Cyril of Alexandria (patriarch 412-444) commenting on John 19:26-27:
He took thought for His mother, paying no heed to His own bitter agony, for His sufferings affected Him not. He gave her into the charge of the beloved disciple (this was John, the writer of this book), and bade him take her home, and regard her as a mother; and enjoined His own mother to regard him as none other than her true son—by his tenderness, that is, and affection, fulfilling and stepping into the place of Him,Who was her Son by nature.
But as some misguided men have thought that Christ, when He thus spake, gave way to mere fleshly affection—away with such folly! to fall into so stupid an error is only worthy of a madman—what good purpose, then, did Christ hereby fulfil? First, we reply, that He wished to confirm the command on which the Law lays so much stress. For what saith the Mosaic ordinance? Honour thy father and thy mother, that it may he well with thee. His commandment unto us did not cease with exhorting us to perform this duty, but threatened us with the extreme penalty of the Law, if we chose to disregard it, and has put sin against our parents after the flesh on a par with sin against God. For the Law which ordered that the blasphemer should undergo the sentence of death, saying: Let him that blasphemeth the Name of the Lord, he put to death, also subjected to the same penalty the man who employs his licentious and unruly tongue against his parents: He that curseth father or mother shall surely he put to death. As, then, the Lawgiver hath ordained that we should pay such honour to our parents, surely it was right that the commandment thus proclaimed should be confirmed by the approval of the Saviour; and as the perfect form of every excellence and virtue through Him first came into the world, why should not this virtue be put on the same footing as the rest? For, surely, honour to parents is a very precious kind of virtue. And how could we learn that we ought not to lightly regard love toward them, even when we are overwhelmed by a flood of intolerable calamities, save by the example of Christ first of all, and through Him? For best of all, surely, is he who is mindful of the holy commandments, and is not diverted from the pursuit of duty in stormy and troublous times, and not in peace and quietness alone.
Besides, also, was not the Lord, I say, right to take thought for His mother, when she had fallen on a rock of offence, and when her mind was in a turmoil of perplexity? For, as He was truly God, and looked into the motions of the heart, and knew its secrets, how could He fail to know the thoughts about His crucifixion, which were then throwing her into sore distress? Knowing, then, what was passing in her heart, He commended her to the disciple, the best of guides, who was able to explain fully and adequately the profound mystery. For wise and learned in the things of God was he who received and took her away gladly, to fulfil all the Saviour’s Will concerning her.
See Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on John, A Library of Fathers of the Holy Catholic Church, Vol. 48, John IX-XXI, trans. Thomas Randell (London: Walter Smith, 1885), Vol. 2, Book XII, Chapter xix, pp. 634-635.
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