansing that is in Christ by faith. And for this reason the blessed Paul again wrote: "Therefore the law was our schoolmaster unto Christ. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster." For we are all sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

Faith, then, in every way, is the cause of life, as that which slays sin, the mother and nurse of death. Excellently, therefore, said Christ to the ruler of the synagogue of the Jews, when his daughter was dead; "Fear not: only believe, and she shall live." For, as I said, Christ makes those live who approach Him by faith, in that He is life; "for in Him we live and move, and are:" and He will raise the dead "suddenly, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump,"" as it is written. And having this hope in Him, we shall both attain to the city that is above, and reign as kings with Him; by Whom and with Whom, to God the Father be praise and dominion, with the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever, Amen.