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

That the Holy Body of Christ is Lifegiving, wherein He speaks of His Own Body as of Bread.

48 I am the Bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and died: 50 This is the Bread Which came down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof and not die.

FULL clearly may one herein behold that which was spoken afore by the Prophet Isaiah, I was made manifest to them that seek Me not, I was found of them that asked not for Me, I said, Behold Me, unto a nation that was not called by My Name: all the day spread I out My Hands unto a rebellious and gainsaying people. For, removing the whole case from His speech, and having taken away (so to say) all that cloaked it, He at length reveals Himself unveiled to them of Israel, saying, I am the Bread of life, that they may now learn that if they would be superior to corruption, and would put off the death which from the transgression fell upon us, they must needs approach to the participation of Him who is mighty to quicken, and destroyeth corruption, and bringeth to nought death: for this verily is a work proper and most fit for that which is by Nature Life. But since they, affirming that the manna was given to their fathers in the wilderness, received not the Bread which of a truth came down from heaven, that is, the Son, He maketh a necessary comparison between the type and the truth, that so they might know that not that is the Bread which is from heaven, but He Whom the trial shews to be so by Nature. For your fathers (saith He) and ancestors by eating the manna, gave to the bodily nature its need, gaining thereby life for a season, and imparting to the flesh its daily sustenance therefrom, with difficulty effected that it should not die at once. But it will be (He says) the clearest proof of its not being the Bread which is from heaven in a truer sense, that they who partook were no way benefited thereby unto incorruption: a token again in like way that the Son is properly and truly the Bread of Life, that they who have once partaken, and been in some way immingled with Him through the communion with Him have been shewn superior to the very bonds of death. For that the manna again is taken rather as an image or shadow of Christ, and was typifying the Bread of Life, but was not itself the Bread of Life, has been often said by us: and the Psalmist supporteth us, crying out in the Spirit, He gave them bread of Heaven, man did eat angels’ bread. For it seems to have been said to them of Israel by the Spirit-clad, but in truth it is not so, but to us rather is the aim of the words directed. For is it not foolish and utterly senseless to suppose that the holy angels which are in heaven, albeit they have an incorporeal nature, should partake grosser food, and need such aid in order to prevail unto life, as this body of earth desires? But I think it nothing hard to conceive, that, since they are spirits, they should need like food, spiritual (I mean) and of wisdom. How then is angels’ bread said to have been given to the ancestors of the Jews, if the Prophet speaks truly in so crying? But it is manifest, that since the typical manna was an image of Christ, Which containeth and upholdeth all things in being, nourishing the angels and quickening the things on earth, the Prophet was calling that which is signified by shadows by the name of the truth,—from the fact that the holy angels could not partake of the more earthly food, drawing off his hearers even against their will from any gross conception as to the manna, and bringing them up to the spiritual meaning, that of Christ, Who is the Food of the holy Angels themselves also.

They then who ate the manna (He says) are dead, not having received any participation of life therefrom (for it was not truly lifegiving, but rather taken as an aid against carnal hunger and in type of the true); but they who receive in themselves the Bread of Life, will have immortality as their prize, wholly setting at nought corruption and its consequent evils, and will mount up unto boundless and unending length of Life in Christ. Nor will it at all damage our words on this subject that they who have been made partakers of Christ, need to taste bodily death on account of what is due to nature; for even though they falling into this end undergo the lot of humanity, yet, as Paul saith, they that shall live, live to God.

51 I am the Living Bread Which came down from heaven; if any man eat of this Bread he shall live for ever.

To say the same things unto you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe, writes the Divine Paul to certain, in this too (I suppose) instructed by these very words of the Saviour. For as those who are diseased with wounds, need not the application of a single plaister, but manifold tending, and that not once applied, but by its continuance of application expelling the pain: so (I ween) for the soul most rugged, and withered mind, should many aids of teaching be contrived and come one after the other: for one will avail to soften it not by one and the first leading, but through its successive coming to it, even if it come in the same words. Oftentimes then does the Saviour bringing round the same manner of speech to the Jews set it before them manifoldly, sometimes darkly, and clad in much obscurity, at other times freed delivered and let loose from all double meaning, that they still disbelieving, might lack nothing yet unto their condemnation, but being evil evilly might be destroyed, themselves against their own soul thrusting the sword of perdition.

Christ therefore no longer concealing anything says, I am the Living Bread Which came down from heaven. That was (He says) a type and a shadow and an image. Hear Him now openly and no more veiled, I am the Living Bread, if any man eat of this Bread, he shall live for ever. They who ate of that died, for it was not lifegiving: he that eateth of This Bread, that is Me, or My Flesh, shall live for ever. We must then beware of and reject alike hardening ourselves to the words of piety, since Christ not once only, but oftentimes persuadeth us. For there is no doubt, that they will full surely be open to the severest charges, who turn aside to the uttermost folly, and through boundless unbelief, refuse not to rage against the Author of the most excellent things. Therefore says He of the Jews, If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin, but now they have no cloke for their sin. For they who have never by hearing received the word of salvation into their heart, will haply find the Judge milder, while they plead that they heard not at all, even though they shall specially give account for not having sought to learn: but they who often instructed by the same admonitions and words to the seeking after what is profitable, senselessly imagine that they ought to deprive themselves of the most excellent good things, shall undergo most bitter punishment, and shall meet with an offended judge, not able to find an excuse for their folly which may shame Him.

And the Bread which I will give is My Flesh for the life of the world.

I die (He says) for all, that I may quicken all by Myself, and I made My Flesh a Ransom for the flesh of all. For death shall die in My Death, and with Me shall rise again (He says) the fallen nature of man. For for this became I like to you, Man (that is) and of the seed of Abraham, that I might be made like in all things unto My brethren. The blessed Paul himself also, well understanding what Christ just now said to us says, Forasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same, that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil. For no otherwise was it possible that he that hath the power of death should be destroyed, and death itself also, had not Christ given Himself for us, a Ransom, One for all, for He was in behalf of all. Wherefore He says in the Psalms too, offering Himself as a spotless Sacrifice to God the Father, Sacrifice and offering Thou wouldest not, but a Body preparedst Thou Me. In whole burnt-offerings and offerings for sin Thou tookedst no pleasure: then said I, Lo I come (in the chapter of the book it is written of Me) to do Thy will, O God, was My choice. For since the blood of bulls and of goats and the ashes of an heifer sufficed not unto the purging away of sin, nor yet would the slaughter of brute beasts ever have destroyed the power of death, Christ Himself came in, in some way to undergo punishment for all. For with His stripes WE were healed, as saith the Prophet, and His Own Self bare our sins in His Own Body on the tree; and He was crucified for all and on account of all, that if One died for all, all we might live in Him. For it was not possible that He should be holden by death, neither could corruption over-master that Which is by Nature Life. But that Christ gave His Own Flesh for the Life of the world, we shall know by His words also, for He saith, Holy Father keep them; and again, For their sakes I sanctify Myself. He here says that He sanctifies Himself, not aiding Himself unto sanctification for the purification of the soul or spirit (as it is understood of us), nor yet for the participation of the Holy Ghost, for the Spirit was in Him by Nature, and He was and is Holy always, and will be so ever. He here says, I sanctify Myself, for, I offer Myself and present Myself as a spotless Sacrifice for an odour of a sweet smell. For that which is brought to the Divine Altar was sanctified, or called holy according to the law.

Christ therefore gave His Own Body for the life of all, and again through It He maketh Life to dwell in us; and how, I will say as I am able. For since the life-giving Word of God indwelt in the Flesh, He transformed it into His Own proper good, that is life, and by the unspeakable character of this union, coming wholly together with It, rendered It life-giving, as Himself is by Nature. Wherefore the Body of Christ giveth life to all who partake of It. For it expels death, when It cometh to be in dying men, and removeth corruption, full in Itself perfectly of the Word which abolisheth corruption.

But a man will haply say, fixing the eye of his understanding upon the resurrection of them that have slept: They who received not the faith in Christ, and were not partakers of Him, will not live again at the time of the resurrection. What? shall not every created thing that has fallen into death return again to life?

To these things we say, Yes, all flesh shall live again: for Prophecy foretells that the dead shall be raised. For we consider that the Mystery through the resurrection of Christ extendeth over the whole nature of man, and in Him first we believe that our whole nature has been released from corruption. For all shall rise, after the likeness of Him That was raised for our sakes, and hath all in Himself, in that He is Man. And as in the first-formed we fell down into death, so in the First-born again, who was so for our sakes, all shall rise again from the dead: but they that did good, unto the resurrection of life (as it is written), and they that wrought evil, unto the resurrection of doom. And I will grant, that in no passing degree bitterer than death is the resurrection unto punishment, and the receiving life again unto disgrace alone. In the stricter sense then we must understand the Life that is really so, the life in Christ, in holiness and bliss and unfailing delight. For that this is truly life the wise John too knows, saying, He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life, and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God shall abide on him. For lo, lo, he says that he which is in unbelief shall not see life: although every creature looks to return again to life, and to rise again. It is then manifest, that the Saviour with reason called that the life which is prepared for the Saints, I mean that in glory and in holiness, which that we ought to pursue after by coming to the participation of the Life-giving Flesh, no right-minded person will doubt.

But since the Saviour called Himself Bread in many of the passages that have already been before us, let us see whether He would not hereby too bring to our mind any one of the things fore-announced and is reminding us of the things in Holy Writ, wherein He was long ago signified under the form of bread. It is written then in Numbers, And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and thou shalt say unto them, When ye come into the land whither I bring you, then it shall be, that when YE eat of the bread of the land, ye shall offer up an heave-offering a separation unto the Lord: a cake the first-fruit of your dough shall ye offer for an heave-offering: as an heave offering of the threshing floor, so shall ye heave it, a first fruit of your dough, and ye shall give unto the Lord an heave offering unto your generations. Obscurely then, and bearing a gross covering as of the letter, did the law typify these things: yet did it proclaim afore the true Very Bread That cometh down from heaven, i. e., Christ, and giveth life unto the world. For observe how He made Man like us by reason of His Likeness to us, a certain First-fruits of our dough and heave offering, as it is written, was offered up to God the Father, set forth the First-Begotten of the dead, and the First-fruits of the resurrection of all ascending into heaven itself. For He was taken of us, He took hold of the seed of Abraham, as Paul saith, He was offered up, as of all, and in behalf of all, that He might quicken all, and might be offered to God the Father, as it were the first handful of the floor. But as He being in truth Light, put that grace upon His disciples; for He says, YE are the light of the world: so too He being the Living Bread, and That quickeneth all things and keepeth them in being, by a likeness and through the shadow of the Law, was typifying in the twelve loaves the holy choir of the Apostles. For thus He says in Leviticus, And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Command the children of Israel, that they bring unto thee oil olive pure beaten for the light, to cause the lamp to burn continually without the vail in the tabernacle of the testimony. And then He proceeds, And ye shall take fine flour, and make twelve cakes thereof: two tenth deals shall be in one cake. And ye shall set them in two rows, six in a row, upon the pure table before the Lord, and shall put pure frankincense upon each row, and salt, and it shall be on the loaves for a memorial unto the Lord.

The lamp then in the holy tabernacle, and giving light without the vail, we said in the foregoing was the blessed John, nourished with the purest oil, that is, the illumination through the Spirit: outside the vail, because his doctrine was catechetic: for he says, Prepare ye the way of I the Lord, make straight the paths of our God. But the things within the vail, that is, the hidden Mystery of Christ, he sheweth not much. For I (he saith) baptize you with water unto repentance, but He That cometh after me is mightier than I, Whose shoes I am not worthy to bear, He shall baptize yon with the Holy Ghost and with fire. Seest thou then how he shines, as in simpler speech calling unto repentance; but the things within the vail he commits to Him That baptizeth with fire and the Spirit, to lay open? And these things we have set forth more at large, on the words, at the beginning of the book, He was the burning and the shining light: yet we touched on them now cursorily, since it was necessary, on John’s passing away, to shew that the preaching of the holy Apostles was near and straightway present.

For for this reason, I suppose, the Scripture, having first signified him by the lamp puts before us the consideration of the twelve loaves. Ye shall make (it says) twelve cakes: two tenth deals shall he in one cake. It is the custom of the Divine Scripture, to receive ever the number ten as perfect, and to acknowledge it as the fullest, since the series and order of the consecutive numbers, receiving a kind of revolution and mutiplication of the same into the same, advances and is extended to whatsoever one will. He commands then that each cake be of two tenth deals, that you may see perfection in the disciples, in the even pair, I mean both active virtue, and that of contemplation. He bids two rows to be made (and profitably so) well nigh indicating the very position, which it was (as is like) their custom to take, ever receiving the Lord in the midst of them, and accustomed ever to surround Him as their Master. And that we may know that, as Paul saith, they are unto God the Father a sweet savour of Christ, He bids frankincense to be put on the cakes, and that they be sprinkled also with salt. For it is said to them, YE are the salt of the earth. Yea and with reason does He bid it be offered upon the Sabbath day, for they were made manifest in the last times of the world: and the last day of the week is the Sabbath. And not only so, but because at the time of our Saviour’s coming we held a Sabbath spiritually: for we rested from sin. And then were the holy Apostles also made manifest unto us, by whose Divine writings also we nourished attain unto the life in holiness. Therefore on the Sabbath day specially doth He bid the cakes to be set out upon the holy table, that is, in the Church. For the whole is often signified by a part. But what is holier than the holy Table of Christ? Therefore the Saviour was pre-typified as bread by the Law: the Apostles again as cakes by their likeness to Him. For all things were in verity in Christ, but by likeness to Him, they belong to us too through His grace.

52 The Jews therefore were striving among themselves saying, How can This Man give us His Flesh to eat? 53 Jesus therefore said unto them,

All things are plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge, as it is written, but darksome to the foolish is even that which is exceeding easy. For the truly wise hearer shuts up the more obvious teaching in the treasury of his understanding, not admitting any delay in respect of this: but as to the things the meaning where of is hard, he goes about with his enquiries, and does not cease asking about them; and he seems to me profitably to press on to do much the same as they say that the fleetest dogs of the chase do, who having from nature great quickness of scent, keep running round the haunts of their game. And does not the wise and prophetic oracle call to some similar habit, Seeking seek and dwell with Me? For the seeker must seek, that is, must bring a most unflinching zeal thereto, and not go astray after empty speculations, but in proportion as anything is more rugged in its difficulty, with so much the more vigorous mind must he apply himself and carry by storm with more resolute onset of his thoughts that which is concealed. But the unpractised and unteachable mind, whatever starts up before it, rages at it with its unbelief, rejects the word ‘conquering’ as spurious, from undisciplined daring mounting up to the last degree of arrogance. For that which will give way to none, nor think that ought is greater than it, how will it not at last be, what we have just said?

And we shall find by looking into the nature of the thing that the Jews too fell into this disorder. For when they ought to have accepted unhesitatingly the words of the Saviour, having already through many things marvelled at His God-befitting Power and His incontestable Authority over all, and to have enquired what was hard of attainment, and to have besought instruction wherein they were perplexed: they senseless repeat How to God, as though they knew not that it is a word replete with all blasphemy. For the Power of accomplishing all things without toil belongs to God, but they, being natural men, as the blessed Paul saith, received not the things of the Spirit of God, but the so dread Mystery seems folly to them.

We then ought, to derive benefit herefrom, and reestablishing our own life by others’ falls, to hold without question our faith in the teaching of the Divine Mysteries and not to apply How to ought that is told us (for it is a Jewish word, and therefore deserving of extremest punishment). And when the ruler of the synagogue of the Jews, Nicodemus by name, on hearing the Divine words, said, How can these things be? with justice was he ridiculed hearing, Art THOU a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? Let us then, found more skilful in the search after what is profitable, even by others’ folly, beware of saying How, to what God works, but rather study to attribute to Him the knowledge of the mode of His Own Works. For as no one will know what God is by Nature, but he is justified who believeth that He is and that He is a Rewarder of them that diligently seek Him: so again will one be ignorant of the mode of His several acts, but by committing the issue to faith, and by confessing the Almighty Power of God Who is over all, will he receive the not contemptible reward of so good a decision. For the Lord of all Himself willing us so to be affected saith by the Prophet Isaiah, For My Counsels are not as your counsels, neither as your ways are My Ways, saith the Lord, but as the heaven is far from the earth, so are My Ways far from your ways, and your thoughts from My Mind. But He That so greatly surpasseth us in wisdom and might, how shall He not also work wonderfully, and overpass our understanding?

I would fain introduce yet an argument besides, no mean one, as I think. For they who in this life take up the knowledge of mechanics (as it is called) often engage to perform some great thing, and the way of doing it is hidden from the mind of hearers, till they have seen it done; but they looking at the skill that is in them, even before the trial itself, accept it on faith, not venturing to gainsay. How then (may one say) will not they with reason be open to heavy charges, for daring to dishonour with their unbelief God the Chiefest Worker of all things, who refuse not to say how to those things which He worketh, albeit they acknowledge Him to be the Giver of all wisdom, and are taught by the whole Divine Scripture that He can do all things? But if thou persistest, O Jew, saying How! I too will imitate for thy sake thine ignorance, and say to thee, how camest thou out of Egypt? how (tell me) was the rod of Moses changed into a serpent? how became the hand leprous, and was again restored, as it is written? how passed the water into the nature of blood? how passedst thou through the Red Sea, as through dry land? how by means of a tree was the bitter water of Mara changed into sweet? how too was water supplied to thee from the breasts of the rocks? how was the manna brought down to thee? how again stood the Jordan in his place? or how through a shout alone was the impregnable wall of Jericho shattered? And will that how never fail thee? For thou wilt be detected, already amazed at many mighty works, to which if thou appliest the how, thou wilt wholly disbelieve all Divine Scripture, and wilt overthrow all the words of the holy Prophets, and, above all, the holy writings of thine own Moses himself. It were therefore meeter far, that, believing in Christ and assenting unhesitatingly to His words, ye should be zealous to learn the mode of the blessing, and not be inconsiderately intoxicate saying, How can this Man give us His Flesh to eat? for the word this Man too they say in disdain. For some such meaning again does their arrogant speech hint at.

53 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood, ye have not life in you.

Long-suffering truly and of great mercy is Christ, as one may see from the words now before us. For in no wise reproaching the littleness of soul of the unbelievers, He again richly gives them the life-giving knowledge of the Mystery, and having overcome, as God, the arrogance of them that grieve Him, He tells them those things whereby they shall (He says) mount up to endless life. And how He will give them His Flesh to eat, He tells them not as yet, for He knew that they were in darkness, and could never avail to understand the ineffable: but how great good will result from the eating He shews to their profit, that haply inciting them to a desire of living in greater preparation for unfading pleasures, He may teach them faith. For to them that have now believed there follows suitably the power too of learning. For so saith the prophet Isaiah, If ye will not believe neither yet shall ye understand. It was therefore right, that faith having been first rooted in them, there should next be brought in understanding of those things whereof they are ignorant, and that the investigation should not precede faith.

For this cause (I suppose) did the Lord with reason refrain from telling them how He would give them His Flesh to eat, and calls them to the duty of believing before seeking. For to them that had at length believed He brake bread, and gave to them, saying, Take, eat, This is My Body. Likewise handing round the Cup to them all, He saith, Drink of it all of you, for this is My Blood of the New Testament, which is being shed for many for the remission of sins. Seest thou how to those who were yet senseless and thrust from them faith without investigation, He explaineth not the mode of the Mystery, but to those who had now believed, He is found to declare it most clearly? Let them then, who of their folly have not yet admitted the faith in Christ, hear, Except ye eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood, ye have no life in you. For wholly destitute of all share and taste of that life which is in sanctification and bliss, do they abide who do not through the mystical Blessing receive Jesus. For He is Life by Nature, inasmuch as He was begotten of a Living Father: no less quickening is His Holy Body also, being in a manner gathered and ineffably united with the all-quickening Word. Wherefore It is accounted His, and is conceived of as One with Him. For, since the Incarnation, it is inseparable; except as regards the knowledge that the Word Which came from God the Father, and the temple from the Virgin, are not indeed the same in nature (for the Body is not consubstantial with the Word from God), yet are they One by that coming-together and ineffable concurrence. And since the Flesh of the Saviour hath become life-giving (as being united to That which is by Nature Life, the Word from God), when we taste It, then have we life in ourselves, we too united to It as It to the indwelling Word. For this cause also, when He raised the dead, the Saviour is found to have operated, not by word only, or God-befitting commands, but He laid a stress on employing His Holy Flesh as a sort of co-operator unto this, that He might shew that It had the power to give life, and was already made one with Him. For it was in truth His Own Body, and not another’s. And verily when He was raising the little daughter of the chief of the Synagogue saying, Maid, arise, He laid hold of her hand, as it is written, giving life, as God, by His All-Powerful command, and again, giving life through the touch of His Holy Flesh, He shews that there was one kindred operation through both. Yea and when He went into the city called Nain, and one was being carried out dead, the only son of his mother, again He touched the bier, saying, Young man, to thee I say, Arise. And not only to His Word gives He power to give life to the dead, but that He might shew that His Own Body was life-giving (as I have said already), He touches the dead, thereby also infusing life into those already decayed. And if by the touch alone of His Holy Flesh, He giveth life to that which is decayed, how shall we not profit yet more richly by the life-giving Blessing when we also taste It? For It will surely transform into Its own good, i. e., immortality, those who partake of It.

And wonder not hereat, nor ask thyself in Jewish manner, How? but rather consider that water is cold by nature, but when it is poured into a kettle and brought to the fire, then it all but forgets its own nature, and goes away unto the operation of that which has mastered it. WE too then in the same way, even though we be corruptible through the nature of our flesh, yet forsaking our own infirmity by the immingling of life, are trans-elemented to Its property, that is, life. For it needed, it needed that not only should the soul be re-created through the Holy Ghost into newness of life, but also that this gross and earthly body should by the grosser and kindred participation be sanctified and called to incorruption. But let not the Jew sluggish of understanding ever suppose that a mode of some new mysteries has been discovered by us. For he will see it in the older books, I mean those of Moses, already fore-shadowed out and bearing the force of the truth, for that it was accomplished in outward forms too. For what (tell me) shamed the destroyer? what provided that their forefathers also should not perish along with the Egyptians, when death, the conqueror of all, was arming himself against the firstborn? is it not manifest to all, that when they, in obedience to the Divine Law sacrificed the lamb, and having tasted of its flesh anointed the doorposts with the blood, death was compelled to pass them by, as sanctified? For the destroyer, that is, the death of the body, was arrayed against the whole nature of man, by reason of the transgression of the first-formed man. For then first did we hear, Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. But since Christ was about to overthrow the so dire tyrant, by existing in us as Life through His Holy Flesh, the Mystery was fore-typified to them of old, and they tasted of the flesh of the lamb, and were sanctified and preserved by its blood, he that was appointed to destroy passing by, by the appointment of God, those who were partakers of the lamb. Why then art thou angry, O Jew, at being now called from the types to the truth, when Christ says, Except ye eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood, ye have not life in you? albeit thou oughtest to come with more confidence to the comprehending of the Mystery, pre-instructed by the books of Moses, and by most ancient figures led most undoubtingly to the duty of faith.

54 Whoso eateth My Flesh and drinketh My Blood hath eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.

Herein too ought we specially to admire the holy Evangelist openly crying, And the Word was made Flesh. For he shrank not from saying, not that He was made in Flesh, but that He was made Flesh, that he might shew the Union. And we do not say either that God the Word, of the Father, was transformed into the nature of the Flesh, or that the flesh passed into the Word (for Each remaineth that which it is by nature, and One Christ of Both); but in a manner unspeakable and passing human understanding, the Word united to His Own Flesh, and having, as it were, transformed It all into Himself (according to the operation which lieth in His power of quickening things lacking life) drave forth of our nature the corruption, and dislodged too death which of old prevailed by means of sin. He therefore that eateth the Holy Flesh of Christ, hath eternal life: for the Flesh hath in Itself the Word Which is by Nature Life. Wherefore He saith, I will raise him up at the last day. Instead of saying, My Body shall raise him up, i. e., him that eateth It, He hath put I: not as though He were other than His Own Flesh (and not wholly so by nature), for after the Union He cannot at all be severed into a pair of sons. I therefore (He saith) Who am become in him, through Mine Own Flesh, that is, will raise up him who eateth thereof, in the last day. For it were indeed even impossible that He Which is by Nature Life, should not surely overcome decay, and master death. Wherefore even though death which by the transgression sprang on us compel the human body to the debt of decay, yet since Christ is in us through His Own Flesh, we shall surely rise. For it were incredible, yea rather impossible, that Life should not make alive those in whom It is. For as if one took a spark and buried it amid much stubble, in order that the seed of fire preserved might lay hold on it, so in us too our Lord Jesus Christ hideth life through His Own Flesh, and inserts it as a seed of immortality, abolishing the whole corruption that is in us.

55 For My Flesh is True Meat and My Blood True Drink.

Again does He contrast the Mystic Blessing with the supply of manna, and the savour of the cup with the founts from rocky beds. And what He said afore in other words, this He again says here, manifoldly fashioning the same discourse. For He does not advise them to marvel overmuch at the manna, but rather to receive Him, as Bread from Heaven, and the Giver of eternal life. For Your fathers (He says) ate the manna in the wilderness and died: this is the Bread Which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof and not die. For the food of manna (says He) having for a very little time sported with the need of the body, and driven away the hurt of want, was again powerless, and did not engraft eternal life in them that had eaten thereof. That then was not the true Food, and Bread from heaven, that is; but the Holy Body of Christ, Which nourishes to immortality and life everlasting, is verily the true Food. ‘Yea and they drank water also from the rook.’ ‘And what then’ (He says) ‘or what the profit to them who drank? for they have died.’ That too then was not true drink; but true Drink in truth is found to be the Precious Blood of Christ, Which uproots from the foundation all corruption, and dislodges death which dwelt in the flesh of man. For it is not the Blood of any chance man, but of the Very Life that is by Nature. we are entitled both the Body and the members of Christ, as receiving through the Blessing the Son Himself in ourselves.

56 He that eateth My Flesh and drinketh My Blood dwelleth in Me and I in him.

Manifoldly does Christ initiate us by these words, and since His Discourse is hard of attainment by the more unlearned, asking for itself rather the understanding of faith than investigation, He revolving again and again over the same ground makes it easy in divers ways, and from all parts illumines what is useful therein, fixing as a kind of foundation and groundwork the most excellent desire for it. For he that eateth My Flesh (saith He) and drinketh My Blood abideth in Me and I in him. For as if one should join wax with other wax, he will surely see (I suppose) the one in the other; in like manner (I deem) he who receiveth the Flesh of our Saviour Christ and drinketh His Precious Blood, as He saith, is found one with Him, commingled as it were and immingled with Him through the participation, so that he is found in Christ, Christ again in him. Thus was Christ teaching us in the Gospel too according to Matthew, saying, The Kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened. Who then the woman is, what the three measures of meal, or what the measure at all, shall be spoken of in its proper place: for the present we will speak only of the leaven. As then Paul saith that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump, so the least portion of the Blessing blendeth our whole body with itself, and filleth it with its own mighty working, and so Christ cometh to be in us, and we again in Him. For one may truly say that the leaven is in the whole lump, and the lump by like reasoning is in the whole leaven: you have in brief the sense of the words. And if we long for eternal life, if we pray to have the Giver of immortality in ourselves, let us not like some of the more heedless refuse to be blessed nor let the Devil deep in wickedness, lay for us a trap and snare a perilous reverence.

Yea (says he) for it is written, He that eateth of the Bread, and drinketh of the Cup unworthily, eateth and drinketh doom unto himself: and I, having examined myself, see that I am not worthy.

When then wilt thou be worthy (will he who thus speaks hear from us) when wilt thou present thyself to Christ? for if thou art always going to be scared away by thy stumblings, thou wilt never cease from stumbling (for who can understand his errors? as saith the holy Psalmist) and wilt be found wholly without participation of that wholly-preserving sanctification. Decide then to lead a holier life, in harmony with the law, and so receive the Blessing, believing that it hath power to expel, not death only, but the diseases in us. For Christ thus coming to be in us lulleth the law which rageth in the members of the flesh, and kindleth piety to God-ward, and deadeneth our passions, not imputing to us the transgressions in which we are, but rather, healing us, as sick. For He bindeth up that which was crushed, He raiseth what had fallen, as a Good Shepherd and One that hath laid down His Life for His sheep.

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