The Whole World Has Been Saved
St. Cyril of Alexandria
Early Church Father and Doctor of the Church
This excerpt from St. Cyril of Alexandria's commentary on Paul's Letter to the Romans (Cap. 15, 7: PG 74, 854-855) is used in the Roman Office of Readings for Saturday of the 4th week of Easter, with the accompanying biblical reading of Revelation 18:1-20.
Though many, we are one body, and members one of another, united by Christ in the bonds of love. Christ has made Jews and Gentiles one by breaking down the barrier that divided us and abolishing the law with its precepts and decrees. This is why we should all be of one mind and if one member suffers some misfortune, all should suffer with him; if one member is honoured, all should be glad.
Paul says: Accept one another as Christ accepted you, for the glory of God. Now accepting one another means being willing to share one anotherís thoughts and feelings, bearing one anotherís burdens, and preserving the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. This is how God accepted us in Christ, for Johnís testimony is true and he said that God the Father loved the world so much that he gave his own Son for us. Godís Son was given as a ransom for the lives of us all. He has delivered us from death, redeemed us from death and from sin.
Paul throws light on the purpose of Godís plan when he says that Christ became the servant of the circumcised to show Godís fidelity. God had promised the Jewish patriarchs that he would bless their offspring and make it as numerous as the stars of heaven. This is why the divine Word himself, who as God holds all creation in being and is the source of its well-being, appeared in the flesh and became man. He came into this world in human flesh not to be served, but, as he himself said, to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.
Christ declared that his coming in visible form was to fulfil the promise made to Israel. I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, he said. Paul was perfectly correct, then, in saying that Christ became a servant of the circumcised in order to fulfil the promise made to the patriarchs and that God the Father had charged him with this task, as also with the task of bringing salvation to the Gentiles, so that they too might praise their Saviour and Redeemer as the Creator of the universe. In this way Godís mercy has been extended to all men, including the Gentiles, and it can be seen that the mystery of the divine wisdom contained in Christ has not failed in its benevolent purpose. In the place of those who fell away the whole world has been saved.
St. Cyril of Alexandria became partriarch archbishop of Alexandria, Egypt in 412. He presided over the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus which defined the inseparable unity of the divine and human natures of Christ, and thus the appropriateness of invoking the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title of "Theotokos" or Mother of God. He died in 444AD.
This reading by St. Cyril of Alexandria is featured in the Incarnation and the Mary & the Saints sections of The Crossroads Initiative Library.
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