Thoughts from the Early Church
Commentary by Cyril of Alexandria
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. (Lk 19:38)
“Behold, a righteous king will reign, and princes will rule with justice.” The only-begotten Word of God, together with God the Father, has always been king of the universe, and to him all creatures, visible and invisible, are subject.
People on earth, having been caught in the snares of sin, were persuaded by the devil to reject his sovereignty and to despise his royal power, but the judge and dispenser of all justice brought them back under his own dominion.
All his ways are straight, says scripture, and by the ways of Christ we mean the divine precepts laid down in the gospel. By observing them we make progress in every virtue, do honor to ourselves by the moral beauty of our lives, and attain the heavenly reward to which we have been called.
These are straight, not winding ways: they are direct and easily followed. As it is written, “The way of the upright is straight; the road of the just is made smooth.”
Its many decrees make the law a rugged way and its difficulty intolerable, but the way of gospel commands is smooth, without any roughness or steep ascents.
The ways of Christ are straight, then, and as for the holy city, which is the Church, he himself was its builder and he makes it his own dwelling. In other words, he makes the saints his dwelling: sharing as we do in the Holy Spirit, we have Christ within us and have become temples of the living God.
Christ is both the founder of the Church and its foundation, and upon this foundation we, like precious stones, are built into a holy temple to become, through the Spirit, a dwelling place for God.
Since it has in Christ such a firm foundation, the Church can never be shaken. Scripture says: “I am laying the foundation stone of Zion, the cornerstone, chosen and precious. No one who believes in him will ever be put to shame.”
When he founded the Church, Christ delivered his people from bondage. He saved us from the power of Satan and of sin, freed us and subjected us to his own rule, but not by paying a ransom or by bribes.
As one of his disciples wrote, “We have been freed from the futile ways handed down to us by our ancestors, not by anything perishable like silver and gold, but by the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without mark or blemish.”
He gave his own blood for us, so that we no longer belong to ourselves, but to him who bought us and saved us. Those therefore who turn aside from the noble rule of the true faith are justly accused by all the saints of denying the Lord who redeemed them.
On Isaiah IV, 2: PG 70, 967-970
Cyril of Alexandria (d. 444) succeeded his uncle Theophilus as patriarch in 412. Until 428 the pen of this brilliant theologian was employed in exegesis and polemics against the Arians; after that date it was devoted almost entirely to refuting the Nestorian heresy. The teaching of Nestorius was condemned in 431 by the Council of Ephesus at which Cyril presided, and Mary's title, Mother of God, was solemnly recognized. The incarnation is central to Cyril's theology. Only if Christ is consubstantial with the Father and with us can he save us, for the meeting ground between God and ourselves is the flesh of Christ. Through our kinship with Christ, the Word made flesh, we become children of God, and share in the filial relation of the Son with the Father.
**From Saint Louis University