HOME CHAT NAB PRAYERS FORUMS COMMUNITY RCIA MAGAZINE CATECHISM LINKS CONTACT
 CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
 CATHOLIC SAINTS INDEX  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
 CATHOLIC DICTIONARY  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Home
 
Bible
 
Catechism
 
Chat
 
Catholic Encyclopedia
 
Church Fathers
 
Classics Library
 
Church Documents
 
Discussion
 
Mysticism
 
Prayer
 
Prayer Requests
 
RCIA
 
Vocations
 
Ray of Hope
 
Saints
 
Social Doctrine
 
Links
 
Contact
 







Commentary On The Gospel According To Saint John Volumes 1&2

Of the manna, that it was a type of Christ’s Presence and of the spiritual graces through Him.

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 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?

but My Father giveth you the True Bread from heaven: 33 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 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 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 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 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 depression or 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 strengthened 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, 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 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 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 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, where of 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 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 hearest 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 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 Sight of 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 They said therefore unto Him, Lord evermore give us this Bread. 35 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 cat 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 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, but 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 up 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 weakly by 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 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 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 stone and 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 it 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.

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 drinketh of the water that I shall give him, it shall be in him a well of water springing 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, 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 conies 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 gift through 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. 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 defiled 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.

36 But I said unto you that ye have both seen Me and believe not.

By many words doth He struggle with them, and in every way urge them to salvation by faith. But He was not ignorant, as God, that they would run off to unbelief, as their sister or intimate foster sister, and would regard as nought, Him who calleth them to life. In order then that they might know that Jesus was not ignorant what manner of men they would be found, or rather, to speak more fittingly, that they might learn that they were under the Divine wrath, He charges them again, But I said unto you that ye have both seen Me and believe not. I foreknow (says He) and clearly foretold, that ye would surely remain hard, and keeping fast hold of your cherished disobedience, ye would be left without share in My gifts. And when did Christ say any thing of this kind? remember Him saying to the blessed prophet Isaiah, Go and tell this people, Hear ye in hearing and understand not, and looking look and see not, for the heart of this people is waxen fat. Will not the word be shewn to be true by these things also which are before us? for they saw, they saw that the Lord was by Nature God, when He fed a multitude exceeding number which came unto Him with five barley loaves, and two small fishes, which He brake up. But they have seen and believe not, by reason of the blindness which like a mist hath come upon their understandings from the Divine wrath. For they were (I suppose) without doubt worthy to undergo this, for that they, caught in innumerable stumblings, and fast holden in the indissoluble bands of their transgressions, received not when He came Him who had power to loose them. For this cause was the heart of this people made fat.

But that the multitude of the Jews saw by the greatness of the sign that Jesus was by Nature God, you will understand full well by this too. For marvelling at what was done, as the Evangelist says above, they sought to seize Him to make Him a King. No excuse then for their folly is left unto the Jews. For astonished (and with much reason) at the Divine signs, and coming from the works proportionably to the Might of Him Who worketh, they wellnigh shudder at their readiness to believe, and spring back from good habits, readily making a summerset as it were into the very depths of perdition.

37 All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me,

It did not behove the Lord simply to say, Ye have both seen Me and believe not, but it was necessary that He should bring in besides the reason of their blindness, that they might learn that they bad fallen under the Divine displeasure. Therefore as a skilful physician He both shews them their weakness, and reveals the cause of it, not in order that they on learning it may remain quiet in it, but that they may by every means appease the Lord of all, Who is grieved at them, i. e.; for just causes. For He would never be grieved unjustly, nor would He Who knows how to give righteous judgment have given any such judgment upon them, were not reason calling Him thereto, from all sides hasting unto the duty of accusal. The Saviour hereby affirmed that everything should come to Him, which God the Father gave Him; not as though He were unable to bring believers to Himself, for this Ho would have accomplished very easily if He had so willed, according to the working whereby Tie is able even to subdue all things to Himself, as Paul saith: but since it seemed somehow necessary and more fit, to say that they who were in ignorance were illumined by the Divine Nature, He again as Man attributes to the Father the operation, as to things more God-befitting. For so was His wont to do, as we have often said. But it is probable that when He says that all that He giveth Him shall be brought to Him by God the Father, He points to the people of the Gentiles now about full soon to believe on Him. It is the word of one skilfully threatening, that both they shall fall away from grace, and that in their stead shall come in all who of the Gentiles are brought by the goodness of God the Father, to the Son, as to Him Who is by Nature Saviour and Life giving, that they, partaking of the Blessing from Him, may be made partakers of the Divine Nature, and be thus brought back to incorruption and life, and be reformed unto the pristine fashion of our nature. As though one should bring a sick man to a physician, that he might drive away the sickness that has fallen upon him, so we say that God the Father brings to the Son those who are worthy salvation from Him. Bitter then and full of destruction is hardness of heart to them that have it. Therefore doth the word of prophecy chide the Jews, crying aloud, Be ye circumcised to God, and circumcise the hardness of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem. Yet not for them, but for us rather hath God the Father kept the circumcision in the heart, namely that which is through the Holy Ghost, wrought according to the rites of him who is a Jew inwardly. It is then right to flee from their disobedience, and with all zeal to renounce hardness of heart, and to reform unto a more toward disposition, if we would avert the wrath that was upon them unto destruction.

and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.

He says that conversion through faith will not be profitless unto them that come to Him. For He had to shew that the being brought by God the Father was a most desirable thing, and productive of ten thousand goods. Things most excellent then (saith He) shall be theirs, who through the grace from above are called to Me and come. For I will not cast out him that cometh, that is I will not discard him as an unprofitable vessel, as is said through one of the Prophets, Jechonias was despised, as a vessel whereof there is no use, he was cast away, and cast forth into a land which he knew not. Earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord, write ye this man a man proscribed. He shall not then be proscribed (saith He) nor cast forth, as one despised, nor shall he abide without share of Mine regard, but shall be gathered up into My garner, and shall dwell in the heavenly mansions, and shall see himself possessed of every hope beyond understanding of man. For eye hath not seen nor ear heard neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God prepared for them that love Him. It is probable that the words, I will not cast out him that cometh to Me signify moreover, that the believer, and he that cometh to the Divine Grace, shall not be delivered over to the judgment. For you will find that the word out, has some such meaning, as in that parable in the blessed Matthew. For (saith He) the Kingdom of Heaven is like unto a net that was cast into the sea and gathered of every kind, which having brought up and dragged to the shore, they gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. For that the good are gathered into the Divine and heavenly Courts, we shall understand by His saying that the good were gathered into vessels: and by the unprofitable being cast away, we shall see that the ungodly shall fall away from all good, and go away into judgment. When then Christ says, Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out, let us understand that the people which cometh unto Him through faith shall never fall into torment. Most wisely does He seem to me in these words to veil a threat against those most abandoned men, that if any will not turn with all speed to obedience, they shall be deprived of all good, and be excluded even against their will from His Friendship. For wherein He promises not to cast out him that cometh, He in the same signifieth that He will surely cast out him that cometh not.

CYRIL ARCHBISHOP OF ALEXANDRIA ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN, BOOK THE THIRD.

CHAPTERS IN THE FOURTH BOOK.

1.              That in nothing is the Son inferior to God the Father, because He is of Him by Nature, although He be said by some to be subject, on the words, I came down from Heaven not to do Mine own Will, but the Will of the Father That sent Me. Herein is also a most useful discourse upon the Precious Cross of Christ.

2.              That the Holy Body of Christ is Life-giving, on the words I am the Bread of Life, &c. wherein He speaks of His own Body as of Bread.

3.              That the Son is not a partaker of life from any other, but rather Life by Nature, as being begotten of God the Father who is Life by Nature, on the words, As the Living Father sent Me and I live by the Father, so he that eateth Me, he too shall live by Me.

4.              That a type of Christ was the holy Tabernacle which led the people in the wilderness and that the ark that was in it and the lamp and the altar, well as that of incense, as that of sacrifice signified Christ Himself, on the words, To whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.

5.              On the feast of tabernacles, that it signifies the restitution of the hope due to the Saints, and the resurrection from the dead, on the words, Now the Jews’ feast of tabernacles was at hand.

6.              A dissertation upon the rest of the Sabbath, manifoldly shewing of what it is significant, on the words, If a man on the Sabbath day receive circumcision, are ye angry at Me, because I made a man every whit whole on the Sabbath day?

7.              A dissertation upon the circumcision on the eighth day, manifoldly shewing of what it is significant, on the words, If a man on the Sabbath day receive circumcision, &c.








Copyright ©1999-2018 e-Catholic2000.com