God’s Mercy for the World

St. Cyril of Alexandria


St. Cyril played a pivotal role in guiding the early Church, having been selected as bishop in the bustling and prominent city of Alexandria, Egypt, one of the Apostolic churches of antiquity. He would also participate in the Council of Ephesus in the 5th century, further establishing orthodox christology through declaring Mary as theotokos. St. Cyril’s sermon below is drawn from the contemporary Roman Catholic Liturgy of the Hours during the Easter season and is paired with scripture from the book of Revelation (18:1-20). This sermon is posited alongside this reading with expectancy for what God is and will do in the world.  While reading this sermon it is important to ask, in light of the Risen Christ, how have I received God’s mercy? How am I extending God’s abundant mercy to others in my own community, particularly in their need?

From the commentary on the letter to the Romans
by Saint Cyril of Alexandria, bishop
(Cap. 15, 7: PG 74, 854-855)

Gods mercy has been extended to all; the whole world has been saved

Though many, we are one body, and members one of another, united by Christ in the bonds of love. Christ has made Jews and Gentiles one by breaking down the barrier that divided us and abolishing the law with its precepts and decrees. This is why we should all be of one mind and if one member suffers some misfortune, all should suffer with him; if one member is honored, all should be glad.

Paul says: Accept one another as Christ accepted you, for the glory of God. Now accepting one another means being willing to share one another’s thoughts and feelings, bearing one another’s burdens, and preserving the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. This is how God accepted us in Christ, for John’s testimony is true and he said that God the Father loved the world so much that he gave his own Son for us. God’s Son was given as a ransom for the lives of us all. He has delivered us from death, redeemed us from death and from sin.

Paul throws light on the purpose of God’s plan when he says that Christ became the servant of the circumcised to show God’s fidelity. God had promised the Jewish patriarchs that he would bless their offspring and make it as numerous as the stars of heaven. This is why the divine Word himself, who as God holds all creation in being and is the source of its well-being, appeared in the flesh and became man. He came into this world in human flesh not to be served, but, as he himself said, to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Christ declared that his coming in visible form was to fulfill the promise made to Israel. I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, he said. Paul was perfectly correct, then, in saying that Christ became a servant of the circumcised in order to fulfill the promise made to the patriarchs and that God the Father had charged him with this task, as also with the task of bringing salvation to the Gentiles, so that they too might praise their Savior and Redeemer as the Creator of the universe. In this way God’s mercy has been extended to all men, including the Gentiles, and it can be seen that the mystery of the divine wisdom contained in Christ has not failed in its benevolent purpose. In the place of those who fell away the whole world has been saved.