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Catena Aurea by St. Thomas Aguinas

6:1–14

1. After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias.

2. And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased.

3. And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples.

4. And the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh.

5. When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may cat?

6. And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.

7. Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.

8. One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, saith unto him,

9. There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?

10. And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.

11. And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.

12. When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.

13. Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten.

14. Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that Prophet that should come into the world.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xlii. 1) As missiles rebound with great force from a hard body, and fly off in all directions, whereas a softer material retains and stops them; so violent men are only excited to greater rage by violence on the side of their opponents, whereas gentleness softens them. Christ quieted the irritation of the Jews by retiring from Jerusalem. He went into Galilee, but not to Cana again, but beyond the sea: After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias.

ALCUIN. This sea hath different names, from the different places with which it is connected; the sea of Galilee, from the province; the sea of Tiberias, from the city of that name. It is called a sea, though it is not salt water, that name being applied to all large pieces of water, in Hebrew. This sea our Lord often passes over, in going to preach to the people bordering on it.

THEOPHYLACT. He goes from place to place to try the dispositions of people, and excite a desire to hear Him: And a great multitude followed Him, because they saw His miracles which He did on them that were diseased.

ALCUIN. viz. His giving sight to the blind, and other like miracles. And it should be understood, that all, whom He healed in body, He renewed likewise in soul.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xlii. 1) Though favoured with such teaching, they were influenced less by it, than by the miracles; a sign of their low state of belief: for Paul says of tongues, that they are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not. (1 Cor. 14:22) They were wiser of whom it is said, that they were astonished at His doctrine. (Matt. 7:28) The Evangelist does not say what miracles He wrought, the great object of his book being to give our Lord’s discourses. It follows: And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there sat with His disciples. He went up into the mountain, on account of the miracle which was going to be done. That the disciples alone ascended with Him, implies that the people who stayed behind were in fault for not following. He went up to the mountain too, as a lesson to us to retire from the tumult and confusion of the world, and leave wisdom in solitude. And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh. Observe, in a whole year, the Evangelist has told us of no miracles of Christ, except His healing the impotent man, and the nobleman’s son. His object was to give not a regular history, but only a few of the principal acts of our Lord. But why did not our Lord go up to the feast? He was taking occasion, from the wickedness of the Jews, gradually to abolish the Law.

THEOPHYLACT. The persecutions of the Jews gave Him reason for retiring, and thus setting aside the Law. The truth being now revealed, types were at an end, and He was under no obligation to keep the Jewish feasts. Observe the expression, a feast of the Jews, (Mat. 14:13) not a feast of Christ.

BEDE. If we compare the accounts of the different Evangelists, we shall find very clearly, that there was an interval of a year between the beheading of John, and our Lord’s Passion. For, since Matthew says that our Lord, on hearing of the death of John, withdrew into a desert place, where He fed the multitude; and John says that the Passover was nigh, when He fed the multitude; it is evident that John was beheaded shortly before the Passover. And at the same feast, the next year Christ suffered. It follows, When Jesus then lifted up His eyes, and saw a great company come unto Him, He saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? When Jesus lifted up His eyes, this is to shew us, that Jesus was not generally with His eyes lifted up, looking about Him, but sitting calm and attentive, surrounded by His disciples.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xlii. 1) Nor did He only sit with His disciples, but conversed with them familiarly, and gained possession of their minds. Then He looked, and saw a crowd advancing. But why did He ask Philip that question? Because He knew that His disciples, and he especially, needed further teaching. For this Philip it was who said afterwards, Shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. (c. 14:8) And if the miracle had been performed at once, without any introduction, the greatness of it would not have been seen. The disciples were made to confess their own inability, that they might see the miracle more clearly; And this He said to prove him.

AUGUSTINE. (de verb. Dom. Serm. 17) One kind of temptation leads to sin, with which God never tempts any one; (James 1:13.) and there is another kind by which faith is tried. (Deut. 13:3.) In this sense it is said that Christ proved His disciple. This is not meant to imply that He did not know what Philip would say; but is an accommodation to men’s way of speaking. For as the expression, Who searcheth the hearts of men, does not mean the searching of ignorance, but of absolute knowledge; so here, when it is said that our Lord proved Philip, we must understand that He knew him perfectly, but that He tried him, in order to confirm his faith. The Evangelist himself guards against the mistake which this imperfect mode of speaking might occasion, by adding, For He Himself knew what He would do.

ALCUIN. He asks him this question, not for His own information, but in order to shew His yet unformed disciple his dulness of mind, which he could not perceive of himself.

THEOPHYLACT. Or to shew others it. He was not ignorant of His disciple’s heart Himself.

AUGUSTINE. (de Con. Evang. l. ii. c. xlvi) But if our Lord, according to John’s account, on seeing the multitude, asked Philip, tempting him, whence they could buy food for them, it is difficult at first to see how it can be true, according to the other account, that the disciples first told our Lord, to send away the multitude; and that our Lord replied, They need not depart; give ye them to eat. (Matt. 25:16) We must understand then it was after saying this, that our Lord saw the multitude, and said to Philip what John had related, which has been omitted by the rest.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xlii. s. 1) Or they are two different occasions altogether.

THEOPHYLACT. Thus tried by our Lord, Philip was found to be possessed with human notions, as appears from what follows, Philip answered Him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.

ALCUIN. Wherein he shews his dulness: for, had he perfect ideas of his Creator, he would not be thus doubting His power.

AUGUSTINE. (de Con. Evan. l. ii. c. xlvi) The reply, which is attributed to Philip by John, Mark puts in the mouth of all the disciples, either meaning us to understand that Philip spoke for the rest, or else putting the plural number for the singular, which is often done.

THEOPHYLACT. Andrew is in the same perplexity that Philip is; only he has rather higher notions of our Lord: There is a lad here which hath five burley loares and two small fishes.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xlii. 2.) Probably He had some reason in his mind for this speech. He would know of Elijah’s miracle, by which a hundred men were fed with twenty loaves. This was a great step; but here he stopped. He did not rise any higher. For his next words are, But what are these among so many? He thought that less could produce less in a miracle, and more more; a great mistake; inasmuch as it was as easy for Christ to feed the multitude from a few fishes as from many. He did not really want any material to work from, but only made use of created things for this purpose in order to shew that no part of the creation was severed from His wisdom.

THEOPHYLACT. This passage confounds the Manicheans, who say that bread and all such things were created by an evil Deity. The Son of the good God, Jesus Christ, multiplied the loaves. Therefore they could not have been naturally evil; a good God would never have multiplied what was evil.

AUGUSTINE. (de Con. Evang. ii. c. xlvi) Andrew’s suggestion about the five loaves and two fishes, is given as coming from the disciples in general, in the other Evangelists, and the plural number is used.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xlii. 2.) And let those of us, who are given to pleasure, observe the plain and abstemious eating of those great and wonderful menb. He made the men sit down before the loaves appeared, to teach us that with Him, things that are not are as things that are; as Paul says, Who calleth those things that be not, as though they were. (Rom. 4:17.) The passage proceeds then: And Jesus said, Make the men sit down.

ALCUIN. Sit down, i. e. lie down, as the ancient custom was, which they could do, as there was much grass in the place.

THEOPHYLACT. i. e. green grass. It was the time of the Passover, which was kept the first month of the spring. So the men sat down in number about five thousand. The Evangelist only counts the men, following the direction in the law. Moses numbered the people from twenty years old and upwards, making no mention of the women; to signify that the manly and juvenile character is especially honourable in God’s eyes. And Jesus took the loaves; and when He had given thanks, He distributedc to them that were sat down: and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xlii. 2.) But why when He is going to heal the impotent, to raise the dead, to calm the sea, does He not pray, but here does give thanks? To teach us to give thanks to God, whenever we sit down to eat. And He prays more in lesser matters, in order to shew that He does not pray from any motive of need. For had prayer been really necessary to supply His wants, His praying would have been in proportion to the importance of each particular work. But acting, as He does, on His own authority, it is evident, He only prays out of condescension to us. And, as a great multitude was collected, it was an opportunity of impressing on them, that His coming was in accordance with God’s will. Accordingly, when a miracle was private, He did not pray; when numbers were present, He did.

HILARY. (iii. de Trin. c. 18) Five loaves are then set before the multitude, and broken. The broken portions pass through into the hands of those who break, that from which they are broken all the time not at all diminishing. And yet there they are, the bits taken from it, in the hands of the persons breakingd. There is no catching by eye or touch the miraculous operation: that is, which was not, that is seen, which is not understood. It only remains for us to believe that God can do all things.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxiv. s. 1.) He multiplied in His hands the five loaves, just as He produces harvest out of a few grains. There was a power in the hands of Christ; and those five loaves were, as it were, seeds, not indeed committed to the earth, but multiplied by Him who made the earth.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xlii. 3) Observe the difference between the servant and the lord. The Prophets received grace, as it were, by measure, and according to that measure performed their miracles: whereas Christ, working this by His own absolute power, produces a kind of superabundant result. When they were filled, He said unto His disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments. This was not done for needless ostentation, but to prevent men from thinking the whole a delusion; which was the reason why He made use of an existing material to work from. But why did He give the fragments to His disciples to carry away, and not to the multitude? Because the disciples were to be the teachers of the world, and therefore it was most important that the truth should be impressed upon them. Wherefore I admire not only the multitude of the loaves which were made, but the definite quantity of the fragments; neither more nor less than twelve baskets full, and corresponding to the number of the twelve Apostles.

THEOPHYLACT. We learn too from this miracle, not to be pusillanimous in the greatest straits of poverty.

BEDE. When the multitude saw the miracle our Lord had done, they marvelled; as they did not know yet that He was God. Then those men, the Evangelist adds, i. e. carnal men, whose understanding was carnal, when they had perceived the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that Prophet that should come into the world.

ALCUIN. Their faith being as yet weak, they only call our Lord a Prophet, not knowing that He was God. But the miracle had produced considerable effect upon them, as it made them call our Lord that Prophet, singling Him out from the rest. They call Him a Prophet, because some of the Prophets had worked miracles; and properly, inasmuch as our Lord calls Himself a Prophet; It cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem. (Luke 13:33)

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxiv. s. 7) Christ is a Prophet, and the Lord of Prophets; as He is an Angel, and the Lord of Angels. In that He came to announce something, He was an Angel; in that He foretold the future, He was a Prophet; in that He was the Word made flesh, He was Lord both of Angels and Prophets; for none can be a Prophet without the word of God.

CHRYSOSTOM. Their expression, that should come into the world, shews that they expected the arrival of some great Prophet. And this is why they say, This is of a truth that Prophet: the article being put in the Greek, to shew that He was distinct from other Prophets.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxiv. s. 1, 2) But let us reflect a little here. Forasmuch as the Divine Substance is not visible to the eye, and the miracles of the divine government of the world, and ordering of the whole creation, are overlooked in consequence of their constancy; God has reserved to Himself acts, beside the established course and order of nature, to do at suitable times; in order that those who overlooked the daily course of nature, might be roused to wonder by the sight of what was different from, though not at all greater, than what they were used to. The government of the world is a greater miracle, than the satisfying the hunger of five thousand with five loaves; and yet no one wonders at this: the former excited wonder; not from any real superiority in it, but because it was uncommon. But it would be wrong to gather no more than this from Christ’s miracles: for, the Lord who is on the mounte, and the Word of God which is on high, the same is no humble person to be lightly passed over, but we must look up to Him reverently.

ALCUIN. Mystically, the sea signifies this tumultuous world. In the fulness of time, when Christ had entered the sea of our mortality by His birth, trodden it by His death, passed over it by His resurrectionf, then followed Him crowds of believers, both from the Jews and Gentiles.

BEDE. Our Lord went up to the mountain, when He ascended to heaven, which is signified by the mountain.

ALCUIN. His leaving the multitude below, and ascending the heights with His disciples, signifies, that lesser precepts are to be given to beginners, higher to the more matured. His refreshing the people shortly before the Passover signifies our refreshment by the bread of the divine word; and the body and blood, i. e. our spiritual passover, by which we pass over from vice to virtue. And the Lord’s eyes are spiritual gifts, which he mercifully bestows on His Elect. He turns His eyes upon them, i. e. has compassionate respect unto them.

AUGUSTINE. (lib. lxxxiii. Quæst. q. 61. in princ.) The five barley loaves signify the old law; either because the law was given to men not as yet spiritual, but carnal, i. e. under the dominion of the five senses, (the multitude itself consisted of five thousand:) or because the Law itself was given by Moses in five books. And the loaves being of barley is also an allusion to the Law, which concealed the soul’s vital nourishment, under carnal ceremonies. For in barley the corn itself is buried under the most tenacious husk. Or, it alludes to the people who were not yet freed from the husk of carnal appetite, which cling to their heart.

BEDE. (Hom. in Luc. c. vi.) Barley is the food of cattle and slaves: and the old law was given to slaves and cattle, i. e. to carnal men.

AUGUSTINE. (lib. lxxxiv. Quæst. qu. 61) The two fishes again, that gave the pleasant taste to the bread, seem to signify the two authorities by which the people were governed, the Royal, viz. and the Priestly; both of which prefigure our Lord, who sustained both characters.

BEDE. Or, by the two fishes are meant the saying or writings of the Prophets, and the Psalmist. And whereas the number five refers to the five senses, a thousand stands for perfection. But those who strive to obtain the perfect government of their five senses, are called men, in consequence of their superior powers: they have no womanly weaknesses; but by a sober and chaste life, earn the sweet refreshment of heavenly wisdom.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxiv. 5) The boy who had these is perhaps the Jewish people, who, as it were, carried the loaves and fishes after a servile fashion, and did not eat them. That which they carried, while shut up, was only a burden to them; when opened became their food.

BEDE. (Aug. xxiv. 5) And well is it said, But what are these among so many? The Law was of little avail, till He took it into His hand, i. e. fulfilled it, and gave it a spiritual meaning. The Law made nothing perfect. (Heb. 7:19)

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxiv. s. 5) By the act of breaking He multiplied the five loaves. The five books of Moses, when expounded by breaking, i. e. unfolding them, made many books.

AUGUSTINE. (lib. lxxxiii. Quæst. qu. 61) Our Lord by breaking, as it were, what was hard in the Law, and opening what was shut, that time when He opened the Scriptures to the disciples after the resurrection, brought the Law out in its full meaning.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxiv. s. 5) Our Lord’s question proved the ignorance of His disciples, i. e. the people’s ignorance of the Law. They lay on the grass, i. e. were carnally minded, rested in carnal things, for all flesh is grass. (Isa. 40:6) Men are filled with the loaves, when what they hear with the ear, they fulfil in practice.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxiv. s. 6) And what are the fragments, but the parts which the people could not eat? An intimation, that those deeper truths, which the multitude cannot take in, should be entrusted to those who are capable of receiving them, and afterwards teaching them to others; as were the Apostles. For which reason twelve baskets were filled with them.

ALCUIN. Baskets are used for servile work. The baskets here are the Apostles and their followers, who, though despised in this present life, are within filled with the riches of spiritual sacraments. The Apostles too are represented as baskets, because, that through them, the doctrine of the Trinity was to be preached in the four parts of the world. His not making new loaves, but multiplying what there were, means that He did not reject the Old Testament, but only developed and explained it.

6:15–21

15. When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.

16. And when even was now come, his disciples went down unto the sea,

17. And entered into a ship, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them.

18. And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew.

19. So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid.

20. But he saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid.

21. Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went.

BEDE. The multitude concluding, from so great a miracle, that He was merciful and powerful, wished to make Him a king. For men like having a merciful king to rule over them, and a powerful one to protect them. Our Lord knowing this, retired to the mountain: When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take Him by force to make Him a king, He departed again into a mountain Himself alone. From this we gather, that our Lord went down from the mountain before, where He was sitting with His disciples, when He saw the multitude coming, and had fed them on the plain below. For how could He go up to the mountain again, unless He had come down from it.

AUGUSTINE. (de Con. Ev. ii. c. xlvii) This is not at all inconsistent with what we read, that He went up into a mountain apart to pray: (Mat. 14:23) the object of escape being quite compatible with that of prayer. Indeed our Lord teaches us here, that whenever escape is necessary, there is great necessity for prayer.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxv. 2) Yet He who feared to be made a king, was a king; not made king by men, (for He ever reigneth with the Father, in that He is the Son of God,) but making men kings: which kingdom of His the Prophets had foretold. Christ by being made man, made the believers in Him Christians, i. e. members of His kingdom, incorporated and purchased by His Word. And this kingdom will be made manifest, after the judgment; when the brightness of His saints shall be revealed. The disciples however, and the multitude who believed on Him, thought that He had come to reign now; and so would have taken Him by force, to make Him a king, wishing to anticipate His time, which He kept secret.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xlii. 3) See what the belly can do. They care no more for the violation of the Sabbath; all their zeal for God is fled, now that their bellies are filled: Christ has become a Prophet, and they wish to enthrone Him as king. But Christ makes His escape; to teach us to despise the dignities of the world. He dismisses His disciples, and goes up into the mountain.— (Hom. xliii. 1). These, when their Master had left them, went down in the evening to the sea; as we read; And when even was now come, His disciples went down unto the sea. They waited till evening, thinking He would come to them; and then, as He did not come, delayed no longer searching for Him, but in the ardour of love, entered into a ship, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. They went to Capernaum thinking they should find Him there.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxv. s. 5) The Evangelist now returns to explain why they went, and relate what happened to them while they were crossing the lake: And it was dark, he says, and Jesus was not come to them.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xlii. 1) The mention of the time is not accidental, but meant to shew the strength of their love. They did not mate excuses, and say, It is evening now, and night is coming on, but in the warmth of their love went into the ship. And now many things alarm them: the time, And it was now dark; and the weather, as we read next, And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew; their distance from land, So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs.

BEDE. (in v. cap. Joan.) The way of speaking we use, when we are in doubt; about five and twenty, we say, or thirty.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xliii. 1) And at last He appears quite unexpectedly: They see Jesus walking upon the sea, drawing nigh. He reappears after His retirement, teaching them what it is to be forsaken, and stirring them to greater love; His reappearance manifesting His power. They were disturbed, were afraid, it is said. Our Lord comforts them: But He saith unto them, It is I, be not afraid.

BEDE. (in Matt. c. xiv.) He does not say, I am Jesus, but only I am. He trusts to their easily recognising a voice, which was so familiar to them, or, as is more probable, He shews that He was the same who said to Moses, I am that I am (Exod. 3:14)

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xliii. s. 1) He appeared to them in this way, to shew His power; for He immediately calmed the tempest: Then they wished to receive Him into the ship; and immediately the ship was at the land, whither they went. So great was the calm, He did not even enter the ship, in order to work a greater miracle, and to shew his Divinity more clearlyg.

THEOPHYLACT. Observe the three miracles here; the first, His walking on the sea; the second, His stilling the waves; the third, His putting them immediately on shore, which they were some distance off, when our Lord appeared.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xliii. 1) Jesus does not shew Himself to the crowd walking on the sea, such a miracle being too much for them to hear. Nor even to the disciples did He shew Himself long, but disappeared immeditately.

AUGUSTINE. Mark’s1 account does not contradict this. He says indeed that our Lord told the disciples first to enter the ship, and go before Him over the sea, while He dismissed the crowds, and that when the crowd was dismissed, He went up alone into the mountain to pray: while John places His going up alone in the mountain first, and then says, And when even was now come, His disciples went down unto the sea. But it is easy to see that John relates that as done afterwards by the disciples, which our Lord had ordered before His departure to the mountain.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xliii. 1) Or take another explanation. This miracle seems to me to be a different one, from the one given in Matthew: for there they do not receive Him into the ship immediately, whereas here they doh: and there the storm lasts for some time, whereas here as soon as He speaks, there is a calm. He often repeats the same miracle in order to impress it on men’s minds.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxv. s. 3. et seq.) There is a mystical meaning in our Lord’s feeding the multitude, and ascending the mountain: for thus was it prophesied of Him, So shall the congregation of the people come about Thee: for their sake therefore lift up Thyself again: (Ps. 7) i. e. that the congregation of the people may come about Thee, lift up Thyself again. But why is it fled; for they could not have detained Him against His will? This fleeing has a meaning; viz. that His flight is above our comprehension; just as, when you do not understand a thing, you say, It escapes me. He fled alone unto the mountain, because He is ascended from above all heavens. But on His ascension aloft a storm came upon the disciples in the ship, i. e. the Church, and it became dark, the light, i. e. Jesus, having gone. As the end of the world draws nigh, error increases, iniquity abounds. Light again is love, according to John, He that hateth his brother is in darkness. (1 John 2:9) The waves and storms and winds then that agitate the ship, are the clamours of the evil speaking, and love waxing cold. Howbeit the wind, and storm, and waves, and darkness were not able to stop, and sink the vessel; For he that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved. (Matt. 10:22) As the number five has reference to the Law, the books of Moses being five, the number five and twenty, being made up of five pieces, has the same meaning. And this law was imperfect, before the Gospel came. Now the number of perfection is six, so therefore five is multiplied by six, which makes thirty: i. e. the law is fulfilled by the Gospel. To those then who fulfil the law Jesus comes treading on the waves, i. e. trampling under foot all the swellings of the world, all the loftiness of men: and yet such tribulations remain, that even they who believe on Jesus, fear lest they should be lost.

THEOPHYLACT. When either men or devils try to terrify us, let us hear Christ saying, It is I, be not afraid, i. e. I am ever near you, God unchangeable, immoveable; let not any false fears destroy your faith in Me. Observe too our Lord did not come when the danger was beginning, but when it was ending. He suffers us to remain in the midst of dangers and tribulations, that we may be proved thereby, and flee for succour to Him Who is able to give us deliverance when we least expect it. When man’s understanding can no longer help him, then the Divine deliverance comes. If we are willing also to receive Christ into the ship, i. e. to live in our hearts, we shall find ourselves immediately in the place, where we wish to be, i. e. heaven.

BEDE. This ship, however, does not carry an idle crew; they are all stout rowers; i. e. in the Church not the idle and effeminate, but the strenuous and persevering in good works, attain to the harbour of everlasting salvation.

6:22–27

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. (Howbeit there came other boats from Tiberias nigh unto 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 unto him, Rabbi, when camest thou hither?

26. Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.

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

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xliii. 2) Our Lord, though He did not actually shew 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.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxv. 8) 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; Howbeit there came other boats from Tiberias, nigh unto 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 look shipping, and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xliii. 1) Yet after so great a miracle, they did not ask Him how He had passed over, or shew any concern about it: as appears from what follows; And when they had found Him on the other side of the sea, they said unto Him, Rabbi, when earnest Thou 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.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxv. 8) 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 He had satisfied with bread.

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

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xliv. 1) 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 earnest Thou hither? He shews them that He did not desire the honour that cometh 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 unto you, Ye seek Me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxv. 10) As if He said, Ye seek Me to satisfy the flesh, not the spirit.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xliv. 1) After the rebuke, however, He proceeds to teach them: Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life; meaning, Ye seek for temporal food, whereas I only fed your bodies, that ye 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 remaineth for ever, imparting perpetual fulness, and immortality.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxv. 10) Under the figure of food He alludes to Himself. Ye seek Me, He saith, for the sake of something else; seek Me for My own sake.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xliv. 1.) But, inasmuch as some who wish to live in sloth, pervert this precept, Labour not, &c. it is well to notice what Paul says, Let him that stole steal no more, but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. Ephes. 4:28) And he himself too, when he resided with Aquila and Priscilla at Corinth, worked with his hand. By saying, Labour not for the meat which perisheth, our Lord does not mean to tell us to be idle; but to work, and give alms. This is that meat which perisheth not; to labour for the meat which perisheth, 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 perisheth.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxv. 10) As He told the woman of Samaria above, If thou knewest Who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldest have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water. (c. 4) So He says here, Which the Son of man shall give unto you.

ALCUIN. When, through the hand of the priest, thou receivest the Body of Christ, think not of the priest which thou seest, but of the Priest thou dost 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 hath 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 hath sealed Me, i. e. given Me something peculiar, to the end that I should not be confounded with the human race, but that the human race should be delivered by Me.

HILARY. (viii. de Trin. c. 44) 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 fulness as stamped upon Himself. He wishes to shew the Jews He has the power of giving the eternal meat, because He contained in Himself the fulness of God.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xliv. 1) 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, Ye seek Me, because ye did eat of the loaves. (Phil. 2:21)

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxv. 10) 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 neighbour, and flies to the Church for refuge: Jesus is scarcely ever sought for Jesus’ sake.

GREGORY. (xxiii. Moral. [c. xxv.]) 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.

6:28–34

28. Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?

29. Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

30. They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou 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 unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; 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.

34. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.

ALCUIN. They understood that the meat, which remaineth unto 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 unto 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 fulfil the law of God?

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xlv. 1) But they said this, not that they might learn, and do them, but to obtain from Him another exhibition of His bounty.

THEOPHYLACT. Christ, though He saw it would not avail, yet for the good of others afterwards, answered their question; and shewed them, or rather the whole world, what was the work of God: Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxv. in Joan) He does not say, That ye believe Him, but, that ye believe on Him. For the devils believed Him, and did not believe on Him; and we believe Paul, but do not believe on Paul. To believe on Him is believing to love, believing to honour Him, believing to go unto Him, and be made members incorporate of His Body. The faith, which God requires of us, is that which worketh 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. (Rom. 3:28) 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 believeth (Rom. 10:4). And therefore our Lord would not separate faith from works, but said that faith itself was the doing the work of God; He saith not, This is your work, but, This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him: in order that he that glorieth might glory in the Lord.

AUGUSTINE. (xxv. 12) To eat then that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, is to believe on Him. Why dost thou make ready thy tooth and thy belly? Only believe, and thou hast eaten already. As He called on them to believe, they still asked for miracles whereby to believe; They said therefore unto Him, What sign shewest Thou then, that we may see and believe Thee? What dost Thou work?

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xlv. 1) 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.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xlv. 1) 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.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxv. s. 12) Or thus; Our Lord sets Himself above Moses, who did not dare to say that He gave the meat which perisheth not. The multitude therefore remembering what Moses had done, and wishing for some greater miracle, say, as it were, Thou promisest the meat which perisheth not, and doest not works equal to those Moses did. He gave us not barley loaves, but manna from heaven.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xxv. 1) 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 unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but My Father giveth 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 heavenk; and just as it is said in the Psalm, The Lord thundered out of heaven. (Ps. 17) 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.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxv. 13.) 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 cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.

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

THEOPHYLACT. 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.

THEOPHYLACT. 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 giveth life unto the world.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xlv. 1) Not only to the Jews, but to the whole world. The multitude, however, still attached a low meaning to His words: Then said they unto Him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. They say, Give us this bread, not, Ask Thy Father to give it us: whereas He had said that His Father gave this bread.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxv. 13) As the woman of Samaria, when our Lord told her, Whosoever drinketh 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.

6:35–40

35. 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.

36. But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not.

37. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

38. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.

39. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.

40. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xlv. 2) Our Lord now proceeds to set forth mysteries; and first speaks of His Divinity: And Jesus said unto 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 dwelleth in it.

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

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxv. 14) He that cometh to Me, i. e. that believeth on Me, shall never hunger, has the same meaning as shall never thirst; both signifying that eternal society, where there is no want.

THEOPHYLACT. Or, shall never hunger or thirst, i. e. shall never be wearied1 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.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxv. 14) Ye desire bread from heaven: but, though you have it before you, you eat it not. This is what I told you: But I said unto you, that ye also have seen Me, and believe not.

ALCUIN. As if He said, I did not say what I did to you about the bread, because I thought you would eat it, but rather to convict you of unbelief. I say, that ye see Me, and believe not.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xliv. 2. c. 5.) Or, I said to you, refers to the testimony of the Scriptures, of which He said above, They are they which testify of Me; and again, I am come in My Father’s name, and ye receive Me not. That ye have seen Me, is a silent allusion to His miracles.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxv. 14) But, because ye have seen Me, and believed not, I have not therefore lost the people of God: All that the Father giveth Me, shall come unto Me; and him that cometh to Me, I will in no wise cast out.

BEDE. All, He saith, absolutely, to shew the fulness of the number who should believe. These are they which the Father gives the Son, when, by His secret inspiration, He makes them believe in the Son.

ALCUIN. Whomsoever therefore the Father draweth to belief in Me, he, by faith, shall come to Me, that he may be joined to Me. And those, who in the steps of faith and good works, shall come to Me, I will in no wise cast out; i. e. in the secret habitation of a pure conscience, he shall dwell with Me, and at the last I will receive him to everlasting felicity.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxv. 14) That inner place, whence there is no casting out, is a great sanctuary, a secret chamber, where is neither weariness, or the bitterness of evil thoughts, or the cross of pain and temptation: of which it is said, Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord. (Mat. 25)

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xliv. 2) The expression, that the Father giveth Me, shews that it is no accident whether a man believes or not, and that belief is not the work of human cogitation, but requires a revelation from on high, and a mind devout enough to receive the revelation. Not that they are free from blame, whom the Father does not give, for they are deficient even in that which lies in their own power, the will to believe. This is a virtual rebuke to their unbelief, as it shews that whoever does not believe in Him, transgresses the Father’s will. Paul, however, says, that He gives them up to the Father: When He shall have given up the kingdom to God, even the Father. (1 Cor. 15:24) But as the Father, in giving, does not take from Himself, so neither does the Son when He gives up. The Son is said to give up to the Father, because we are brought to the Father by Him. And of the Father at the same time we read, By Whom ye were called unto the fellowship of His Son. (1 Cor. 1:9) Whoever then, our Lord says, cometh to Me, shall be saved, for to save such I took up flesh: For I came down from heaven not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me. But what? Has thou one will, He another? No, certainly. Mark what He says afterwards; And this is the will of Him that sent Me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, should have everlasting life. And this is the Son’s will too; For the Son quickeneth whom He will. (c. 5:21) He says then, I came to do nothing but what the Father wills, for I have no will distinct from My Father’s: all things that the Father hath are Mine. But this not now: He reserves these higher truths for the end of His ministry.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxv. 15) This is the reason why He does not cast out those who come to Him. For I came down from heaven not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me. The soul departed from God, because it was proud. Pride casts us out, humility restores us. When a physician in the treatment of a disease, cures certain outward symptoms, but not the cause which produces them, his cure is only temporary. So long as the cause remains, the disease may return. That the cause then of all diseases, i. e. pride, might be eradicated, the Son of God humbled Himself. Why art thou proud, O man? The Son of God humbled Himself for thee. It might shame thee, perhaps, to imitate a humble man; but imitate at least a humble God. And this is the proof of His humility: I came not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me. Pride does its own will; humility the will of God.

HILARY. (iii. de Trin. c. 9) Not that He does what He does not wish. He fulfils obediently His Father’s will, wishing also Himself to fulfil that will.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxv in Joan. 16) For this very reason therefore, I will not cast out Him that cometh to Me; because I came not to do Mine own will. I came to teach humility, by being humble Myself. He that cometh to Me, is made a member of Me, and necessarily humble, because He will not do His own will, but the will of God; and therefore is not cast out. He was cast out, as proud; he returns to Me humble, he is not sent away, except for pride again; he who keeps his humility, falleth not from the truth. And further, that He does not cast out such, because He came not to do His will, He shews when He says, And this is the Father’s will which hath sent Me, that of all which He hath given Me, I should lose nothing. (Mat. 18:14) Every one of an humble mind is given to Him: It is not the will of your Father, that one of these little ones should perish. The swelling ones may perish; of the little ones none can; for except ye be as a little child, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. (Mat. 18:3, 5)

AUGUSTINE. (de Cor. et Gratia, c. ix) They therefore who by God’s unerring providence are foreknown, and predestined, called, justified, glorified, even before their new birth, or before they are born at all, are already the sons of God, and cannot possibly perish; these are they who truly come to Christ. By Him there is given also perseverance in good unto the end; which is given only to those who will not perish. Those who do not persevere will perish.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xliv. 3) I should lose nothing; He lets them know, he does not desire his own honour, but their salvation. After these declarations, I will in no wise cast out, and I should lose nothing, He adds, But should raise it up at the last day. In the general resurrection the wicked will be cast out, according to Matthew, Take him, and cast him into outer darkness. (Mat. 22:13) And, Who is able to cast both soul and body into hell. (Mat. 10:28) He often brings in mention of the resurrection for this purpose: viz. to warn men not to judge of God’s providence from present events, but to carry on their ideas to another world.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxv. 19) See how the twofold resurrection is expressed here. He who cometh to Me, shall forthwith rise again; by becoming humble, and a member of Me. But then He proceeds; But I will raise him up at the last day. To explain the words, All that the Father hath given Me, and, I should lose nothing, He adds; And this is the will of Him that hath sent Me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day. Above He said, Whoso heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me: (c. 5:24) now it is, Every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him. He does not say, believe on the Father, because it is the same thing to believe on the Father, and on the Son; for as the Father hath life in Himself, even so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself; and again, That whoso seeth the Son and believeth on Him, should have everlasting life: i. e. by believing, by passing over to life, as at the first resurrection. But this is only the first resurrection, He alludes to the second when He says, And I will raise him up at the last day.

6:41–46

41. The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven.

42. And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven?

43. Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves.

44. No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

45. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.

46. Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xlvi. 1) The Jews, so long as they thought to get food for their carnal eating, had no misgivings; but when this hope was taken away, then, we read, the Jews murmured at Him because He said, I am the bread which came down from heaven. This was only a pretence. The real cause of their complaint was that they were disappointed in their expectation of a bodily feast. As yet however they reverenced Him, for His miracle; and only expressed their discontent by murmurs. What these were we read next: And they said, Is not this Jesus, the Son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that He saith, I came down from heaven?

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxvi. 1) But they were far from being fit for that heavenly bread, and did not hunger for it. For they had not that hunger of the inner man.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xlvi. 1) It is evident that they did not yet know of His miraculous birth: for they call Him the Son of Joseph. Nor are they blamed for this. Our Lord does not reply, I am not the Son of Joseph: for the miracle of His birth would have overpowered them. And if the birth according to the flesh were above their belief, how much more that higher and ineffable birth.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxvi) He took man’s flesh upon Him, but not after the manner of men; for, His Father being in heaven, He chose a mother upon earth, and was born of her without a father. The answer to the murmurers next follows: Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves; as if to say, I know why ye hunger not after this bread, and so cannot understand it, and do not seek it: No man can come to Me except the Father who hath sent Me draw him. This is the doctrine of grace: none cometh, except he be drawn. But whom the Father draws, and whom not, and why He draws one, and not another, presume not to decide, if thou wouldest avoid falling into error. Take the doctrine as it is given thee: and, if thou art not drawn, pray that thou mayest be.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xlvi. 1) But here the Manichees attack us, asserting that nothing is in our own power. Our Lord’s words however do not destroy our free agency, but only shew that we need Divine assistance. For He is speaking not of one who comes without the concurrence of his own will, but one who has many hindrances in the way of his coming.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxvi. 2. et sq.) Now if we are drawn to Christ without our own will, we believe without our own will; the will is not exercised, but compulsion is applied. But, though a man can enter the Church involuntarily, he cannot believe other than voluntarily; for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness. Therefore if he who is drawn, comes without his will, he does not believe; if he does not believe, he does not come. For we do not come to Christ, by running, or walking, but by believing, not by the motion of the body, but the will of the mind. Thou art drawn by thy will. But what is it to be drawn by the will? Delight thou in the Lord, and He will give thee thy heart’s desire. (Ps. 36) There is a certain craving of the heart, to which that heavenly bread is pleasant. If the Poet could say, “Trahit sua quemque voluptas,” how much more strongly may we speak of a man being drawn to Christ, i. e. being delighted with truth, happiness, justice, eternal life, all which is Christ? Have the bodily senses their pleasures, and has not the soul hers? Give me one who loves, who longs, who burns, who sighs for the source of his being and his eternal home; and he will know what I mean. But why did He say, Except my Father draw him? If we are to be drawn, let us be drawn by Him to whom His love saith, Draw me, we will run after Thee. (Cant. 1:4) But let us see what is meant by it. The Father draws to the Son those who believe on the Son, as thinking that He has God for His Father. For the Father begat the Son equal to Himself; and whoso thinks and believes really and seriously that He on Whom He believes is equal to the Father, him the Father draws to the Son. Arius believed Him to be a creature; the Father drew not him. Thomas says, Christ is only a man. Because he so believes, the Father draws him not. He drew Peter who said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God (Mat. 16); to whom accordingly it was told, For flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in heaven. That revelation is the drawing. For if earthly objects, when put before us, draw us; how much more shall Christ, when revealed by the Father? For what doth the soul more long after than truth? But here men hunger, there they will be filled. Wherefore He adds, And I will raise him up at the last day: as if He said, He shall be filled with that, for which he now thirsts, at the resurrection of the dead; for I will raise him up.

AUGUSTINE. (de Qu. Nov. et Vet.) Or the Father draws to the Son, by the works which He did by Him.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xlvi. 1) Great indeed is the Son’s dignity; the Father draws men, and the Son raises them up. This is no division of works, but an equality of power. He then shews the way in which the Father draws. It is written in the Prophets, And they shall all be taught of God. You see the excellence of faith; that it cannot be learnt from men, or by the teaching of man, but only from God Himself. The Master sits, dispensing His truth to all, pouring out His doctrine to all. But if all are to be taught of God, how is it that some believe not? Because all here only means the generality, or, all that have the will.

AUGUSTINE. (de Prædest. Sanctorum, c. viii) Or thus; When a schoolmaster is the only one in a town, we say loosely, This man teaches all here to read; not that all learn of him, but that he teaches all who do learn. And in the same way we say that God teaches all men to come to Christ: not that all do come, but that no one comes in any other way.

AUGUSTINE. (super Joan. Tr. xxv. 7) All the men of that kingdom shall be taught of God; they shall hear nothing from men: for, though in this world what they hear with the outward ear is from men, yet what they understand is given them from within; from within is light and revelation. I force certain sounds into your ears, but unless He is within to reveal their meaning, how, O ye Jews, can ye acknowledge Me, ye whom the Father hath not taught?

BEDE. He uses the plural, In the Prophets, because all the Prophets being filled with one and the same spirit, their prophecies, though different, all tended to the same end; and with whatever any one of them says, all the rest agree; as with the prophecy of Joel, All shall be taught of God. (Joel 2:23)

GLOSS. These words are not found in Joel, but something like them; Be glad then ye children of Sion, and rejoice in the Lord your God, for He hath given you a Teacher. (Quia dedit nobis lectorem justitiæ. Vulg.) And more expressly in Isaiah, And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord. (Isa. 54:13)

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xlvi. 1) An important distinction. All men before learnt the things of God through men; now they learn them through the Only Son of God, and the Holy Spirit.

AUGUSTINE. (de Prædest. Sanctorum, c. viii. et seq.) All that are taught of God come to the Son, because they have heard and learnt from the Father of the Son: wherefore He proceeds, Every man that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh to Me. But if every one that hath heard and learnt of the Father cometh, every one that hath not heard of the Father hath not learnt. For beyond the reach of the bodily senses is this school, in which the Father is heard, and men taught to come to the Son. Here we have not to do with the carnal ear, but the ear of the heart; for here is the Son Himself, the Word by which the Father teacheth, and together with Him the Holy Spirit: the operations of the three Persons being inseparable from each other. This is attributed however principally to the Father, because from Him proceeds the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Therefore the grace which the Divine bounty imparts in secret to men’s hearts, is rejected by none from hardness of heart: seeing it is given in the first instance, in order to take away hard-heartedness. Why then does He not teach all to come to Christ? Because those whom He teaches, He teaches in mercy; and those whom He teaches not, He teaches not in judgment. But if we say, that those, whom He teaches not, wish to learn, we shall be answered, Why then is it said, Wilt thou not turn again, and quicken us? (Ps. 84:6) If God does not make willing minds out of unwilling, why prayeth the Church, according to our Lord’s command, for her persecutors? For no one can say, I believed, and therefore He called me: rather the preventing mercy of God called him, that he might believe.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxvi. 7. et seq.) Behold then how the Father draweth; not by laying a necessity on man, but by teaching the truth. To draw, belongeth to God: Every one that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh to Me. What then? Hath Christ taught nothing? Not so. What if men saw not the Father teaching, but saw the Son. So then the Father taught, the Son spoke. As I teach you by My word, so the Father teaches by His Word. But He Himself explains the matter, if we read on: Not that any man hath seen the Father, save He which is of God, He hath seen the Father; as if He said, Do not when I tell you, Every man that hath heard and learnt of the Father, say to yourselves, We have never seen the Father, and how then can we have learnt from Him? Hear Him then in Me. I know the Father, and am from Him, just as a word is from him who speaks it; i. e. not the mere passing sound, but that which remaineth with the speaker, and draweth the hearer.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xlvi. s. 1) We are all from God. That which belongs peculiarly and principally to the Son, He omits the mention of, as being unsuitable to the weakness of His hearers.

6:47–51

47. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.

48. I am that bread of life.

49. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.

50. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.

51. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxvi. s. 10.) Our Lord wishes to reveal what He is; Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on Me, hath everlasting life. As if He said; He that believeth on Me hath Me: but what is it to have Me? It is to have eternal life: for the Word which was in the beginning with God is life eternal, and the life was the light of men. Life underwent death, that life might kill death.

CHRYSOSTOM. ([Nic.] Theoph.) The multitude being urgent for bodily food, and reminding Him of that which was given to their fathers, He tells them that the manna was only a type of that spiritual food which was now to be tasted in reality, I am that bread of life.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xlv. 1) He calls Himself the bread of life, because He constitutes one life, both present, and to come.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxvi. 11) And because they had taunted Him with the manna, He adds, Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. Your fathers they are, for ye are like them; murmuring sons of murmuring fathers. For in nothing did that people offend God more, than by their murmurs against Him. And therefore are they dead, because what they saw they believed, what they did not see they believed not, nor understood.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xlvi. 2) The addition, In the wilderness, is not put in without meaning, but to remind them how short a time the manna lasted; only till the entrance into the land of promise. And because the bread which Christ gave seemed inferior to the manna, in that the latter had come down from heaven, while the former was of this world, He adds, This is the bread which cometh down from heaven.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxvi. s. 12) This was the bread the manna typified, this was the bread the altar typified. Both the one and the other were sacraments, differing in symbol, alike in the thing signified. Hear the Apostle, They did all eat the same spiritual meat. (1 Cor. 10)

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xlvi. 2) He then gives them a strong reason for believing that they were given for higher privileges than their fathers. Their fathers eat manna and were dead; whereas of this bread He says, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. The difference of the two is evident from the difference of their ends. By bread here is meant wholesome doctrine, and faith in Him, or His body: for these are the preservatives of the soul.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxvi. 11) But are we, who eat the bread that cometh down from heaven, relieved from death? From visible and carnal death, the death of the body, we are not: we shall die, even as they died. But from spiritual death which their fathers suffered, we are delivered. Moses and many acceptable of God, eat the manna, and died not, because they understood that visible food in a spiritual sense, spiritually tasted it, and were spiritually filled with it. And we too at this day receive the visible food; but the Sacrament is one thing, the virtue of the Sacrament another. Many a one receiveth from the Altar, and perisheth in receiving; eating and drinking his own damnation, (1 Cor. 11:29) as saith the Apostle. To eat then the heavenly bread spiritually, is to bring to the Altar an innocent mind. Sins, though they be daily, are not deadly. Before you go to the Altar, attend to the prayer you repeat: Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. (Matt. 6:12) If thou forgivest, thou art forgiven: approach confidently; it is bread, not poison. None then that eateth of this bread, shall die. But we speak of the virtue of the Sacrament, not the visible Sacrament itself; of the inward, not of the outward eater.

ALCUIN. Therefore I say, He that eateth this bread, dieth not: I am the living bread which came down from heaven.

THEOPHYLACT. (in v. 83) By becoming incarnate, He was not then first man, and afterwards assumed Divinity, as Nestorius fables.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxvi. 13) was The manna too came down from heaven; but the manna was shadow, this is substance.

ALCUIN. But men must be quickened by my life: If any man eat of this bread, he shall live, not only now by faith and righteousness, but for ever.

6:51

51. —And the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

AUGUSTINE. (Gloss. Nic.) Our Lord pronounces Himself to be bread, not only in respect of that Divinity, which feeds all things, but also in respect of that human nature, which was assumed by the Word of God: And the bread, He says, that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

BEDE. This bread our Lord then gave, when He delivered to His disciple the mystery of His Body and Blood, and offered Himself to God the Father on the altar of the cross. For the life of the world, i. e. not for the elements, but for mankind, who are called the world.

THEOPHYLACT. Which I shall give: this shews His power; for it shews that He was not crucified as a servant, in subjection to the Father, but of his own accord; for though He is said to have been given up by the Father, yet He delivered Himself up also. And observe, the bread which is taken by us in the mysteries, is not only the sign of Christ’s flesh, but is itself the very flesh of Christ; for He does not say, The bread which I will give, is the sign of My flesh, but, is My flesh. The bread is by a mystical benediction conveyed in unutterable words, and by the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, transmuted into the flesh of Christ. But why see we not the flesh? Because, if the flesh were seen, it would revolt us to such a degree, that we should be unable to partake of it. And therefore in condescension to our infirmity, the mystical food is given to us under an appearance suitable to our minds. He gave His flesh for the life of the world, in that, by dying, He destroyed death. By the life of the world too, I understand the resurrection; our Lord’s death having brought about the resurrection of the whole human race. It may mean too the sanctified, beatified, spiritual life; for though all have not attained to this life, yet our Lord gave Himself for the world, and, as far as lies in Him, the whole world is sanctified.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxvi. 13) But when does flesh receive the bread which He calls His flesh? The faithful know and receive the Body of Christ, if they labour to be the body of Christ. And they become the body of Christ, if they study to live by the Spirit of Christ: for that which lives by the Spirit of Christ, is the body of Christ. This bread the Apostle sets forth, where he says, We being many are one body. (1 Cor. 12:12) O sacrament of mercy, O sign of unity, O bond of love! Whoso wishes to live, let him draw nigh, believe, be incorporated, that he may be quickened.

6:52–54

52. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?

53. Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.

54. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxvi. s. 14) The Jews not understanding what was the bread of peace, strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us His flesh to eat? Whereas they who eat the bread strive not among themselves, for God makes them to dwell together in unity.

BEDE. The Jews thought that our Lord would divide His flesh into pieces, and give it them to eat: and so mistaking Him, strove.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xlvii. 1) As they thought it impossible that He should do as He said, i. e. give them His flesh to eat, He shews them that it was not only possible, but necessary: Then said Jesus unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxvi. 15) As if He said, The sense in which that bread is eaten, and the mode of eating it, ye know not; but, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you.

BEDE. And that this might not seem addressed to them alone, He declares universally, Whoso eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxvi. 15) And that they might not understand him to speak of this life, and make that an occasion of striving, He adds, Hath eternal life. This then he hath not who eateth not that flesh, nor drinketh that blood. The temporal life men may have without Him, the eternal they cannot. This is not true of material food. If we do not take that indeed, we shall not live, neither do we live, if we take it: for either disease, or old age, or some accident kills us after all. Whereas this meat and drink, i. e. the Body and Blood of Christ, is such that he that taketh it not hath not life, and he that taketh it hath life, even life eternal.

THEOPHYLACT. (in v. 52) For it is not the flesh of man simply, but of God: and it makes man divine, by inebriating him, as it were, with divinity.

AUGUSTINE. (de Civ. Dei, l. xxi. c. 25.) There are some who promise men deliverance from eternal punishment, if they are washed in Baptism and partake of Christ’s Body, whatever lives they live. The Apostle however contradicts them, where he says, The works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like; of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Gal. 5:19. et seq.) Let us examine what is meant here. He who is in the unity of His body, (i. e. one of the Christian members,) the Sacrament of which body the faithful receive when they communicate at the Altar; he is truly said to eat the body, and drink the blood of Christ. And heretics and schismatics, who are cut off from the unity of the body, may receive the same Sacrament; but it does not profit them, nay, rather is hurtful, as tending to make their judgment heavier, or their forgiveness later. Nor ought they to feel secure in their abandoned and damnable ways, who, by the iniquity of their lives, desert righteousness, i. e. Christ; either by fornication, or other sins of the like kind. Such are not to be said to eat the body of Christ; forasmuch as they are not to be counted among the members of Christ. For, not to mention other things, men cannot be members of Christ, and at the same time members of an harlot.

AUGUSTINE. (super Joan. c. xxvi. 15) By this meat and drink then, He would have us understand the society of His body, and His members, which is the Church, in the predestined, and called, and justified, and glorified saints and believers. The Sacrament whereof, i. e. of the unity of the body and blood of Christ, is administered, in some places daily, in others on such and such days from the Lord’s Table: and from the Lord’s Table it is received by some to their salvation, by others to their condemnation. But the thing itself of which this is the Sacrament, is for our salvation to every one who partakes of it, for condemnation to none. To prevent us supposing that those who, by virtue of that meat and drink, were promised eternal life, would not die in the body, He adds, And I will, raise him up at the last day; i. e. to that eternal life, a spiritual rest, which the spirits of the Saints enter into. But neither shall the body be defrauded of eternal life, but shall be endowed with it at the resurrection of the dead in the last day.

6:55–59

55. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.

56. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.

57. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.

58. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.

59. These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum.

BEDE. He had said above, Whoso eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life: and now to shew the great difference between bodily meat and drink, and the spiritual mystery of His body and blood, He adds, For My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xlvii. 1) i. e. this is no enigma, or parable, but ye must really eat the body of Christ; or He means to say that the true meat was He who saved the soul.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxvi. 17) Or thus: Whereas men desire meat and drink to satisfy hunger and thirst, this effect is only really produced by that meat and drink, which makes the receivers of it immortal and incorruptible; i. e. the society of Saints, where is peace and unity, full and perfect. On which account our Lord has chosen for the types of His body and blood, things which become one out of many. Bread is a quantity of grains united into one mass, wine a quantity of grapes squeezed together. Then He explains what it is to eat His body and drink His blood: He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, dwelleth in Me, and I in him. So then to partake of that meat and that drink, is to dwell in Christ and Christ in thee. He that dwelleth not in Christ, and in whom Christ dwelleth not, neither eateth His flesh, nor drinketh His blood: but rather eateth and drinketh the sacrament of it to his own damnation.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xlvii. 1) Or, having given a promise of eternal life to those that eat Him, He says this to confirm it: He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, dwelleth in Me, and I in him.

AUGUSTINE. (de Verb. Dom.) As for those, as indeed there are many, who either eat that flesh and drink that blood hypocritically, or, who having eaten, become apostates, do they dwell in Christ, and Christ in them? Nay, but there is a certain mode of eating that flesh, and drinking that blood, in the which he that eateth and drinketh, dwelleth in Christ, and Christ in him.

AUGUSTINE. (de Civ. Dei, l. xxi. c. 25) That is to say, such an one eateth the body and drinketh the blood of Christ not in the sacramental sense, but in reality.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xlvi) And because I live, it is manifest that he will live also: As the living Father hath sent Me, and I lice by the Father, even so he that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me. (Aug. de Verb. Dom. [Nic.]). As if He said, As the Father liveth, so do I live; adding, lest you should think Him unbegotten, By the Father, meaning that He has His source in the Father. He that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me; the life here meant is not life simply, but the justified life: for even unbelievers live, who never eat of that flesh at all. Nor is it of the general resurrection He speaks, (for all will rise again,) but of the resurrection to glory, and reward.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxvi. s. 19) He saith not, As I eat the Father, and live by the Father, so he that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me. For the Son does not grow better by partaking of the Father, as we do by partaking of the Son, i. e. of His one body and blood, which this eating and drinking signifies. So that His saying, I live by the Father, because He is from Him, must not be understood as detracting from His equality. Nor do the words, Even he that eateth Me, the same shall live by Me, give us the equality that He has. He does not equalize, but only mediates between God and man. If, however, we understand the words, I live by the Father, in the sense of those below, My Father is greater than I, (c. 14:28) then it is as if He said, That I live by the Father, i. e. refer my life to Him, as my superior, my1 humiliation in my incarnation is the cause; but He who lives by Me, lives by Me by virtue of partaking of My flesh.

HILARY. (vii. de Trin. c. 14) Of the truth then of the body and blood of Christ, no room for doubting remains: for, by the declaration of our Lord Himself, and by the teaching of our own faith, the flesh is really flesh, and the blood really blood. This then is our principle of life. While we are in the flesh, Christ dwelleth in us by His flesh. (c.14:19) And we shall live by Him, according as He liveth. If then we live naturally by partaking of Him according to the flesh, He also liveth naturally by the indwelling of the Father according to the Spirit. His birth did not give Him an alien or different nature from the Father.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxvi. c. 20) That we who cannot obtain eternal life of ourselves, might live by the eating that bread, He descended from heaven: This is the bread which cometh down from heaven.

HILARY. (de Trin. x. c. 18.) He calls Himself the bread, because He is the origin of His own body. And lest it should be thought that the virtue and nature of the Word had given way to the flesh, He calls the bread His flesh, that, inasmuch as the bread came down from heaven, it might be seen that His body was not of human conception, but a heavenly body. To say that the bread is His own, is to declare that the Word assumed His body Himself.

THEOPHYLACT. For we do not eat God simply, God being impalpable and incorporeal; nor again, the flesh of man simply, which would not profit us. But God having taken flesh into union with Himself, that flesh is quickening. Not that it has changed its own for the Divine nature; but, just as heated iron remains iron, with the action of the heat in it; so our Lord’s flesh is quickening, as being the flesh of the Word of God.

BEDE. And to shew the wide interval between the shadow and the light, the type and the reality, He adds, Not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxvi. 20) The death here meant is death eternal. For even those who eat Christ are subject to natural death; but they live for ever, because Christ is everlasting life.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xlvii. 1) For if it was possible without harvest or fruit of the earth, or any such thing, to preserve the lives of the Israelites of old for forty years, much more will He be able to do this with that spiritual food, of which the manna is the type. He knew how precious a thing life was in men’s eyes, and therefore repeats His promise of life often; just as the Old Testament had done; (Exod. 20:12) only that it only offered length of life, He life without end. (Deut. 22:7) This promise was an abolition of that sentence of death, which sin had brought upon us. These things said He in the synagogue, as He taught in Capernaum; (1 Kings 3:14) where many displays of His power took place. (Ps. 21:4; 91:16) He taught in the synagogue and in the temple, (Prov. 3:2) with the view of attracting the multitude, and as a sign that He was not acting in opposition to the Father.

BEDE. Mystically, Capernaum, which means beautiful town, stands for the world: the synagogue, for the Jewish people. The meaning is, that our Lord hath, by the mystery of the incarnation, manifested Himself to the world, and also taught the Jewish people His doctrines.

6:60–71

60. Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?

61. When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?

62. What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?

63. It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

64. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.

65. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.

66. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

67. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?

68. Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.

69. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.

70. Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?

71. He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxvii. 2) Such is our Lord’s discourse. The people did not perceive that it had a deep meaning, or, that grace went along with it: but receiving the matter in their own way, and taking His words in a human sense, understood Him as if He spoke of cutting of the flesh of the Word into pieces, for distribution to those who believed on Him: Many therefore, not of His enemies, but even of His disciples, when they heard this, said, This is an hard saying, who can hear it?

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xlvii. 2) i. e. difficult to receive, too much for their weakness. They thought He spoke above Himself, and more loftily than He had a right to do; and so said they, Who can bear it? which was answering in fact for themselves, that they could not.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxvii. 2) And if His disciples thought that saying hard, what would His enemies think? Yet it was necessary to declare a thing, which would be unintelligible to men. God’s mysteries should draw men’s attention, not enmity.

THEOPHYLACT. When you hear, however, of His disciples murmuring, understand not those really such, but rather some who, as far as their air and behaviour went, seemed to be receiving instruction from Him. For among His disciples were some of the people, who were called such, because they stayed some time with His disciples.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxvii. 3) They spoke, however, so as not to be heard by Him. But He, who knew what was in them, heard within Himself: When Jesus knew within Himself that His disciples murmured at it, He said unto them, Doth this offend you?

ALCUIN. i. e. that I said, you should eat My flesh, and drink My blood.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xlvii. 2) The revelation however of these hidden things was a mark of His Divinity: hence the meaning of what follows; And if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where He was before; supply, What will ye say? He said the same to Nathanael, Because I said to thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? Thou shalt see greater things than these. He does not add difficulty to difficulty, but to convince them by the number and greatness of His doctrines. For if He had merely said that He came down from heaven, without adding any thing further, he would have offended His hearers more; but by saying that His flesh is the life of the world, and that as He was sent by the living Father, so He liveth by the Father; and at last by adding that He came down from heaven, He removed all doubt. Nor does He mean to scandalize His disciples, but rather to remove their scandal. For so long as they thought Him the Son of Joseph, they could not receive His doctrines; but if they once believed that He had come down from heaven, and would ascend thither, they would be much more willing and able to admit them.

AUGUSTINE. Or, these words are an answer to their mistake. They supposed that He was going to distribute His body in bits: whereas He tells them now, that He should ascend to heaven whole and entire: What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where He was before? ye will then see that He does not distribute His body in the way ye think. Again; Christ became the Son of man, of the Virgin Mary here upon earth, and took flesh upon Him: He says then, What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where He was before? to let us know that Christ, God and man, is one person, not two; and the object of one faith, not a quaternity, but a Trinity. He was the Son of man in heaven, as He was Son of God upon earth; the Son of God upon earth by assumption of the flesh, the Son of man in heaven, by the unity of the person.

THEOPHYLACT. Do not suppose from this that the body of Christ came down from heaven, as the heretics Marcion and Apollinarius say; but only that the Son of God and the Son of man are one and the same.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xlvii. 3) He tries to remove their difficulties in another way, as follows, It is the spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing: that is to say, You ought to understand My words in a spiritual sense: he who understands them carnally is profited nothing. To interpret carnally is to take a proposition in its bare literal meaning, and allow no other. But we should not judge of mysteries in this way; but examine them with the inward eye; i. e. understand them spiritually. It was carnal to doubt how our Lord could give His flesh to eat. What then? Is it not real flesh? Yea, verily. In saying then that the flesh profiteth nothing, He does not speak of His own flesh, but that of the carnal hearer of His word.

AUGUSTINE. (Tract. xxvii. s. 5) Or thus, the flesh profiteth nothing. They had understood by His flesh, as it were, of a carcase, that was to be cut up, and sold in the shambles, not of a body animated by the spirit. Join the spirit to the flesh, and it profiteth much: for if the flesh profited not, the Word would not have become flesh, and dwelt among us. The Spirit hath done much for our salvation, by means of the flesh.

AUGUSTINE. For the flesh does not cleanse of itself, but by the Word who assumed it: which Word, being the principle of life in all things, having taken up soul and body, cleanseth the souls and bodies of those that believe. It is the spirit, then, that quickeneth: the flesh profiteth nothing; i. e. the flesh as they understood it. I do not, He seems to say, give My body to be eaten in this sense. He ought not to think of the flesh carnally: The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xlvii. 2) i. e. are spiritual, have nothing carnal in them, produce no effects of the natural sort; not being under the dominion of that law of necessity, and order of nature established on earth.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxvii) If then thou understandest them spiritually, they are life and spirit to thee: if carnally, even then they are life and spirit, but not to thee. Our Lord declares that in eating His body, and drinking His blood, we dwell in Him, and He in us. But what has the power to affect this, except love? The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, which is given to us. (Rom. 5:5)

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xlvii. 2) Having spoken of His words being taken carnally, He adds, But there are some of you that believe not. Some, He says, not including His disciples in the number. This insight shews His high nature.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxvii. s. 7) He says not, There are some among you who understand not; but gives the reason why they do not understand. The Prophet said, Except ye believe, ye shall not understanda. (Is. 7:9) For how can he who opposes be quickened? An adversary, though he avert not his face, yet closes his mind to the ray of light which should penetrate him. But let men believe, and open their eyes, and they will be enlightened.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xlvii. 2) To let you know that it was before these words, and not after, that the people murmured and were offended, the Evangelist adds, For Jesus knew from the beginning, who they were that believed not, and who should betray Him.

THEOPHYLACT. The Evangelist wishes to shew us, that He knew all things before the foundation of the world: which was a proof of His divinity.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxvii. 7) And after distinguishing those who believed from those who did not believe, our Lord gives the reason of the unbelief of the latter, And He said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto Me, except it were given him of My Father.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xlvi. 2) As if He said, Men’s unbelief does not disturb or astonish Me: I know to whom the Father hath given to come to Me. He mentions the Father, to shew first that He had no eye to His own glory; secondly, that God was His Father, and not Joseph.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxvii. 7) So then (our) faith is given to us: and no small gift it is. Wherefore rejoice if thou believest; but be not lifted up, for what hast thou which thou didst not receive? (1 Cor. 4:7.) And that this grace is given to some, and not to others, no one can doubt, without going against the plainest declarations of Scripture. As for the question, why it is not given to all, this cannot disquiet the believer, who knows that in consequence of the sin of one man, all are justly liable to condemnation; and that no blame could attach to God, even if none were pardoned; it being of His great mercy only that so many are. And why He pardons one rather than another, rests with Him, whose judgments are unsearchable, and His ways past finding out.

And from that time many of the disciples went back, and walked no more with Him.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xlvii. 3) He does not say, withdrewb, but went back, i. e. from being good hearers, from the belief which they once had.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxvii. 8) Being cut off from the body, their life was gone. They were no longer in the body; they were created among the unbelieving. There went back not a few, but many alter Satan, not alter Christ; as the Apostle says of some women, For some had already turned aside after Satan. (1 Tim. 5:15). Our Lord says to Peter, Get thee behind Me. He does not tell Peter to go after Satan.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xlvi. 2) But it may be asked, what reason was there for speaking words to them which did not edify, but might rather have injured them? It was very useful and necessary; for this reason, they had been just now urgent in petitioning for bodily food, and reminding Him of that which had been given to their fathers. So He reminds them here of spiritual food; to shew that all those miracles were typical. They ought not then to have been offended, but should have enquired of Him further. The scandal was owing to their fatuity, not to the difficulty of the truths declared by our Lord.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxvii. 8) And perhaps this took place for our consolation; since it sometimes happens that a man says what is true, and what He says is not understood, and they which hear are offended and go. Then the man is sorry he spoke what was true; for he says to himself, I ought not to have spoken it; and yet our Lord was in the same case. He spoke the truth, and destroyed many. But He is not disturbed at it, because He knew from the beginning which would believe. We, if this happens to us, are disturbed. Let us desire consolation then from our Lord’s example; and withal use caution in our speech.

BEDE. Our Lord knew well the intentions of the other disciples which stayed, as to staying or going; but yet He put the question to them, in order to prove their faith, and hold it up to imitation: Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xlvii. 3) This was the right way to retain them. Had He praised them, they would naturally, as men do, have thought that they were conferring a favour upon Christ, by not leaving Him: by shewing, as He did, that He did not need their company, He made them hold the more closely by Him. He does not say, however, Go away, as this would have been to cast them off, but asks whether they wished to go away; thus preventing their staying with Him from any feeling of shame or necessity: for to stay from necessity would be the same as going away. Peter, who loved his brethren, replies for the whole number, Lord, to whom shall we go?

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxvii. s. 9) As if he said, Thou castest us from Thee: give us another to whom we shall go, if we leave Thee.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xlvii. 3) A speech of the greatest love: proving that Christ was more precious to them than father or mother. And that it might not seem to be said, from thinking that there was no one whose guidance they could look to, he adds, Thou hast the words of eternal life: which shewed that he remembered his Master’s words, I will raise Him up, and, hath eternal life. The Jews said, Is not this the Son of Joseph? how differently Peter: We believe and are sure, that Thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxvii. s. 9) For we believed, in order to know. Had we wished first to know, and then to believe, we could never have been able to believe. This we believe, and know, that Thou art the Christ the Son of God; i. e. that Thou art eternal life, and that in Thy flesh and blood Thou givest what Thou art Thyself.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xlvii. 3) Peter however having said, We believe, our Lord excepts Judas from the number of those who believed: Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? i. e. Do not suppose that, because you have followed Me, I shall not reprove the wicked among you. It is worth enquiring, why the disciples say nothing here, whereas afterwards they ask in fear, Lord, is it I? (Matt. 26:22) But Peter had not yet been told, Get thee behind Me, Satan; (Mat. 16:23) and therefore had as yet no fear of this sort. Our Lord however does not say here, One of you shall betray Me, but, is a devil: so that they did not know what the speech meant, and thought that it was only a case of wickedness in general, that He was reproving. The Gentiles on the subject of election blame Christ foolishly. His election does not impose any necessity upon the person with respect to the future, but leaves it in the power of His will to be saved or perish.

BEDE. Or we must say, that He elected the eleven for one purpose, the twelfth for another: the eleven to fill the place of Apostles, and persevere in it unto the end; the twelfth to the service of betraying Him, which was the means of saving the human race.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xxvii. s. 10) He was elected to be an involuntary and unconscious instrument of producing the greatest good. For as the wicked turn the good works of God to an evil use, so reversely God turns the evil works of man to good. What can be worse than what Judas did? Yet our Lord made a good use of his wickedness; allowing Himself to be betrayed, that He might redeem us. In, Have I not chosen you twelve, twelve seems to be a sacred number used in the case of those, who were to spread the doctrine of the Trinity through the four quarters of the world. Nor was the virtue of that number impaired, by one perishing; inasmuch as another was substituted in his room.

GREGORY. (Moral. 1. xiii. c. xxxiv.) One of you is a devil: the bodyb is here named after its head.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xlvii. 4) Mark the wisdom of Christ: He neither, by exposing him, makes him shameless and contentious; nor again emboldens him, by allowing him to think himself concealed.








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