Cyril was born around 315 when a new phase was beginning for Christians. Before that date, the Church was persecuted by the emperors. Thousands of Christians had been martyrs. In 315, Emperor Constantine recognized Christianity as a legal religion. That was a wonderful thing, but it didn't end all the problems. In fact, during the years that followed the Edict of 315, Christians learned about an entirely new difficulty. There was confusion about what Christians believe and don't believe. There were many false teachings called "heresies." Some priests and bishops became brave defenders of Church teaching. One such bishop was Cyril of Jerusalem.
When St. Maximus, bishop of Jerusalem, died, Cyril was chosen to take his place. Cyril was the bishop of Jerusalem for thirty-five years. Sixteen long years of that time were spent in hiding and exile. Three times he was run out of town by influential people who wanted him removed. They were trying to force Cyril to accept false teachings about Jesus and the Church. But he would not bend.
The reign of Emperor Julian the apostate began in 361. Julian decided to rebuild the famous Temple of Jerusalem. He had a definite purpose in mind: he wanted to prove that Jesus had been wrong when he declared that the Temple of Jerusalem would not be rebuilt. He decided to prove it. So he spent much money and sent all the materials for a new Temple. Many people helped by giving jewels and precious metals. Yet St. Cyril faced the difficulty with outward calm. He was sure that the Temple could not be built, because Jesus, who is God, had said so. The bishop looked calmly at all the materials and said, "I know that this will fail." And sure enough, first a storm, then an earthquake, then a fire stopped the emperor. He finally abandoned the project.
St. Cyril died in 386 when he was around seventy. This gentle, kindly man had lived in times of upheaval and sadness. But he never lost his courage because it came from Jesus. He was faithful to the Lord all his life. Cyril was heroic in teaching the truth about Jesus and his Church.
Reflection: "The Christian is a bearer of Christ."