A READING FROM A COMMENTARY ON MICAH BY ST CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA
The mystery of Christ is truly a matter for marvelling, and the excellence of it is beyond the wondering utterance of anyone who knows the mercy shown to us. Habakkuk too, an inspired man of God, stood in awe at the manner of the incarnation and cried out, Lord, I harkened to your tidings, and I was afraid; I considered your works, and I marvelled. The only Son of God, who is in the form of God and equal to God the Father, rich though he was in his divinity, made himself poor, that we might be enriched by his poverty. So he willed to save the lost, strengthen the weak, bind up the shattered, give life to the dead, purify the defiled, and adorn with the honour of being God’s children by adoption those who by nature were slaves. Let everyone hear the words: Who is God like unto you? For he is good and forgiving and refrains from punishing the faults that stand against the remnant of his inheritance. By this remnant are to be understood those few of Israel who have believed because by not believing the majority are clearly heading for destruction. Christ said, He who believes in the Son is not condemned, but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in God’s name.
God passes over our sins and overlooks our faults. He keeps no angry score against us. We were cast out in Adam, but welcomed again in Christ. As by the transgression of one man many died, says Scripture, so by the righteous deed of one man many will live. God has ceased to be angry, because he is a God who wishes to show mercy. When he turned back to us again at the time of his incarnation it was as though he sank all our sins into the sea.
And so, the prophet continues, since God promised to the holy fathers Abraham and Jacob that he would multiply their offspring like the stars of heaven, he will indeed give them what was promised. They shall be called fathers of many nations, which evidently means that they are fathers not merely to those who are counted among Abraham’s children because they are of Israelite blood, but also to the children of the promise. The children of faith, both those who come from what are called the uncircumcised and those who are circumcised according to the law, are fused together in a unity in the Spirit. For it is written, Not all those who are of Israelite descent really belong to Israel; it is the children of the promise who are reckoned as the true race. Now as many as are children of Abraham by faith are blessed with faithful Abraham, and we can understand how this promise of blessing is fulfilled by the grace bestowed in Christ, through glory to God the Father, with the Holy Spirit, for endless ages. Amen.
St Cyril of Alexandria, Cap. 7, 72 (PG 71, 774-775), from Word in Season 1