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A Commentary Upon The Gospel According To Saint Luke -St. Cyril

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 skilful 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 Saviour 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 Saviour, 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 defence, that once thou stonedst Christ the Saviour 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 skilful 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, 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 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 fulfiment, 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 Saviour then went 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 Saviour, 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 tranquillizing words, and received security that she should suffer from her malady no more; for our Saviour 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 honours. 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 Ghost, for ever and ever, Amen.

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