To those who are be Enlightened, delivered extempore at Jerusalem, as an Introductory Homily to those who had come forward for Baptism – St. Cyril, the Archbishop of Jerusalem

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To those who are be Enlightened, delivered extempore at Jerusalem, as an Introductory Homily to those who had come forward for Baptism

St. Cyril, the Archbishop of Jerusalem

Reading from Isaiah 1, 16: „Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; put away your iniquities from your souls, from before my eyes …”,

  1. Disciples of the New Testament and partakers of the mysteries of Christ, as yet by calling only, but long before by grace also, get „yourselves a new heart and a new spirit” (Ezek 18, 31), that there may be gladness among the inhabitants o heaven; for if over one sinner that repents there is joy, according to the Gospel (Lk 15, 7), how much more shall the salvation of so many souls move the inhabitants of heaven to gladness. As you have entered upon a good and most glorious path, run with reverence the race of godliness. For the only-begotten Son of God is present here most ready to redeem you, saying, „Come to Me all that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11, 28). You that are clothed with the rough garment of your offences, who are held with the cords of your own sins (see Prov 5,22), hear the voice of the prophet saying, Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean, remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes (Isa 1, 16) so that the choir of angels may chant over you, Blessed are those whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered (Ps 31, 1). You who have just lighted the torches of faith, guard them carefully in your hands unquenched; that He, who a while ago on this all-holy Golgotha opened paradise (see Lk 23, 43) to the robber on account of his faith, may grant to you to sing the bridal song.

  2. If any here is a salve of sin, let him promptly prepare himself through faith for the nwe birth into freedom and adoption; and having put off the miserable bondage of his sins, and taken on him the most blessed bondage of the Lord, so may he be counted worthy to inherit the kingdom of heaven. Put off, by confession, the old man corrupt by the lusts of deceit, that you may put on the new man (see Eph 4, 22-24), which is renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator (see Col 3, 10). Take the Holy Spirit as a guarantee through faith (2Cor 5, 5), that you may be able to be received into the everlasting habitations (see Lk 16, 9). Come for the mystical seal, that you may be easily recognized by Christ our Master; be you numbered among the holy and spiritual flock of Christ, to be set apart on His right hand, and inherit the life prepared for you. For they to whom the rough garment of their sins still clings are found on the left hand, because they did not come the grace of God which is given through Christ at the new birth of baptism; new birth I mean not of bodies, but the spiritual new birth of the soul. For our bodies wre begotten by parents who are seen, but our souls are begotten wnew through faith; For the wind blows where it wishes (Jn 3, 8) and then, if you be found worthy, you may hear, Well done, good and faithful servant (Mt 25, 21), when you are found to have no defilement of hypocrisy in your conscience.

  3. For if any of those who are present should think to tempt God`s grace, he deceives himself, and does not know its power. Keep your soul free from hypocrisy, O man, because of Him who senrches hearts and reins (see Ps 7, 10). For as those who are going to make a levy for war examine the ages and the bodies of those who are taking service, so also the Lord in enlisting souls examines their purpose and if any has a secret hypocrisy, He rejects the man as unfit for His true service.

But if He finds one worthy, to him He readily gives His Grace. He does not give holy things to the dogs (see Mt 7, 6). But where He discerns the good conscience, there He gives the seal of salvation that wondrous seal, which devils trembles at, and angels recognize; that the one may be dricen to flight, and the others may watch around it as kindred to themselves. Therefore, those who receive this spiritual and saving seal, have need also of the disposition similar to it. For, as a writing-reed or a dart has need of one use it, so grace also has need of believing minds.

  1. You are not eceiving a perishable but a spiritual shield. From this time on you are planted in the invisible paradise (see Rev 2, 7). You receive a new name (see Rev 2, 17), which you had not before. Until now you were a catechumen, but now you will be called a believer. You are transplanted from this time on among the spiritual olive-trees, being grafted from th wild into the good olive-tree (see Rom 11, 24), from sins into righteousness, from pollutions into purity. You are made partaker of the holy vine of God. But this is not enough. Only if you remain in the vine, you grow as a fruitful branch; otherwise, you will be consumed by the fire (see Jn 15, 6). Let us therefore bear fruit worthily. God forbid that in us should be done what befell that barren fig tree that Jesus come not even now and curse us for our barrenness (see Mt 21, 19). But may all be able to use what the psalmist says, But I am like a fruitful olive-tree in the house of God; I have trusted in the mercy of God forever, an olive-tree not to be perceived by sense, but by the mind, and full of light (Ps 51, 10). As then it is His part to plant and to water (see ! Cor 3, 6), so it is yours to bear fruit. It is God`s grant, but yours to receive and guard it. Do not despise the grace because it is freely given, but receive and treasure it devoutly.

  2. The present is the season of confession; confess what you have done in word or in deed, by night or by day; confess in a acceptable time, and in the day of salvatin (see 2Cor 6, 2). Accept the heavenly treasure. Devote your time tothe exorcisms. Be attentice to the catechizing, and remember the things that shall be spoken, for they are spoken not for your ears only, but mainly, that by faith you may seal them up in the memory. Blot out from your mind all earthly care; for you are running for the salvation of your soul (see Prov 7, 23). You are utterly neglecting the things of the world; the things that you are forsaking are little, what the Lord is giving is great and precious. Forsake things present, and put your trust in eternal things. You have run so many circles of the years busied in vain about the world, and now you do now have forty days to be occupied with your own soul`s salvation? Be still, and know that I am God (Ps 45, 11), the Scripture says. Excuse yourself from talking many idle words; neither backbite, nor lend a willing ear to backbiters; but rather be prompt to prayer. Show in ascetic exercise that your heart is nerved. Cleanse your vessel (see Mt 23, 26) that you may receive grace more abundantly. For, though remission of sins is given egually to all, the communion of the Holy Spirit is bestowed in proportion to each man`s faith. If you have labored little, you receive little but if you have worked much, the reward is great. You are running for yourself; see to your soul`s interest.

  3. If you have anything against any man, forgive it. You come here to receive forgiveness of sins, and you also must forgive him that has sinned agaunst you. Else with what face will you say to the Lord, Forgive me my many sins, if you have not yourself forgiven your fellow-sevant even his little sins (see Mt 18, 30). Attend diligently the Church assemblies; not only now when diligent attendance is required of you by the clergy, but also after you have received the grace. For if, before you have received it, the practice is good, is it not also good after the bestowal? If before you are grafted in, it is a safe course to be watered and tended (see Rom 11, 17; Rom 11, 23-24), is it not far better after the planting?

    Wrestle for you own soul, especially in such days as these. Nourish your soul with sacred readings; for the Lord has prepared for you a spirytual table; therefore say also after the psalmist, „The Lord is my shepherd, and Ishall not want. In a place of grass, He has made a tent for me; He has fed me beside the waters of comfort, He has restored my soul” (Ps 22, 1-3); Angels also my share your joy, and Christ Himself the great High Priest, having accepted your resolve, may present you all to the Father, saying, Here am I and the children whom God gave me ( Isa 8, 18; Heb. 2, 13). May He keep you all well-pleasing in His singht! To ahom is the glory, and the power to the endless ages of eternity. Amen.

The Readings of the Service of Baptism

The Epistle (Rom 6, 3-11)

Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord

The Gospel (Mt 28, 16-20)

Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

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