The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Archive for July, 2012

My Notes on Jeremiah 15:10, 16-21

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 31, 2012

Today’s reading is taken from one of several pericope’s scholars have named “the Confessions of Jeremiah” (Jer 11:18-12:6; Jer 15:10-21; Jer 17:12-18; Jer 18:18-23; Jer 20:7-18). “In these the prophet lays bare his inmost soul, his trials and colloquies with God. They reveal to us his sensitive nature an help us to trace his spiritual itinerary” (New Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture).

Jer 15:10  Woe is me, my mother: why hast thou borne me a man of strife, a man of contention to all the earth? I have not lent on usury, neither hath any man lent to me on usury: yet all curse me.

The prophet laments the day of his birth (see Jer 20:14). The wise Job does the same in the midst of his suffering (Job 3:1-19). Jeremiah’s suffering is the result of his having been appointed a prophet. That appointment came long before his call to prophecy and, indeed, long before his conception in his mother’s womb (Jer 1:6). Much like Elijah before him, Jeremiah is facing a crisis of his ministry (1 Kings 19:4).

At his call, God had indicated that Jeremiah would be a man of strife, while at the same time promising him divine protection:  Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak to them all that I command thee. Be not afraid at their presence: for I will make thee not to fear their countenance. For behold I have made thee this day a fortified city, and a pillar of iron, and a wall of brass, over all the land, to the kings of Juda, to the princes thereof, and to the priests, and to the people of the land. And they shall fight against them, and shall not prevail: for I am with thee, saith the Lord, to deliver thee (Jer 1:17-19).

He has obeyed God’s words, avoiding acting against the law as those who engaged in the hated practice of usury towards a fellow Jew (Ex 22:25; Lev 25:35-37; Deut 23:19-20).

Jer 15:16  Thy words were found, and I did eat them, and thy word was to me a joy and gladness of my heart: for thy name is called upon me, O Lord God of hosts.

They words were found, and I did eat them. A possible allusion to the finding of the book of the Law in the time of good king Josiah (2 Kings 22:8-10). The finding of the book kicked the king’s reform into high gear and corresponded with the early ministry of Jeremiah. More likely it refers to the call of Jeremiah: And the Lord put forth his hand, and touched my mouth: and the Lord said to me: Behold I have given my words in thy mouth (Jer 1:9). The reference to eating the word reappears as a prophetic context in Ezekiel 2:8-3:1-4; Rev 10:8-11).

And thy word was to me a joy and gladness of my heart. This clause is to be explained in light of what follows: for thy name is called upon me, O Lord, God of Hosts. Jeremiah was overjoyed that he would receive the divine protection of God’s name, often synonymous with his protecting presence (Jer 14:9). God had promised that he would be with Jeremiah during his mission as prophet (Jer 1:8; Jer 1:19)

Lord of Hosts = Lord of Armies-i.e., the angels; Lord of power and might, etc. The divine protector and  warrior.

Jer 15:17  I sat not in the assembly of jesters, nor did I make a boast of the presence of thy hand: I sat alone, because thou hast filled me with threats.

I sat not in the assembly of Jesters. As translated, the first part of this verse recalls the last part of Psalm 1:1~Nor sit in the assembly of mockers. The word used here (שׂחק) is different from that used in the Psalm and would be better translated as childish. The Hebrew word, like its Greek counterpart in the LXX implies boyish frivolity (Gr. παιζοντων). When first presented with the divine call to prophecy Jeremiah had objected that he was too young (Jer 1:6), but the Lord had assured him of the divine protection (Jer 1:7).

Nor did I boast of the presence of thy hand. God’s hand is the power behind the prophet;s action (Ezekiel 1:3; Ezekiel 37:1). He did not boast concerning the solemn charge God had given him.

I sat alone, because thou has filled me with threats. This does not mean that God has threatened the prophet rather, it refers to the fact that God had informed Jeremiah that his ministry would be difficult, arousing opposition (Jer 1:17-19), even from among family (Jer 12:6), and townspeople (Jer 11:19-23). If the words I sat alone are taken in relation to I sat not in the assembly of jesters (the childish), then we may have an indication that many of the prophets opponents were people he had grown up with, friends of his youth from whom he separated. For the theme of separation from those not oriented toward God see Psalm 1:1-2; Psalm 26:4-5.

Jer 15:18  Why is my sorrow become perpetual, and my wound desperate so as to refuse to be healed? it is become to me as the falsehood of deceitful waters that cannot be trusted.

Why is my sorrow become perpetual, and my wound desperate so as to refuse to be healed? In some ways the crisis of Jeremiah mirrors that of his countrymen (Jer 14:19). Those who are constantly in need of a slap on the wrist will never be healed of a bruised wrist (Isa 1:5-6). Those who have to deal with such a class of people-as Jeremiah had to-will themselves be bumped and bruised. The suffering of Jeremiah, who suffered for the sake of his people, foreshadowed the sufferings of Jesus: And Jesus came into the quarters of Cesarea Philippi: and he asked his disciples, saying: Whom do men say that the Son of man is? But they said: Some John the Baptist, and other some Elias, and others Jeremiah, or one of the prophet (Matt 16:13-14).

 It (the prophet’s suffering) is become to me as the falsehood of deceitful waters that cannot be trusted. Jeremiah had been told of the suffering (opposition) he would endure, but it seems as if it had all been for naught. The implication is that the Lord has deceived him. Jeremiah lived in a dry climate with a paucity of water, and here God’s promises regarding his protection are portrayed as a thirsty man’s mirage (deceitful waters that cannot be trusted).

Jer 15:19  Therefore thus saith the Lord: If thou wilt be converted, I will convert thee, and thou shalt stand before my face; and thou wilt separate the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth: they shall be turned to thee, and thou shalt not be turned to them.

If thou wilt be converted. God calls the prophet to repentance, something his countrymen seemed incapable of. He can once again stand in the presence of God (thou shalt stand before my face) and separate the precious from the vile, i.e., understand the distinction between why he suffers and why sinners suffer and, more importantly, continue his mission of separating the precious (repentant) from the vile (unrepentant). The suffering of the just is a trial by fire, often compared to what gold or other precious metals go through. The purpose is to refine and increase the value of the precious by burning off the vile. (1 Peter 1:3-8; 1 Cor 3:13).

They shall be turned to thee, and thou shalt not be turned to them. The people will be converted (turned) to God’s way of thinking, rather than the prophet being turned to their thoughts (see Matt 16:23).

Jer 15:20  And I will make thee to this people as a strong wall of brass: and they shall fight against thee, and shall not prevail: for I am with thee to save thee, and to deliver thee, saith the Lord.
Jer 15:21  And I will deliver thee out of the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem thee out of the hand of the mighty.

vs. 20. I will make thee to this people as a strong wall of brass. These words both recall and reiterate the call of Jeremiah to prophecy.

They shall fight against thee and not prevail, &c. Also recalls the call narrative (Jer 1:19; see also Jer 1:8).

vs. 21. I will deliver thee out of the hand of the wicked. For punishment, God sometimes gives his people into the hands of her enemies (Jer 12:6), but Jeremiah will be saved this fate if he repents. It should be kept in mind that while the enemies of God’s people are the pagans, often times those who claim to be God’s people are nothing more than pagan-like enemies, and such are the enemies of Jeremiah.

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St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 59

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 30, 2012

As the Scripture is wont to set mysteries of the Psalms on the titles, and to deck the brow of a Psalm with the high announcement of a Mystery, in order that we that are about to go in may know (when as it were upon the door-post we have read what within is doing) either of whom the house is, or who is the owner of that estate: so also in this Psalm there hath been written a title, of a title. For it hath, “At the end, corrupt not for David himself unto the inscription of the title.” This is that which I have spoken of, title of Title. For what the inscription of this title is, which to be corrupted he forbiddeth, the Gospel to us doth indicate. For when the Lord was being crucified, a title by Pilate was inscribed and set, “King of the Jews,” in three tongues, Hebrew, Greek, and Latin: which tongues in the whole world mostly do prevail. …Therefore “corrupt not” is most proper and prophetic; since indeed even those Jews made suggestion at that time to Pilate, and said, “Do not write King of the Jews, but write, that Himself said that He was King of the Jews:” for this title, say they, hath established Him King over us. And Pilate, “What I have written, I have written.” And there was fulfilled, “corrupt not.”

Nor is this the only Psalm which hath an inscription of such sort, that the Title be not corrupted. Several Psalms thus are marked on the face, but however in all the Passion of the Lord is foretold. Therefore here also let us perceive the Lord’s Passion, and let there speak to us Christ, Head and Body. So always, or nearly always, let us hear the words of Christ from the Psalm, as that we look not only upon that Head, the one mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus. …But let us think of Christ, Head and whole Body, a sort of entire Man. For to us is said, “But ye are the Body of Christ and members,” by the Apostle Paul. If therefore He is Head, we Body; whole Christ is Head and Body. For sometimes thou findest words which do not suit the Head, and unless thou shalt have attached them to the Body, thy understanding will waver: again thou findest words which are proper for the Body, and Christ nevertheless is speaking. In that place we must have no fear lest a man be mistaken for quickly he proceedeth to adapt to the Head, that which he seeth is not proper for the Body. …

Let us hear, therefore, what followeth: “When Saul sent and guarded his house in order that he might kill him.” This though not to the Cross of the Lord, yet to the Passion ofthe Lord doth belong. For Crucified was Christ, and dead, and buried. That sepulchre was therefore as it were the house: to guard which the government of the Jews sent, when guards were set to the sepulchre of Christ. There is indeed a story in the Scripture of the Reigns, of the occasion when Saul sent to guard the house in order that he might kill David. …But in like manner as Saul effected not his purpose of slaying David: so this could not the government of the Jews effect, that the testimony of guards sleeping should avail more than that of Apostles watching. For what were the guards instructed to say? We give to you, they say, as much money as ye please; and say ye, that while ye were sleeping there came His disciples, and took Him away. Behold what sort of witnesses of falsehood against truth and the Resurrection of Christ, His enemies, through Saul figured, did produce. Enquire, O unbelief, of sleeping witnesses, let them reply to thee of what was done in the tomb. Who, if they were sleeping, whence knew it? If watching, wherefore detained they not the thieves? Let him say therefore what followeth.

“Deliver me from mine enemies, my God, and from men rising up upon me, redeem Thou me” (ver. 1). There hath been done this thing in the flesh of Christ, it is being done in us also. For our enemies, to wit the devil and his angels, cease not to rise up upon us every day, and to wish to make sport of our weakness and our frailness, by deceptions, by suggestions, by temptations, and by snares of whatsoever sort to entangle us, while on earth we are still living. But let our voice watch unto God, and cry out in the members of Christ, under the Head that is in heaven, “Deliver me from mine enemies, my God, and from men rising up upon me, redeem Thou me.”

“Deliver me from men working iniquity, and from men of bloods, save Thou me” (ver. 2). They indeed were men of bloods, who slew the Just One, in whom no guilt they found: they were men of bloods, because when the foreigner washed his hands, and would have let go Christ, they cried, “Crucify, Crucify:” they were men of bloods, on whom when there was being charged the crime of the blood of Christ, they made answer, giving it to their posterity to drink, “His blood be upon us and upon our sons.” But neither against His Body did men of bloods cease to rise up; for even after the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ, the Church suffered persecutions, and she indeed first that grew out of the Jewish people, of which also our Apostles were. There at first Stephen was stoned, and received that of which he had his name. For Stephanus doth signify a crown. Lowly stoned but highly crowned. Secondly, among the Gentiles rose up kingdoms of Gentiles, before that in them was fulfilled that which had been foretold, “There shall adore Him all the kings of the earth, all nations shall serve Him:” and there roared the fierceness of that kingdom against the witnesses of Christ: there was shed largely and frequently the blood of Martyrs: wherewith when it had been shed, being as it were sown, the field of the Church more productively put forth, and filled the whole world as we now behold. From these therefore, men of bloods, is delivered Christ, not only Head, but also Body. From men of bloods is delivered Christ, both from them that have been, and from them that are, and from them that are to be; there is delivered Christ, both He that hath gone before, and He that is, and He that is to come. For Christ is the whole Body of Christ; and whatsoever good Christians that now are, and that have been before us, and that after us are to be, are an whole Christ, who is delivered from men of bloods; nor is this voice void, “And from men of bloods save Thou me.”

“For behold they have hunted my soul. …There have rushed upon me strong men” (ver. 3). We must not however pass on from these strong men: diligently we must trace who are the strong men rising up. Strong men, upon whom but upon weak men, upon powerless men, upon men not strong? And praised nevertheless are the weak men, and condemned are the strong men. If it would be perceived who are strong men, at first the devil himself the Lord hath called a strong man: “No one,” He saith, “is able to go into the house of a strong man, and to carry off his vessels, unless first he shall have bound the strong man.” He hath bound therefore the strong man with the chains of His dominion: and his vessels He hath carried off, and His own vessels hath made them. For all unrighteous men were vessels of the devil. …But there are among mankind certain strong men of a blameable and damnable strength, that are confident indeed, but on temporal felicity. That man doth not seem to you to have been strong, of whom now from the Gospels hath been read: how his estate brought forth abundance of fruits, and he being troubled, hit upon the design of rebuilding, so that, having pulled down his old barns, he should construct new ones more capacious, and, these having been finished, should say to his soul, “Thou hast many good things, soul, feast, be merry, be filled.” …There are also other men men strong, not because of riches, not because of the powers of the body, not because of any temporally pre-eminent power of station, but relying on their righteousness. This sort of strong men must be guarded against, feared, repulsed, not imitated: of men relying, I say, not on body, not on means, not on descent, not on honour; for all such things who would not see to be temporal, fleeting, falling, flying? but relying on their own righteousness. …”Wherefore,” say they, doth your Master eat with publicans and sinners? O ye strong men, to whom a Physician is not needful! This strength to soundness belongeth not, but to insanity. For even than men frenzied nothing can be stronger, more mighty they are than whole men: but by how much greater their powers are, by so much nearer is their death. May God therefore turn away from our imitation these strong men. …The same are therefore the strong men, that assailed Christ, commending their own justice. Hear ye these strong men: when certain men of Jerusalem were speaking, having been sent by them to take Christ, and not daring to take Him (because when he would, then was He taken, that truly was strong): Why therefore, say they, “could ye not take Him?” And they made answer, “No one of men did ever so speak as He.” And these strong men, “Hath by any means any one of the Pharisees believed on Him, or any one of the Scribes, but this people knowing not the Law?” They preferred themselves to the sick multitude, that was running to the Physician: whence but because they were themselves strong? and what is worse, by their strength, all the multitude also they brought over unto themselves, and slew the Physician of all. …

What next? “Neither iniquity is mine, nor sin mine, O Lord” (ver. 4). There have rushed on indeed strong men on their own righteousness relying, they have rushed on, but sin in me they have not found. For truly those strong men, that is, as it were righteous men, on what account would they be able to persecute Christ, unless it were as if a sinner? But, however, let them look to it how strong they be, in the raging of fever not in the vigour of soundness: let them look to it how strong they be, and how as though just against an unrighteous man they have raged. But, however, “neither iniquity is mine, nor sin mine, O Lord. Without iniquity I did run, and I was guided.” Those strong men therefore could not follow me running: therefore a sinner they have deemed me, because my steps they have not seen.

“Without iniquity I did run, and was guided; rise up to meet me, and see.” To God is said this. But why? If He meet not, is He unable to see? It is just as if thou wast walking in a road, and from afar by some one thou couldest not be recognised, thou wouldest call to him and wouldest say, Meet me, and see how I am walking; for when from afar thou espiest me, my steps thou art not able to see. So also unless God were to meet, would He not see how without iniquity he was guided, and how without sin he was running? This interpretation indeed we can also accept, namely, “Rise up to meet me,” as if “help me.” But that which he hath added, “and see,” must be understood as, make it to be seen that I run, make it to be seen that I am guided: according to that figure wherein this also hath been said to Abraham, “Now I know that thou fearest God.” God saith, “Now I know:” whence, but because I have made thee to know? For unknown to himself every one is before the questioning of temptation: just as of himself Peter in his confidence was ignorant, and by denying learned what kind of powers he had, in his very stumbling he perceived that it was falsely he had been confident: he wept, and in weeping he earned profitably to know what he was, and to be what he was not. Therefore Abraham when tried, became known to himself: and it was said by God, “Now I know,” that is, now I have made thee to know. In like manner as glad is the day because it maketh men glad; and sad is bitterness because it maketh sad one tasting thereof: so God’s seeing is making to see. “Rise up, therefore,” he saith, “to meet me, and see” (ver. 5). What is, “and see”? And help me, that is, in those men, in order that they may see my course, may follow me; let not that seem to them to be crooked which is straight, let not that seem to them to be curved which keepeth the rule of truth.

Something else I am admonished to say in this place of the loftiness of our Head Himself: for He was made weak even unto death, and He took on Him the weakness of flesh, in order that the chickens of Jerusalem He might gather under His wings, like a hen showing herself weak with her little ones. For have we not observed this thing in some bird at some time or other, even in those which build nests before our eyes, as the house-sparrows, as swallows, so to speak, our annual guests, as storks, as various sorts of birds, which before our eyes build nests, and hatch eggs, feed chickens, as the very doves which daily we see; and some bird to become weak with her chickens, have we not known, have we not looked upon, have we not seen? In what way doth a hen experience this weakness? Surely a known fact I am speaking of, which in our sight is daily taking place. How her voice groweth hoarse, how her whole body is made languid? The wings droop, the feathers are loosened, and thou seest around the chickens some sick thing, and this is maternal love which is found as weakness. Why was it therefore, but for this reason, that the Lord willed to be as a Hen, saying in the Holy Scripture, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often have I willed to gather thy sons, even as a hen her chickens under her wings, and thou hast not been willing.” But He hath gathered all nations, like as a hen her chickens. …

“And Thou, Lord God of virtues, God of Israel.” Thou God of Israel, that art thought to be but God of one nation, which worshippeth Thee, when all nations worship idols, Thou God of Israel, “Give heed unto the visiting all nations.” Fulfilled be that prophecy wherein Isaiah in Thy person speaketh to Thy Church, Thy holy City, that barren one of whom many more are the sons of Her forsaken than of her that hath a husband. To Her indeed hath been said, “Rejoice, thou barren, that bearest not,” etc., more than of the Jewish nation which hath a Husband, which hath received the Law, more than of that nation which had a visible king. For thy king is hidden, and more sons to thee there are by a hidden Bridegroom. …The Prophet addeth, “Enlarge the place of Thy tabernacle, and Thy courts fix thou: there is no cause for thee to spare, extend further thy cords, and strong stakes set thou again and again on the right and on the left.” Upon the right keep good men, on the left keep evil men, until there come the fan: occupy nevertheless all nations; bidden to the marriage be good men and evil men, filled be the marriage with guests; it is the office of servants to bid, of the Lord to sever. “Cities which had been forsaken Thou shall inhabit:” forsaken of God, forsaken of Prophets, forsaken of Apostles, forsaken of the Gospel, full of demons. For Thou shalt prevail; and blush not because abominable Thou hast been. Therefore though there have risen up upon thee strong men, blush not: when against the name of Christ laws were enacted, when ignominy and infamy it was to be a Christian. “Blush not because abominable Thou hast been: for confusion for everlasting Thou shalt forget, of the ignominy of Thy widowhood Thou shall not be mindful.” …

“Have not pity upon all men that work iniquity.” Here evidently He is terrifying. Whom would He not terrify? What man falling back upon his own conscience would not tremble? Which even if to itself it is conscious of godliness, strange if it be not in some sort conscious of iniquity. For whosoever doeth sin, also doeth iniquity. “For if Thou shalt have marked iniquities, O Lord, what man shall abide it?” And nevertheless a true saying it is, and not said to no purpose, and neither is nor will it be possible to be void, “Have not pity upon all men that work iniquity.” But He had pity even upon Paul, who at first as Saul wrought iniquity. For what good thing did he, whence he might deserve of God? Did he not hate His Saints unto death? did he not bear letters from the chief of the priests, to the end that wheresoever he might find Christians, to punishment he should hurry them? When bent upon this, when thither proceeding, breathing and panting slaughter, as the Scripture testified of him, was he not from Heaven with a mighty voice summoned, thrown down, raised up; blinded, lightened; slain, made alive; destroyed, restored? In return for what merit? Let us say nothing; himself rather let us hear: “I that before have been,” he saith, “a blasphemer, and persecutor; and injurious, but mercy I have obtained.” Surely “Thou wouldest not have pity upon all men that work iniquity:” this in two ways may be understood: either that in fact not any sins doth God leave unpunished; or that there is a sort of iniquity, on the workers whereof God hath indeed no pity.

All iniquity, be it little or great, punished must needs be, either by man himself repenting, or by God avenging. For even he that repenteth punisheth himself. Therefore, brethren, let us punish our own sins, if we seek the mercy of God. God cannot have mercy on all men working iniquity as if pandering to sins, or not rooting out sins. In a word, either thou punishest, or He punisheth. …

But let us see now another way in which this sentence may be understood. There is a certain iniquity, on the worker whereof it cannot be that God have mercy. Ye enquire, perchance, what that is? It is the defending of sins. When a man defendeth his sins, great iniquity he worketh: that thing he is defending which God hateth. And see how perversely, how iniquitously. Whatever of good he hath done, to himself he would have it to be ascribed; whatever of evil, to God. For in this manner men defend sins in the person of God, which is a worse sin. …Therefore thou defendest thy sin in such sort, that thou layest blame on God. So the guilty is excused, so that the Judge may be charged. However on men working iniquity God hath no pity at all.

“Let them be converted at the evening” (ver. 6). Of certain men he is speaking that were once workers of iniquity, and once darkness, being converted in the evening. What is, “in the evening”? Afterward. What is “at the evening”? Later. For before, before that they crucified Christ, they ought to have acknowledged their Physician. Wherefore, when He had been crucified-rising again, into Heaven ascending-after that He sent His Holy Spirit, wherewith were fulfilled they that were in one house, and they began to speak with the tongues of all nations, there feared the crucifiers of Christ; they were pricked through with their consciences, they besought counsel of safety from the Apostles, they heard, “Repent, and be baptized each one of you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and your sins shall be remitted unto you.” After the slaying of Christ, after the shedding of the blood of Christ, remitted are your sins. …”Let these be converted,” therefore, they also “at evening.” Let them yearn for the grace of God, perceive themselves to be sinners; let those strong men be made weak, those rich men be made poor, those just men acknowledge themselves sinners, those lions be made dogs. “Let them be converted at evening, and suffer hunger as dogs. And they shall go around the city.” What city? That world, which in certain places the Scripture calleth “the city of standing round:” that is, because in all nations everywhere the world had encompassed the one nation of Jews, where such words were being spoken, and it was called “the city of standing round.” Around this city shall go those men, now having become hungry dogs. In what manner shall they go around? By preaching. Saul out of a wolf was made a dog at evening, that is, being late converted by the crumbs of his Lord, in His grace he ran, and went around the city.

“Behold, themselves shall speak in their mouth, and a sword is on the lips of them” (ver. 7). Here is that sword twice whetted, whereof the Apostle saith, “And the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.” Wherefore twice whetted? Wherefore, but because smiting out of both Testaments? With this sword were slain those whereof it was said to Peter, “Slay, and eat.” “And a sword is on the lips of them. For who hath heard?” They all speak in their mouth, “Who hath heard?” That is, they shall be wroth with men that are slow to believe. They that a little before were even themselves unwilling to believe, do feel disgust from men not believing. And truly, brethren, so it is. Thou seest a man slow before he is made a Christian; thou criest to him daily, hardly he is converted: suppose him to be converted, and then he would have all men to be Christians, and wondereth that not yet they are. It hath chanced out to him at evening to have been converted: but because he hath been made hungering like a dog, he hath also on his lips a sword; he saith, “Who hath heard?” What is, “Who hath heard?” “Who hath believed our hearing, and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?” “For who hath heard?” The Jews believe not: they have turned them to the nations, and have preached. The Jews did not believe; and nevertheless through believing Jews the Gospel went around the city, and they said, “For who hath heard?” “And Thou, Lord, shall deride them” (ver. 8). All nations are to be Christian, and ye say, “Who hath heard?” What is, “shall deride them”? “As nothing Thou shall esteem all nations.” Nothing for Thee it shall be; because a most easy thing it will be for all nations to believe in Thee.

“My strength to Thee I will keep” (ver. 9). For those strong men have fallen for this reason; because their strength to Thee they have not kept: that is, they that upon me have risen up and rushed, on themselves have relied. But I “my strength to Thee will keep:” because if I withdraw, I fall; if I draw near, stronger I am made. For see, brethren, what there is in a human soul. It hath not of itself light, hath not of itself powers: but all that is fair in a soul, is virtue and wisdom: but it neither is wise for itself, nor strong for itself, nor itself is light to itself, nor itself is virtue to itself. There is a certain origin and fountain of virtue, there is a certain root of wisdom, there is a certain, so to speak, if this also must be said, region of unchangeable truth: from this the soul withdrawing is made dark, drawing near is made light. “Draw near to Him, and be made light:” because by withdrawing ye are made dark. Therefore, “my strength, I will keep to, Thee:” not from Thee will I withdraw, not on myself will I rely. “My strength, to Thee I will keep: because, O God, my lifter up Thou art.” For where was I, and where am I? Whence hast Thou taken me up? What iniquities of mine hast Thou remitted? Where was I lying? To what have I been raised up? I ought to have remembered these things: because in another Psalm is said, “For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord hath taken me unto Him.”

“My God, the mercy of Him shall come before me” (ver. 10). Behold what is, “My strength, to Thee I will keep:” on myself I will in no ways at all rely. For what good thing have I brought, that thou shouldest have mercy on me, and shouldest justify me? What in me hast Thou found, save sins alone? Of Thine there is nothing else but the nature which Thou hast created: the other things are mine own evil things which Thou hast blotted out. I have not first risen up to Thee, but to awake me Thou hast come: for “His mercy shall come before me.” Before that anything of good I shall do, “His mercy shall come before me.” What answer here shall the unhappy Pelagius make? “My God hath shown to me among mine enemies” (ver. 11). How great mercy He hath put forth concerning me, among mine enemies He hath showed. Let one gathered compare himself with men forsaken, and one elect with men rejected: let the vessel of mercy compare itself with the vessels of wrath; and let it see how out of one lump God hath made one vessel unto honour, another unto dishonour. “For so God, willing to show wrath, and to manifest His power, hath brought in, in much patience, the vessels of wrath, which have been perfected unto perdition.” And wherefore this? “In order that He might make known His riches upon the vessels of mercy.” If therefore vessels of wrath He hath brought in, wherein He might make known His riches upon the vessels of mercy, most rightly hath been said, “His mercy shall come before me: My God hath showed to me among mine enemies:” that is however great mercy He hath had concerningme, to me He hath showed it among these men concerning whom He hath not had mercy. For unless the debtor be in suspense, he is less grateful to him by whom the debt hath been forgiven. “My God hath showed to me among mine enemies.”

But of the enemies themselves what? “Slay them not, lest sometime they forget Thy law.” He is making request for his enemies, he is fulfilling the commandment. …Slay not them of whom the sins Thou slayest. But what is it to be slain? To forget the law of the Lord. It is real death, to go into the pit of sin; this indeed may be also understood of the Jews. Why of the Jews, “Slay not them, lest sometime they forget Thy law”? Those very enemies of mine, that have slain me, do not Thou slay. Let the nation of the Jews remain: certes conquered it hath been by the Romans certes effaced is the city of them, Jews are not admitted into their city, and yet Jews there are. For all those provinces by the Romans have been subjugated. Who now can distinguish the nations in the Roman empire the one from the other, inasmuch as all have become Romans and all are called Romans? The Jews nevertheless remain with a mark; nor in such sort conquered have they been, as that by the conquerors they have been swallowed up. Not without reason is there that Cain, on whom, when he had slain his brother, God set a mark in order that no one should slay him. This is the mark which the Jews have: they hold fast by the remnant of their law, they are circumcised, they keep Sabbaths, they sacrifice the Passover; they eat unleavened bread. These are therefore Jews, they have not been slain, they are necessary to believing nations. Why so? In order that He may show to us among our enemies His mercy. “My God hath shown to me in mine enemies.” He showeth His mercy to the wild-olive grafted on branches that have been cut off because of pride. Behold where they lie, that were proud, behold where thou hast been grafted, that didst lie: and be not thou proud, lest thou shouldest deserve to be cut off.

“Scatter them abroad in Thy virtue” (ver. 11). Now this thing hath been done: throughout all nations there have been scattered abroad the Jews, witnesses of their own iniquity and our truth. They have themselves writings, out of which hath been prophesied Christ, and we hold Christ. And if sometime perchance any heathen man shall have doubted, when we have told him the prophecies of Christ, at the clearness whereof he is amazed, and wondering hath supposed that they were written by ourselves, then out of the copies of the Jews we prove, how this thing so long time before had been foretold. See after what sort by means of our enemies we confound other enemies. “Scatter them abroad in Thy virtue:” take away from them “virtue,” take away from them their strength. “And bring them down, my protector, O Lord.” “The transgressions of their mouth, the discourse of their lips: and let them be taken in their pride: and out of cursing and lying shall be declared consummations, in the anger of consummation, and they shall not be” (ver. 12). Obscure words these are, and I fear lest they be not well instilled. …

For, behold, the Jews are enemies, whom this Psalm seemeth to imply; the law of God they hold, and therefore of them hath been said, “Slay not them, lest sometime they forget Thy law:” in order that the nation of Jews might remain, and by it remaining the number of Christians might increase. Throughout all nations they remain certainly, and Jews they are, nor have they ceased to be what they were: that is, this nation hath not so yielded to Roman institutions, as to have lost the form of Jews; but hath been subjected to the Romans so as that it still retaineth its own laws; which are the laws of God. But what in their case hath been done? “Ye tithe mint and cummin, and have forsaken the weightier matters of the law, mercy, and judgment, straining a gnat, but swallowing a camel.” This to them the Lord saith. And in truth so they are; they hold the law, hold the Prophets; read all things, sing all things: the light of the Prophets therein they see not, which is Christ Jesus. Not only Him now they see not, when he is sitting in Heaven: but not even at that tithe saw they Him, when among them humble He was walking, and they were made guilty by shedding the blood of the Same; but not all. This even to-day we commend to the notice of your Love. Not all: because many of them were turned to Him whom they slew, and by believing on Him, they obtained pardon even for the shedding of His blood: and they have given an example for men; how they ought not to despair that sin of whatsoever kind would be remitted to them, since even the killing of Christ was remitted to them confessing. …

What in them wilt Thou slay? The Crucify, Crucify, which they cried out, not them that cried out. For they willed to blot out, cut off, destroy Christ: but Thou, by raising to life Christ, whom they willed to destroy, dost slay the “transgressions of their mouth, the discourse of their lips.” For in that He whom they cried out should be destroyed, liveth, they are taken with dread: and that He whom on earth they despised, in heaven is adored by all nations, they wonder: thus are there slain the transgressions of them, and the discourse of their lips. What is, “let them be taken in their pride”? Because to no purpose have strong men rushed on, and it hath fallen out to them as it were to think themselves to have done somewhat, and they have prevailed against the Lord. They were able to crucify a man, weakness might prevail and virtue be slain; and they thought themselves somewhat, as it were strong men, as it were mighty men, as it were prevailing, as it were a lion prepared for prey, as it were fat bulls, as of them in another place he maketh mention: “Fat bulls have beset me.” But what have they done in the case of Christ? Not life, but death they have slain. …And what now hath come to pass in those men that have been converted? For it was told to them that He whom they slew rose again. They believed Him to have risen again, because they saw that He, being in Heaven, thence sent the Holy Spirit, and filled those that on Him believed; and they found themselves to have condemned nought, and to have done nought. Their doing issued in emptiness, the sin remained. Because therefore the doing was made void, but the sin remained upon the doers; they were taken in their pride, they saw themselves under their iniquity. It remained therefore for them to confess the sin, and for Him to pardon, that had given Himself up to sinners, and to forgive His death, having been slain by men dead, and making alive men dead. They were taken therefore in their pride.

“And out of cursing and lying shall be declared consummations, in anger of consummation, and they shall not be.” This too with difficulty is understood, to what is joined the “and they shall not be.” What shall they not be? Let us therefore examine the context above: when they shall have been taken in their pride, “there shall be declared out of cursing and lying consummations.” What are consummations? Perfections: for to be consummated, is to be perfected. One thing it is to be consummated, another thing to be consumed. For a thing is consummated which is so finished as that it is perfected: a thing is consumed which is so finished that it is not. Pride would not suffer a man to be perfected, nothing so much hindereth perfection. For let your Love attend a little to what I am saying; and see an evil very pernicious, very much to be guarded against. What sort of evil do ye think it is? How long could I enlarge upon how much evil there is in pride? The devil on that account alone is to be punished. Certes he is the chief of all sinners: certes he is the tempter to sin: to him is not ascribed adultery, not wine-bibbing, not fornication, not the robbing of others’ goods: by pride alone he fell. And since pride’s companion is envy, it must needs be that a proud man should envy. …In a word, all vices in evil-doings are to be feared, pride in well-doings is more to be feared. It is no wonder, then, that so humble is the Apostle, as to say, “When I am made weak, then I am strong.” For lest he should himself be tempted by this sin, what sort of medicine doth he say was applied to him against swelling by the Physician, who knew what He was healing? “Lest by the greatness,” he saith, “of the revelations I should be exalted, there was given to me a thorn of my flesh, the angel of Satan, to buffet me: wherefore thrice the Lord I besought, that it should depart from me: and He said to me, My grace is sufficient for thee, for virtue in weakness is made perfect.” See what the consummations are. An Apostle, the teacher of Gentiles, father of the faithful through the Gospel, received a thorn of the flesh whereby he might be buffeted. Which of us would dare to say this, unless he had not been ashamed to confess this? For if we shall have said that Paul had not suffered this; while to him as it were honour we give, a liar we make him. But because truthful he is, and truth he hath spoken; it behoveth us to believe that there was given to him an angel of Satan, lest by the greatness of the revelations he should be exalted. Behold how much to be feared is the serpent of pride. …

What is, “in the anger of consummation shall be declared consummations”? There is an anger of consummation, and there is an anger of consuming. For every vengeance of God is called anger: sometimes God avengeth, to the end that He may make perfect; sometimes He avengeth, to the end that He may condemn. How doth He avenge, to the end that He may make perfect? “He scourgeth every son whom He receiveth.” How doth He avenge, to the end that He may condemn? When He shall have set ungodly men on the left hand, and shall have said to them, “Go ye into fire everlasting, that hath been prepared for the devil and his angels.” This is the anger of consuming, not that of consummation. But “there shall be declared consummations in the anger of consummation;” it shall be preached by the Apostles, that “where sin hath abounded, grace shall much more abound,” and the weakness of man hath belonged to the healing of humility. Those men thinking of this, and finding out and confessing their iniquities, “shall not be.” “Shall not be” what? In their pride.

“And they shall know how God shall have dominion of Jacob, and of the ends of the earth” (ver. 13). For before they thought themselves just men, because the Jewish nation had received the Law, because it had kept the commandments of God: it is proved to them that it hath not kept them, since in the very commandments of God Christ it perceived not, because “blindness in part has happened to Israel.” Even the Jews themselves see that they ought not to despise the Gentiles, of whom they deemed as of dogs and sinners. For justas alike they have been found in iniquity, so alike they will attain unto salvation. “Not only to Jews,” saith the Apostle, “but also even to Gentiles.” For to this end the Stone which the builders set at nought, hath even been made for the Head of the corner, in order that two in itself It might join: for a corner doth unite two walls. The Jews thought themselves exalted and great: of the Gentiles they thought as weak, as sinners, as the servants of demons, as the worshippers of idols, and yet in both was there iniquity. Even the Jews have been proved sinners; because “there is none that doeth good, there is not even so much as one:” they have laid down their pride, and have not envied the salvation of the Gentiles, because they have known their own and their weakness to be alike: and in the Corner Stone being united, they have together worshipped the Lord….

They shall be converted at evening” (ver. 14): that is, even if late, that is, after the slaying of our Lord Jesus Christ: “They shall be converted at evening: and hereafter they shall suffer hunger as dogs.” But “as dogs,” not as sheep or calves: “as dogs,” as Gentiles, as sinners; because they too have known their sin that thought themselves righteous. …It is a good thing therefore for a sinner to be humbled; and no one is more incurable than he that thinketh himself whole. “And they shall go around the city.” Already we have explained “city;” it is the “city of standing round;” all nations.

“They shall be scattered abroad in order that they may eat” (ver. 15); that is, in order that they may gain others, in order that into their Body they may change believers. “But if they shall not be filled, they shall murmur.” Because above also he had spoken of the murmur of them, saying, “For who hath heard?” “And Thou, O Lord,” he saith, “shall deride them, saying, Who hath heard?” Wherefore? Because, as nothing Thou shall count all nations. Let the Psalm be concluded. See ye the Corner exulting, now with both walls rejoicing. The Jews were proud, humbled they have been; Gentiles were despairing, raised up they have been: let them come to the Corner, there let them meet, there run together, there find the kiss of peace; from different parts let them come, but with differing not come, those of Circumcision, these of uncircumcision. Far apart were the walls, but before that to the Corner they came: but in the Corner let them hold themselves, and now let the whole Church from both walls, say what? “But I will sing of Thy power, and I will exult in the morning of Thy mercy” (ver. 16). In the morning when temptations have been overcome, in the morning when the night of this world shall have passed away; in the morning when no longer the lyings in wait of robbers and of the devil and of his angels we dread, in the morning when no longer by the lamp of prophecy we walk, but Himself the Word of God as it were a Sun we contemplate. “And I will exult in the morning of Thy mercy.” With reason in another Psalm is said, “In the morning I will stand by Thee, and I will meditate.” With reason also of the Lord Himself the Resurrection was at dawn, that thereshould be fulfilled that which hath been said in another Psalm, “In the evening shall tarry weeping and in the morning exultation.” For at even the disciples mourned our Lord Jesus Christ as dead, at dawn at Him rising again they exulted. “For Thou hast become my taker up, and my refuge in the day of my tribulation.”

“My Helper, to Thee I will play, because Thou, O God, art my taker up” (ver. 17). What was I, unless Thou didst succour? How much despaired of was I, unless Thou didst heal? Where was I lying, unless Thou didst come to me? Certes with a huge wound I was endangered, but that wound of mine did call for an Almighty Physician. To an Almighty Physician nothing is incurable. …Lastly, thinking of all good things whatsoever we may have, either in nature or in purpose, or in conversion itself, in faith, in hope, in charity, in good morals, in justice, in fear of God; all these to be only by His gifts, he hath thus concluded: “My God is my mercy:” He being filled with the good things of God hath not found what he might call his God, save “his mercy.” O name, under which no one must despair! If thou say, my salvation, I perceive that He giveth salvation; if thou say, my refuge, I perceive that thou takest refuge in Him; if thou say, my strength, I perceive that He giveth to thee strength: “my mercy,” is what? All that I am is of Thy mercy. …

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My Notes on Jeremiah 14:17-22

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 30, 2012

Jer 14:17  And thou shalt speak this word to them: Let my eyes shed down tears night and day, and let them not cease, because the virgin daughter of my people is afflicted with a great affliction, with an exceeding grievous evil.

And Thou shalt speak this word to them. The conjunctive and which opens the verse draws a connection between this word from God which the prophet is to speak (Jer 14:17-22), and what has preceded, namely, the prediction of the impending dissolution of the kingdom (Jer 13:18-19); the disgrace of military conquest (Jer 13:20-27); drought (Jer 14:1-6); the cheap ease with which the people “repent,” only to wander again (Jer 14:7-10); the Lord’s command that the prophet not intercede for them (Jer 14:11); the coming judgement on false prophets and the people (Jer 14:12-16). It should be kept in mind that although it is the prophet who is speaking, he is doing so by God’s order, on God’s behalf, and using words given him by God. The word Jeremiah is to speak is a lamentation; God’s lamentation over his people. It is spoken as if God himself is the people, or at least a representative of them.

Let my eyes shed down tears. A sign of lamentation and woe (see lamentations 2:18; Lamentations 3:48-49; Jer 9:18; Jer 13:17).

Because the virgin daughter of my people is afflicted with a great affliction. The feminine image could be a reference to Jerusalem or to God’s people in general. In the Bible, the religious and/or political center of a people often symbolized that people, hence, however one takes it (Jerusalem or the people), the other is involved.

The maiden (virgin daughter) imagery is probably to be taken as sarcasm. By depending on idols and foreign nations for protection the people have forsaken the covenant with their God. The covenant was often symbolized as a marriage (Hosea 2:16-20; Isa 62:4-5; Jer 2:2-3; Jer 3:, and covenant breaking as harlotry. The people have played the harlot (Jer 3:20; Jer 13:21, Jer 13:27), and will suffer a harlots disgrace (Jer 13:22, Jer 13:26).

Jer 14:18  If I go forth into the fields, behold the slain with the sword: and if I enter into the city, behold them that are consumed with famine. The prophet also and the priest are gone into a land which they knew not.

Sword, famine,  and exile into a land which they knew not are all the result of covenant infidelity, the covenant curses come down upon them. According to Jeremiah, the false prophet whom the people were listening to had promised them such things would not come (Jer 14:13), but God informed Jeremiah that they would (Jer 14:14-16).

Sword. Military invasion and conquest. See the covenant curses in Deut 28:25-26; Deut 28:49-57

Famine. And effect of war (Deut 28:30-34; Deut 28:53-57).

Into a land which they knew not. Exile (Deut 28:63-68).

Jer 14:19  Hast thou utterly cast away Juda, or hath thy soul abhorred Sion? why then hast thou struck us, so that there is no healing for us? we have looked for peace, and there is no good: and for the time of healing, and behold trouble.
Jer 14:20  We acknowledge, O Lord, our wickedness, the iniquities of our fathers, because we have sinned against thee.

Jer 14:21  Give us not to be a reproach, for thy name’s sake, and do not disgrace in us the throne of thy glory: remember, break not thy covenant with us.
Jer 14:22  Are there any among the graven things of the Gentiles that can send rain? or can the heavens give showers? art not thou the Lord our God, whom we have looked for? for thou hast made all these things.

These words of lament are something one might expect from the people, and they do call to mind the lament earlier in the chapter, put on the people’s lips by God (Jer 14:7-9). It was intended to highlight the people’s feckless devotion and attitudes which can only lead God to rebuff and rebuke (Jer 14:10). A sailor’s philosophy is any port in a storm; a sinner’s philosophy is any god in a crisis (see Jer 2:10-11). In fact, the people have already been condemned for chasing after idols (Jer 2:25-28) while still pleading for help to the God they abandoned (Jer 2:29-37; Jer 3:4-5).

There is an answer to the questions asked in verse 19, God will eventually respond (Jer 16:14-15), but first, punishment must be brought to bear. Empty words, however beautiful they might be, remain empty if they have no heart behind them. Indeed, they harden the heart, and this can only lead to continuing punishment.  See Hosea 5:15-6:6 where God again puts a beautiful prayer on his people’s lips in order to highlight their mere lip service to him. The purpose of the covenant curses was medicinal, oriented towards bringing the people to repentance so that God might once again bestow his blessings (Deut 30:1-10).

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Bishop MacEvily’s Commentary on John 6:24-35

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 29, 2012

Joh 6:24  When therefore the multitude saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they took shipping and came to Capharnaum, seeking for Jesus.

For background one should read John 6:1-23 or, at the least, John 6:17-23. Seeing, then, that our Lord, whom they sought, was not there, as they fancied He would have been, since they saw His disciples cross the lake towards Capharnaum without Him, the previous evening, in the only boat that was there, they had no idea of His walking on the waters, and meeting on the way the boat, which carried the disciples disappointed in their search for Him on their side of the lake, where they expected to find Him, they took shipping, entering the boats that had conie from, Tiberias. In these they crossed the lake, and came to Capharnaum, seeking for Jesus, expecting to find Him at His usual place of abode.

Joh 6:25  And when they had found him on that other side of the sea, they said to him: Rabbi, when camest thou hither?

Having succeeded in their search, and finding Him at last, surprised at how He could have crossed the lake, and come there, they ask Him, Rabbi? etc.

Rabbi, when earnest Thou hither? The question was rather rude and frivolous. The term, however, Rabbi shows it was blended with some feeling of respect. Our Lord does not reply, as He did not choose, out of feelings of modesty, to say how He came, viz., by walking on the waters. Indeed, the question how was implied in asking when. Declining to answer their frivolous questions, our Lord speaks to them in terms of reprehension, as He well knew their minds. He also wished to: repress their excessive demonstration of feeling displayed the preceding day, in wishing to make Him king. He also shows, He cared not much for their praise, and was not affected by their bland address, when calling Him Rabbi. He answers, however, in a way that interested them most, by instructing them to seek for the food of the soul, rather than that of the body, which they were expecting to be perpetuated among them; and on account of which they thus sought and crowded round Him.

Joh 6:26  Jesus answered them and said: Amen, amen, I say to you, you seek me, not because you have seen miracles, but because you did eat of the loaves and were filled.

Amen, amen, shows the solemn importance of what He was about uttering. Not because you have seen miracles, which should have the effect of producing feelings of faith, penance, and the other evangelical virtues, that would conduct you to life everlasting, about which you seem so indifferent; you seek Me, not to procure the food of the soul, but of the body. You seek Me for your own sakes, not for Mine St. Augustine but because you did eat ofthe loaves, etc. You were actuated by carnal motives, by a desire to have the multiplication of bread continued amongst you, whereby to relieve your corporal necessities.

Our Lord, while mildly rebuking them and showing them He had the Divine faculty of scanning their inward motives, and of knowing the thoughts of their hearts, takes occasion, from allusion to corporal bread, to speak of that spiritual food of their souls, conferring everlasting life, which the Son of Man had in store for them.

Joh 6:27  Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that which endureth unto life everlasting, which the Son of man will give you. For him hath God, the Father, sealed.

Labour not for the food which perisheth, etc. Our Lord takes occasion, from the discourse regarding corporal bread, and the desire which the people had for it, to speak of a more exalted description of food His own adorable Body just as He raised the mind of the Samaritan woman, to desire and ask for the spiritual waters of faith and grace, by speaking of the material water, of which He asked her to give Him to drink.

When our Lord tells us to labour not for perishable food, He, by no means, prohibits our working for corporal nourishment . since, all are bound by the Law of God, to toil and labour for their bodily sustenance (2 Thess 3:10). He uses the word, in an exclusive sense, labour not for, etc., alone, and He wishes to convey, that we should labour chiefly for the food of which He means to speak. The meat which perisheth, viz., corporal food, that perishes with the body which it is meant to support.

But for that which endureth-in itself imperishable-unto life everlasting, which, unlike corporal food, that only upholds the life of the body, supports, unto everlasting life, which it confers and to which it leads us.

Which the Son of Man will give you. He speaks of it, as a future gift, not as yet bestowed on the world; it is also peculiarly the gift of our Lord, as Son of Man. This would seem to indicate what that gift is.

For Him hath God the Father sealed: First, when in eternally begetting Him, He communicated to His Eternal Son, His own Divine nature, and impressed upon Him the substantial, living, eternal image of His substance. The figure of His substance (Heb 1:3), thus communicating His omnipotence and the power of giving the promised gift or heavenly food, showing Him to be the Eternal Son of God as well as the Son of Man. Secondly, in. His Incarnation, when the Son of God united human nature, under His own Divine person. Thus, the Son of Man, at the same time, became the Son of God. Thirdly, He testified by words, Thou art my beloved Son, etc., and by miracles, that our Lord was the Son of God.

It is disputed to what meat or food there is reference made here. There is almost a universal consensus among Catholic Commentators, that towards the close of this chapter, commencing with v. 48, our Lord refers to the Blessed Eucharist, which He promises here to give, and did graciously give and institute, a year after this, at the Last Supper. Only a few Catholic Commentators deny this. There is, however, a great diversity of opinion, whether the Blessed Sacrament is referred to, in this verse. Although it is quite certain and undeniable, that, in, the latter part of the chapter, our Lord promises to give His body and blood in the adorable Eucharist, and did so at the Last Supper; still, we are not bound to believe, as a matter of faith, that He refers to the Blessed Eucharist in this chapter, at all. But it is a point of faith, which no one is free to question or reject, that there is reference to the Blessed Eucharist and the real Presence in the words of Institution, This is My Body, etc. (Council of Trent, SS. xiii., de Euch. c. i.).

A great number of distinguished interpreters say, that while our Lord is preparing the people, in the preceding part of the chapter, and in this portion of it, as far as v. 48, for the sublime doctrine which He means to deliver there regarding His real Presence, He does not refer to it here. Others maintain, that the meat " or food referred to in this v. 27, is His body and blood in the adorable Eucharist. This latter seems by far the most probable opinion. For 1. Our Lord here clearly distinguishes between the meat, or food, and the works which were to be performed, as the means for securing this food. Now, the chief of these works is faith in Him (v. 29). Hence, the food being the end or object, cannot be con founded with the works, which are the means for obtaining it; and hence, the opinion of a large section of distinguished Commentators and Theologians, who say that the food refers to faith, doctrine, etc., is hardly tenable. 2. Our Lord says, He "will give it, at a future time; but He had already bestowed faith, doctrine etc. 3. He distinguishes between the bread which He Himself will give them in the future, and that which the Father gives (v. 32) at present. The Father gives us His Incarnate Son; He, as Son of Man, will give His body and blood. To Him it peculiarly belongs to bestow this gift, If our Lord turns aside from continuing this subject, regarding His body and blood, to treat, in a subsequent part of the chapter, of faith, as,a necessary disposition for securing and worthily receiving this heavenly bread, it was, owing to their untimely questions and interruptions, to resume the subject afterwards.

Joh 6:28  They said therefore unto him: What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?

The works of God. Works pleasing to God, and required by Him for obtaining this heavenly food. This question was suggested by the preceding words of our Lord, v, 27, Operamini cibum, labour, work for the meat or food , They then ask what works, does God, who sealed His Son, the bestower of this gift, require of us, in order to secure this food?

Joh 6:29  Jesus answered and said to them: This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he hath sent.

Our Lord marks out one special work, which they must do by the aid of God, who by His all powerful grace, Himself produces this work in them, they at the same time co-operating with His grace and concurring in the. work, viz., to believe in Him whom He hath sent. He specially selects faith, as, in the first place, indispensable, because, on it must be founded all the works necessary for securing this food. Though speaking to them of Himself, as if He said, that you believe in Me; still our Lord, out of modesty, employs the third person, Him …sent, instead of Me, referring all to His Father.

From His saying, that faith is the chief work, or means, necessary for securing this food, it would seem to follow, that the food itself is not faith, that faith is distinguished from the food, as means from the end, this food being no other than His own adorable body and blood, which is given as the reward of faith; and therefore, distinct from it.

Joh 6:30  They said therefore to him: What sign therefore dost thou shew that we may see and may believe thee? What dost thou work?

In consequence of His requiring faith in Himself as the Son of God, they, thererefore, said to Him, what sign doest Thou show to convince us of this? Signs were hitherto wrought, such as the multiplication of bread, which has just taken place, but no sign of a nature to convince us of this.

What dost Thou work? as if to say, the works hitherto performed, the signs hitherco given are insufficient, to supply due motives of credibility for begetting in us such faith ac you require.

Joh 6:31  Our fathers did eat manna in the desert, as it is written: He gave them bread from heaven to eat.

This miracle just wrought, is not to be compared with the sign given us by Moses, who fed our fathers with manna for forty years in the desert, as it is written, He gave them bread, etc. As if they said, Moses, to whom they evidently allude, as appears from our Lord’s answer, gave an incomparably greater sign, by feeding our fathers in the desert, not once, but for forty years, not with earthly bread, but with bread from heaven, and still, he did not ask our fathers or us to believe in him. If the men referred to here be the same spoken of (v. 14), they must have changed their minds. Likely, they are different parties altogether.

Joh 6:32  Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen, I say to you; Moses gave you not bread from heaven, but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.

In reply to their assertion, that Moses gave them bread from heaven, our Lord, prefixing His declaration with Amen, amen, declares in the most emphatic way, that Moses did not give them bread from heaven in the strict sense of the word. It was called bread from heaven because, generated in the air, it came down from the clouds. Hence, said in a general, but inaccurate, way, to be from heaven, just as we term the birds of the air that fly aloft towards heaven and descend on the earth, volucres cœli, and it is said of the Lord intonuit de cœlo Dominus (“thunder in the heavens does God,” see Ps 17:14). But My Father, with whom He is identified, for He Himself gives this gift, which as Son of Man, He promised (v. 27). His Father He contrasts with Moses, gives you the true bread from heaven, where He dwells, as in His own habitation, true bread, really come down from heaven, of which the bread given by Moses, rained down from the clouds, was a mere type and figure. This bread is the reality, no other than Himself, who came down from heaven, to nourish us, with His own adorable Body and Blood.

Joh 6:33  For the bread of God is that which cometh down from heaven and giveth life to the world.

For the bread of God, really divine and heavenly in its origin, is that which cometh down from heaven, cometh of itself, by its own power. (The manna was sent or rained down), and is really divine in its effects. For, it gives life (eternal) to theworld, including the entire human race, rescued at a great price from hell and the power of the devil, unlike the manna, which was confined to the Jewish people, to one particular nation.

Joh 6:34  They said therefore unto him: Lord, give us always this bread.

No longer concerned about signs, or proofs of His Divinity, they are enticed by a desire to receive from Him this bread not once, but always, perpetually, which He extolled so much, beyond the manna of Moses. Their faith if they had any, which is implied in the word, Lord, and in their conceiving that He would give the bread which the Father gives was still very imperfect. For, like the Samaritan woman, who made a similar request (John 4:15), they do not regard it as spiritual bread, but only corporal, more excellent than the manna, which they would wish to have always at hand, to remove bodily hunger.

Joh 6:35  And Jesus said to them: I am the bread of life. He that cometh to me shall not hunger: and he that believeth in me shall never thirst.

I am the bread of life, etc. In reply to their anxious desire to receive this life-giving bread, our Lord says, that He Himself, inasmuch as He means to give His own Body and Blood in the Eucharist, which He was surely to institute, is that life-giving bread, which came down from heaven, and which the Father gives (vv. 32-33).

He that cometh to Me. Clearly, He means by faith, as in next clause,  he that believeth, etc. –shall not hunger, etc. From v. 27, it seems quite clear that our Lord in speaking of Himself, is speaking, though not quite so explicitly, as He does hereafter, of His real sacramental presence, of His Body and Blood in the Eucharist. In v. 29 He speaks of faith as a means, for procuring this food. He says the same, in this verse. He speaks of faith, as the chief means of deriving profit from partaking of this heavenly life-giving bread. Our Lord does not explicitly up to this, state, how He is to communicate Himself to us as food. He merely refers to His own Sacred Person, as the bread of life. But, He states this more explicitly hereafter. In verses 5 2-54 He says: it is received by eating His flesh and drinking His blood.

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Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 78

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 29, 2012

I’ve appended to the end of this post some suggested commentaries on the Psalms.

THE LESSONS OF HISTORY

It is difficult to say whether this poetical resume of the history of Israel is intended merely for purposes of general edification, or whether it is not, primarily, an explanation of the transference of the religious and political hegemony of Israel from the North (Ephraim) to the South (Juda: Jerusalem). The concluding section of the poem is in favour of the second interpretation. Whatever may have been the immediate purpose of the psalmist, it is evident that this poem is intended to be an instruction, and that in composing it, the psalmist believed himself to be acting in the spirit of Deut 4:9. The failures and sins of earlier generations should be put before the people, that so they may be warned and saved from the punishments which sins on their own part would entail. The very striking dispensation of God which had led to the abandonment of the ancient shrine of Shilo, and the subsequent selection of Jerusalem as the dwelhng-place of the Lord, is particularly considered—since it can be shown to be the result of Ephraimite disloyalty to God. If the psalm were composed after 722 B.C., when the northern kingdom ceased to exist, its reflections on the failure of the North would be more pointed (but the absence of all reference to the separation of the North from the South would be then difficult to explain) . The teaching of the psalm is like that of Psalm 105 and Psalm 106, and it resembles, in many important points, that of Deut 32, of the speech of St. Stephen (Acts 7), and of the discourse of St. Paul at Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13:16-25). The Hebrew prophets frequently used history in a like manner to enforce their teachings: cf. Amos 2:9-12; Hosea 11:1-4; Jer 2:1-8. In verse 2:
the psalm is called a Mashal, and the whole psalm is, more or less, in the style of the Sapiential books. The Hebrew Mashal ( משׂכיל), is often translated as parable. See the footnote to verse 2 of this Psalm in the NAB.

The psalmist regards passages like Deut 4:9; Deut 6:7; Exodus 10:2; Exodus 13:14, as a Torah or ‘Law’ given to the fathers, that their children might be saved from their fate. The reference to the ‘fathers’ gives the poet occasion to review the history of their sins (vv. 8-1 1). The allusion to Ephraim in verse 9, if it is in its proper place, is to be explained by the fact that the rejection of Ephraim forms later the chief theme of the psalm.

In verse 12 and following the theme proper begins. The goodness of God to the Israelites at Zoan (Tanis), and then in the Wilderness is described, the description being based freely on Exodus 13 and following, and Num 20. The Israelites answered God’s goodness with ingratitude and insults (11-20). Water is not enough for them; bread and meat they must have too—not so much, apparently, because they need them, as because they wish to see if God can really satisfy their demands. They are heard and their wish is granted, but it is granted in anger, and their punishment follows immediately. The story of the manna and quails adheres in general closely enough to Exodus 16 and Num 11, but there is a certain amount of poetic freedom. Verse 32 recalls further sins of
disobedience, and verse 33 refers, perhaps, to the incidents in Num 14:20-36. Verses 34-39 strongly remind one of Judges 2:11-19, but there is this difference that Israel’s turning to God is, in the psalm described as hypocrisy—as a deception of God.

In 40-55 the poet is still thinking of the sins of the people in the desert. His further reflection on these sins leads him to recount the wonders in Egypt which had preceded the Exodus. Here again, as before, he treats the text of the Pentateuch with a certain amount of liberty. The plagues of hail and fire he attributes to the work of destroying angels.

In vv. 56-64 he reviews the apostasies of Israel in Canaan. These were punished by the loss of their ‘Might’ and ‘Glory’—the Ark, by the slaughter of their young men, the childlessness of their women, and the death without seemly burial of their priests.

65-72. With the appearance of David God’s anger is stilled, and, like a warrior awakening from deep sleep, God falls on the Philistines, and delivers them over to eternal shame (cf. 1 Sam 5, and the narrative of David’s victories over the Philistines). Through the sins of the Judges’ period Ephraim lost the honour of possessing God’s dwelling at Shilo; and David made Jerusalem the political, and, practically, the religious centre of the nation. Unlike the mere Tent of Shilo the shrine erected at Jerusalem by Solomon is as firm and enduring as heaven and earth. It is interesting to note that the sins of ‘Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin,’ by setting up religious centres in the North in opposition to Jerusalem, are not mentioned in this psalm (see 1 Kings 12-13). The reason, obviously, is that the poet takes his theme altogether from the history of Israel up to the founding of the Temple. There was no need, for his purpose, to refer to any event of Hebrew history after that time.

The structure of the poem is somewhat clumsy; there is much unevenness and some overlapping. Some modern critics regard vv. 40-55 as originally having no connection with the rest of the psalm, but as having formed a portion of a hymn composed after the manner of Exodus 15.

Surveys of Hebrew history similar to that contained in this psalm may be
read in Ps 105Ps 106; Ps 135; Ps 136; Ezekiel 20; Sirach 44-49; Wisdom 10-19 (with some digressions, see the NAB headings); 1 Macc 2:51-60; Hebrews 11.

SUGGESTED READINGS ON THE PSALMS~

The Psalms and the Song of Solomon: Navarre Bible Commentary. Designed for study, prayer and meditation.

Volume 1~The Psalms: Old Testament Message. See note on next link.

Volume 2~The Psalms: Old Testament Message. Informative, but the format may not be to everyone’s liking.

Volume 1~Psalms 1-72: Abingdon Old Testament Commentaries. See note on nest link.

Volume 2~Psalms 73-150: Abingdon Old Testament Commentaries. An ecumenical series. The author of these two volumes (see previous link) is Father Richard j. Clifford, a leading authority on the Psalms.

Psalms 1-50~Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture. See note on next link.

Psalms 51-150~Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture. Commentaries garnered from the Early Church Fathers and Medieval writers. An ecumenical endeavor with Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox contributors.

The Psalms Explained. An older work. Presupposes a working knowledge of Latin.

Volume 1: Commentary on the Psalms from Primitive and Medieval Writers. See note on volume 4 below.

Volume 2: Commentary on the Psalms from Primitive and Medieval Writers. See note on volume 4 below.

Volume 3: Commentary on the Psalms from Primitive and Medieval WritersSee note on volume 4 below.

Volume 4: Commentary on the Psalms from Primitive and Medieval Writers. By John Mason Neale, an Anglican scholar of the 19th century.

Singing in the Reign. A thematic and canonical study of the Psalms. The book attempts to “show how the historical hope for the restoration of  the Davidic Kingdom was fulfilled in the coming of Jesus.“

Psalms 1-50~Word Biblical Commentary. See note on next link.

Psalms 51-100~Word Biblical Commentary. See next note.

Psalms 101-150~Word Biblical Commentary. Protestant. Geared towards seminary students and pastors.

Psalms 1-50~Anchor Yale Bible Commentaries. See next note.

Psalms 51-100~Anchor Yale Bible Commentaries. See next note.

Psalms 101-150~Anchor Yale Bible Commentaries. Father Dahood’s famous three volume work is best left to the the scholars.

Psalms: Berit Olam Series. Concerned with the structure of each Psalm and how the content relates to it.

An Exposition of the Seven Penitential Psalms by St John Fisher. “Translated” into modern English for your convenience. I’ve read some of these expository sermons in the “original” English and it’s not an easy task.

Posted in Bible, Books, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, liturgy, Notes on the Lectionary, NOTES ON THE PSALMS, Quotes, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on Ephesians 4:17, 20-24

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 29, 2012

Eph 4:17  This then I say and testify in the Lord: That henceforward you walk not as also the Gentiles walk in the vanity of their mind:

It is the duty of the teacher to build up and restore the souls of his disciples, not only by counseling and instructing them, but also by alarming them, and delivering them up to God. For when the words spoken by men as coming from fellow-servants are not sufficient to kindle the soul, it then becomes necessary to make over the case to God. This accordingly Paul does also; for having discoursed concerning lowliness, and concerning unity, and concerning our duty not to rise up one against another, hear what he says. “This then I say and testify in the Lord: That henceforward you walk not as also the Gentiles walk.” He does not say, “That ye henceforth walk not as ye are now walking,” for that expression would have struck too hard. But he plainly indicates the same thing, only he brings his example from others. And so in writing to the Thessalonians, he does this very same thing, where he says, “Not in the passion of lust, like the Gentiles that know not God.” (1 Thess 4:5). Ye differ from them, he means to say, in doctrine, but that is wholly God’s work: what I require on your path is the life and the course of behavior that is after God. This is your own. And I call the Lord to witness what I have said, that I have not shrunk, but have told you how ye ought to walk.

“In the vanity,” saith he, “of their mind.”

What is vanity of mind? It is the being busied about vain things. And what are those vain things, but all things in the present life? Of which the Preacher saith, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 1:2). But a man will say, If they be vain and vanity, wherefore were they made? If they are God’s works, how are they vain? And great is the dispute concerning these things. But hearken, beloved: it is not the works of God which he calls vain; God forbid! The Heaven is not vain, the earth is not vain,—God forbid!—nor the sun, nor the moon and stars, nor our own body. No, all these are “very good.” (Gen 1:31). But what is vain? Let us hear the Preacher himself, what he saith; “I planted me vineyards, I gat me men singers and women singers, I made me pools of water, I had great possession of herds and flocks, I gathered me also silver and gold, and I saw that these are vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 2:4–8). And again, “Vanity of vanities, all things are vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 12:8). Hear also what the Prophet saith, “He heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them.” (Ps 39:6). Such is “vanity of vanities,” your splendid buildings, your vast and overflowing riches, the herds of slaves that bustle along the public square, your pomp and vainglory, your high thoughts, and your ostentation. For all these are vain; they came not from the hand of God, but are of our own creating. But why then are they vain? Because they have no useful end. Riches are vain when they are spent upon luxury; but they cease to be vain when they are “dispersed and given to the needy.” (Ps 112:9). But when thou hast spent them upon luxury, let us look at the end of them, what it is;—grossness of body, flatulence, pantings, fullness of belly, heaviness of head, softness of flesh, feverishness, enervation; for as a man who shall draw into a leaking vessel labors in vain, so also does the one who lives in luxury and self-indulgence draw into a leaking vessel. But again, that is called “vain,” which is expected indeed to contain something, but contains it not;—that which men call empty, as when they speak of “empty hopes.” And generally that is called “vain,” which is bare and purposeless, which is of no use. Let us see then whether all human things are not of this sort. “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die?” (1 Cor 15:32). What then, tell me, is the end? Corruption. Let us put on clothing and raiment. And what is the result? Nothing. Such are the lives of the Greeks. They philosophized, but in vain. They made a show of a life of hardship, but of mere hardship, not looking to any beneficial end, but to vainglory, and to honor from the many. But what is the honor of the many? It is nothing, for if they themselves which render the honor perish, much more does the honor. He that renders honor to another, ought first to render it to himself; for if he gain not honor for himself, how can he ever render it to another? Whereas now we seek even honors from vile and despicable characters, themselves dishonorable, and objects of reproach. What kind of honor then is this?

Eph 4:20  But you have not so learned Christ:
Eph 4:21  If so be that you have heard him and have been taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus:

“But you have not so learned Christ,” he continues, “if so be that you have heard Him, and have been taught in Him as the truth is in Jesus.

The expression, “If so be that ye heard Him,” is not that of one doubting, but of one even strongly affirming: as he also speaks elsewhere, “Seeing it is a just thing with God to repay tribulation to them that trouble you” (2Thess 1:6). That is to say, It was not for these purposes that “you learned Christ.”

Eph 4:22  To put off, according to former conversation, the old man, who is corrupted according to the desire of error.

This then surely is to learn Christ, to live rightly; for he that lives wickedly knows not God, neither is known of Him; for hear what he saith elsewhere, “ They profess that they know God: but in their works they deny him” (Titus 1:16).

Recall the end of verse 21 and see it in relation to 22: as the truth is in Jesus: To put off, according to former conversation, the old man, who is corrupted according to the desire of error. That is to say, It was not on these terms that thou enteredst into covenant. What is found among us is not vanity, but truth. As the doctrines are true, so is the life also. Sin is vanity and falsehood; but a right life is truth. For temperance is indeed truth, for it has a great end; whereas profligacy ends in nothing.

Who is corrupted according to the desire of error. As his lusts became corrupt, so himself also.

How then do his lusts become corrupt? By death alI things are dissolved; for hear the Prophet, how he saith, “In that very day his thoughts perish.” (Ps 146:4). And not by death only, but by many things besides; for instance, beauty, at the advance of either disease or old age, withdraws and dies away, and suffers corruption. Bodily vigor again is destroyed by the same means; nor does luxury itself afford the same pleasure in old age, as is evident from the case of Barzillai: the history, no doubt, ye know. Or again, in another sense, lust corrupts and destroys the old man; for as wool is destroyed by the very same means by which it is produced, so likewise is the old man. For love of glory destroys him, and pleasures will often destroy him, and “lust” will utterly “deceive” him. For this is not really pleasure but bitterness and deceit, all pretense and outward show. The surface, indeed, of the things is bright, but the things themselves are only full of misery and extreme wretchedness, and loathsomeness, and utter poverty. Take off the mask, and lay bare the true face, and thou shalt see the cheat, for cheat it is, when that which is, appears not, and that which is not, is displayed. And it is thus that impositions are effected.

The Apostle delineates for us four men. Of these I shall give an explanation. In this place he mentions two, speaking thus, “Putting away the old man, be ye renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new man.” And in the Epistle to the Romans, two more, as where he saith, “But I see another law in my members, fighting against the law of my mind and captivating me in the law of sin that is in my members” (Rom 7:23). And these latter bear affinity to those former two, the “new man” to the “inner man,” and the “old man” to the “outer man.” However, three of these four were subject to corruption. Or rather there are three, the new man, the old, and this, man in his substance and nature).

Eph 4:23  And be renewed in spirit of your mind:

“And be renewed,” saith he, “in the spirit of your mind.”  In order that no one may suppose that, whereas he speaks of old and new, he is introducing a different person, observe his expression, “And be renewed.” To be renewed is, when the selfsame thing which has grown old is renewed, changed from one thing into the other. So that the subject indeed is the same, but the change is in that which is accidental. Just as the body indeed is the same, and the change in that which is accidental, so is it here. How then is the renewal to take place? “In the spirit of your mind,” saith he. Whosoever therefore has the Spirit, will perform no old deed, for the Spirit will not endure old deeds. “In the spirit,” saith he, “of your mind,” that is, in the spirit which is in your mind).

Eph 4:24  And put on the new man, who according to God is created in justice and holiness of truth.

“And put on the new man.” Seest thou that the subject is one, but the clothing is twofold, that which is put off, and that which is put on? “The new man,” he continues, “who according to God is created in justice and holiness of truth.” Now wherefore does he call virtue a man? And wherefore vice, a man? Because a man cannot be shown without acting; so that these things, no less than nature, show a man, whether he be good or evil. Now as to undress one’s self and to dress one’s self is easy, so may we see it is with virtue and vice. The young man is strong; wherefore let us also become strong for the performance of good actions. The young man has no wrinkle, therefore neither should we have. The young man wavers not, nor is he easily taken with diseases, therefore neither should we be.

Observe here how he calls this realizing of virtue, this bringing of it into being from nothing, a “creation.” But what? was not that other former creation after God? No, in no-wise, but after the devil. He is the sole creator of sin.

How is this? For man is created henceforth, not of water, nor of earth, but “in righteousness and holiness of truth.” What is this? He straightway created him, he means, to be a son: for this takes place from Baptism. This it is which is the reality, “in justice and holiness of truth.” There was of old a justice, there was likewise a holiness with the Jews. Yet was that justice not in truth, but in figure. For the being clean in body was a type of purity, not the truth of purity; was a type of justice, not the truth of justice. “In justice,” saith he, “and holiness,” which are “of truth.”

And this expression is used with reference to falsehood; for many there are, who to them that are without, seem to be just, yet are false. Now by justice is meant universal virtue. For hearken to Christ, how He saith, “Except your righteousness (justice) shall surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 5:20). And again, he is called just, who has no charge against him; for so even in courts of justice we say that that man is righteous (just), who has been unrighteously (unjustly) treated, and has not done unrighteously in return. If therefore we also before the terrible Tribunal shall be able to appear righteous one towards another, we may meet with some lovingkindness. Toward God indeed it is impossible we should appear so, whatever we may have to show. For everywhere He overcometh in what is righteous, as the Prophet also saith, “That Thou mightest prevail when Thou comest into judgment.” But if we violate not what is righteous towards each other, then shall we be righteous. If we shall be able to show that we have been treated unrighteously, then shall we be righteous.

How does he say to them who are already clothed, “put on”? He is now speaking of that clothing which is from life and good works. Before, the clothing was from Baptism, whereas now it is from the daily life and from works; no longer “according to the desire of error” (v. 22), but “after God.” But what means the word “holy”? It is that which is pure, that which is due; hence also we use the word of the last duty in the case of the departed, as much as to say, “I owe them nothing further, I have nothing else to answer for.” Thus it is usual for us to say, “I have acquitted myself of all obligations,” and the like, meaning, “I owe nothing more.”

Moral: Our part then is, never to put off the garment of righteousness, which also the Prophet calls, “the garment of salvation” (Isa 61:10), that so we may be made like unto God. For He indeed hath put on righteousness. This garment let us put on. Now the word, “put on,” plainly declares nothing else, than that we should never at all put it off. For hear the Prophet, where he saith, “He clothed himself also with cursing as with his garment, and it came into his inward parts.” (Ps 109:18). And again, “Who coverest Thyself with light as with a garment.” (Ps 104:2). And again, it is usual with us to speak concerning men, such an one has “put on” such an one. So then it is not for one day, nor for two, nor for three, but he would have us ever arrayed in virtue, and never stripped of this garment. For a man is not so disfigured when he is stripped of his clothing, as when he is stripped of his virtue. In the former case his fellow-servants behold his nakedness, in the latter his Lord and the Angels. If ever thou happen to see any one going out naked through the public square, tell me, art thou not distressed? When then thou goest about stripped of this garment, what shall we say? Seest not those beggars whom we are wont to call strollers, how they roam about, how we pity even them? And yet nevertheless they are without excuse. We do not excuse them when they have lost their clothes by gaming; and how then, if we lose this garment, shall God pardon us? For whenever the devil sees a man stripped of his virtue, he straightway disguises and disfigures his face, and wounds him, and drives him to great straits.

Let us strip ourselves of our riches, that we be not stripped of righteousness. The garb of wealth mars this garment. It is a robe of thorns. Thorns are of this nature; and the more closely they are wrapped around us, the more naked are we made. Lasciviousness strips us of this garment; for it is a fire, and the fire will consume this garment. Wealth is a moth; and as the moth eats through all things alike, and spares not even silken garments, so does this also. All these therefore let us put off, that we may become righteous, that we may “put on the new man.” Let us keep nothing old, nothing outward, nothing that is “corrupt.” Virtue is not toilsome, she is not difficult to attain. Dost thou not see them that are in the mountains? They forsake both houses, and wives, and children, and all preëminence, and shut themselves away from the world, and clothe themselves in sackcloth, and strew ashes beneath them; they wear collars hung about their necks, and have pent themselves up in a narrow cell. Nor do they stop here, but torture themselves with fastings and continual hunger. Did I now enjoin you to do the like, would ye not all start away? Would ye not say, it is intolerable? But no, I say not that we must needs do anything like this:—I would fain indeed that it were so, still I lay down no law. What then? Enjoy thy baths, take care of thy body, and throw thyself freely into the world, and keep a household, have thy servants to wait on thee, and make free use of thy meats and drinks! But everywhere drive out excess, for that it is which causes sin, and the same thing, whatever it be, if it becomes excessive, becomes a sin; so that excess is nothing else than sin. For observe, when anger is excited above what is meet, then it rushes out into insult, then it commits every sort of injury; so does inordinate passion for beauty, for riches, for glory, or for anything else. And tell me not, that indeed, those of whom I spoke were strong; for many far weaker and richer, and more luxurious than thou art, have taken upon them that austere and rugged life. And why speak I of men? Damsels not yet twenty years old, who have spent their whole time in inner chambers, and in a delicate and effeminate mode of life, in inner chambers full of sweet ointments and perfumes, reclining on soft couches, themselves soft in their nature, and rendered yet more tender by their over indulgence, who all the day long have had no other business than to adorn themselves, to wear jewels, and to enjoy every luxury, who never waited on themselves, but had numerous handmaids standing beside them, who wore soft raiment softer than their skin, fine linen and delicate, who reveled continually in roses and such like sweet odors,—yea, these very ones, in a moment, seized with Christ’s flame, have put off all that indolence and even their very nature, have forgotten their delicateness and youth, and like so many noble wrestlers, have stripped themselves of that soft clothing, and rushed into the midst of the contest. And perhaps I shall appear to be telling things incredible, yet nevertheless are they true. These then, these very tender damsels, as I myself have heard, have brought themselves to such a degree of severe training, that they will wrap the coarsest horsehair about their own naked bodies, and go with those tender soles unsandaled, and will lie upon a bed of leaves: nay more, that they watch the greater part of the night, and that they take no heed of perfumes nor of any other of their old delights, but will even let their head, once so carefully dressed, go without special care, with the hair just plainly and simply bound up, so as not to fall into unseemliness. And their only meal is in the evening, a meal not even of herbs nor of bread, but of flour and beans and pulse and olives and figs. They spin without intermission, and labor far harder than their handmaids at home. What more? they will take upon them to wait upon women who are sick, carrying their beds, and washing their feet. Nay, many of them even cook. So great is the power of the flame of Christ; so far does their zeal surpass their very nature.

However, I demand nothing like this of you, seeing ye have a mind to be outstripped by women.

Yet at least, if there be any tasks not too laborious, at least perform these: restrain the rude hand, and the incontinent eye. What is there, tell me, so hard, what so difficult? Do what is just and right, wrong no man, be ye poor or rich, shopkeepers or hired servants; for unrighteousness may extend even to the poor. Or see ye not how many broils these engage in, and turn all things upside down? Marry freely, and have children. Paul also gave charge to such, to such he wrote. Is that struggle I spoke of too great, and the rock too lofty, and its top too nigh unto Heaven, and art thou unable to attain to such an height? At least then lay hold on lesser things, and aim at those which are lower. Hast thou not courage to get rid of thine own riches? At least then forbear to seize on the things of others, and to do them wrong. Art thou unable to fast? At least then give not thyself to self-indulgence. Art thou unable to lie upon a bed of leaves? Still, prepare not for yourselves couches inlaid with silver; but use a couch and coverings formed not for display, but for refreshment; not couches of ivory. Make thyself small. Why fill thy vessel with overwhelming cargoes? If thou be lightly equipped, thou shalt have nothing to fear, no envy, no robbers, no liers in wait. For indeed thou art not so rich in money as thou art in cares. Thou aboundest not so much in possessions, as in anxieties and in perils, “which bring in many temptations and lusts.” (1Tim 6:9). These things they endure, who desire to gain great possessions. I say not, minister unto the sick; yet, at least, bid thy servant do it. Seest thou then how that this is no toilsome task? No, for how can it be, when tender damsels surpass us by so great a distance? Let us be ashamed of ourselves, I entreat you; for in worldly matters, to be sure, we in no point yield to them, neither in wars, nor in games; but in the spiritual contest they get the advantage of us, and are the first to seize the prize, and soar higher, like so many eagles: whilst we, like jackdaws, are ever living in the steam and smoke; for truly is it the business of jackdaws, and of greedy dogs, to be setting one’s thoughts upon caterers and cooks. Hearken about the women of old; they were great characters, great women and admirable; such were Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Deborah, and Hannah; and such there were also in the days of Christ. Yet did they in no case outstrip the men, but occupied the second rank. But now it is the very contrary; women outstrip and eclipse us. How contemptible! What a shame is this! We hold the place of the head, and are surpassed by the body. We are ordained to rule over them; not merely that we may rule, but that we may rule in goodness also; for he that ruleth, ought especially to rule in this respect, by excelling in virtue; whereas if he is surpassed, he is no longer ruler. Perceive ye how great is the power of Christ’s coming? how He dissolved the curse? For indeed there are more virgins than before among women, there is more modesty in those virgins, and there are more widows. No woman would lightly utter so much as an unseemly word. Wherefore then, tell me, dost thou use filthy speech? For tell me not that they were virgins in despondency or despair.

The sex is fond of ornament, and it has this failing. Yet even in this you husbands surpass them, who pride yourselves even upon them, as your own proper ornament; for I do not think that the wife is so ostentatious of her own jewels, as the husband is of those of his wife. He is not so proud of his own golden girdle, as he is of his wife’s wearing jewels of gold. So that even of this you are the causes, who light the spark and kindle up the flame. But what is more, it is not so great a sin in a woman as in a man. Thou art ordained to regulate her; in every way thou claimest to have the preëminence. Show her then in this also, that thou takest no interest in this costliness of hers, by thine own apparel. It is more suitable for a woman to adorn herself, than for a man. If then thou escape not the temptation, how shall she escape it? They have moreover their share of vainglory, but this is common to them with men. They are in a measure passionate, and this again is common to them with men. But as to those things wherein they excel, these are no longer common to them with men; their sanctity, I mean, their fervency, their devotion, their love towards Christ. Wherefore then, one may say, did Paul exclude them from the teacher’s seat? And here again is a proof how great a distance they were from the men, and that the women of those days were great. For, tell me, while Paul was teaching, or Peter, or those saints of old, had it been right that a woman should intrude into the office? Whereas we have gone on till we have come so debased, that it is worthy of question, why women are not teachers. So truly have we come to the same weakness as they. These things I have said not from any desire to elate them, but to shame ourselves, to chastise, and to admonish us, that so we may resume the authority that belongs to us, not inasmuch as we are greater in size, but because of our foresight, our protection of them, and our virtue. For thus shall the body also be in the order which befits it, when it has the best head to rule. And God grant that all, both wives and husbands, may live according to His good pleasure, that we may all in that terrible day be counted worthy to enjoy the lovingkindness of our Master, and to attain those good things which are promised in Jesus Christ our Lord, with whom to the Father, together with the Holy Ghost, be glory, might, and honor, now and forever and ever. Amen. Excerpted from St John Chrysostom’s Homilies 12 and 13 on Ephesians. The Homilies can be found here (I’ve used a modified version).

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St Augustine’s Tractate on John 6:24-35

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 29, 2012

“And when the multitudes had found Him” (Jn 6:24).  Behold, He presents Himself to the people from whom He had escaped into the mountain, afraid that He should be taken of them by force. In every way He proves to us and gives us to know that all these things are said in a mystery, and done in a great sacrament (or mystery) to signify something important. Behold, that is He who had escaped the crowds unto the mountain; is He not speaking with the same crowds? Let them hold Him now; let them now make Him a king. “And when they had found Him on the other side of the sea, they said unto Him Rabbi, when camest Thou hither?” (Jn 6:25).

After the sacrament of the miracle, He introduces discourse, that, if possible, they who have been fed may be further fed, that lie may with discourse fill their minds, whose bellies He filled with the loaves, provided they take in. And if they do not, let that be taken up which they do not receive, that the fragments may not be lost. Wherefore let Him speak, and let us hear. “Jesus answered and said Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye seek me, not because ye saw the signs, but because ye have eaten of my loaves” (Jn 6:26) Ye seek me for the sake of the flesh not for the sake of the spirit. How many seek Jesus for no other object but that He may bestow on them a temporal benefit! One has a business on hand, he seeks the intercession of the clergy; another is oppressed by one more powerful than himself, he flies to the church. Another desires intervention in his behalf with one with whom he has little influence. One in this way, one in that, the church is daily filled with such people. Jesus is scarcely sought after for Jesus’ sake. “Ye seek me, not because ye have seen the signs, but because ye have eaten of my loaves. Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that which endureth unto eternal life” (Jn 6:26-27). Ye seek me for something else, seek me for my own sake. For He insinuates the truth, that Himself is that meat: this shines out clearly in the sequel. “Which the Son of man will give you.” Thou didst expect, I believe, again to eat bread, again to sit down, again to be gorged. But He had said, “Not the meat which perisheth, but that which endureth unto eternal life,” in the same manner as it was said to that Samaritan woman: “If thou knewest who it is that asketh of thee drink, thou wouldest perhaps have asked of Him, and He would give thee living water.” When she said, “Whence hast thou, since thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep?” He answered the Samaritan woman: “If thou knewest who it is that asketh of thee drink, thou wouldst have asked of Him, and He would give thee water, whereof whoso drinketh shall thirst no more; for whoso drinketh of this water shall thirst again” (see Jn 4:10-13). And she was glad and would receive, as if no more to suffer thirst of body, being wearied with the labor of drawing water. And so, during a conversation of this kind, He comes to spiritual drink. Entirely in this manner also here.

Therefore “this meat, not that which perisheth, but that which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you; for Him hath God the Father sealed” (see Jn 6:27). Do not take this Son of man as you take other sons of men, of whom it is said, “And the sons of men will trust in the protection of Thy wings” (Ps 9:7). This Son of man is separated by a certain grace of the spirit; Son of man according to the flesh, taken out from the number of men: He is the Son of man. This Son of man is also the Son of God; this man is even God. In another place, when questioning His disciples, He saith: “Whom do men say that I, the Son of man, am? And they answered, Some John, some Elias, some Jeremias, or one of the prophets. And He said unto them, But whom say ye that I am? Peter answered, Thou art the Christ, the S n of the living God” (Matt 16:13-16). He declared Himself Son of man, Peter declared Him the Son of the living God. Most fitly did He mention that which in mercy He had manifested Himself to be; most fitly did the other mention that which He continues to be in glory. The Word of God commends to our attention His own humility: the man acknowledged the glory of his Lord. And indeed, brethren, I think that this is just. He humbled Himself for us, let us glorify Him. For not for Himself is He Son of man, but for us. Therefore was He Son of man in that way, when “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” For to that end “God the Father sealed Him.” What is to seal, but to put some particular mark? To seal is to impress some mark which cannot be confounded with the rest. To seal is to put a mark on a thing. When thou puttest a mark on anything, thou doest so test it might be confused with other things, and thou shouldst not be able to recognize it. “The Father,” then, “hath sealed Him.” What is that, “hath sealed”? Bestowed on Him something peculiar, which puts Him out of comparison with all other men. For that reason it is said of Him, “God, even Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above  Thy fellows” (Ps 45:8). What is it then to seal, but to have Him excepted? This is the import of “above Thy fellows.” And so, do not, saith He, despise me because I am the Son of man, but seek from me, “not the meat that perisheth, but that which endureth to eternal life.” For I am the Son of man in such manner as not to be one of you: I am Son of man in such manner that God the Father sealed me. What does that mean, He “sealed me”? Gave me something peculiarly my own, that I should not be confounded with mankind, but that mankind should be delivered by me.

“They said therefore unto Him, What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” (Jn 6:28). For He had said to them, “Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that which endureth unto eternal life.” “What shall we do?” they ask; by observing what, shall we be able to fulfill this precept? “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He has sent” (Jn 6:29).  This is then to eat the meat, not that which perisheth, but that which endureth unto eternal life. To what purpose dost thou make ready teeth and stomach? Believe, and thou hast eaten already. Faith is indeed distinguished from works, even as the apostle says, “that a man is justified by faith without the works of the law” (Rom 3:28): there are works which appear good, without faith in Christ; but they are not good, because they are not referred to that end in which works are good; “for Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth” (Rom 10:4).  For that reason, He willeth not to distinguish faith from work, but declared faith itself to be work. For it is that same faith that worketh by love (Gal 5:6). Nor did He say, This is your work; but, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He has sent;” so that he who glories, may glory in the Lord. And because He invited them to faith, they, on the other hand, were still asking for signs by which they might believe. See if the Jews do not ask for signs. “They said therefore rate Him, What sign doest thou, that we may see and believe thee? what dost thou work?” (Jn 6:30).  Was it a trifle that they were fed with five loaves? They knew this indeed, but they preferred manna from heaven to this food. But the Lord Jesus declared Himself to be such an one, that He was superior to Moses. For Moses dared not say of Himself that He gave, “not the meat which perisheth, but that which endureth to eternal life.” Jesus promised something greater than Moses gave. By Moses indeed was promised a kingdom, and a land flowing with milk and honey, temporal peace, abundance of children, health of body, and all other things, temporal goods indeed, yet in figure spiritual; because in the Old Testament they were promised to the old man. They considered therefore the things promised by Moses, and they considered the things promised by Christ. The former promised a full belly on the earth, but of the meat which perisheth; the latter promised, “not the meat which perisheth, but that which endureth unto eternal life.” They gave attention to Him that promised the more, but just as if they did not yet see Him do greater things. They considered therefore what sort of works Moses had done, and they wished yet some greater works to be done by Him who promised them such great things. What, say they, doest thou, that we may believe thee? And that thou mayest know that they compared those former miracles with this and so judged these miracles which Jesus did as being less; “Our fathers,” say they, “did eat manna in the wilderness” (Jn 6:31) But what is manna? Perhaps ye despise it. “As it is written, He gave them manna to eat.” By Moses our fathers received bread from heaven, and Moses did not say to them, “Labor for the meat which perisheth not.” Thou promisest “meat which perisheth not, but which endureth to eternal life;” and yet thou workest not such works as Moses did. He gave, not barley loaves, but manna from heaven.

“Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, not Moses gave you bread from heaven, but my Father gave you bread from heaven. For the true bread is He that cometh down from heaven, and giveth life to the world” (Jn 6:32-33). The true bread then is He that giveth life to the world; and the same is the meat of which I have spoken a little before,-“Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that which endureth unto eernal life.” Therefore, both that manna signified this meat, and all those signs were signs of me. Ye have longed for signs of me; do ye despise Him that was signified? Not Moses then gave bread from heaven: God gives bread. But what bread? Manna, perhaps? No, but the bread which manna signified, namely, the Lord Jesus Himself. My Father giveth you the true bread. “For the bread of God is He that cometh down from heaven, and giveth life to the world.  Then said they unto Him, Lord, evermore give us this bread” (Jn 6:33-34).  Like that Samaritan woman, to whom it was said, “Whoso drinketh of this water shall never thirst.” She, immediately understanding it in reference to the body, and wishing to be rid of want, said, “Give me, O Lord, of this water;” in the same manner also these said, “O Lord, give us this bread;” which may refresh us, and yet not fail.

“And Jesus said unto them, I am the Bread of Life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst” (Jn 6:35) “He that cometh to me;” this is the same thing as “He that believeth on me;” and “shall never hunger” is to be understood to mean the same thing as “shall never thirst.” For by both is signified that eternal sufficiency in which there is no want. You desire bread from heaven; you have it before you, and yet you do not eat. “But I said unto you, that ye also have seen me, and ye believed not” (Jn 6:36).  But I have not on that account lost my people. “For hath your unbelief made the faith of God of none effect?” (Rom 3:3).  For, see thou what follows: “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me, I will not cast out of doors” (Jn 6:37). What kind of within is that, whence there is no going out of doors? Noble interior, sweet retreat! O secret dwelling without weariness, without the bitterness of evil thoughts, without the solicitings of temptations and the interruptions of griefs! Is it not that secret dwelling whither shall enter that well-deserving servant, to whom the Lord will say, “Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord?” (Matt 25:23). Excerpted from St Augustine’s Tractate 25. An online version of the tractates can be found here. Tractates 24-27 deal with John 6.

 

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St Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on John 6:22-35

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 29, 2012

22, 23 The morrow, when the people which stood on the other side of the sea saw that there was none other boat there save that one whereinto His disciples were entered, and that Jesus went not with His disciples into the boat, yet that His disciples had gone away, howbeit there came other boats from Tiberias nigh unto the place where they did eat bread, after that the Lord had given thanks.

The miracle does not escape notice, I mean Jesus walking on. the very sea, although it took place by night and in the dark, and was ordered in secret. But the crowd of those who were wont to follow Him perceives, assured (as is probable) by much watching, that He had neither sailed with His disciples, nor had crossed in any other ship. For there was there the Apostles’ ship alone, which they took and went away before Him. Nought then is hidden of what is good even though it be performed in secret by any, and here we see that that is true, Nothing is secret that shall not be made manifest, neither hid that shall not be known and come abroad. I say then that he who desireth to track the footsteps of Christ, and, as far as man can, to be moulded after His Pattern, ought not to be eager to live in much boasting, nor when he practises virtue to be led away in pursuit of praise, nor if he enter upon an extraordinary and exceeding disciplined life, should he desire to glory immoderately thereat, but should desire to be seen alone by the Eyes of the Deity, Who revealeth hidden things, and |342 that which is performed in secret bringeth He into clearest apprehension.

24 When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there neither His disciples, they also took shipping and came to Capernaum seeking for Jesus.

These men follow Him, marvelling perchance at His miracles, yet not receiving any profit from them unto the duty of faith, but as though they were making some return to the Wonder-worker by merely bestowing on Him a not undesired praise. For this is a dreary disease of a mind and soul which is never accustomed to be led to the choice of what is profitable for her. The reason why this was so with them was, that they delighted solely in the pleasures of the flesh, and jumped eagerly at the meanest temporal food, rather than hasten after spiritual goods, and endeavour to gain what would support them to life eternal. This you will learn clearly by what follows too.

25 And when they had found Him on the other side of the sea, they said unto Him, Rabbi when camest Thou hither?

Their speech takes the form of being that of those who love Him and feigns sweetness, but is convicted of being exceeding senseless and childish. For they ought not on meeting with so great a teacher, to have talked to no purpose, and taken no pains to learn anything. For what was the need of being eager to ask Him, when He came there? what good would they be likely to get from knowing? We must then seek wisdom from the wise, and let a prudent silence be preferred to undisciplined words. For the disciple of Christ bids that our speech be seasoned with salt: and another of the wise exhorts us to this, saying, My son, if thou hast a word of understanding, answer, if not, lay thy hand upon thy mouth. And how evil it is to be condemned for an undisciplined tongue, we shall know from another: for he says, If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. |343

26 Jesus answered them and said, Verily, I say unto you, ye seek Me, not because ye saw the miracle, but because ye ate of the loaves and were filled.

We will say something common, yet worn by little use. Great teachers are often wont to be not slightly angry, when they are questioned about vain and useless matters. And we shall find them so, not out of haughtiness, but rather from annoyance at the folly of the questioners. Of us therefore and those like us I think that this is not unrightly said: but the Saviour inflicts a warm rebuke upon those who made those enquiries, for speaking uninstructedly, and unwisely enquiring not because it was their duty to seek out the things whereby they might become honest and good, but because they followed Him for carnal reward and that a most mean one. For what is less than daily food, and that not sumptuous? We must then practise piety towards Christ and Love of Him, not that we may obtain ought of carnal goods but that we may gain the salvation that is through Him; and let us not say good words to Him, as these say Rabbi, nor devise fair-speaking as a foundation of gain and boundless ingathering of riches. Truly he that attempts such things, will not be ignorant that he shall encounter Christ Who keenly convicteth him, and revealeth his hidden wickedness.

It is meet again to admire also the economy herein. For when He saw that they were enveloped with the afore-mentioned disease, as a Physician skilful and master of his art, He devised a twofold medicine for them, entwining the helpful reproof with most glorious miracle. The miracle then we shall find in His knowing their thoughts; and in the Wonder-worker not telling them what they sought not out of piety to know, you will behold the reproof. And the advantage is twofold. For in that He knows perfectly their devices and has accurate perception thereof, He shews that they are without understanding, in that they think to escape the Divine Eye, while they heap up wickedness in their heart, and practise sweet words with their tongue. But this is the part of One Who |344 persuades them to leave off this their disease, and to cease from no slight sin. For outrageous is he and lawless, who hath this conception of God. In usefully convicting them of sinning, He restrains in some sort the future course of evil. For that which has no hindrance, creeps on and extends itself; but when caught in the fact, it is well-nigh ashamed, and like a rope contracts into itself. Therefore the Lord profiteth them by reproving also, and by those things whereby one thinks that He smites, by these very things He is seen to be their Benefactor. We must then hold that even though some flatter or with mild words wheedle the rulers of the Churches, yet are not sound concerning the faith, it is not meet that they should be carried away by their fawnings nor by way of payment for their applause lend in turn to them who need correcting, silence in regard to their faults: but we ought rather boldly to rebuke them, and to persuade them to change for the better, or at least hereby if so be to profit others, according to that spoken by Paul, Them that sin rebuke before all, that the rest also may fear.

This then for the subjects separately: but that they are in connexion, and of necessity follow those before considered, I think I ought to shew. We said then that our Saviour’s coming down from the mountain typified His second and future Coming to us from Heaven, and we added as in summary, that He appeared to His disciples while they were watching, and yet toiling, and released them from their fear, and brought the ship at once to land. And what is hence pourtrayed to us, as in a type, we have there declared. But now observe, that after Jesus had come down from the mountain, certain miss following Him, and come to Him at last. For they come on the day following, the Evangelist having not without care added this also. Then on meeting with Him, they endeavour to wheedleHim with good words: but Christ chides them, bringing upon them hot and keen reproof, that we might consider this again, that after the Coming of our Lord to us from Heaven, most vain and profitless unto men is the search after good things, nor |345 will the desire to follow Him find any fitting season. Yea even though certain approach Him, thinking to appease Him with smoothest words, they shall meet the Judge no longer mild and gentle, but reproving and avenging. For thou wilt see the flattery of them that are reproved, and the reproof itself in the words of the Saviour, when He saith, Many will say to Me in that Day, to wit, the Day of Judgment, Lord, Lord, did we not in Thy Name cast out devils? But says He, Then will I profess unto them, Verily I say unto you, I never knew you. For ye sought Me not purely (saith He) nor loved to excel in holiness, for thereby would I have known you, but since ye practised piety in semblance only and in mere imaginaries for the purpose of gain, justly do I confess that I have not known you. What then in that passage is Lord, Lord, here is Rabbi. To whomsoever therefore punishment is a bitter thing, let him not fall into inertness 13 nor be manifoldly infirm in transgression, looking to the goodness of God, but let him prepare his works for his going forth, as it is written, and make it fit for himself in the field, i. e., while he is in the world. For the Saviour interpreted that the field is the world. Let him prepare to shew holiness and righteousness before the Divine Judgment Seat. For he will behold no unseasonably clement Judge, nor yet yielding to entreaties for mercy, in Him Whom he ought without delay to have obeyed when He was calling him to salvation, while the time of mercy was granting to him both to beg for forgiveness for his already past transgressions, and to seek for loving-kindness from God Who saves.

27 Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for the meat which endureth unto everlasting life.

Something of this sort doth Paul teach us expanding the discourse universally and more generally, saying, He that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption, but he that soiveth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life |346 everlasting. For he says that they sow to the flesh who giving as it were full rein to the pleasures of the flesh, advance at full speed to whatever they will, by no means distinguishing what is profitable for them from what is hurtful and injurious, nor in any way accustomed to approve what seems good unto the Law-giver, but heedlessly hurried off to that alone which is pleasant and agreeable, and preferring nothing to things seen. Again he affirms that they sow to the Spirit, who expend the whole aim of their mind on those things wherein the Holy Ghost willeth us to excel, employing a mind so intense toward the cultivation of good things, that, did not voice of nature not to be disregarded constrain them to minister needful food to the flesh, they would not endure to descend even to this. I think then that we ought to take no forethought whatever for the flesh for the lusts thereof, but rather to apply ourselves to what is most needful, and to be zealous in practising those things, which bring us to the everlasting and Divine Life. For admiration for the delights of the body, and the esteeming nothing better than the superfluities of the belly, is truly brutish and akin to the extremest folly. But to apply ourselves to good things, and earnestly to strive to excel in virtues, and to be subject to the laws of the Spirit, and with all readiness to seek after the things of God, which are able to support us unto salvation:—-I will grant that this truly beseemeth him who knoweth his own nature, and is not ignorant that he hath been made a reasonable creature after the Image of Him that created him. Therefore as the Saviour somewhere saith, Take we no thought, what shall we eat? or, what shall we drink? or, wherewithal shall we be clothed? but considering that the soul is more than meat, and the body than raiment, let us take thought how the more precious part of us may do well.

For though the body do well, and be fat with succession of delights, it will not profit the miserable soul; but on the contrary, will work it much harm. For it will depart into the everlasting fire, since they who have wrought no good, must needs undergo punishment for it: but if the body |347 have been bridled with due reason, and brought under the law of the Spirit, both must surely be saved together. It is then most absurd, that for the flesh we should so take thought, which is but for a time and even now shall perish, as to think that it ought not to lack any one thing which it loves: and to take care for the soul, by way of appendix, or as though it were nothing worth; albeit I think we ought to apply ourselves so much the rather to cares for the soul, as it is of more value than the body. For so of a truth preferring what surpasses in the comparison to what is inferior, and giving a just vote in this matter, we shall become holy and wise jurors, and not bestow upon any other the palm of right reasoning, but rather shall put it upon our own heads. Let us then, as the Saviour saith, labour not for the meat which perisheth, which when it hath passed into the belly, and for a very little while deluded the mind with pettiest pleasure, goeth out into the draught, and is conveyed forth again from the belly. But the spiritual food which strengthened the heart, keepeth the man unto life everlasting, which also Christ promiseth to give us, saying, Which the Son of Man shall give unto you; at once knitting the human with that which is Divine, and connecting the whole mystery of the economy with Flesh in its order. But He hints, I suppose, at the Mystic and more Spiritual Food, whereby we live in Him, sanctified in body and soul. But we shall see Him speaking more openly of this hereafter. The discourse then must be kept for its fit time and place. |348

Verse 27 cont. which the Son of Man shall give unto you: for Him the Father sealed, God.

He was not ignorant, as God, of the charges that would result from Jewish folly, nor of the reasons why they were often foolishly enraged. He knew that they would reason in themselves, looking to the flesh alone, and not conceiving of God the Word therein, Who is This That seizeth upon God-befitting words? for who can give unto men food that keepeth them unto everlasting life? for wholly foreign to man’s nature is such a thing, and it beseemeth Him Alone Who is God over all. The Saviour therefore defends Himself beforehand, and by seasonable arguments, shames their looked-for shameless talk. For He says that the Son of Man will give them the food which nourisheth them unto everlasting life, and immediately affirmed that He is sealed by the Father. Sealed again is either put for anointed (for he who is anointed is sealed), or as shewing that He has been by Nature formed unto the Father. Just as if He had said, I am not unable to give you food which endureth and bringeth up unto everlasting life and delight. For though I seem as one of you, that is Man with flesh, yet was I anointed and sealed by God the Father unto an exact Likeness with Him. For ye shall see (He saith) that He is in Me, and I again in Him Naturally, even though for your sakes I was born Man of a woman, according to the Ineffable order of the economy. For I can do all things in God-befitting Authority and do not in any way come short of the Might inherent in My Father. And |349 though God the Father giveth you the Spiritual Food, which preserveth unto everlasting life, it is clear that the Son too will give it, even though made in Flesh, since He is His Exact Image; the Likeness in every thing being conceived, not after the lineaments of flesh, nor yet ought conceived of in bodily form, but in God-befitting glory and Equal Power and royal Authority. But we must observe again, that when He says that the Son of Man will give the things God-befitting and that He hath been sealed unto the Image of God the Father, He endureth not the division of him that separateth the Temple of the Virgin from the true Sonship, but defines Himself and willeth to be conceived of again as One. For One in truth over us is Christ, bearing as it were the royal purple His Own Robe, I mean His Human Body, or His Temple, to wit of Soul and Body; since One too of Both is Christ.

But, most excellent sir, will the Christ-opposer again say, give the truth the power of overcoming: deal not subtillywith the saying, dishonourably turning it about, whithersoever thou wilt. Lo clearly hereby is the Son proved to be not of the Essence of the Father, but rather a copy of His Essence. Suppose some such thing (say they) as we say: A seal or signet impressed on wax, for example, or any other matter fit to receive it, and engraving a likeness only of itself, is taken away again by him who pressed it on, having lost no part of itself: so the Father, having imposed and imprinted Himself Wholly upon the Son in some way by a most accurate Likeness, from Himself hath He surely no part of His Essence, nor is conceived of as therefrom but a mere image and accurate likeness.

Let him that is zealous for knowledge see that now too is our opponent darting on us, like a serpent, and rears aloft his head surcharged with venom: but He Who shattereth the heads of the Dragon, will shatter it too, and will give us power to escape his manifold stubbornness. Let him then tell us, who has just been dinning us with dreadful words, Does not the seal or signet, which is made (it may be) of wood or of iron or of gold, full surely seal with |350 some impress those things whereon it comes, and will it not be and be conceived of as a seal apart from the impress? But I suppose that any one of our opponents too, even against his will constrained by fitness unto the very truth would confess that it will by all means seal with an impress; and without an impress, according to fair reasoning, not at all. Since then, as the Divine Scripture testifieth to us, the Son is the Impress of the Person of God the Father, in that He is in It and of It by Nature, whereupon is Himself impressed, or through whom else will the Father seal His Own Impress? For no one will say that the Father is not altogether in God-befitting Form, which is the Son, the Form of Him That begat Him; Whom if any behold spiritually, it is manifest that he will see the Father. Wherefore He says that He too is in Him Naturally, even though He be conceived to be of Him by reason of His Own Existence: as the brightness for instance, is in the brightening and of the brightening, and something different, according to the mode of conception, and again not different, as viewed in relation to it, because it is said to be of it, and again in it. And not I suppose in the way of division and complete essential partition are these things considered of: for they are inherent in respect of identity of essence in those things whence they are, and of which they are believed to be, tending forth according to expression in idea to something else, of their own, yet not separate. The Word of the Essence of the Father, not bare Word, nor without Flesh, is sealed then by the Father, yea rather through Him are sealed those things which are brought to likeness with God, as far as can be, as we understand in that which certain say, The light of Thy Countenance was marked upon us, O Lord. For he says that the Countenance of God the Father, is the Son, Which is again the Impress, but the light thereof is the grace which through the Spirit passeth through unto the creation, whereby we are remoulded unto God through faith, receiving through Him as with a seal, the conformation unto His Son, Who is |351 the Image of the Father, that our being made after the Image and Likeness of the Creator, might be well preserved in us. But since the Son is confessedly the Countenance of God the Father, He will surely be the Impress too with which God seals.

Yea (says our opponent) we believe that God through the Spirit seals the Saints, but the things that you are bringing forward have no place in the present question. Wherefore we will recapitulate and say, The seal supposed to be of iron, or may be gold, impresses its own likeness on the matter whereon it comes, losing nothing of its own, but by the operation only of its being pressed on does it mark the things that receive it: thus do we hold that the Son has been sealed by the Father, not having ought of His Essence but possessing merely an accurate likeness thereof, and being Other than He, as the image to the archetype.

O boundless folly, and perilous conceit! how easily hast thou forgotten those things just now gone through. For we said that the Son was the Impress of the Father, and that with Him was sealed other than He, and not Himself, lest He be thought to be His Own Impress. But thou, having not rightly spurned our argument hereon, dost not blush to put about Him a likeness of operation only. In image only then will the Son be God according to you, and by Nature not at all, but merely in that He was fashioned and well formed after the Likeness of Him That begat; haply no longer of Him That begat: for it is time that ye should on these accounts take away the begetting also, yea rather there is every need even if ye will it not. On the duty of believing that the Son is begotten of the Father, we have already expended much argument, or shall do so in its place. But it were more fitting that we should proceed to the matter in hand, putting forward to those who are accustomed unrestrainedly to shameless talk the question, Will they not surely say that that which is given may also be taken away, and confess that that which is added can altogether be also lost? for does it not at |352 some time happen that every thing is rejected, which is not firmly rooted in any by nature? It is evident, even should any of them not assent thereto. Some time then or other, according to the argument of possibility, the Son will be bereft of His Likeness. For He was sealed (as ye say) by the mere Operation of His Father upon Him, not having the stability that’is of natural Endowments, but conceived of and existing wholly other than His Father, and completely severed from His Essence. Doing then very excellently and fore-seeing matters by most cunning reasoning did ye secure the Father, by saying that He gives nought of Himself to the Son, save that He vouchsafes Him Likeness only, lest ought of passion should be conceived of as about Him. For this is your foolish mystery. For belike ye were ignorant that God the Father Who doeth all things without passion, will also beget without passion, and is superior to fire (for the argument brings us down to this necessity) which without passion or corporeal division, begets the burning which is of it. Let those then hear who are zealous in fancies only, and account unrestrained blasphemy to be not an unholy thing, but rather a virtue, that if they say that the Son is classed with the Father, in the propriety of likeness alone, He will abide in no secure possession of good things, but will wholly risk His being by Nature God, and will in possibility at least, admit of change for the worse. For there was said to that governor of Tyre too, words which reason necessitates us to attribute to the person of the devil, Thou art the seal of the likeness: but he to whom that speech is addressed, is found to have fallen from the likeness. Thou seest then, and clearly too, by such instances, that the mere being in the likeness of God is no security for an unmoved stability in things spiritual, nor yet does it suffice to perfect endurance in the good things in which they are, to have been duly sealed unto the Nature of the Maker. For they too fall, and are borne headlong, oft-times changing into a worse mind, than they had at the beginning. It is then possible, according to this argument, |353 that the Son, attaining to Likeness with the Father by sameness of work only, and not firm fixed by the propby Nature, but having His stability in the mere motions of His Own Will, should undergo change, or, though He do not suffer it, should find the not so suffering the result of admirable purpose, and not rather the steadfastness of Native stability, as God.

What then, most noble sirs, is the Son no longer God in truth? And if according to you, He is so found, why do we worship Him? why is He co-glorified with God the Father? why is He borne, as God, upon the highest Powers? Are then with us the Holy Seraphim themselves too ignorant that they do greatly err from what is fit, in glorifying Him Who is not by Nature God? They err, it seems, in calling Him Who is honoured with equal honour Lord of Sabaoth. Or shall we not say, that the highest Powers, Principalities Thrones and Dominions and Lordships, essay, after their power, to appear conformed to God? For if the so small animal of the earth, in respect of that creation, I mean man, be honoured with such beauty, what reason has one not for fully thinking, that to them who are far better than we, far better things are allotted? How then do they both call Him Lord of Sabaoth, and stand around as a guard, as ministering to the King of the universe? why sitteth He with the Father, and that on His Right Hand, the bond with the Lord, the creature with the Creator? For is it not fitter to bring that which by means of heed and wariness is free from passion and perfect, to the level of things originate rather than of God by Essence Who hath Naturally the inability to suffer? But it is manifest, though they confess it not. Who then will endure these babblers, or how will they not with reason hear, Woe to them that are drunken without wine?

But perchance they will Be ashamed of the absurdities of such arguments, and will betake themselves to this, and say, that the Son was sealed by the Father unto a most accurate Likeness, and is Unchangeable in Nature, even though He be not from the Father. |354

How then, tell me, will that which is not of God by Nature, bear His Attribute, and that be found not without share-essentially of the Excellences of the Divine Essence, which proceeded not therefrom, after the true mode of generation? For it is, I suppose, clear and confessed by all, that the Properties of the Godhead are wholly unattainable by the created nature, and that the qualities belonging to It by Nature will not exist in ought else that is, in equal and exact manner: as for example, Immutability is in God Naturally; in us by no means so, but a kind of stability likens us thereto, through heed and vigilance not suffering us readily to go after those things which we ought not. But if it were possible, that according to them, ought of Divine Attributes should be in any who is not of the Divine Nature Essentially, and that they should be so in him as they are in It; what (tell me) is to prevent all things God-befitting from at length coming down even upon those who are not by nature gods? For if one of them unhindered finds place (I mean Immutability) there will be room for the rest also, and what follows? utter confusion. For will not the superior pass below, and the inferior mount up into the highest place? And what is there yet to hinder even the Most High God from being brought down to our level, and us again from being gods even as the Father, when there no longer is or is seen any difference intervening, if the qualities which belong to God Only pass to us, and are in us naturally? And since God the Father contains in Himself Alone, as it seems, those Properties whereby we should be as He, we have remained men, and the angels likewise with us what they are, not mounting up to That which is above all. For if God should reveal Himself not Jealous, by putting His Own Attribute into the power of all, many surely would be those who were by nature gods, able to create earth and heaven and all the rest of the creation. For the Excellencies of Him Who is by Nature the Creator having once passed on, how will not they be as He is? or what prevents that which is radiant with equal goods from appearing in equal glory? But the |355 God-opposer surely sees completely, how great the multitude of strange devices which is hence heaped up upon us and exclaims against the mislearningthat is in him. The Godhead then will remain in Its Own Nature, and the creature will partake of It through spiritual relationship, but will never mount up unto the Dignity that unchangeably belongs to It. But our argument being thus arranged, we shall find that Immutability exists Essentially in the Son: He is then God by Nature, and of necessity of the Father, lest ought that is not of Him by Nature should reach to an equal dignity of Godhead.

But since they hold out to us as an incontestable argument their saying that the Son is other than the Father, as Image to archetype, and through this subtlety4 think to sever Him from the Essence of Him That begat Him, they shall be caught in no slight folly, and to have studied their assertion to no purpose, of any force in truth to accomplish fairly what they have at heart. For what further are they vainly contending for, or whence do they from only the distinctness of His own Being, sever the Son from the Father? For the fact that He exists Personally does not (I suppose) prove that He is diverse from the Essence of Him who begat Him. For He is confessedly of the Father, as being of His Essence; He is again in the Father, by reason of His being in Him by Nature; and you will hear Him say, at one time, I proceeded forth from the Father, and am come, again at another time, I am in the Father and the Father in Me. For He will not withdraw into a Personality wholly and completely separated, seeing that the Holy Trinity is conceived of as being in One Godhead; but being in the Father, in mode or position undivided as to consubstantiality, He will be conceived of as likewise of Him, according to the Procession which ineffably manifesteth Him in respect of beaming forth. For He is Light of Light. Therefore in the Father and of the Father, alike Undivided and separate, in Him as Impress, but as Image to Archetype will He be conceived of in His Own Person. But we will not simply discourse |356 concerning this, but will confirm it by example from the Law, on all sides fortifying the force of truth against those who think otherwise.

The Law then appointed to the children of Israel to give to every man a ransom for his poll, half a didrachm. But one stater contains a didrachm. Yea and herein again was shadowed out to us Christ Himself, Who offered Himself for all, as by all, a Ransom to God the Father, and is understood in the one drachma, but not separately from the other, because that in the one coin, as we said before, two drachmae are contained. Thus may both the Son be conceived of in respect of the Father, and again the Father in respect of the Son, Both in One Nature, but Each Separate in part, as existing in His own Person, yet not wholly severed, nor One apart from the Other. And as in the one coin were two drachmae, having equal bulk with one another, and in no ways one less than the other; so shalt thou conceive of the in nought differing Essence of the Son in respect of God the Father, and again of the Father in respect of the Son, and thou shalt at length receive wholesome doctrine upon all points spoken of concerning Him.

28, 29 They said therefore unto Him, What shall we do, that we might work the work of God? Jesus answered and said unto them,

Not of good purpose is the enquiry, nor yet as one might suppose does the question proceed from desire of knowledge on their part, but is rather the result of exceeding arrogance. For as if they would deign to learn nought beyond what they knew already, they well nigh say something of this sort, Sufficient, good Sir, to us are the writings of Moses: we know as much as we need of the things at which he who is skilful in the works of God ought to aim. What new thing then wilt Thou supply, in addition to those which were appointed at that time? what strange thing wilt Thou teach, which was not shewn us before by the Divine words? The enquiry then is rather of folly, than really of a studious will. You have |357 something of this kind in blessed Matthew too. For a certain young man, overflowing with not the most easily-gotten abundance of wealth, was intimating that he would enter upon the due service of God. When he came to Jesus, he eagerly enquired what he should do, that he might be found an heir of everlasting life. To whom the Lord saith, Thou knowest surely the commandments, Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not bear false witness, and the like. But he, as lacking none of these things, or even not accepting an exposition of teaching which fell far short of his existing practice, says. All these things have I kept from my youth up, what lack I yet? what then he did joining haughtiness to ignorance in his question, what lack I yet, the same do these too through their over much arrogance alike and self-conceit, saying, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?

A good thing then is a low conceit, and it is the work of a noble soul, to commit to her teachers the thorough knowledge of what is profitable, and so to yield to their lessons, which they think it right to instil, seeing they are superior in knowledge. For how shall they be accepted at all as teachers, if they have not superiority of understanding above what the mind of their pupils hath, since their advance will scarcely end at the measure of their masters’ knowledge, according to the word of the Saviour, The disciple is not above his Master, and, It is enough for the disciple that he be as his Master?

This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom HE sent.

Most severely doth the Lord, even though secretly as yet and obscurely, attack the folly of the questioners. For one would suppose, looking merely at the simple meaning of the words, that Jesus was commanding them nothing else, save to believe on Him: but on examining the intent of the words, he will see that they refer to something else. For full well does He arrange His discourse suitably to the folly of the questioners. For they, as though they learnt sufficiently through the Law how |358 to work what was well-pleasing to God, blasphemously neglect the teaching of our Saviour, saying, what shall we do, that we might work the work of God? But it was necessary that He should shew them, that they were still very far removed from the worship most pleasing unto God, and that they knew no whit of the true good things, who cleaving to the letter of the law, have their mind full of mere types and forms. Therefore with some great emphasis does He say, opposing the fruit of faith to the worship of the Law, This is the work of God that ye believe on Him whom HE sent. That is, it is not what YE supposed (He says) looking to the types alone; but know ye, even though ye will not learn it, that the Lawgiver took no pleasure in your sacrifices of oxen, nor needest thou to sacrifice sheep, as though God willed and required this. For what is frankincense, though it curl in the air in fragrant steam, what will the he-goat profit (saith He) and the costly offerings of cinnamon? God eateth not the flesh of bulls, nor yet drinketh He the blood of goats: He knoweth all the fowls of the Heaven, and the wild beasts of the field are with Him. But He hath hated and despised your feasts, and will not smell in your solemn assemblies, as Himself saith: nor spake He unto your fathers concerning whole burnt offerings or sacrifices. Therefore not this is the tvork of God, but rather that, that ye should believe on Him whom He sent. For of a truth better than the legal and typical worship is the salvation through faith and the grace that justifieth than the commandment that condemneth.

The work then of the pious soul is faith to Christ-ward, and more excellent far the zeal for to become wise in the knowledge of Him, than the cleaving to the typical shadows. You will marvel also at this besides: for whereas Christ was wont to take no notice of those who questioned Him, tempting Him, He answers this for the present economically (even though He knew that they would be nothing profited) to their own condemnation, as He says elsewhere too, If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin; but now they have no cloke for their sin. |359

30, 31 They said therefore unto Him, What sign doest THOU then, that we may see and believe Thee? what dost Thou work? our fathers ate the manna in the desert, as it is written, Bread from Heaven gave He them to eat.

The disposition of the Jews unveils itself by little and little, although, hidden and as yet buried in less overt reasonings. For they were saying in their folly, What shall we do that we might work the works of God? as if, as we said before, they held the commandment through Moses sufficient to conduct them to all wisdom, whereby they might know how to perform what was well-pleasing unto God. But their aim being such was concealed, but is now being unveiled, and by little and little comes forth more plainly. For nothing is secret, as the Saviour says, that shall not be made manifest. What then (are they saying) What sign shewest THOU?The blessed Moses was honoured (he says) and with great reason, he was set forth as a mediator between God and man. Yea and he gave too a sufficient sign, for all they that were with him ate the manna in the wilderness. But do THOU at length, since Thou comest to us in a position greater than his, and dost not shrink from adding to the things decreed of old, with what signs wilt Thou give us a warrant, or what of wondrous works dost Thou shewing us, introduce Thyself as the Author of more novel doctrines unto us? Hereby too is our Saviour’s word shewn to be true: for they are convicted by their own words of thinking that they ought to seek Him, not to admire Him for those things which He had in God-befitting manner wrought, but because they did eat of the loaves and were filled. For they demand of Him a sign, not any chance one, but such as (they thought) Moses wrought, when not for one day, but for forty whole years, he fed the people that came out of Egypt in the wilderness, by the supply of manna. For, knowing nothing at all (it seems) of the Mysteries in the Divine Scriptures, they did not consider that it was fit to attribute the marvellous working hereunto to the Divine power which wrought it, but very foolishly crown the head of Moses for this. They therefore ask of |360 Christ a sign equal to that, giving no wonder at all to the sign which had been shewn them for a day, even though it were great, but saying that the gift of food ought to be extended to them for a long time. For that even so hardly would He shame them into confessing and agreeing that most glorious was the Power of the Saviour, and His Doctrine therefore to be received. Manifest then is it even though they do not say it in plain terms, that they wholly disregard signs, and under pretext of marvelling at them, are zealous to serve the impure pleasure of the belly. |361

32 Jesus therefore said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, not Moses hath given you the Bread from Heaven,

Now too does the Saviour most severely convict them of being without understanding, and exceedingly ignorant of what is in the Mosaic writings. For they ought to have known quite clearly that Moses was ministering the things of God to the people, and again those of the children of Israel to God, and was himself the worker in none of the miracles, but a minister rather and under-worker of those things which the Giver to them of all good things willed to do for the benefit of those who had been called out of bondage. What they then were impiously imagining, this Christ very resolutely cuts away (for to attribute things which befit and are due to the Divine Nature Alone, to the honour of men and not rather to It, how is not this replete with folly alike and impiety?) and in that He deprived the hierophant Moses of the miracle, and withdrew it out of his hand, it is (I suppose) manifest that He rather attributes the glory of it to Himself together with the Father, even though He abstained from speaking more openly, by reason of the uninstructedness of His hearers. For it was a thing truly not contrary to expectation, that they should rage, as though Moses were insulted by such words, and should be kindled unto intemperate anger, never enquiring what the truth was, nor recognizing the dignity of the Speaker, but heedlessly going about to only honour Moses, and not reasonably as it happened, when he was compared with what excelled him.

Let us learn then, with more judgment and reason, to |362 practise respect towards our holy fathers and to render, as it is written, fear to whom fear, honour to whom honour (for we shall in no wise injure, if we render what fittingly belongs to each, since the spirits of the Prophets are subject to the Prophets) but when any discourse about our Saviour Christ is entered into, then we must needs say, Who in the clouds can be equalled unto the Lord? or who among the sons of the mighty shall be likened unto the Lord?

33 but My Father giveth you the True Bread from heaven: for the Bread of God is He which cometh down from heaven and giveth life unto the world.

It was needful not only to remove Moses from God-befitting Authority, according to their conception, and to shew that he was a minister of that miraculous working, rather than the bestower of it, but also to lessen the wonder though miraculously wrought, and to shew that it was nothing at all in comparison with the greater. For imagine Christ calling out something like this, The great things, sirs, do ye reckon among the little and meanest, and the beneficence of the Lord of all ye have meted out with most petty limits. For with no slight folly do ye suppose that the manna is the Bread from heaven, although it fed the race alone of the Jews in the wilderness, while there are other nations besides without number throughout the world. And ye supposed that God willed to shew forth lovingkindness so contracted, as to give food to one people only (for these were types of universalities, and in the partial was a setting forth of His general Munificence, as it were in pledge, to those who first received it): but when the time of the Truth was at our doors, My Father giveth you the Bread from heaven, which was shadowed forth to them of old in the gift of the manna. For let no one think (saith He) that that was in truth the Bread from heaven, but rather let him give his judgment in favour of That, which is clearly able to feed the whole earth, and to give in full life unto the world.

He accuses therefore the Jew of cleaving to the typical |363 observances, and refusing to examine into the beauty of the Truth. For not that was, properly speaking, the manna, but the Only-Begotten Word of God Himself, who proceedeth from the Essence of the Father, since He is by Nature Life, and quickeneth all things. For since He sprang of the Living Father, He also is by Nature Life, and since the work of that which is by Nature Life is to quicken, Christ quickeneth all things. For as our earthly bread which is gotten of the earth suffereth not the frail nature of flesh to waste away: so He too, through the operation of the Spirit quickeneth our spirit, and not only so, but also holdeth together our very body unto incorruption.

But since our meditations have once got upon the subject of manna, it will not be amiss (I think) for us to consider and say some little on it also, bringing forward out of the Mosaic books themselves severally the things written thereon. For thus having made the statement of the matter most clear, we shall rightly discern each of the things signified therein. But we will shew through them all, that the Very Manna is Christ Himself, understood as given under the type of manna to them of old by God the Father. The beginning of the oracles thereon, speaks on this wise, On the fifteenth day of the second month after their departing out of the land of Egypt, the whole congregation of the children of Israel were murmuring against Moses and Aaron, and the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died, stricken by the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots and were eating bread to the full, for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger. The matter then of the history is clear and very plain, and I do not think it needs any words to test the obvious meaning: but we will speak of it, looking only to the spiritual meaning. The children of Israel then, while still in the country of the Egyptians, by Divine command were keeping typically their feast to Christ, and having taken their supper of the lamb, did thus hardly escape the tyranny of Pharaoh’s |364 rule and shake off the intolerable yoke of bondage. Then having miraculously crossed the Red sea, they got into the wilderness: and there famishing craved flesh to eat, and were dragged down to the accustomed desire for food: and so they began murmuring against Moses and fall into repenting of their free gift from God when they ought to have given no small thanks for it. Egypt then will be darkness, and will signify the condition of the present life, and the worldly state, wherein we enrolled as in some state, serve a bitter serfdom therein, working nothing at all to Godward but fulfilling only the works most delightsome to the Devil, and hasting down unto the pleasures of impure flesh, like clay or stinking mud, enduring a miserable toil, unpaid, profitless, and pursuing a wretched (so to say) love of pleasure.

But when the Law of God speaks to our soul, and we behold at length the bitter bondage of these things, then oh then do we, thirsting after riddance from all evil, come to Christ Himself, as to the beginning and door of freedom, and provisioned with the security and grace that come through His Precious Blood, we leave the carnal condition of this life, as it were a troublous and stormy sea, and, out of all the tumult of the world, we at length reach a more spiritual and purer state, as it were sojourning in the wilderness. But since he is not unexercised unto virtue, who is through the Law instructed thereunto, when we find that we are at length in this case, then we falling into the temptations which try us, are sometimes devoured by the memory of carnal lusts, and then, when the lust inflames us mightily, we cry oftentimes out of recklessness, albeit the Divine Law hath called us to liberty, being as it were in hunger for our old accustomed pleasures, and making slight account of our toils after temperance, we look upon the bondage of the world as no longer evil. And in truth, the will of the flesh is sufficient to draw the mind to all faintheartedness after goodness.

And the Lord said unto Moses, Behold I rain you bread |365 from heaven. In these words you may very clearly see that which is sung in the Psalms, He gave them bread of heaven; man did eat angels’ bread. But it is, I suppose, evident to all, that of the reasonable Powers in heaven, none other is the Bread and Food, save the Only Begotten of God the Father. He then is the True Manna, the Bread from heaven, given to the whole rational creation by God the Father. But entering into the order of our subject we say this: Observe how the Divine grace from above draws unto itself the nature of man even though at times sick after its wonted things, and saves it in manifold wise. For the lust of the flesh like a stone falling on the mind thrusts it down, and despotically forces it unto its own will; but Christ brings us round again, as with a bridle, unto longing for better things, and recovers them that are diseased unto God-loving habit of mind. For lo, lo to them that are sinking down into carnal pleasures, He promises to give Food from Heaven, the consolation, that is, through the Spirit, the Spiritual Manna. Through this are we strengthened unto all endurance and manliness and obtain that we fall not through infirmity into those things we ought not. The Spiritual Manna therefore, that is, Christ, was strengthening us before too unto piety.

But since we have once, by reason of need, digressed, I think it well not to leave the subject uninvestigated, since it is very conducive to our profit. Some one then may reasonably ask, Why is God who is so Loving to man and so loveth virtue when it behoved Him to forecome their request, tardy in respect of His Promise: and He nowise punishes those so perverse men, albeit He punished them afterwards, when they were sick with the same lusting, and pictured to themselves bread to the full, and fleshpots, and admitted longing for the rankest onions. For we shall find in Numbers, that both certain were punished, and the place, wherein they were then encamping, was called the graves of lust, for there they buried the people that lusted. With respect then to the first question, we |366 say that it assuredly behoved Him to wait for the desire, and so at length to reveal Himself in due season the Giver. For most welcome is the gift to those in good case, when certain pleasures appear before it and precede it, inciting to thirst after what is not yet come: but the soul of man will be devoid of a more grateful sensation, if it do not first stretch after and labour for the pleasures of being well off. But perhaps you will say that there had been no way any entreaty from them, but murmuring rather, repentance, and outcry: for this would indeed be speaking more truly. To this we say, that entreaty through prayer will befit those who are of a perfect habit: and perchance the murmuring of the more feeble from depressionor whatever cause, will partake of this: and the Saviour of all, being loving to man is not altogether angry at it. For as in those who are yet babes, crying will sometimes avail to the asking of their needs, and the mother is often called by it to find out what will please the child: so to those who were yet babes, and had not yet advanced to understanding, the cry of weariness so to say, has the force of petition before God. And He punisheth not in the beginning, even though He see them worsted by earthly lusts, but after a time, for this reason, as seems to me. They who were but newly come forth of Egypt, not having yet received the manna, nor having the Bread from heaven, which strengtheneth man’s heart, fall as might be expected, into carnal lusts, and therefore are pardoned. But they who had already delighted in the Lord, as it is written, on preferring carnal delights to the spiritual good things, have to give most righteous satisfaction, and over and above their suffering have assigned them a notable memorial of their fate. For the graves of lust is the name of the place of their punishment.

And the people shall go out and gather the day’s portion each day. We will consider the sensible manna a type of the spiritual manna; and the spiritual manna signifies Christ Himself, but the sensible manna adumbrates the grosser teaching of the Law. With reason is the gathering daily, |367 and the lawgiver forbids keeping it till the morrow, darkly hinting to them of old, that when the time of salvation at length shines forth, wherein the Only Begotten appeared in the world with Flesh, the legal types should be wholly abolished, and the gathering food thence in vain, while the Truth Itself lieth before us for our pleasure and enjoyment.

And it shall come to pass, on the sixth day, and they shall prepare that which they bring in, and it shall be double what they gather. Observe again, that thou mayest understand, that He does not suffer them to gather on the seventh day the sensible manna, but commands that which is already provided and gathered to be prepared for their food beforehand. For the seventh day signifies the time of the Advent of our Saviour, wherein we rest in holiness, ceasing from works of sin, and receiving for food, both the fulfilment of our faith, and the knowledge already arranged in us through the Law, no longer gathering it as of necessity, since more excellent food is now before us, and we have the Bread from heaven. The manna is collected in double measure before the holy sabbath: and you will understand thence, that the Law being concluded in respect of its temporal close, and the holy sabbath, that is, Christ’s coming, already beginning, the getting of the heavenly goods will be after some sort in double measure, and the grace two-fold, bringing in addition to the advantages from the Law, the Gospel instruction also. Which the Lord Himself too may be conceived to teach when He says, as in the form of a parable. Therefore every scribe instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a wealthy 14 man which putteth forth out of his treasure things new and old: the old the things of the Law, the new those through Christ.

And Moses and Aaron said unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, At even ye shall know that the Lord brought you forth from the land of Egypt, in the morning |368 ye shall see the glory of the Lord, in that the Lord giveth you in the evening flesh to eat and in the morning bread to the full. Moses promises to them of Israel, that quails shall be given them by God in the evening, and declares that hereby they shall know surely that the Lord brought them up out of Egypt. And in the morning ye shall see plainly, (he says) the glory of the Lord, when He shall give you bread to the full. And consider, I pray you, the difference between each of these. For the quail signifies the Law (for the bird ever flies low and about the earth): thus wilt thou see those too who are instructed through the Law unto a more earthly piety through types, I mean such as relate to sacrifice and purifications and Jewish washing. For these are heaved a little above the earth, and seem to rise above it, but are nevertheless in it and about it: for not in the Law is that which is perfectly good and lofty unto understanding. Moreover it is given in the evening: the account again by evening signifying the obscurity of the letter, or the darksome condition of the world, when it had not yet the Very Light, i. e.,. Christ, who when He was Incarnate said, I am come a Light into the world. But He says the children of Israel shall know that the Lord brought them out of Egypt. For knowledge only of the salvation generally through Christ is seen in the Mosaic book, while grace was not yet present in very person. This very thing He hinted at, when He added, In the morning ye shall see the glory of the Lord, in that He giveth you bread to the full. For when the mist of the Law, as it were night, hath been dispersed, and the spiritual Sun hath risen upon us all, we behold as in a glass the glory of the Lord now present, receiving the Bread from heaven to the full, I mean Christ Himself.

And it was evening and the quails came up and covered the camp, and in the morning as the dew ceased round about the host, and behold, upon the face of the wilderness a small thing, as coriander seed, white. Look at the arrangement of the things to be considered. He says of the quails, that they covered the camp; of the manna again, that |369 in the morning when the dew was gone up, it lay on the face of the wilderness round about the camp. For the instruction through the Law, I mean that in types and figures, which we have compared to the appearance of quails, covers the synagogue of the Jews: for, as Paul saith, the veil lieth upon their heart, and hardness in part. But when it was morning, that is, when Christ had now risen, and flashed forth upon all the world, and when the dew was gone up, that is, the gross and mist-like introduction of legal ordinances (for Christ is the end of the Law and the Prophets); then of a surety the true and heavenly manna will come down to us, I mean the Gospel teaching, not upon the congregation of the Israelites, but round about the camp, i. e., to all the nations, and upon the face of the wilderness, that is the Church of the Gentiles, whereof it is said that more are the children of the desolate than of the married wife. For over the whole world is dispersed the grace of the spiritual manna, which is also compared to the coriander seed, and is called small. For the power of the Divine Word being of a truth subtle, and cooling the heat of the passions, lulleth the fire of carnal motions within us, and entereth into the deep of the heart. For they say that the effect of this herb, I mean the coriander, is most cooling.

And when the children of Israel saw it they said one to another, What is this? for they wist not what it was; being unused to what had been miraculously wrought and not being able to say from experience what it was, they say one to another What is this? But this very thing which is said interrogatively, they make the name of the thing, and call it in the Syrian tongue, Manna, i.e., What is this? and you will hence see, how Christ would be unknown among the Jews. For that which prevailed in the type, trial shewed that it had also force in the truth.

And Moses said to them, Let no man leave of it till the morning; and they hearkened not unto Moses, but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms and stank, and Moses was wroth with them. The morning in this place |370 signifies the bright and most glorious time of the coming of our Saviour, when the shadow of the Law and the mist of

the devil among the nations, being in some sort undone, the Only-Begotten rose upon us like light, and spiritual dawn appeared. The blessed Moses then commanded not to leave of the typical manna until the morning; for when the aforementioned time hath risen upon us, superfluous and utterly out of place are the shadows of the Law by reason of the now present truth. For that a thing truly useless is the righteousness of the Law when Christ hath now gleamed forth, Paul shewed, saying of Him, for whom I suffered the loss of all things, to wit, glorying in the Law, and do count them dung, that I may win Christ and be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness which is of the Law, but that which is through the faith of Jesus Christ. Seest thou then, how as a wise man he took care not to leave of it till the morning? They who kept of it unto the morning are a type of the Jewish multitude which should believe not, whose eager desire to keep the law in the letter, should be a producing of corruption and of worms. For nearest thou how the Lawgiver is exasperated greatly against them? And Moses said unto Aaron, Take one golden pot, and put therein manna, an omer full, and thou shalt lay it up before God to be kept. Well in truth may we marvel hereat, and say, O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! For incomprehensible in truth is the wisdom hidden in the God-inspired Scriptures, and deep their depth, as it is written, who can find it out? Thou seest then how our last comment fitted these things: For since Christ Himself was shewn to be our Very Manna, declared in type by way of image to them of old, needs does he teach in this place, of Whom and of what virtue and glory will he be full, who treasureth up in himself the spiritual Manna, and bringeth Jesus into the inmost recesses of his heart, through right faith in Him and perfect love. For thou hearest how the omer full of manna was put in a golden pot, and by the hand of Aaron laid up before the Lord to be kept. For the holy and truly pious soul, which travaileth of the Word of God |371 perfectly in herself, and receiveth entire the heavenly treasure will be a precious vessel, like as of gold, and will be offered by the High Priest of all to God the Father, and will be brought into the Presence of Him Who holdeth all things together and preserveth them to be kept, not suffering to perish that which is of its own nature perishable. The righteous man then is described, as having in a golden vessel the spiritual Manna, that is Christ, attaining unto incorruption, as in the Sightof God, and remaining to be kept, that is unto long-enduring and endless life. Christ with reason therefore convicts the Jews of no slight madness, in supposing that the manna was given by the all-wise Moses to them of old, and in staying at this point their discourse thereon and considering not one at all of the things presignified thereby, by His saying, Verily I say unto you, Not Moses hath given you the manna. For they ought rather to have considered this and perceived that Moses had brought in the service of mediation merely: but that the gift was no invention of human hand, but the work of Divine Grace, outlining the spiritual in the grosser, and signifying to us the Bread from Heaven, Which giveth Life to the whole world, and doth not feed the one race of Israel as it were by preference.

34, 35 They said therefore unto Him, Lord evermore give us this Bread. Jesus said unto them,

Hereby is clearly divulged, though much desiring to be hid, the aim of the Jews, and that one might see that it is not lawful for the Truth to lie, which said that not because they saw the miracles, were they therefore eager to follow Him, but because they did eat of the loaves and were filled. With reason then were they condemned for their much dulness, and I suppose one should truly say to them, Lo a foolish people and without heart, they have eyes and see not, they have ears and hear not. For while our Saviour Christ by many words, as one may see, is drawing them away from carnal imaginations, and by His all-wise teaching winging them unto spiritual contemplation, they attain |372 not above the profit of the flesh, and hearing of the Bread which giveth life unto the world, they still picture to themselves that of the earth, having their belly for god, as it is written, and overcome by the evils of the belly, that they may justly hear, whose glory is in their shame. And you will find such language very consonant to that of the woman of Samaria. For when our Saviour Christ was expending upon her too a long discourse, and telling her of the spiritual waters, and saying clearly, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again, hut whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst, but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing wp into everlasting life: she caught at it through the dulness that was in her, and letting go the spiritual fountain, and thinking nothing at all about it, but sinking down to the gift of sensible wells, says, Lord give me this water, that I thirst not neither come hither to draw. Akin therefore to her language is that of the Jews. For as she was weaklyby nature, in the same way (I think) have these too nought male or manly in their understanding, but are effeminated unto the unmanly lusts of the belly, and shew that that is true of them which is written, For the foolish man will utter folly, and his heart will imagine vain things.

I am the Bread of life

It is the custom of our Saviour Christ when explaining the more Divine and already foretold Mysteries, to make His Discourse upon them darksome and not too transparent. For He commits not His so dread word to lie unveiled before the unholy and profane indiscriminately at their pleasure, to be trodden down by them, but having veiled it in the armour of obscurity, He renders it not invisible to the prudent, but when He seeth among His hearers any foolish ones, and who understand no whit of the things spoken, He opens clearly what He wills to make known, and removing as it were all mist from His Discourse, He sets the knowledge of the Mystery before them bare and in full view, hereby rendering their |373 unbelief without defence. That it was His wont (as we have said) to use an obscure and reserved method of speaking, He will Himself teach us, saying in the Book of Psalms, I will open My Mouth in parables. And the blessed prophet Isaiah too no less will confirm our explanation hereof, and shew it in no wise mistaken, proclaiming, Behold a righteous King shall reign, and princes shall rule with judgment, and a man shall veil his words: for he says that He has reigned a righteous King over us who saith. Yet was I appointed King by Him, upon Sion His holy mountain, declaring the commandment of the Lord: and princes living together in judgment, that is, in uprightness in every thing, he calls the holy disciples who came to the Saviour Christ oftentimes veiling His words, saying, Declare unto us the parable. And He once on hearing the question, Why speakest Thou unto the multitudes in parables? is found to have declared most manifestly the cause, Because they seeing (He says) see not, and hearing they hear not, nor understand. For they were no ways worthy (it seems) seeing that God who judgeth justly, decreed this sentence upon them. The Saviour then, having devised many turns in His Discourse, when He saw that His hearers understood nothing, at length says more openly, I am the Bread, of life, and well-nigh makes an attack upon their unmeasured want of reason, saying, O ye who have the mastery over all in your incomparable uninstructedness alone, when God declares that He will give you Bread from Heaven, and has made you so great a promise in feeding you with manna, do ye limit the Divine Liberality, and are ye not ashamed of staying the grace from above at this, not knowing that it is but a little thing both for you to receive such things of God, and for God Himself to give them you? Do not then believe (saith He) that that bread is the Bread from Heaven. For I am the Bread of Life, Who of old was fore-announced to you as in promise, and shewn as in type, but now am present fulfilling My due promise. I am the Bread of Life, not bodily bread, which cutteth off the suffering from hunger only, and freeth the flesh from the destruction |374 therefrom, but remoulding wholly the whole living being to eternal life, and rendering man who was formed to be for ever, superior to death. By these words He points to the life and grace through His Holy Flesh, through which this property of the Only Begotten, i. e., life, is introduced into us.

But we must know (for I think we ought with zealous love of learning to pursue what brings us profit) that for forty whole years was the typical manna supplied to them of Israel by God, while Moses was yet with them, but when he had attained the common termination of life, and Jesus was now appointed the commander and general of the Jewish ranks: he brought them over Jordan, as it is written, and having circumcised them with knives of stoneand brought them into the land of promise, he at length arranged that they should be fed with bread, the all-wise God having now stayed His gift of manna. Thus (for the type shall now be transferred to the truer) when Moses was shrouded, that is, when the types of the worship after the Law were brought to nought, and Christ appeared to us, the true Jesus (for He saved His people from their sins), then we crossed the Jordan, then received the spiritual circumcision through the teaching of the twelve stones, that is of the holy disciples, of whom if is written in the Prophets that the holy stones are rolled upon His land. For the holy stones going about and running over the whole earth, are of a surety these, through whom also we were circumcised with the circumcision made without hands in Spirit, i. e., through faith. When then we were called to the kingdom of Heaven by Christ (for this and nought else, I deem, it pointeth to, that some entered into the land of promise), then the typical manna no longer belongeth to us (for not by the letter of Moses are we any longer nourished) but the Bread from Heaven, i. e., Christ, nourishing us unto eternal life, both through the supply of the Holy Ghost, and the participation of His Own Flesh, which infuseth into us the participation of God, and effaceth the deadness that cometh from the ancient curse. |375

He that cometh to Me shall not hunger, and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst.

There is herein again something concealed which we must say. For it is the wont of the Saviour Christ, not to contend with the praises of the saints, but on the contrary to crown them with glorious honours. But when certain of the more ignorant folk, not perceiving how great His excellence over them, offer them a superior glory, then does He to their great profit bring them to a meeter idea, while they consider Who the Only-Begotten is, and that He will full surely surpass by incomparable Excellencies. But not over clear does He make His Discourse to this effect, but somewhat obscure and free from any boast, and yet by consideration of or comparison of the works it forcibly takes hold on the vote of superiority. For instance, He was discoursing one time with the woman of Samaria, to whom He promised to give living water; and the woman understanding nought of the things spoken said, Art THOU greater than our father Jacob who gave us the well? But when the Saviour wished to persuade her that He was both greater than he, and in no slight degree more worthy of belief, He proceeds to the difference between the water, and says, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again, but whosoever drinlceth of the water that I shall give him, it shall be in him a well of water syringing up into everlasting life. And what thence does He give to understand but surely this, that the Giver of more excellent gifts must needs be surely Himself more excellent than he with whom was the comparison? Some such method then of leading and instruction He uses now too. For since the Jews were behaving haughtily towards Him, and durst think big, putting forward on all occasions their Lawgiver Moses, and often asserting that they ought to follow his ordinances rather than Christ’s, thinking that the supply of manna and the gushing forth of water from the rock, were most reasonable proof of his superiority over all, and over our Saviour Jesus Christ Himself, needs He did return to His wonted plan, and does not say downright, |376 that He is superior to Moses, by reason of the unbridled daring of His hearers, and their being most exceeding prone to wrath; but He comes to this very thing that is marvelled at, and by comparison of it with the greater, proves that it is small. For he that cometh to Me (He says) shall never hunger and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst. Yea (saith He) I too will agree with you that the manna was given through Moses, but they that did eat thereof hungered. I will grant that out of the womb of the rocks was given forth unto you water, but they who drank thirsted, and the aforesaid gift wrought them some little temporary enjoyment; but he that cometh to Me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst.

What then doth Christ promise? Nothing corruptible, but rather that Blessing in the participation of His Holy Flesh and Blood, which restoreth man wholly to incorruption, so that he should need none of the things which drive off the death of the flesh, food (I mean) and drink. It seems that He here calls water, the Sanctification through the Spirit, or the Divine and Holy Ghost Himself, often so named by the Divine Scriptures. The Holy Body of Christ then giveth life to those in whom It is, and holdeth them together unto incorruption, being commingled with our bodies. For it is conceived of as the Body of none other, but of Him which is by Nature life, having in itself the whole virtue of the united Word, and inqualitied, yea or rather, fulfilled with His effectuating Might, through which all things are quickened and retained in being. But since these things are so, let them who have now been baptized and have tasted the Divine Grace, know, that if they go sluggishly or hardly at all into the Churches, and for a long time keep away from the Eucharistic giftthrough Christ, and feign a pernicious reverence, in that they will not partake of Him sacramentally, they exclude themselves from eternal life, in that they decline to be quickened; and this their refusal, albeit seeming haply to be the fruit of reverence, is turned into a snare and an offence. |377

For rather ought they urgently to gather up their implanted power and purpose, that so they may be resolute in clearing away sin, and essay to live a life most comely, and so hasten with all boldness to the participation of Life. But since Satan is manifold in his wiles, he never suffers them to think that they ought to be soberminded, but after having denied them with evils, persuades them to shrink from the very grace, whereby it were likely, that they recovering from the pleasure that leads to vice, as from wine and drunkenness, should see and consider what is for their good. Breaking off therefore his bond, and shaking off the yoke cast upon us from his tyranny, let us serve the Lord with fear, as it is written, and through temperance shew ourselves superior to the pleasures of the flesh and approach to that Divine and Heavenly Grace, and mount up unto the holy Participation of Christ; for thus, thus shall we overcome the deceit of the devil, and, having become partakers of the Divine Nature, shall mount up to life and incorruption. (source)

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Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on John 6:22-35

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 29, 2012

Joh 6:22  The next day, the multitude that stood on the other side of the sea saw that there was no other ship there but one: and that Jesus had not entered into the ship with his disciples, but that his disciples were gone away alone.

The next day, &c. The meaning is,—The day after that on which Christ had fed the five thousand, the multitude who had been thus fed continuing in that place across the sea, when they knew that there was only one boat there, in which the disciples had embarked alone, Jesus being left on the land—they sought Jesus, must be understood. For they did not know that He had walked on the sea by night, and joined the ship.

Joh 6:23  But other ships came in from Tiberias, nigh unto the place where they had eaten the bread, the Lord giving thanks.

But other ships came, &c. We can see from this verse that the place where Christ multiplied the loaves was near Tiberias, and therefore that those who sailed from thence to Bethsaida and Capharnaum must have sailed past Tiberias. The meaning is, the report of the miracle being spread abroad, many both from other places as well as Tiberias, came to the place where the miracle was wrought, that they might see and hear Jesus who had done such great things.

Joh 6:24  When therefore the multitude saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they took shipping and came to Capharnaum, seeking for Jesus.
Joh 6:25  And when they had found him on that other side of the sea, they said to him: Rabbi, when camest thou hither?

And when they had found Him on that other side of the sea, that is to say in the synagogue of Capharnaum, as is plain from verse 59. When, and how camest Thou hither? “For we know that yesterday Thy disciples went into the ship by themselves at the desert of Bethsaida, and that Thou remainedst there on the land.” They did not know that Jesus had walked upon the sea in the middle of the night.

Joh 6:26  Jesus answered them and said: Amen, amen, I say to you, you seek me, not because you have seen miracles, but because you did eat of the loaves and were filled.

Jesus answered, &c. Through modesty He did not answer their question directly, lest He should be forced to say that He had come walking upon the sea. He gave a reply therefore, which had more direct concern for His questioners, namely, that they were seeking food for their bodies rather than for their souls. “Ye ask Me, not because ye saw the miracles by means of which I labour to teach you faith and repentance, and the other evangelical virtues, by which ye may arrive at everlasting life. You seek Me, not that ye may receive of Me the food of the soul, but because ye did eat of the loaves, which I miraculously multiplied, and which I made pleasant to your taste, in order that ye may again have a like experience.” For many are the lovers of the loaves and fishes rather than of Christ and eternal salvation. For the carnal have a taste only for carnal things, because they do not receive spiritual things.

Joh 6:27  Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that which endureth unto life everlasting, which the Son of man will give you. For him hath God, the Father, sealed.

Labour not, &c. Labour: Greek, ε̉ζγάςεσθε, i.e., strive with zeal and labour and sedulous care to get food, not that of the body which perisheth, but of the soul which perisheth not. Wherefore the Arabic translates, labour not on account of the food which perisheth, but on account of the food which endureth unto eternal life. As Euthymius says, “Labour with the whole mind, with all your care continually. He does not command to labour for the food of the soul only, but He admonished them to care for the food of the body by the way, but for that of the soul with their whole heart.”

Christ rises and draws the multitude from that corporeal bread with which a little while before He had fed them in the desert, to the far better, and far more needful spiritual bread. As though He had said, “I have given you barley bread without any labour of yours, but work ye, and labour with all your might, that Ye may obtain spiritual bread, to nourish you, and bring you to everlasting life.” In like manner, from the water of the well He led the Samaritan woman to spiritual water, that He might teach His faithful followers, and especially Priests and Religious, to do the same, so that in their colloquies they may lead the people from corporeal to spiritual things. Wherefore from this saying of Christ Cyril rightly says, “We must have no care for the flesh, but we must watch for things that are needful for eternity. For he who follows after bodily pleasures differs in no respect from the beasts, but he who cleaves to nature, and leads his life according to the spiritual law, and is wholly given up to those things which are given us by God, and prepare our way for the things above, such a one seems to me to know himself, nor to be ignorant that he is a reasonable being, made in the image of his Creator.”

You will ask, what is that food enduring unto eternal life, which Christ bids us work for that we may gain it? The heretics called Massalians, or Euchites, i.e., Prayers, thought that it was prayer. As though Christ said, “Do not work with your hands, because work of the hands perisheth, but alway pray to God in your hearts because prayer is the food of the spirit, and remaineth for ever. These heretics said that we should not labour with our hands, but should pray always. See S. Chrysostom on this passage. But this is a heresy which S. Paul condemns (2Thess 3:10), saying, “If any one will not work, neither let him eat.”

I say then that this food which abideth is faith, charity, grace, good works, even all things which lead us to life everlasting, and especially the Eucharist, as we shall see in verse 54. So Maldonatus, Bellarmine, and others. For gradually does Christ ascend from minor and common things to those which are greater and of the highest importance, such as the Eucharist. As S. Augustine saith, “To believe in Him is to eat the food which endureth unto life eternal. Why do you make ready your teeth and organs of digestion? Believe, and thou hast eaten.”

Secondly, more appositely, properly and precisely, this spiritual food is the Eucharist, as Christ fully explains (John 5:4). For He first generally (in genere), in the way of a proposition, speaks of this food as heavenly, and enduring unto eternal life. By and by in verse 35, He particularizes, determining what this food is, and asserts that It is He Himself. I am the Bread of Life. At length, in the 54th and following verses, He clearly unfolds the whole matter, and says that His Flesh and Blood in the Eucharist is this Bread and this Food. Except you eat the Flesh of the Son of man, and drink His Blood, you have no life in you. And, My Flesh is meat indeed, and My Blood is drink indeed. For in the space of a year and a half, just before His death, He was about to constitute the Sacrament of the Eucharist, and in It to give us His own Flesh and Blood, as the spiritual meat and drink of the soul. But here in those intermediate verses He frequently exhorts to faith, because faith is a prime requisite in the Eucharist.

The meaning then is, Do the works of faith, believe in Me, give credit to My words, so shall ye seek, and shall indeed obtain the food of the Eucharist, which shall not only nourish your souls, but bring them to eternal life. For Christ distinguishes the work of faith from the food of the Eucharist, which was to be obtained by the work of faith; as the means is distinguished from the end to which it leads. Wherefore by and by, when the Jews ask about the work, that is, the way and the means by which they might gain this Bread, Christ answers (verse 29), This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he hath sent. So Theophylact says, “He calls the food which abideth the mystical reception of the Flesh of the Lord.” And Rupertus, “He that endureth unto life eternal, that is, He who is eaten in this mortal life, is profitable to this end, that He should give everlasting life to the world”

For Him hath God the Father sealed. God, Greek, ό Θεὸς, the Heavenly Father, who is the Most High God. Signed, (Vulg.), Greek, ε̉σφζάγισε, sealed. This signing, or sealing of Christ, is threefold, the first of which is the cause of the second, the second of the third. The first is of Christ’s Divinity, the second and third of His Humanity. In the first place then, Cyril thus expounds (lib. 3, c. 29), “To be signed is put for to be anointed (for He who was anointed was signed), and denoted by the word signing, that He was formed as to His nature after the form of the Father, so to speak, that He might appear to say, ‘It is not difficult for Me to bestow upon you the enduring Food, by which ye may be brought to the unspeakable delights of eternal life.’ For the Son is the character of the Hypostasis of God the Father: and the character by which He has been signed by the Father is nothing else but the very form and substance of the Godhead.” Thus Cyril: so too, S. Paul (Heb 1:3), “Who being the splendour of His glory, and the character of His substance.” Whence S. Gregory Nazianzen speaks thus of the glory of the Son (Orat. 42), “He is the Fountain of life and immortality; He is the expression,” that is, the similitude, the seal, “of the Archetype: He is the immovable Seal,” that which is not altered, or changed to any other form: “He is the Image in all respects like: He is the Term and Reason (Greek, όζος κάὶ λόγος) of the Father.” These two last expressions Nicetas takes as similar in meaning, that the Son is the Word of God the Father, i.e., the definition, the demonstration. For as a definition demonstrates that which it defines, so does the Son demonstrate, and as it were define the Father. Thus Nicetas.

2.  S. Hilary (lib. 8, de Trin.) more correctly and appositely; The Father, he saith, hath sealed the Son, not in the Divinity, by communicating to Him His own Godhead, but in the Humanity, since He hath united it to the Word, and hath communicated to it the Divinity of the Word. For a seal, he says, is wont to be impressed upon a different substance, which is called the impression. So the Humanity is sealed by the Divinity of the Son. So also Augustine: and from him Toletus saith, “Because the Son, who is the image and character of the Father is united to the Humanity, therefore the Humanity is said to have the seal and character of the Father.”

3.  S. Chrysostom and many others say, The Father hath sealed the Son, i.e., by the voice from heaven at His baptism, This is My Beloved Son. He showed and demonstrated by His miracles, as seals, that He was His very Son. And He confirmed Him as the promised Messiah, who was able to impart convenient Food to all who desired eternal life. It comes to the same meaning if you interpret sealed to mean gave authority, because we are wont by impressing a seal to give credit and authenticity to letters.

This sense is easy and plain, but the second meaning is more solid and sublime. This third meaning flows from the second, and completes and perfects it. For the Father by His own voice and miracles, which are as it were His seals, has testified to man that He has sealed the Humanity of Jesus with the Divinity of the Word, and has impressed upon it the form of His own Divinity, that is, has testified that this Man Jesus is true God, and the Son of God, so that He may give and gain for Him among men, authority to teach, to enact laws, and to found a new Church. Wherefore the Gloss says, He hath sealed, i.e., He hath set Him apart from others by His own sign.”

Joh 6:28  They said therefore unto him: What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?

They said, &c. Cyril thinks that the Jews asked this from arrogance, as being angry with Christ because He would have reproved them as being careless about their souls. As though they said, “Thou reprovest us for seeking after earthly bread and despising the Food of the soul. Tell us then what new work of God Thou affordest, by which we may please God and feed our souls, in addition to those works which Moses gave us to do, and wrote in the Pentateuch.”

But S. Chrysostom thinks they said these words out of gluttony, because they were again hungering after the loaves of Christ, with which they had been fed. That they asked what were the works of God, with which Christ wished them to feed their souls, not because they intended to do them, but because they would gain His good-will, and so invite Him to renew the multiplication of the loaves.

More correctly, S. Augustine and others think that the Jews spoke with a serious desire of doing these works. For many among them being stirred up by the doctrine of Christ, and stimulated by this miracle of the loaves, were desirous of salvation. Therefore they ask Christ what works they ought to work, by which they may obtain of God that enduring Food, which would nourish their souls, and bring them to eternal life. And Jesus answers sincerely their sincere question, and teaches them what were the works of God. This He would not have done, if they had not been in earnest.

They called then the works of God, not only those which were pleasing to God, nor those which are the food of the soul, nourishing it to eternal life, as Leontius thinks. For they knew by the Law of Moses what works were pleasing to God. But by the works of God they mean those which He especially appointed and sanctioned by Jesus, whom He sealed, that by them they might obtain that spiritual Food of which Jesus preached, which nourishes us, and brings us to eternal life. For when they had heard that this was the Food of life eternal, and that God had sealed Christ that He might give this Food, they rightly call the works of God those which it was necessary to work in order to obtain this Food. And what they were they ask of Jesus, not doubting that He who had been so powerful and liberal in nourishing their bodies, could be equally, or rather, more powerful and liberal, in teaching them what it was, and supplying the Food of the Soul.

Joh 6:29  Jesus answered and said to them: This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he hath sent.

Jesus answered, &c. Believe, i.e., in Myself, Who by so many arguments and miracles have proved that I am the Messiah sent by God. For the sake of modesty He speaks in the third person. As though He said, “That work by which ye will obtain Food from God to nourish the soul unto everlasting life, is to believe in Me. For I bestow this Food upon those who believe in Me. For I Myself am this Food.” This He says (verse 35).

That you believe, and believing, may obey Me, and observe My law and doctrine, and fulfil it indeed. Under the term faith, as a root, Christ and Paul understand all the works of charity, penance, temperance, and all other virtues which faith-stirs up and generates. Wherefore Theophylact says, “Faith assuredly is a holy and perfect work, and satisfies those who possess it. For diligent faith leads to every good work, and good works preserve faith. For works are dead without faith, and faith is dead without works.”

Joh 6:30  They said therefore to him: What sign therefore dost thou shew that we may see and may believe thee? What dost thou work?

They said, &c., i.e., those of the crowd who were bolder than the rest, who knew and thought less of Jesus. For they had seen the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves the day before, whereby Christ had fed five thousand men, but upon this they set small value, and ask for one still greater and more wonderful. As though they had said, “Thou, 0 Jesus, askest of us a great, nay a stupendous thing, namely that we should believe in Thee as the Messiah and the Son of God. But for this the miracle of the loaves which Thou wroughtest yesterday, does not suffice. For Moses did a similar, yea, a greater work. Show us therefore a heavenly and Divine and worthy sign, by which God may attest that Thou art His Son, and our Messiah.” Therefore they add by way of explanation,

Joh 6:31  Our fathers did eat manna in the desert, as it is written: He gave them bread from heaven to eat.

Our fathers . . . as it is written (PS 78:24). As though they said, “Moses fed our fathers in the desert, even more than six hundred thousand men, with heavenly and most sweet food, ever the manna, and that daily for forty years, which was a greater thing than Thy multiplication of the loaves yesterday: and yet Moses did no wish to be accounted, or believed to be Messiah, and the Son of God, Since then you, Jesus, desire to be so accounted of, it is necessary that you should work greater miracles than Moses.” So SS. Augustine and Cyril. The latter adds, “Such was the sign they asked of Christ, and thinking it a small matter that they had been miraculously fed for one day, they ask for food for a long period without labour. On such terms they seem to promise that they will assent to His doctrine.” As though they said, “Feed us all our lives, as Thou didst feed us yesterday, and as Moses fed our fathers for forty years. Then we will believe Thee when Thou declarest that Thou art Messiah, the Son of God.” So reasoned the Jews, as being animal and carnal, when they ought rather to have reasoned according to the spirit, thus, “This Jesus has multiplied bread, He heals whatsoever sick persons He pleases, He casts out devils, He raises the dead, and does many other miracles which Moses did not do. And He does them with this very end and object, that He may by them prove that He is the Messiah sent by God: therefore He must be truly the Messiah.” When Moses gave the manna, and showed other signs, he did not do them in order that he might prove that he was the Messiah, but only a leader of the people, and a lawgiver sent by God. Wherefore the people believed in him, and so accounted of him. “Do you therefore in like manner,” saith Jesus; “believe in Me, and account Me to be such a one as I prove by My miracles that I am, even the Messiah.”

Bread from heaven, i.e., heavenly, in heaven, or in the air, formed by angels, and raining down, or rather snowing and hailing from thence into the camp of the Hebrews. For the manna came down like small hailstones from the sky. The Hebrew of Ps 78:24 is דנן שכױם, degan scamaim, corn or wheat of heaven.

Joh 6:32  Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen, I say to you; Moses gave you not bread from heaven, but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.

Then Jesus said to them, &c. Christ here refutes the cavilling of the Jews, and shows that He is greater than Moses, and gives better bread than Moses gave in giving manna. He opposes therefore, and prefers His own bread, i.e., Himself in His Body in the Eucharist, as He Himself unfolds (Vers. 35, 51, 54, &c.) to the Mosaic manna, and this in three ways. (1.) The first is, because Moses, who was a mere man, gave the manna, and that only to Israel, i.e., to the Jews in the desert: but it is God the Father who gives this bread, and that to the whole world.

(2.) Because the manna was not really bread from heaven, but only from the atmosphere, coming down like dew, or hail. For it is only the bread of heaven by a figure of speech, as we say the birds of heaven, because they fly in the heaven, that is, in the air. But His bread, He said, really came down from the highest heaven, even from the Bosom of God the Father. Therefore It alone was truly heavenly and Divine, of which, in truth, the manna was only a type and shadow. So S. Chrysostom, &c.

(3.) The third way is consequent upon this—that the manna only fed the body for a time: but the Bread of Christ feeds and quickens both body and soul for ever. So SS. Chrysostom and Cyril. For though it be that Christ and the Eucharist do not remove temporal death from Christians who communicate devoutly, yet it is the cause that they will rise again from death, and after that die no more for ever. For the Resurrection is an effect of the Eucharist, as will appear from verse 50 (John 6:50).

(4.) Cyril (lib. 3, c. 33) adds a fourth way: that Moses neither formed, nor gave the manna, but God gave it by angels at Moses’ prayer: but Christ Himself forms, and verily gives this bread of the Eucharist. For He Himself by His own omnipotence, which, together with the Divine Essence, He has received from the Father, transubstantiates, transelements, and transforms bread and wine into His Body and Blood.

The true Bread from heaven: that is, truly heavenly and Divine, not only as regards locality, in that It descends from heaven, but also as regards Its nature and substance. For this Bread is Christ Himself, Who, because He is God, has a heavenly and Divine essence, yea, the same Deity as the Father. 2. The word “true” is said because of the manna, say Cyril, Chrysostom, and Augustine; for the manna was only a type of the Eucharist. In the Eucharist is reality (veritas), in the manna, the shadow of the reality. 3. True, in the sense of life-giving, because It gives life to the soul as well as the body, as Christ saith in the following verse. 4. True, i.e., perfect, excellent, in which there is all fulness, both of existence and nourishment. For all created existences, such as the manna, if they be compared with the uncreated Essence, or the Deity, such as Christ in the Eucharist, cannot be accounted of as realities, but only shadows. In God and Christ alone is there reality (veritas), i.e., solidity and plenitude of Being, and of feeding perfectly, like (true) Bread. This is what God spake to Moses, “I Am I who Am: thus shalt thou say to the sons of Israel, He who is hath sent me” (Exodus 3:14).

Joh 6:33  For the bread of God is that which cometh down from heaven and giveth life to the world.

For the Bread of God, &c. Christ proves that not the manna, but His own Bread, i.e., He Himself, is true Bread, i.e., truly heavenly and Divine, by two arguments. 1. Because He alone really came down from heaven. 2. Because He alone gives true life to the world, i.e., the blessed and eternal life, which only is true life. Observe: this Bread is called the Bread of God, because formed by God alone, and the property of God alone. Because God lives by Himself and His own Divinity: and because this Bread is truly the Son of God, and God Himsel.

Cometh down: not in the past, but the present tense. The Greek is καταβαίνων, the present participle. The expression therefore signifies the perpetual descent of Christ upon the Eucharistic altar even to the end of the world. For whensoever the priest consecrates the Eucharist, Christ, who after His death ascended into heaven, comes down from thence to the consecrated species of bread, and in them declares His presence (Se presentem sistit et exhibet).

Giveth: verily Christ is the infinite gift, who is Life Itself, who quickens all the faithful who communicate rightly throughout the whole world, and who gives them the heavenly and Divine life of grace here, and hereafter the life of glory to all eternity.

Joh 6:34  They said therefore unto him: Lord, give us always this bread.

They said therefore, &c. “Without labour, in pleasant ease let us eat joyfully this Bread, that It may prolong our life, like the tree of life in Paradise, that we may reach the years of Methuselah.” For the carnal Jews did not yet understand that the Bread of Christ was spiritual, and thought only of earthly things. “As yet,” says S. Chrysostom, “they were looking for something material, as yet they were expecting the satisfying of their appetite.” As S. Augustine says, “Give us bread which may refresh, and never fail.” For as Cyril says, “Although by many words the Saviour drew them away from the carnal sense, they profited nothing, nor at all drew back from carnality, for when they heard of the Bread which is given for the life of the world, they understood it of earthly bread. They were like that Samaritan woman, who, when she had heard a long discourse of Christ concerning the spiritual water, sank down to the remembrance of earthly streams, saying, Lord, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come hither to draw” (John 4:15).

Joh 6:35  And Jesus said to them: I am the bread of life. He that cometh to me shall not hunger: and he that believeth in me shall never thirst.

Jesus said to them . . . shall never thirst. Syrian and Arabic, for eternity. Here Christ to the Jews who asked for bread to feed them unto life eternal, opens It out, and offers It, and declares that It is Himself. For He by His grace and Spirit, which He breathes into the faithful, so nourishes them that they may live always. But peculiarly He feeds them with the Eucharistic Bread, with which this whole discourse of Christ has to do. Hear Cyril: “In these words He sets forth the life and grace of His most Holy Body, whereby the essence (proprietas), i.e., the life of the Only-Begotten, enters and abides in us.” For Christ in the Eucharist is rightly called Bread: (1.) Because by consecrating bread, He transforms it into His Body, which under the species of bread, the substance being annihilated, alone remains. (2.) Because like bread, It takes away hunger, it feeds and sustains life, satisfies and cheers. Hear Cyril: “For that was not the true manna, nor that the true heavenly bread: but He Himself, the Only-Begotten Son, is the true Bread: for since He is of the Substance of the Father, He is by nature all-quickening Life. For as this earthly bread has the quality of sustaining and preserving our weak flesh, so does He by the Holy Spirit quicken our spirits, and deliver our bodies themselves from corruption.”

The Bread of life, i.e., living, vital, quickening, yea, life itself. There is allusion to the tree of life (Gen 3:9). For that wood, or tree of life, by its own fruit, would have given life to Adam in Paradise. And this life would have been (1.) a prolonged life, extending over some thousands of years, until God translated him without dying from Paradise to heaven. (2.) A healthy and strong life. (3.) One without disease, or old age. (4.) Joyful and glad, for it would have driven away all sadness and melancholy. So in all these respects does the Eucharist far excel. For It bestows upon communicants not only a prolonged, but an eternal life. Wherefore the tree of life was a type of the Eucharist, as S. Irenæus teaches (lib. 3, c. 2). Moreover the Eucharist not only feeds and sustains the soul, but the body also, as theologians teach. Indeed, S. John the abbot, S. Catharine of Sienna, S. Maria Digniacensis, S. Elrulphus, Abbot, and many others, lived for a long time upon the Eucharist alone, without any other food. Moreover the emperor, Louis the Pious, during his last sickness fasted forty whole days, in which he partook of no food but the daily Eucharist, as is testified by a writer who was present.

He that cometh to Me, &c. Because I will give him such bread as will take away all hunger, and such drink as will quench all thirst. Christ having said that He was the Bread of Life, here tells us the way to obtain this Bread. This way is that a man should come to Him, which means to believe in Him, as He by and by explains. For we come to Christ not by bodily footsteps (for so the unbelieving Jews, and His crucifiers came to Him), but by the steps of the soul, such as faith, obedience, and charity. Shall not hunger, “for ever;” for this “for ever” must be understood from the “for ever” after thirst. The meaning is, when the manna was eaten it appeased hunger, but only for a time, but I, who am the Bread of life, bestow upon him who eateth only once in the Eucharist such satisfying fulness that he will require no other food, yea, that he will never feel hunger more, because I bestow upon him the blessed and immortal life of grace and glory, which fulfils and satisfies every desire of man.

He that believeth in me shall never thirst, because I will give him in the Eucharist the drink of My Blood, by which refreshed and satisfied, he shall never thirst. Hear Cyril: “What then does Christ promise? Surely nothing corruptible, but a blessing which we obtain by the communication of the Body and Blood of Christ. By this we shall be brought back to such a perfect state of incorruption as not to need corporeal food and drink. For the Body of Christ quickens us and by Its participation brings us to incorruption.” For though it be that the faithful laity do not take or drink the Eucharist under the species of wine, as priests do, but eat of It under the species of bread only, still under that species of bread they not only eat the Body of Christ, but also drink His Blood, because the Blood cannot be separated from the Body of Christ, forasmuch as It is immortal and glorious. For in things spiritual to hunger and to thirst have the same meaning. And food and drink mean the same thing. “He that cometh to Me,” saith Augustine, “is the same thing as, he that believeth in Me. He shall not hunger means also he shall never thirst. By both expressions is signified that eternal satisfying where there is no want.” In fine, he shall never thirst is that which is said in Ps 35:9, “They shall be intoxicated from the fulness of Thy house, and from the torrent of Thy pleasure Thou shalt give them drink” (Vulg.).

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Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on John 6:24-35 for Sunday Mass, August 5 2012

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 29, 2012

This post includes text and commentary on verses 22-23 as well.

Ver  22. The day following, when the people which stood on the other side of the sea saw that there was none other boat there, save that one whereinto his disciples were entered, and that Jesus went not with his disciples into the boat, but that his disciples were gone away alone;23. (Although there came other boats from Tiberias nigh to the place where they did eat bread, after that the Lord had given thanks:)24. When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither his disciples, they also took shipping, and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus.25. And when they had found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, Rabbi, when came you hither?26. Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say to you, you seek me, not because you saw the miracles, but because you did eat of the loaves, and were filled.27. Labor not for the meat which perishes, but for that meat which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give to you: for him has God the Father sealed.

CHRYS. Our Lord, though He did not actually show Himself to the multitude walking on the sea, yet gave them the opportunity of inferring what had taken place; The day following, the people which stood on the other side of the sea saw that there was none other boat there, save that one whereinto His disciples were entered, and that Jesus went not with His disciples into the boat, but that His disciples were gone away alone. What was this but to suspect that He had walked across the sea, on His going away? For He could not have gone over in a ship, as there was only one there, that in which His disciples had entered; and He had not gone in with them.

AUG. Knowledge of the miracle was conveyed to them indirectly. Other ships had come to the place where they had eaten bread; in these they went after Him; However there came other boats from Tiberias, nigh to the place where they did eat bread, after that the Lord had given thanks. When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither His disciples, they also took shipping, and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus.

CHRYS. Yet after so great a miracle, they did not ask Him how He had passed over, or show any concern about it: as appears from what follows; And when they had found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, Rabbi, when came you hither? Except we say that this when meant how. And observe their lightness of mind. After saying, This is that Prophet, and wishing to take Him by force to make Him king, when they find Him, nothing of the kind is thought of.

AUG. So He Who had fled to the mountain, mixes and converses with the multitude. Only just now they would have kept Him, and made Him king. But after the sacrament of the miracle, He begins to discourse, and fills their souls with His word, whose bodies Ho had satisfied with bread.

ALCUIN. He who set an example of declining praise, and earthly power, sets teachers also an example of deliverance in preaching.

CHRYS. Kindness and lenity are not always expedient. To the indolent or insensible disciple the spur must be applied; and this the Son of God does. For when the multitude comes with soft speeches, Rabbi, when came you hither? He shows them that He did not desire the honor that comes from man, by the severity of His answer, which both exposes the motive on which they acted, and rebukes it. Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the miracles, but because you did eat of the loaves, and were filled.

AUG. As if He said, you seek Me to satisfy the flesh, not the Spirit.

CHRYS. After the rebuke, however, He proceeds to teach them: Labor not for the meat which perishes, but for that meat which endures to everlasting life; meaning, you seek for temporal food, whereas I only fed your bodies, that you might seek the more diligently for that food, which is not temporary, but contains eternal life.

ALCUIN. Bodily food only supports the flesh of the outward man, and must be taken not once for all, but daily; whereas spiritual food remains for ever, imparting perpetual fullness, and immortality.

AUG. Under the figure of food He alludes to Himself you seek Me, He said, for the sake of something else; seek Me for My own sake.

CHRYS. But, inasmuch much as some who wish to live in sloth, pervert this precept: Labor not, &c. it is well to notice what Paul says, Let him that stole steal no more, but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needs. And he himself too, when he resided with Aquila and Priscilla at Corinth, worked with his hand. By saying, Labor not for the meat which perishes, our Lord does not mean to tell us to be idle; but to work, and give alms. This is that meat which perishes not; to labor for the meat which perishes, is to be devoted to the interests of this life. Our Lord saw that the multitude had no thought of believing, and only wished to fill their bellies, without working; and this He justly called the meat which perishes.

AUG. As He told the woman of Samaria above, If you knew Who it is that said to you, Give me to drink, you would have asked of Him, an He would have given you living water. So He says here, Which the Son of man shall give to you.

ALCUIN. When, through the hand of the priest, you receive the Body of Christ, think not of the priest which you see, but of the Priest you do not see. The priest is the dispenser of this food, not the author. The Son of man gives Himself to us, that we may abide in Him, and He in us. Do not conceive that Son of man to be the same as other sons of men: He stands alone in abundance of grace, separate and distinct from all the rest: for that Son of man is the Son of God, as it follows, For Him has God the Father sealed. To seal is to put a mark upon; so the meaning is, Do not despise Me because I am the Son of man, for I am the Son of man in such sort, as that the Father has sealed Me, i.e. given Me something peculiar, to the end that should not be confounded with the human race, but that the human race should be delivered by Me.

HILARY. A seal throws out a perfect impression of the stamp, at the same time that it takes in that impression. This is not a perfect illustration of the Divine nativity: for sealing supposes matter, different kinds of matter, the impression of harder upon softer. Yet He who was God Only-Begotten, and the Son of man only by the Sacrament of our salvation, makes use of it to express the Father’s fullness as stamped upon Himself. He wishes to show the Jews He has the power of giving the eternal meat, because He contained in Himself the fullness of God.

CHRYS. Or sealed, i.e. sent Him for this purpose, viz. to bring us food; or, sealed, was revealed the Gospel by means of His witness.

ALCUIN. To take the passage mystically: on the day following, i.e. after the ascension of Christ, the multitude standing in good works, not lying in worldly pleasures, expects Jesus to come to them. The one ship is the one Church: the other ships which come besides, are the conventicles of heretics, who seek their own, not the things of Jesus Christ. Wherefore He well says, You seek Me, because you did eat of the loaves.

AUG. How many there are who seek Jesus, only to gain some temporary benefit. One man has a matter of business, in which he wants the assistance of the clergy; another is oppressed by a more powerful neighbor, and flies to the Church for refuge: Jesus is scarcely ever sought for Jesus’ sake.

GREG. In their persons too our Lord condemns all those within the holy Church, who, when brought near to God by sacred Orders, do not seek the recompense of righteousness, but the interests of this present life. To follow our Lord, when filled with bread, is to use Holy Church as a means of livelihood; and to seek our Lord not for the miracle’s sake. but for the loaves, is to aspire to a religious office, not with a view to increase of grace, but to add to our worldly means.

BEDE. They too seek Jesus, not for Jesus’ sake, but for something else, who ask in their prayers not for eternal, but temporal blessings. The mystical meaning is, that the conventicles of heretics are without the company of Christ and His disciples. And other ships coming is the sudden growth of heresies. By the crowd, which saw that Jesus was not there, or His disciples, are designated those who seeing the errors of heretics, leave them and turn to the true faith.

Ver 28. Then said they to him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?29. Jesus answered and said to them, This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.30. They said therefore to him, What sign show you then, that we may see, and believe you? what do you work?31. Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.32. Then said Jesus to them, Verily, verily, I say to you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.33. For the bread of God is he which comes down from heaven, and gives life to the world.34. Then said they to him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.

ALCUIN. They understood that the meat, which remains to eternal life, was the work of God: and therefore they ask Him what to do to work the work of God, i.e. obtain the meat: Then said they to Him, What shall we do that we might work the works of God?

BEDE. i.e. By keeping what commandments shall we be able to fulfill the law of God?

CHRYS. But they said this, not that they might learn, and do them, but to obtain from Him another exhibition of His bounty.

THEOPHYL. Christ, though He saw it would not avail, yet for the good of others afterwards, answered their question; and showed them, or rather the whole world, what was the work of God: Jesus answered and said to them, This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.

AUG. He does not say, That you believe Him, but, that you believe in Him. For the devils believed Him, and did not believe in Him; and we believe Paul, but do not believe in Paul. To believe in Him is believing to love, believing to honor Him, believing to go to Him, and be made members incorporate of His Body. The faith, which God requires of us, is that which works by love. Faith indeed is distinguished from works by the Apostle, who says, That man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. But the works indeed which appear good, without faith in Christ, are not really so, not being referred to that end, which makes them good. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believes. And therefore our Lord would not separate faith from works, but said that faith itself was the doing the work of God; He said not, This is your work, but, This is the work of God, that you believe in Him: in order that he that glories might glory in the Lord.

AUG. To eat then that meat which endures to everlasting life, is to believe in Him. Why do you make ready your tooth and your belly? Only believe, and you have eaten already. As He called on them to believe, they still asked for miracles whereby to believe; They said therefore to Him, What sign show you then, that we may see and believe You? What do you work?

CHRYS. Nothing can be more unreasonable than their asking for another miracle, as if none had been given already. And they do not even leave the choice of the miracle to our Lord; but would oblige Him to give them just that sign, which was given to their fathers: Our fathers did eat manna in the desert.

ALCUIN. And to exalt the miracle of the manna they quote the Psalm, As it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.

CHRYS. Whereas many miracles were performed in Egypt, at the Red Sea, and in the desert, they remembered this one the best of any. Such is the force of appetite. They do not mention this miracle as the work either of God, or of Moses, in order to avoid raising Him on the one hand to an equality with God, or lowering Him on the other by a comparison with Moses; but they take a middle ground, only saying, Our fathers did eat manna in the desert.

AUG. Or thus; Our Lord sets Himself above Moses, who did not dare to say that He gave the meat which perishes not. The multitude therefore remembering what Moses had done, and wishing for some greater miracle, say, as it were, you promise the meat which perishes not, and does not works equal to those Moses did. He gave us not barley loaves, but manna from heaven.

CHRYS. Our Lord might have replied, that He had done miracles greater than Moses: but it was not the time for such a declaration. One thing He desired, viz. to bring them to taste the spiritual meat: then Jesus said to them, Verily, verily, I say to you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. Did not the manna come from heaven? True, but in what sense did it? The same in which the birds are called, the birds of heaven; and just as it is said in the Psalm, The Lord thundered out of heaven. He calls it the true bread, not because the miracle of the manna was false, but because it was the figure, not the reality. He does not say too, Moses gave it you not, but I: but He puts God for Moses, Himself for the manna.

AUG. As if He said, That manna was the type of this food, of which I just now spoke; and which all my. miracles refer to. You like my miracles, you despise what is signified by them. This bread which God gives, and which this manna represented, is the Lord Jesus Christ, as we read next, For the bread of God is He which comes down from hearer, and gives life to the world.

BEDE. Not to the physical world, but to men, its inhabitants.

THEOPHYL. He calls Himself the true bread, because the only-begotten Son of God, made man, was principally signified by the manna. For manna means literally, what is this? The Israelites were astonished at first on finding it, and asked one another what it was. And the Son of God, made man, is in an especial sense this mysterious manna, which we ask about, saying, What is this? How can the Son of God be the Son of man? How can one person consist of two natures?

ALCUIN. Who by the humanity, which was assumed, came down from heaven, and by the divinity, which assumed it, gives life to the world.

THEOPHYL. But this bread, being essentially life, (for He is the Son of the living Father,) in quickening all things, does but what is natural to Him to do. For as natural bread supports our weak flesh, so Christ, by the operations of the Spirit, gives life to the soul; and even incorruption to the body, (for at the resurrection the body will be made incorruptible.) Wherefore He says, that He gives life to the world.

CHRYS. Not only to the Jews, but to the whole world. The multitude, however, still attached a low meaning to His words: Then said they to Him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. They say, Give us this bread, not, Ask Your Father to give it us: whereas He had said that His Father gave this bread.

AUG. As the woman of Samaria, when our Lord told her, Whosoever drinks of this water shall never thirst, thought He meant natural water, and said, Sir, give me this water, that she might never be in want of it again: in the same way these say, Give us this bread, which refreshes, supports, and fails not.

Ver 35. And Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life: he that comes to me shall never hunger; and he that believes in me shall never thirst

CHRYS. Our Lord now proceeds to set forth mysteries; and first speaks of His Divinity: And Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life. He does not say this of His body, for He speaks of that at the end; The bread that I will give you is My flesh. Here He is speaking of His Divinity. The flesh is bread, by virtue of the Word; this bread is heavenly bread, on account of the Spirit which dwells in it.

THEOPHYL. He does not say, I am the bread of nourishment, but of life, for, whereas all things brought death, Christ has quickened us by Himself. But the life here, is not our common life, but that which is not cut short by death: He that comes to Me shall never hunger; and, He that believes in Me shall never thirst.

AUG. He that comes to Me, i.e. that believes in Me, shall never hunger, has the same meaning as shall never thirst; both signifying that eternal society, where there is no want.

THEOPHYL. Or, shall never hunger or thirst, i.e. shall never be wearied of hearing the word of God, and shall never thirst as to the understanding: as though He had not the water of baptism, and the sanctification of the Spirit.

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