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Lenten Reflection: Day 39
Gospel, John 11:45-57
For not refraining themselves from Him, when He said that Himself was One with the Father, they rush to kill Him; although each of the works wrought by Him proclaimed that He was in His Nature God. And not only now, but on other occasions also when they took up stones to kill Him, they stood motionless through the power of Christ; so that it became evident from this also, that He would not suffer except He was willing. Moreover in His gentleness Christ checked their unreasonable impulse, saying not: “For which of the words that I said, are ye angry?” but: “For which of the works that I did?”
For if I had not done, He says, many God-befitting works which shew that I am in My Nature God, ye might be reasonably angry with Me now, hearing Me say that I and the Father are One. But I should not have said this, had I not shewn it by all things that I did. And He speaks of the works as from the Father, not from Himself, shewing this modesty for our profit, so that we may not boast when we receive anything from God. And He says the works were shown from the Father, not to indicate that the power exhibited in them was other than His own, but to teach that they were the works of the whole Godhead.
“We stone Thee, not on account of the good works which Thou didst, but because Thou blasphemest.” They were the blasphemers, on the contrary, because they wished to stone One Who was truly God, not knowing that Jesus was destined to come, not in the undisguised Godhead, but Incarnate of the Seed of David; [and thus] they speak of His true confession as blasphemy. For if the Word of God through the Holy Spirit leads up to superhuman grace, and adorns with a Divine honour those in whom He may be, Why, saith He, say ye that I blaspheme when I call Myself Son of God and God? Although by the works I have done from Him I am borne witness to as in My Nature God. For having sanctified Me He sent Me into the world to be the Saviour of the world; and it is the attribute only of One in His Nature God, to be able to save men from the devil and from sin and from corruption.
But when we distinguish ourselves by our bodies, the many are no longer one; a distinction which cannot be mentioned concerning One Who is God by Nature, for whatever is Divine is incorporeal, although we conceive of the Holy Trinity as in distinct Subsistences. For the Father is the Father and not the Son; the Son again is the Son and not the Father; and the Holy Spirit is peculiarly the Spirit: although They are not at variance, through Their fellowship and unity One with Another. The Holy Trinity is known in the Father and in the Son and in the Holy Spirit. But the designation of each one of These Who have been enumerated denotes not a part of the Trinity, but the Whole of It; since in truth God is undivided and simple, although distributed in These Subsistences.
Leaving Jerusalem, the Saviour seeks a refuge in a place possessing springs of water, that He might signify obscurely as in a type how He would leave Judasa and go over to the Church of the Gentiles which possesses the fountains of Baptism: there also many approach unto Him. crossing through the Jordan; for this is signified by Christ taking up His abode beyond Jordan. We honour John, not as having performed any God-befitting work, but as having borne true witness concerning Christ. For Christ was more wonderful, not only than John, but than every saint; for whereas they were Prophets, He was the wonder-working God. And we must notice that the words of John and of the other Prophets are a way [to lead us] to believe Christ.
The above is an excerpt from St. Cyril of Alexandria’s homily on today’s Gospel.