Two Kinds of Offences
Commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke
Saint Cyril Patriarch of Alexandria
translated by R. Payne Smith
Studion Publishers, Inc.
Then He said unto His disciples: It is impossible but that offences come, but woe to that man by whom they cometh.
It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend on of these little ones. Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him, and if he repent, forgive him.
What are the offences which Christ mentions as being in every way certain to happen? Offences then are of two kinds: for some are against the glory of the Supreme Being, and assail That Substance Which transcends all, as far at least as regards the purpose of the contrivers of them: while other offences happen from time to time against ourselves, and proceed no further than to the injury of some of the brethren, who are our partners in the faith. For whatever heresies have been invented, and every argument which opposes itself to the truth, resist really the glory of the supreme Godhead, by drawing away those who are caught therein from the uprightness and exactness of the sacred doctrines. And such were the offences concerning which the Saviour Himself again somewhere said, "Woe to the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come: but woe to that man by whom the offence comes." For offences of this kind, caused I mean by unholy heretics, are not levelled against some single individual, but are aimed rather against the world, that is, against the inhabitants of the whole earth. And the blessed Paul rebukes the inventors of such offences, saying, "But in thus sinning against the brethren, and wounding their weak conscience, you sin against Christ." And that such offences might not prevail over the faithful, God somewhere spoke unto those who are the ambassadors of the upright word of truth, and skilful in teaching it, saying, "Go through My gates, and make a pathway for My people, and cast away the stones out of the way." And the Saviour has attached a bitter penalty against those who lay such stumbling-blocks in men's road.
Perhaps, however, these are not the offences here referred to, but those rather, which very frequently from human infirmity happen between friends and brethren: and the accompanying discourse which immediately follows these opening remarks, and which speaks of our pardoning the brethren in case they ever sin against us, leads us to the idea that these were the offences meant. And what then are these offences? Mean and annoying actions, I suppose; fits of anger, whether on good grounds or without justification; insults; slanders very frequently; and other stumbling-blocks akin and similar to these. Such, He says, must needs come. Is this then because God, Who governs all, obliges men to their commission? Away with the thought: for from Him comes nothing that is evil, yea! rather He is the fountain of all virtue. Why then must they happen? Plainly because of our infirmity; for in many things we all of us stumble, as it is written. Nevertheless there will be woe, He says, to the man who lays the stumblingblocks in the way: for He does not leave indifference in these things without rebuke, but restrains it rather by fear of punishment. Nevertheless He commands us to bear with patience those who occasion them.
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from Joanna's notepad
An example of how an ambassador skillful in teaching might put a stumbling block in the path of a little one is any clergymen who revere the pseudo-elder Ephraim Moraitis of St. Anthony's Monastery in Arizona.
An example of how an ambassador skillful in teaching might put a stumbling block in the path of a little one is any clergymen who say it is a valid Orthodox opinion to think that Harry Potter books have an esoteric Christian theme.