Therefore you are witnesses unto yourselves, that you are the children of them who killed the prophets.
Read Chapter 23
Cyril of Alexandria
We will carefully investigate what the Savior says. The forefathers of the Jews killed the holy prophets who were transmitting the divine word to them in those times. They surely have become witnesses for some of them, because the prophets are now revered and honored. They have placed crowns on their heads or assign … honor to their tombs as to holy things, for believing the prophets to be holy men, they have become the judges of those who have killed them. For by honoring them in this way, they have spoken against those who killed them, and through these things they accuse them of having acted wickedly. But though they agreed to condemn the murders committed by their own forefathers, they were about to become threshing floors for the same kind of evils, indeed, to things even worse. They “killed the author of life” and added to their impieties against him other murders, those of his holy apostles. For while one scrutinizes the sins of others, making a decision according to one’s innat...
The form of judgment is perfect; the understanding and idea of equity are instilled in each of us by nature so that the more fully the ideal of equity is known, the less need there is for the forgiveness of iniquity. The people of the law killed all the prophets. They had become inflamed with hatred toward them because of the harshness of their reproaches, since the prophets had publicly called them thieves, murderers, adulterers and sacrilegious. Moreover, because they had denounced the Jews as unworthy of the kingdom of heaven and because they taught that the Gentiles would be the heirs of the covenant of God, they afflicted the prophets with a variety of other punishments. The descendants, however, repudiated the deeds of their fathers, honoring the prophets’ books, decorating their tombs, restoring their sepulchers and attesting by these forms of respect that they were not culpable of the crimes of their fathers.
By a most subtle syllogism He proves them to be the sons of murderers, while to gain good character and reputation with the people, they build the sepulchres of the Prophets whom their fathers put to death.
Though they speak not this in words, they proclaim it by their actions, inambitious and magnificent structures to their memory.
And what blame is it to be a murderer's son, if one partake not in the mind of one's father? None. Whence it is evident, that for this same thing He brings it forward against them, hinting at their affinity in wickedness.
Hom. lxxiv: He does not blame them for building the sepulchres, but discovers the design with which they built them; which was not to honour the slain, butto erect to themselves a triumphal monument of the murder, as fearing that in process of time the memory of this their audacious wickedness should perish.
Or, they said within themselves, If we do good to the poor not many see it, and then but for a moment; were it not better to raise buildings which all may see, not only now, but in all time to come; O foolish man, what boots this posthumous memory, if, where you are, you are tortured, and where you are not there you are praised? While He corrects the Jews, He instructs the Christians; for had these things been spoken to the former only, they would have been spoken, but not written; but now they were spoken on their account, and written on ours. When one, besides other good deeds, raises sacred buildings, it is an addition to his good works; but if without any other good works, it i...
He deplores them, not for building tombs for the prophets, for that is pleasing to God, but for doing these things in pretence, and for passing judgement on their fathers while doing worse things themselves, and exceeding them by far in malice. They lie brazenly when they say, "If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have killed the prophets," for they were rabid with desire to kill the Master of the prophets. Therefore Christ says: