1 After this Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee, which is that of Tiberias. 2 And a great multitude followed him because they saw the miracles he worked on those who were sick. 3 Jesus therefore went up a mountain, and there sat down with his disciples. 4 Now the Passover was near, a festival day of the Jews. 5 Then, when Jesus lifted his eyes and saw that a great multitude had come to him, he said to Philip,
“Where shall we buy bread that these may eat?”
6 He said this, however, to test him, for he knew what he would do. 7 Philip replied, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not suffice for each to have a little bit.” 8 One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him, 9 “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fishes, but what are these for so many?” 10 Jesus then said,
“Make the people recline.”
There was much grass in the place. Therefore the men reclined, in number about five thousand. 11 Jesus then took the bread, and when he had given thanks, he distributed it to those reclining; he did likewise with the fish, as much as they wanted. 12 When they had their fill, he said to his disciples,
“Gather up the fragments that are left over, lest they be wasted.”
13 They therefore gathered and filled twelve baskets with the leftovers, from the five barley loaves and the two fishes, that remained after all had eaten.
838 The Evangelist has presented the teaching of Christ on the spiritual life, by which he gives life to those who are born again. He now tells us of the spiritual food by which Christ sustains those to whom he has given life. First, he describes a visible miracle, in which Christ furnished bodily food. Secondly, he considers spiritual food (6:26). He does two things about the first. First, he describes the visible miracle. Secondly, he shows the effect this miracle had (6:14). He tells us two things about this miracle. First, its circumstances, secondly, about its actual accomplishment (v 5). As to the first he does three things. First he describes the crowd that Jesus fed, secondly, the place; thirdly, the time (v 4). As to the first he does three things. First, he identifies the place where the crowd followed Jesus; secondly, the people who followed him; and thirdly, he tells why they followed him.
839 The Evangelist describes the place to which the crowd followed our Lord when he says, After this Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee, i.e., after the mysterious words Jesus had spoken concerning his power. This Sea of Galilee is mentioned frequently in various places in Scripture. Luke calls it a lake (Lk 5:1) because its water is not salty, but was formed from the waters flowing in from the Jordan. Yet it is still called a “Sea,” because in Hebrew all bodies of water are called “seas”: “God called the waters ‘seas’” (Gn 1:10). It is also called Gennesaret because of the character of its location: for this water is tossed about a great deal, being buffeted by the winds that come from the vapors rising from its surface. Thus in Greek the word “Gennesaret” means “wind forming.” It is called the Sea of Galilee from the province of Galilee in which it is located. Again, it is called the Sea of Tiberias from the city of Tiberias: this city was situated on one side of the sea, facing Capernaum on the opposite side. The city of Tiberias was formerly called Chinnereth, but later, when it was rebuilt by Herod the Tetrarch, it was renamed as Tiberias in honor of Tiberius Caesar.
840 The literal reason why Jesus crossed the sea is given by Chrysostom: to give ground to the anger and agitation which the Jews felt against Christ because of the things he had said about them. As Chrysostom says: just as darts strike a hard object with great force if they meet it, but pass on and soon come to rest if nothing is in their way, so also the anger of defiant men increases when they are resisted, but if we yield a little, it is easy to keep their fury within bounds. So Christ, by going to the other side of the sea, was able to soften the anger of the Jews, caused by what he had said. He thus gives us an example to act in the same way: “Do not be provoked by one who speaks evil of you” (Sir 8:14).
841 In the mystical sense, the sea signifies this present troubled world: “This great sea, stretching wide” (Ps 103:25). Our Lord crossed over this sea when he assumed the sea of punishment and death by being born, trod it under foot by dying, and then crossing over it by his rising, arrived at the glory of his resurrection. We read of this crossing: “Jesus knew that his time had come to leave this world for the Father” (below 13:1). A great crowd, composed of both peoples, has followed him in this crossing, by believing in him and imitating him: “Your heart will be full of wonder and joy, when the riches of the sea will be given to you” (Is 60:5); “Rise up, O Lord, you who demand that justice be done; and the people will gather round you” (Ps 7:7).
842 The crowd that followed him is described as large, And a great multitude followed him.
843 The reason why they followed him is because he was performing miracles, hence he says, because they saw the miracles he worked on those who were sick. We should point out that some followed Christ because of his teachings, that is, those who were better disposed. But there were others, i.e., those who were less perfect and less perceptive, who followed him because they were attracted by visible miracles; “Signs were given to unbelievers, not to believers” (1 Cor 14:22). Still others followed him out of devotion and faith, those, namely, whom he had cured of some bodily defect: for our Lord had so healed their body that they were also completely healed in soul: “The works of God are perfect” (Dt 32:4). This is clear, because he expressly said to the paralytic, “Do not sin again” (above 5:14), and in Matthew (9:2) he says, “Son, your sins are forgiven”; and these remarks concern the health of the soul rather than that of the body.
844 We might remark that although the Evangelist had mentioned only three miracles (the one at the marriage reception, the son of the official, and the paralytic), he says here in a general way, the miracles he worked. He does this to indicate that Christ worked many other miracles that are not mentioned in this book, as he will say below (21:25). For his main object was to present the teaching of Christ.
845 Then he gives the location of the miracle, on a mountain; hence he says: Jesus therefore went up a mountain, i.e., privately, and there sat down with his disciples. Now a mountain is a place well suited for refreshment, for according to the Psalm a mountain signifies the perfection of justice: “Your justice is like the mountains of God” (Ps 35:7). And so, because we cannot be satisfied by earthly things—indeed, “Whoever drinks this water will be thirsty again” (above 4:13)—but spiritual things will satisfy us, our Lord leads his disciples to a higher place to show that full satisfaction and the perfection of justice are found in spiritual realities. We read of this mountain: “The mountain of God is a rich mountain” (Ps 67:16). Thus he also exercised his office of teacher there, sitting with his disciples; for he is the one who teaches every man.
846 The time is mentioned when he says, Now the Passover was near. This time was also well suited for their refreshment, for “Passover” means “passage”: “It is the Passover of the Lord, that is, his passage” (Ex 12:11). We understand from this that anyone who desires to be refreshed by the bread of the divine Word and by the body and blood of’ the Lord, must pass from vices to virtues: “Our Passover, Christ, has been sacrificed, and so let us feast with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Cor 5:7). And again, divine Wisdom says: “Pass over to me, all who desire me” (Sir 24-26).
This is the second Passover the Evangelist has mentioned. However, our Lord did not go to Jerusalem this time, as the law commanded. The reason for this being that Christ was both God and man: as man he was subject to the law, but as God he was above the law. So, he observed the law on certain occasions to show that he was a man, but he also disregarded the law at other times to show that he was God. Further, by not going he indicated that the ceremonies of the law would end gradually and in a short time.
847 Then he considers the miracle itself (v 5). First, why it was needed. Secondly, its accomplishment. We can see the need for this miracle from our Lord’s question to his disciple, and the disciple’s answer. First, our Lord’s question is given; and then the answer of his disciple (v 7). He does three things about the first. First, the occasion for the question is given; secondly, we have the-question itself (v 5b); thirdly, we are told why Christ asked this question (v 6).
848 The occasion for Christ’s question was his sight of the crowd coming to him. Hence he says, Then, when Jesus, on the mountain with his disciples, i.e., with those who were more perfect, lifted his eyes and saw that a great multitude had come to him. Here we should note two things about Christ. First, his maturity: for he is not distracted by what does not concern him, but is appropriately concerned with his disciples. He is not like those spoken of in Proverbs (30:13): “A generation whose eyes are proud.” And, “A man’s dress, and laughter, and his walk, show what he is” (Sir 19:27). Secondly, we should note that Christ did not sit there with his disciples out of laziness; he was looking right at them, teaching them carefully and attracting their hearts to himself: “Then he lifted his eyes to his disciples” (Lk 6:20). Thus we read: Then, when Jesus lifted his eyes. In the mystical sense, our Lord’s eyes are his spiritual gifts; and he lifts his eyes on the elect, i.e., looks at them with compassion, when he mercifully grants these gifts to them: This is what the Psalm asks for: “Look upon me, O Lord, and have mercy on me” (Ps 85:16).
849 Our Lord’s question concerns the feeding of the crowd; so he said to Philip: Where shall we buy bread that these may eat? He assumes one thing and asks about another. He assumes their poverty, because they did not have food to offer this great crowd; and he asks how they might obtain it, saying, Where shall we buy bread that these may eat?
Here we should note that every teacher is obliged to possess the means of feeding spiritually the people who come to him. And since no man possesses of himself the resources to feed them, he must acquire them elsewhere by his labor, study, and persistent p rayer: “Hurry, you who have no money, and acquire without cost wine and milk” (Is 55:1). And there follows: “Why do you spend your money,” i.e., your eloquence, “for what is not bread,” i.e., not the true wisdom which refreshes—“Wisdom will feed him with the bread of life and understanding” (Si 15:5)—“and why do you work for what does not satisfy you,” i.e., by learning things that drain you instead of filling you?
850 Our Lord’s intention is given when he says, He said this, however, to test him. Here the Evangelist raises one difficutly in answering another. For we could wonder,why our Lord asked Philip what to do, as though our Lord himself did not know. The Evangelist settles this when he says, for he knew what he would do. But it seems that the Evangelist raises another difficulty when he says, to test him. For to test is to try out; and this seems to imply ignorance.
I answer that one can test another in various ways in order to try him out. One man tests another in order to learn; the devil tests a man in order to ensnare him: “Your enemy, the devil, as a roaring lion, goes about seeking whom he can devour” (1 Pt 5:8). But Christ (and God) does not test us in order to learn, because he sees into our hearts; nor in order to ensnare us, for as we read in James (1:13): “God does not test [i.e., tempt] anyone.” But he does test us that others might learn something from the one tested. This is the way God tested Abraham: “God tested Abraham” (Gn 22:1); and then it says (v 12): “Now I know that you fear God,” i.e., I have made it known that you fear the Lord. He tests Philip in the same way: so that those who hear his answer might be very certain about the miracle to come.
851 Now we have the answer of the disciples. First, the answer of Philip; then that of Andrew (v 8).
852 With respect to the first, note that Philip was slower in learning than the others, and so he asks our Lord more questions: “Lord, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us” (below 14:8). Here, according to the literal sense, Andrew is better disposed than Philip, for Philip does not seem to have any understanding or anticipation of the corning miracle. And so he suggests that money is the way by which they could feed all the people, saying: Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not suffice for each to have a little bit. And since we do not have that much, we cannot feed them. Here we see the poverty of Christ, for he did not even have two hundred denarii.
853 Andrew, however, seems to sense that a miracle is going to take place. Perhaps he recalled the miracle performed by Elisha with the barley loaves, when he fed a hundred men with twenty loaves (2 Kgs 4:42). And so he says, There is a boy here who has five barley loaves. Still, he did not suspect that Christ was going to perform a greater miracle than Elisha: for he thought that fewer loaves would be miraculously produced from fewer, and more from a larger number. But in truth, he who does not need any material to work with could feed a crowd as easily with few or many loaves. So Andrew continues: but what are these for so many? As if to say: Even if you increased them in the measure that Elisha did, it still would not be enough.
854 In the mystical sense, widsom is a symbol for spiritual refreshment. One kind of wisdom was taught by Christ, the true wisdom: “Christ is the power of God, and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor 1:24). Before Christ came, there were two other teachings or doctrines: one was the human teachings of the philosophers; the other was the teachings found in the written law. Philip mentions the first of these when he speaks of buying: Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not suffice, for human wisdom must be acquired. Now the number one hundred implies perfection. Thus two hundred suggests the twofold perfection necessary for this wisdom: for there Ire two ways one arrives at the perfection of human wisdom, by experience and by contemplation. So he says, Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not suffice, because no matter what human reason can experience and contemplate of the truth, it is not enough to completely satisfy our desire for wisdom: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, nor the strong man in his strength, nor the rich man in his riches. But let him who glories glory in this: that he knows and understands me” (Jer 9:23). For the wisdom of no philosopher has been so great that it could keep men from error; rather, the philosophers have led many into error.
It is Andrew who mentions the second kind of teaching [thai of the law] . He does not want to buy other bread, but to feed the crowd with the loaves of bread they had, that is, those contained in the law. And so he was better disposed than Philip. So he says: There is a boy here who has five barley loaves. This boy can symbolize Moses, because of the imperfection found in the state of the law: “The law brought nothing to perfection” (Heb 7:19); or the Jewish people, who were serving under the elements of this world (Gal 4:3).
This boy had five loaves, that is, the teaching of the law: either because this teaching was contained in the five books of Moses, “The law was given through Moses” (above 1:17); or because it was given to men absorbed in sensible things, which are made known through the five senses. These loaves were of barley because the law was given in such a way that what was life-giving in it was concealed under physical signs: for the kernel in barley is covered with a very firm husk. Or, the loaves were of barley because the Jewish people had not yet been rubbed free of carnal desire, but it still covered their hearts like a husk: for in the Old Testament they outwardly experienced hardships because of their ceremonial observances: “A yoke, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear” (Acts 15:10). Further, the Jews were engrossed in material things and did not understand the spiritual meaning of the law: “A veil is over their hearts” (2 Cor 3:15).
The two fishes, which gave a pleasant flavor to the bread, indicate the teachings of the Psalms and the prophets. Thus the old law not only had five loaves, i.e., the five books of Moses, but also two fishes, that is, the Psalms and the prophets. So the Old Testament writings are divided into these three: “The things written about me in the law of Moses, and in the prophets and in the Psalms” (Lk 24:44). Or, according to Augustine, the two fishes signify the priests and kings who ruled the Jews; and they prefigured Christ, who was the true king and priest.
But what are these for so many? for they could not bring man to a complete knowledge of the truth: for although God was known in Judea, the Gentiles did not know him.
855 Next (v 10), the miracle is presented. First, we see the people arranged; secondly, the miracle itself; and thirdly, the gathering of the leftovers. He does two things about the first. First, he shows Christ directing the disciples to have the people recline; secondly, why this was appropriate; and thirdly, he tells us the number of people present.
856 Our Lord told his disciples to arrange the people so that they could eat; thus Jesus says, Make the people recline, i.e, to eat. For as mentioned before, in former times people took their meals lying on couches; consequently, it was the custom to say of those who sat down to eat that they were reclining. In the mystical sense, this indicates that rest which is necessary for the perfection of wisdom. Again, the people are prepared by the disciples because it is through the disciples that the knowledge of the truth has come to us: “Let the mountains receive peace for the people” (Ps 71:3).
857 The character of the place shows why it was convenient that they recline, for There was much grass in the place. This is the literal meaning. In the mystical sense, grass indicates the flesh: “All flesh is grass” (Is 40:6). In this sense it can refer to two things. First, to the teachings of the Old Testament, which were given to a people resting in things of the flesh and wise according to the flesh: “If you are willing, and listen to me, you will eat the good things of the land” (Is 1:19); “The posterity of Jacob dwells in a land of grain, wine and oil” (Dt 33:28). Or, it can refer to one who perceives true wisdom, which cannot be attained without first abandoning the things of the flesh: “Do not imitate this world” (Rom 12:2).
858 There was a. great number of people; thus he says, the men reclined, in number about five thousand. The Evangelist counted only the men, according to the custom in the law, for as mentioned in Numbers (1:3), Moses counted the people who were twenty years and older, without including the women. The Evangelist does the same, because only men can be completely instructed: “We speak wisdom to those who are mature” (1 Cor 2:6); “Solid food is for the mature” (Heb 5:14).
859 Then (v 11), the Evangelist presents the feeding of the crowd. First, we see the attitude of Christ; secondly, the food used; thirldy, that the people were satisfied. As to the attitude of Jesus, both his humility and his giving of thanks are mentioned.
860 We see his humility because he took the bread and gave it to the people. Now although in this miracle Christ could have fed the people with bread created from nothing, he chose to do so by multiplying bread that already existed. He did this, first, to show that sensible things do not come from the devil, as the Manichean error maintains. For if this were so, our Lord would not have used sensible things to praise God, especially since “The Son of God appeared to destroy the works of the devil” (1 Jn 3:8). He did it, secondly, to show that they are also wrong in claiming that the teachings of the Old Testament are not from God but from the devil. Thus, to show that the doctrine of the New Testament is none other than that which was prefigured and contained in the teachings of the Old Testament, he multiplied bread that already existed, implying by this that he is the one who fulfills the law and brings it to perfection: “I have not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill it,” as we read in Matthew (5:17).
861 We see that he gave thanks, when he had given thanks. He did this to show that whatever he had, he had from another, that is, from his Father. This is an example for us to do the same. More particularly, he gave thanks to teach us that we should thank God when we begin a meal: “Nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving” (1 Tim 4:4); “The poor will eat and be satisfied; and they will praise the Lord” (Ps 21:27). Again, he gave thanks to teach us that he was not praying for himself, but for the people who were there, for he had to convince them that he had come from God. Accordingly, he prays before he works this miracle before them, in order to show them that he is not acting against God, but according to God’s will.
We read in Mark (6:41) that Christ had the apostles distribute the bread to the people. It says here that he distributed it because in a way he himself does what he does by means of others. In the mystical sense, both statements are true: for Christ alone refreshes from within, and others, as his ministers, refresh from without.
862 Their food was bread and fish, about which enough has been said above.
Finally, those who ate were completely satisfied, because they took as much as they wanted. For Christ is the only one who feeds an empty soul and fills a hungry soul with good things: “I will be satisfied when your glory appears” (Ps 16:15). Others perform miracles through having grace in a partial manner; Christ, on the other hand, does so with unlimited power, since he does all things superabundantly. Hence it says that the people had their fill.
863 Now we see the leftovers collected (v 12). First, Christ gives the order; secondly, his disciples obey.
864 The Evangelist says that after the people had eaten their fill, Christ said to his disciples: Gather up the fragments that are left over. This was not pretentious display on our Lord’s part; he did it to show that the miracle he accomplished was not imaginary, since the collected leftovers kept for some time and provided food for others. Again, he wanted to impress this miracle more firmly on the hearts of his disciples, whom he had carry the leftovers: for most of all he wanted to teach his disciples, who were destined to be the teachers of the entire world.
865 His disciples obeyed him faithfully; hence he says, They therefore gathered and filled twelve baskets with the leftovers. Here we should note that the amount of food that remained was not left to chance, but was according to plan: for as much as Christ willed was left over, no more and no less. This is shown by the fact that the basket of each apostle was filled. Now a basket is reserved for the work of peasants. Therefore, the twelve baskets signify the twelve apostles and those who imitate them, who, although they are looked down upon in this present life, are nevertheless filled with the riches of spiritual sacraments. There are twelve because they were to preach the faith of the Holy Trinity to the four parts of the world.
14 Now when these people saw that Jesus had worked a miracle, they said: “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.” 15 So Jesus, knowing that they would come to seize him and make him king, fled again into the mountains, alone. 16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea. 17 After they got into the boat, they set out across the sea to Capernaum. It was already dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. 18 The sea became rough, agitated by a great wind. 19 After they had rowed twenty-five or thirty stadia [three or four miles] , they saw Jesus walking on the water, coming toward the boat, and they were afraid. 20 But he said to them:
“It is I. Do not be afraid.”
21 They then wanted to take him into the boat; and suddenly the boat was on the land toward which they were going.
866 Above, the Evangelist told us of the miracle of the loaves and fishes. Now he shows the threefold effect this miracle had on the people. First, its effect on their faith; secondly, on their plans to honor Jesus; thirdly, how it led them (and the disciples) to search for Jesus.
867 With respect to the first, we should note that the Jews said in the Psalm: “We have not seen our signs; there is now no prophet” (Ps 73:9). For it was customary in earlier days for the prophets to work omany signs; so, when these signs were absent, prophecy se emed to have ended. But when the Jews.see such signs, they believe that prophecy is returning. Accordingly, the people were so impressed by this miracle they just saw that they called our Lord a prophet. Thus we read, Now when these people, who had been filled with the five loaves, saw that Jesus had worked a miracle, they said: This is truly the Prophet. However, they did not yet have perfect faith, for they believed that Jesus was only a prophet, while he was also the Lord of the prophets. Yet, they were not entirely wrong, because our Lord called himself a prophet.
868 Here we should remark that a prophet is called a seer: “He who is now called a prophet was formerly called a seer” (I Sm 9:9). Further, seeing pertains to the cognitive power. Now in Christ there were three kinds of knowledge. First of all, there was sense knowledge. And in this respect he had some similarity to the prophets, insofar as sensible species could be formed in the imagination of Christ to present future or hidden events. This was especially due to his passibility, which was appropriate to his state as a “wayfarer.” Secondly, Christ had intellectual knowledge; and in this he was not like the prophets, but was even superior to all the angels: for he was a “comprehensor” in a more excellent way than any creature. Again, Christ had divine knowledge, and in this way he was the one who inspired the prophets and the angels, since all knowledge is caused by a participation in the divine Word.
Still, these people seemed to realize that Christ was a superior prophet, for they said: This is truly the Prophet. For although there had been many prophets among the Jews, they were waiting for a particular one, according to: “The Lord your God will raise up a prophet for you” (Dt 18:15). This is the one they are speaking of here; thus it continues: who is to come into the world.
869 Next, we see the second effect of Christ’s miracle: the honor the people planned for Christ, which he refused. First, we have the attempt by the people; secondly, Christ’s flight from them.
870 The attempt of the people is mentioned when he says, they would come to seize him and make him king. A person or thing is seized if it is taken in a way that one does not will or is not opportune. Now it is true that God’s plan from all eternity had been to establish the kingdom of Christ; but the time for this was not then opportune. Christ had come then, but not to reign in the way we ask for his reign when we say, “Your kingdom come” (Mt 6:10); at that time he will reign even as man. Another time was reserved for this: after the judgment of Christ, when the saints will appear in glory. It was about this kingdom the disciples asked when they said: “Lord, will you restore the kingdom to Israel at this time?” (Acts 1:6).
So the people, thinking he had come to reign, wanted to make hirn their king. The reason for this is that men often want as their ruler someone who will provide them with temporal things. Thus, because our Lord had fed them, they were willing to make him their king: “You have a mantle, be our ruler” (Is 3:6). Chrysostom says: “See the power of gluttony. They are no longer concerned about his breaking the Sabbath; they are no longer zealous for God. All these things are set in the background now that their bellies are full. Now he is regarded as a prophet among them, and they want to set him on the royal throne as their king.”
87 1 We see Christ’s flight when he says that he fled again into the mountains, alone. We can see frorn this that when our Lord had first seen the crowd of people he came down from the mountain and fed them in the valley, for we would not read that he went again into the mountains if he had not come down from them.
Why did Christ flee from the people, since he really is a king? There are three reasons for this. First, because it would have detracted from his dignity to have accepted a kingdom from men: for he is so great a king that all other kings are kings by participating in his kingship: “It is by me that kings rule” (Prv 8:15). Another reason is that it would have been hanuful to his teaching if he had accepted this dignity and support from men; for he had worked and taught in such a way that everything was attributed to divine power and not to the influence of men: “Praise from men I do not need” (above 5:41). The third reason was to teach us to despise the dignities of this world: “I have given you an example that as I have done to you, so you should do also” (below 13:15); “Do not seek dignity from men” (Sir 7:4). And so, he refused the glory of this world, but still endured its punishment of his own will: “Jesus endured the cross, despising the shame, for the joy set before him” (Heb 12:2).
872 Matthew seems to conflict with this, for he says that “Jesus went up the mountain alone, to pray” (Mt 14:23). However, in the opinion of Augustine, there is no conflict here, because he had reason both to flee and to pray. For our Lord is teaching us that when a reason for flight draws near, there is great reason to pray.
In the mystical sense, Christ went up into the mountain when the people he had fed were ready to subject themselves to him, because he went up into heaven when the people were ready to subject themselves to the truth of the faith, according to: “A congregation of people will surround you. Return above for their sakes,” i.e., return on high so a congregatation of people may surround you (Ps 7:8).
He says that Christ fled, to indicate that the people could not understand his grandeur: for if we do not understand something, we say that it flees or eludes us.
873 Now he considers the third effect of Christ’s miracle, the search for Christ. First, by his disciples; secondly, by the people. As to the first, he does two things. First, he tells of the eagerness of the disciples; and secondly, enlarges upon this (v l7b). He does two things about the first. First, he tells that they went down to the shore. Secondly, he tells of their journey across the sea (v 17).
874 Note, about the first, that Christ went up into the mountain without the knowledge of his disciples. So, they waited there until evening came, for they expected that he would come back to them. But their love was so great that when evening came they just had to go looking for him. Thus he says, When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, looking for Jesus.
In the mystical sense, “evening” signifies our Lord’s passion or his ascension. For as long as the disciples enjoyed Christ’s physical presence, no trouble disturbed them and no bitterness vexed them: “Can the friends of the groom mourn as long as the groom is with them?” (Mt 9:15). But when Christ was away, then they “went down to the sea,” to the troubles of this world: “This great sea, stretching wide” (Ps 103:25).
875 He adds that they crossed, saying, After they got into the boat, they set out across the sea to Capernaum, for the love that burned within them could not endure our Lord’s absence for very long.
876 Now (17b), he enlarges upon what he had already said in summary fashion. First, on their going down to the sea; secondly, on their crossing (v 18).
877 As to the first, he says, It was already dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The Evangelist does not tell us this without a reason, for it shows the intensity of their love, since not even night or evening could stop them.
In the mystical sense, the “dark” signifies the absence of love; for light is love, according to: “He who loves his brother dwells in the light” (1 Jn 2:10). Accordingly, there is darkness in us when Jesus, “the true light” (above 1:9) does not come to us, because his presence repells all darkness.
Jesus left his disciples alone for this length of time so that they might experience his absence; and they did indeed experience it during the storm at sea: “Know and realize, that it is evil and bitter for you to have left the Lord” (Jer 2:19). He left them, in the second place, so that they might look for him more earnestly: “Where has your beloved gone, most beautiful of women? We will search for him with you” (Sg 5:17).
878 As for their crossing, first we see the storm at sea; then Christ coming to them, and the time; and thirdly, the effect this had.
879 The storm was caused by a rising wind; thus he says: The sea became rough, agitated by a great wind. This wind is a symbol for the trials and persecutions which would afflict the Church due to a lack of love. For as Augustine says, when love grows cold, the waves of the sea begin to swell and danger threatens the boat. Still, these winds and the storm, with its waves and darkness, did not stop (lie progress of’ the boat or so batter it that it broke apart: “He who perseveres to the end will be saved” (Mt 24:13); and again: “And the rains fell. and the floods came, and the house did not collapse,” as we read in Mattliew (7:25).
880 Christ did not appear to them when the storm first began, but only some time later; thus he says, After they had rowed twentyfive or thirty stadia, they saw Jesus. We see from this that our Lord allows us to be troubled for a while so our virtue may be tested; but he does not desert us in the end, but comes very close to us: “God is faithful, and will not allow you to be tested beyond your strength” (1 Cor 10:13).
According to Augustine, the twenty-five stadia they rowed are the five books of Moses. For twenty-five is the square of five, since five times five is twenty-five. But a number that is multiplied in this way keeps the meaning of its root. Thus, just as five signifies the old law, so twenty-five signifies the perfection of the New Testament. Thirty, however, signifies that perfection of the New Testament which was lacking in the law: for thirty is the result of multiplying five by six, which is a perfect number. So, Jesus comes to those who row twenty-five or thirty stadia, i.e., to those who fulfill the law or the perfection taught by the Gospel; and he comes treading under foot all the waves of pride and the dignities of this present world: “You rule the might of the sea and calm its waves” (Ps 88:10). And then we will see Christ near our boat, because divine help is close: “The Lord is near to all who fear him” (Ps 144:18). Thus it is clear that Christ is near to all those who seek him rightly. Now the Apostles loved Christ very keenly: this is obvious because they tried to go to him despite the darkness, the stormy sea, and the distance to shore. Consequently, Christ was with them.
881 Now we see the effect of Christ’s appearance. First, the interior effect; secondly, the exterior effect (v 2 1 b).
882 The interior effect of Christ’s appearance was fear; and he mentions the fear of the disciples at the sudden appearance of Christ when he says, and they were afraid. This was a good fear, because it was the effect of humility: “Do not be proud; rather fear” (Rom 11:20); or it was an evil fear, because “they thought it was a ghost” (Mk 6:49); “They trembled with fear” (Ps 13:5): for fear is especially appropriate to the carnal, because they are afraid of spiritual things.
Secondly, we see Christ encouraging them against two dangers. First, they are encouraged against the danger to the faith in their intellect when he says, It is 1, to eliminate their doubts: “Look at my hands and my feet! It is really me” (Lk 24:39). Secondly, Christ encourages them against the danger of fear in their emotions, saying, Do not be afraid: “Do not be afraid when they are present” (Jer 1:8); “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom sliall I fear” (Ps 26:1 ).
Thirdly, we see the reaction of the disciples, for They then wanted to take him into the boat. This signifies that we receive Christ by love and contemplation after servile fear has been taken out of our hearts: “I stand at the door and knock. If any one opens it for me, I will enter” (Rv 3:20).
883 There were two exterior effects: the storm abated, and their boat suddenly landed, although it had just been at a distance from the shore, for our Lord gave them a calm journey, without danger. He himself did not enter the boat because he wished to accomplish a greater miracle. So here we have three miracles: the walking on the sea, the quick calming of the storm, and the sudden arrival of the boat on the land although it had been far away. We learn from this that the faithful, in whom Christ is present, put down the swelling pride of this world, tread under their feet its waves of tribulation, and cross quickly to the land of the living: “Your good spirit will lead me to land” (Ps 142:10).
884 There are a number of difficulties here. The first concerns the literal sense: Matthew (14:22) seems to conflict with our present account for he says that the disciples were told by Christ to go the shore, while here it says the disciples went there to search for him. Another difficulty is that Matthew (14:34) says that the disciples crossed over to Gennesaret, while we read here that they came to Capernaum. The third difficulty is that Matthew (14:32) says that Christ got into the boat, but here he did not.
Chrysostom settles these difficulties quite briefly by saying that the two accounts do not deal with the same miracle. For, as he says, Christ frequently miraculously walked upon the sea in front of his disciples, but not for the people, lest they think he did not have a real body. But, according to Augustine, and this is the better opinion, John and Matthew are describing the same miracle. Augustine answers the first difficulty by saying it makes no difference that Matthew says the disciples went down to the shore because our Lord told them to. For it is possible that our Lord did so, and they went believing that he would sail with them. And that is why they waited until night, and when Christ did not come, they crossed by themselves.
There are two answers to the second difficulty. One is that Capernaum and Gennesaret are neighboring towns on the same shore. And perhaps the disciples landed at a place near both, so that Matthew mentions one and John the other. Or, it might be said that Matthew does not say that they came to Gennesaret immediately, they could have come first to Capernaurn and then to Gennesaret. [The answer to the third difficulty is not given.]
22 On the next day, the crowd that stood on the other side of the sea saw that there was no second boat there, but only one, and that Jesus had not gone into the boat, but only his disciples had gone. 23 But other boats arrived from Tiberias, near the place where they had eaten the bread, after having given thanks to God. 24 When therefore the people saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they got into the boats and set off for Capernaum, looking for Jesus. 25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said: “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus replied and said:
“Amen, amen, I say to you: you seek me not because you have seen miracles, but because you have eaten of the bread and have been filled. 27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for that which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you, for on him has God the Father set his seal.”
28 Then they said to him: “What must we do that we may perform the works of God?” 29 Jesus replied and said to them:
“This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he sent.”
30 They then said to him: “What sign then are you going to give that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? 31 Our fathers ate ffianna in the desert, as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”
885 After having described how the disciples searched for Christ, the Evangelist now shows the people looking for him. First, he states their motive; secondly, the occasion; and thirdly, the search itself (v 24).
886 The crowd of people was looking for Christ because of the miracle mentioned above, that is, because he had crossed the sea without using any boat. They realized this because the other evening he had not been on the shore near where he had performed the miracle of the bread, and where there had been only one boat which had left for the opposite shore with the disciples, but without Christ. So that morning, when they could not find Christ on this side, since he was already on the other side although there was no other boat he could have used, they suspected that he had crossed by walking upon the sea. And this is what he says: On the next day, following the one on which he had worked the miracle of the bread, the crowd that stood on the other side of the sea, where he had performed this miracle, saw that there was no second boat there, but only one, because the day before that was the only one there, and they had seen that Jesus had not gone into the boat, but only his disciples had gone. This one ship signifies the Church, which is one by its unity of faith and sacraments: “One faith, one baptism” (Eph 4:5). Again, our Lord’s absence from his disciples signifies his physical absence from them at the ascension: “After the Lord Jesus spoke to them, he was taken up into heaven” (Mk 16:19).
887 It was the arrival of other boats from the opposite side of the sea that gave the people the opportunity to look for Christ; they could cross on these and search for him. He says: But other boats arrived, from the other side, that is, from Tiberias, near the place where they had eaten the bread, after having given thanks to God.
These other boats signify the various sects of heretics and of those who seek their own profit, and not the good of Jesus Christ: “You seek me ... because you have eaten of the bread and have been filled” (v 26). These groups are either separated in faith, as are the heretics, or in the love of charity, as are the carnal, who are not properly in the Church, but next to it, insofar as they have a feigned faith and the appearance of holiness: “They have the appearance of devotion, but deny its power” (2 Tim 3:5); “Do not be surprised if the ministers of Satan disguise themselves” (2 Cor 11:14).
888 The people were eager to find Christ. First, he shows how they looked for him; secondly, how they questioned him after they found him (v 25).
889 He says, When the people saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they got into the boats, which had come from Tiberias, looking for Jesus; and this is praiseworthy: “Search for the Lord while he can be found” (Is 55:6); “Seek the Lord, and your soul will have life” (Ps 68:33).
890 Once they found him, they questioned him. When they, the people, found him, Christ, on the other side of the sea, they asked him: Rabbi, when did you come here? This can be understood in two ways. In the first way, they were asking about the time only. And then, Chrysostom says, they should be rebuked for their rudeness, because, after such a miracle, they did not ask how he crossed without a boat, but only when he did so. Or, it can be said that by asking when, they wanted to know not just the time, but the other circumstances connected with this miraculous crossing.
891 Note that now, after they have found Christ, they do not wish do make him their king, while before, after he had fed them, they did. They wanted to make him their king then because they were emotionally excited with the joy of their meal; but such emotions quickly pass. So it is that things that we plan according to our emotions do not last; but matters that we arrange by our reason last longer: “A wise man continues on in his wisdom like the sun; a fool changes like the moon” (Sir 27:12); “The work of the wicked will not last” (Prv 11:18)
892 Then (v 26), our Lord begins to mention a food that is spiritual. First, he states a truth about this spiritual food. In the second place, he clears up a misunderstanding (6:41). As to the first he does three things. First, he presents a truth about this spiritual food; secondly, he mentions its origin; and thirdly, he tells 4hem how this spiritual food is to be acquired (6:34). He does two things about the first. First, he explains this spiritual food and its power; in the second place, he tells what this food is (v 28). As to the first, he does two things. First, he rebukes them for their disordered desires; in the second place, he urges them to accept the truth (v 27).
893 He says, Amen, amen, I say to you, that although you seem to be devout, you seek me not because you have seen miracles, but because you have eaten of the bread and have been filled. As if to say: You seek me, not for the sake of the spirit, but for the sake of the flesh, because you hope for more food. As Augustine says, these people represent those who seek Jesus not for himself, but in order to gain certain worldly advantages: as those engaged in some business call on clerics and prelates, not for the sake of Christ, but so that through their intervention they might be advanced into the ranks of those who are important; and like those who hurry to the churches, not for Christ, but because they have been urged to do so by those who are more powerful; and like those who approach our Lord for sacred orders not because they desire the merits of the virtues, but because they are looking for the satisfactions of this present life, as wealth and praise, as Gregory says in his Moralia. This is obvious: for to perform miracles is a work of divine power, but to eat loaves of bread which have been multiplied is temporal. Accordingly, those who do not come to Christ because of the power they see in him, but because they eat his bread, are not serving Christ but their own stomachs, as we see from Philippians (3:19); and again, “He will praise you when you are good to him,” as we read in the Psalm (48:19).
894 He leads them back to the truth by calling their attention to spiritual food, saying, Do not work for the food that perishes, but for that which endures to eternal life. First, he mentions its power; secondly, that it comes from him, which the Son of Man will give you.
895 The power of this food is seen in the fact that it does not perish. In this respect we should point out that material things are likenesses of spiritual things, since they are caused and produced by them; and consequently they resemble spiritual things in some way. Now just as the body is sustained by food, so that which sustains the spirit is called its food, whatever it might be. The food that sustains the body is perishable, since it is converted into the nature of the body; but the food that sustains the spirit is not perishable, because it is not converted into the spirit; rather, the spirit is converted into its food. Hence Augustine says in his Confessions: “I am the food of the great; grow and you will eat me. But you will not change me into yourself, as you do bodily food, but you will be changed into me.”
So our Lord says: work, i.e., seek by your work, or merit by your works, not for the food that perishes, i.e., bodily food: “Food is for the stomach, and the stomach for food, but God will destroy both” (1 Cor 6:13), because we will not always need food; but work for that which, that is, the spiritual food, endures to eternal life. This food is God himself, insofar as he is the Truth which is to be contemplated and the Goodness which is to be loved, which nourish the spirit: “Eat my bread” (Prv 9:5); “Wisdom will feed him with the bread of life and understanding” (Sir 15:5). Again, this food is the obedience to the divine commands: “My food is to do the will of him who sent me” (above 4:34). Also, it is Christ himself: “I am the bread of life” (6:35); “My flesh truly is food and my blood truly is drink” (6:56): and this is so insofar as the flesh of Christ is joined to the Word of God, which is the food by which the angels live. The difference between bodily and spiritual food which he gives here, is like the one he gave before between bodily and spiritual drink: “Whoever drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water that I give, will never be thirsty again” (4:13). The reason for this is that bodily things are perishable, while spiritual things, and especially God, are eternal.
896 We should note that according to Augustine, in his work, On the Labor of Monks, that certain monks misunderstood our Lord’s saying, Do not work for the food that perishes, and claimed that spiritual men should not perform physical work. But this interpretation is false because Paul, who was most spiritual, worked with his hands: as we read in Ephesians, there he says (4:28): “Let him who stole, steal no longer, rather let him work with his hands.” The correct interpretation, therefore, is that we should direct our work, i.e., our main interest and intention, to seeking the food that leads to eternal life, that is, spiritual goods. In regard to temporal goods, they should not be our principal aim but a subordinate one, that is, they are to be acquired only because of our mortal body, which has to be nourished as long as we are living this present life. So the Apostle speaks against this opinion, saying: “If any one will not work, neither let him eat” (2 Thes 3:10); as if to say: those who maintain that physical work is not to be done should not eat, since eating is physical.
897 Next (v 27), he mentions the one who gives this spiritual food. First, we see the author of this food; secondly, the source of his authority to give us this food. Christ is the author of this spiritual food, and the one who gives it to us. Thus he says, which, that is, the food that does not perish, the Son of Man will give you. If he had said, “the Son of God,” it would not have been unexpected; but he captures their attention by saying that the Son of Man gives this food. Yet the Son of Man gives this food in a spiritual way, because human nature, weakened by sin, found spiritual food distasteful, and was not able to take it in its spirituality. Thus it was necessary for the Son of Man to assume flesh and nourish us with it: “You have prepared a table before me” (Ps 22:5).
898 He adds the source of his authority to give us this food when he says, for on him has God the Father set his seal. As if to say: the Son of Man will give us this food because he surpasses all the sons of men by his unique and preeminent fulness of grace. Thus he says, on him, i.e., on the Son of Man, has God the Father set his seal, i.e., he has significantly distinguished him from others: “God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your fellows” (Ps 44:8).
Hilary explains it this way. God set his seal, i.e., impressed with a seal. For when a seal is impressed on wax, the wax retains the entire figure of the seal, just as the Son has received the entire figure of the Father. Now the Son receives from the Father in two ways. One of these ways is eternal, and set his seal does not refey to this way, because when something is sealed the nature receiving the seal is not the same as the nature impressing the seal. Rather, these words should be understood as referring to the mystery of the incarnation, because God the Father has impressed his Word on human nature; this Word who is “the brightness of his glory, and the figure of his substance” (Heb 1:3).
Chrysostom explains it this way. God the Father has set his seal, i.e., God the Father specifically chose Christ to give eternal life to the world: “I came that they may have life” (below 10:10). For when someone is chosen to perform some great task, he is said to be sealed for that task: “After this, the Lord appointed (designo, appoint; signo, seal, mark) seventy other disciples” (Lk 10:1).
Or, it could be said that God the Father set his seal, i.e., Christ was made known by the Father, by his voice at Christ’s baptism, and by his works, as we saw in the fifth chapter.
899 Next (v 28), we see the nature of spiritual food. First, the Jews pose their question; in the second place, we have the answer of Jesus Christ (v 29).
900 Concerning the first, we should note that the Jews, since they had been taught by the law, believed that only God was eternal. So when Christ said that his food would endure to eternal life, they understood that it would be a divine food. Thus when they question Christ, they do not mention this food, but rather the work of God, saying: What must we do that we may perform the works of God? Indeed, they were not far from the truth, since spiritual food is nothing else than performing and accomplishing the works of God: “What shall I do to gain eternal life?” (Lk 18:18).
901 The Lord’s answer is given when he says: This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he sent. Here we should reflect that in Romans (4:2), the Apostle distinguished faith from works, saying that Abraham was justified by his faith, not by his works. If this is so, why does our Lord say here that to have faith, i.e., to believe, is a work of God? There are two answers to this. One is that the Apostle is not distinguishing faith from absolutely all works, but only from external works. External works, being performed by our body, are more noticeable, and so the word “works” ordinarily refers to them. But there are other works, interior works, performed within the soul, and these are known only to the wise and those converted in heart.
From another point of view, we can say that to believe can be regarded as included in our external works, not in the sense that it is an external work, but because it is the source of these works.
Thus he significantly says: that you believe in him (in illum). Now it is one thing to say: “I believe in God,” (credere Deum), for this indicates the object. It is another thing to say: “I believe God,” (credere Deo), for this indicates the one who testifies. And it is still another thing to say: “I believe in God,” (in Deum), for this indicates the end. Thus God can be regarded as the object of faith, as the one who testifies, and as the end, but in different ways. For the object of faith can be a creature, as when I believe in the creation of the heavens. Again, a creature can he one who testifies, for I believe Paul (credo Paulo) or any of the saints. But only God can be the end of faith, for our mind is directed to God alone as its end. Now the end, since it has the character of a good, is the object of love. Thus, to believe in God (in Deum) as in an end is proper to faith living through the love of charity. Faith, living in this way, is the principle of all our good works; and in this sense to believe is said to be a work of God.
902 But if faith is a work of God, how do men do the works of God? Isaiah (26:12) gives us the answer when he says: “You have accomplished all our works for us.” For the fact that we believe, and any good we do, is from God: “It is God who is working in us, both to will and to accomplish” (Phil 2:13). Thus he explicitly says that to believe is a work of God in order to show us that faith is a gift of God, as Ephesians (2:8) maintains.
903 Next, we see the origin of this food. First, we have the question asked by the Jews; secondly, the answer of Christ (v 32). Three things are done about the first: first, the Jews look for a sign; secondly, they decide what it should be; and thirdly, they bring in what is narrated in Scripture.
904 They look for a sign by asking Christ: What sign then are you going to give that we may see and believe you? This question is explained differently by Augustine and by Chrysostom. Chrysostom says that our Lord was leading them to the faith. But the evidence that leads one to the faith are miracles: “Signs were given to unbelievers” (1 Cor 14:22). And so the Jews were looking for a sign in order to believe, Afor it is their custom to seek such signs: “For Jews demand signs” (1 Cor 14:22). So they say: What sign then are you going to give?
But it seems foolish to ask for a miracle for this reason, for Christ had just performed some in their presence which could lead them to believe, as multiplying the bread and walking on the water. What they were asking was that our Lord always provide them with food. This is clear because the only sign they mention is the one given by Moses to their ancestors for forty years, and they ask in this way that Christ always provide food for them. Thus they say: Our fathers ate manna in the desert. They did not say that God provided their ancestors with the manna, so that they would not seem to be making Christ equal to God. Again, they did not say that Moses fed their ancestors, so they would not seem to be preferring Moses to Christ, trying in this way to influence our Lord. We read of this food: “Man ate the bread of angels” (Ps 77:25).
905 According to Augustine, however, our Lord had said that he would give thein food that would endure to eternal life. Thus, he seemed to put himself above Moses. The Jews, on the other hand, considered Moses greater than Christ; so they said: “We know that God spoke to Moses, but we do not know where this man is from” (below 9:29). Accordingly, they required Christ to accomplish greater things than Moses; and so they recall what Moses did, saying: Our Fathers ate manna in the desert. As if to say: What you say about yourself is greater than what Moses did, for you are promising a food that does not perish, while the manna that Moses gave became wormy if saved for the next day. Therefore, if we are to believe you, do something greater than Moses did. Although you have fed five thousand men once with five barley loaves, this is not greater than what Moses did, for he fed all the people with manna from heaven for forty years, and in the desert too: “He gave them the bread of heaven” (Ps 77:24).
32 Jesus therefore said to them:
“Amen, amen, I say to you: Moses did not give you bread from heaven, but my Father gives you true bread from heaven. 33 For the true bread is that which descends from heaven, and gives life to the world.”
34 They then said to him: “Lord, give us this bread always.” 35 But Jesus said to them:
“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me shall not hunger; and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I have told you that you have both seen me and do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me shall come to me; and the one who comes to me I will not cast out, 38 because I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. 39 Now it is the will of him who sent me, the Father, that of all that he has given me I should lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, who sent me, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him, should have eternal life. And I will raise him up on the last day.”
906 Having told us the question the Jews had asked Christ, the Evangelist now gives his answer. First, Christ tells us of the origin of this spiritual food; secondly, he proves what he has just said (v 33).
907 Concerning the first, we should note that the Jews had mentioned two things to Christ concerning the bodily food which had been given to their ancestors: the one who gave this food, Moses, and the place, that is, from heaven. Accordingly, when our Lord tells them about the origin of spiritual food, he does not mention these two, for he says that there is another who gives this food and another place. He says: Amen, amen, I say to you: Moses did not give you bread from heaven. There is another who gives to you, that is, my Father; and he gives, not, just bodily bread, but the true bread from heaven.
908 But was it not true bread that their ancestors had in the desert? I answer that if you understand “true” as contrasted with “false,” then they had true bread, for the miracle of the manna was a true miracle. But if “true” is contrasted with “symbolic,” then that bread was not true, but was a symbol of spiritual bread, that is, of our Lord Jesus Christ, whom that manna signified, as the Apostle says: “All ate the same spiritual food” (1 Cor 10:3).
909 When the Psalm (77:24) says, “He gave them the bread of heaven,” this seems to conflict with, Moses did not give you bread from heaven. I answer that the word “heaven” can be understood in three ways. Sometimes it can mean the air, as in “The birds of heaven ate them” (Mt 13:4); and also in, “The Lord thundered from heaven” (Ps 14:14). Sometimes “heaven” means the starry sky; as in, “The highest heaven is the Lord’s” (Ps 113:16), and in, “The stars will fall from heaven” (Mt 24:19). Thirdly, it can signify goods of a spiritual nature, as in “Rejoice and be glad, because your reward is great in heaven” (Mt 5:12). So the manna was from heaven, not the heaven of the stars or of spiritual food, but from the air. Or, the manna was said to be from heaven insofar as it was a symbol of the true bread from heaven, our Lord Jesus Christ.
910 When he says, For the true bread is that which descends from heaven, and gives life to the world, he proves that it is from heaven by its effect. For the true heaven is spiritual in nature, and has life by its own essence; therefore, of itself, it gives life: “It is the spirit that gives life” (below 6:64). Now God himself is the author of life. Therefore, we know that this spiritual bread is from heaven when it produces its proper effect, if it gives life. That bodily bread used by the Jews did not give life, since all who ate the nianna died. But this [spiritual] bread does give life, so he says: the true bread, not that symbolic bread, is that which descends from heaven. This is clear, because it gives life to the world: for Christ, who is the true bread, gives life to whom he wills: “I came that they may have life” (below 10:10). He also descended from heaven: “No one has gone up to heaven except the One who came down from heaven” (above 3:13). Thus Christ, the true bread, gives life to the world by reason of his divinity; and he descends from heaven by reason of his human nature, for as we said on the prior text, he came down from heaven by assuming human nature: “He emptied himself, taking the form of a servant” (Phil 2:7).
911 Now he considers the acquisition of this spiritual food. First, we see the Jews asking for it; secondly, he shows the way it is acquired (v 3 5).
912 We should note with respect to the first, that the Jews understood what Christ said in a material way; and so, because they desired material things, they were looking for material bread from Christ. Hence they said to him, Lord, give us this bread always, which physically nourishes us. The Samaritan woman also understood what our Lord said about spiritual water in a material way, and wishing to slake her thirst, said, “Give me this water” (above 4:15). And although these people understood what our Lord said about food in a material way, and asked for it this way, we are expected to ask for it as understood in a spiritual way: “Give us this day our daily bread” (Mt 6:11), because we cannot live without this bread.
913 Then, he shows how this bread is acquired. First, he shows what this bread is; secondly, how to obtain it (v 37). Concerning the first, he does three things. First, he explains what this bread is, I am the bread of life; secondly, he gives the reason for this, Whoever comes to me shall not hunger; thirdly, he shows why this had to be explained (v 36).
914 Jesus said to them: I am the bread of life, for as we saw above, the word of wisdom is the proper food of the mind, because the mind is sustained by it: “He fed him with the bread of life and understanding” (Sir 15:3). Now the bread of wisdom is called the bread of life to distinguish it from material bread, which is the bread of death, and which serves only to restore what has been lost by a mortal organism; hence material bread is necessary only during this mortal life. But the bread of divine wisdom is life-giving of itself, and no death can affect it. Again, material bread does not give life, but only sustains for a time a life that already exists. But spiritual bread actually gives life: for the soul begins to live because it adheres to the word of God: “For with you is the fountain of life,” as we see in the Psalm (35:10). Therefore, since every word of wisdom is derived from the Only Begotten Word of God—The fountain of wisdom is the Only Begotten of God” (Sir 1:5)—this Word of God is especially called the bread of life. Thus Christ says, I am the bread of life. And because the flesh of Christ is united to the Word of God, it also is life-giving. Thus, too, his body, sacramentally received, is life-giving: for Christ gives life to the world through the mysteries which he accomplished in his flesh. Consequently, the flesh of Christ, because of the Word of the Lord, is not the bread of ordinary life, but of that life which does not die. And so the flesh of Christ is called bread: “The bread of Asher is rich” (Gn 49:20).
His flesh was also signified by the manna. “Manna” means “What is this?” because when the Jews saw it they wondered, and asked each other what it was. But nothing is more a source of wonder than the Son of God made man, so that everyone can fittingly ask, “What is this?” That is, how can the Son of God be the Son of Man? How can Christ be one person with two natures? “His name will be called Wonderful” (Is 9:6). It is also a cause for wonder how Christ can be present in the sacrament.
915 Next (v 35), he gives the reason for this from the effect of this [spiritual] bread. When material bread is eaten, it does not permanently take away our hunger, since it must be destroyed in order to build us up; and this is necessary if we are to be nourished. But spiritual bread, which gives life of itself, is never destroyed; consequently, a person who eats it once never hungers again. Thus he says: Whoever comes to me shall not hunger; and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.
According to Augustine, it is the same thing to say, whoever comes, as to say, whoever believes: since it is the same to come to Christ and to believe in him , for we do not come to God with bodily steps, but with those of the mind, the first of which is faith. To eat and to drink are also the same: for each signifies that eternal fulness where there is no want: “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for what is right, for they will be filled” (Mt 5:6); so that food which sustains and that drink which refreshes are one and the same.
One reason why temporal things do not take away our thirst permanently is that they are not consumed altogether, but only bit by bit, and with motion, so that there is always still more to be consumed. For this reason, just as there is enjoyment and satisfaction from what has been consumed, so there is a desire for what is still to come. Another reason is that they are destroyed; hence the recollection of them remains and generates a repeated longing for those things. Spiritual things, on the other hand, are taken all at once, and they are not destroyed, nor do they run out; and consequently the fulness they produce remains forever: “They will neither hunger nor thirst” (Rv 7:16); “Your face will fill me with joy; the delights in your right hand (i.e., in spiritual goods) will last forever,” as the Psalm (16:11) says.
916 Then (v 36), we see why Christ had to explain these things. For someone could say: We asked for bread; but you did not answer, “I will give it to you,” or “I will not.” Rather, you say, I am the bread of life; and so your answer does not seem to be appropriate. But our Lord shows that it is a good answer, saying, I have told you that you have both seen me and do not believe. This is the same as a person having bread right in front of him without his knowing it, and then being told: Look! The bread is right before you. And so Christ says: I have told you (I am the bread of life) that you have both seen me and do not believe, i.e., you want bread, and it is right before you; and yet you do not take it because you do not believe. In saying this he is censuring them for their unbelief: “They have seen and hated both me and my Father” (below 15:24).
917 Then (v 37), he shows how this bread is acquired. First, he mentions the way to acquire it; secondly, the end attained by those who come to him (v 37b); thirdly, he enlarges on this (v 38).
918 Concerning the first, we should note that the very fact that we believe is a gift of God to us: “You are saved by grace, through faith; and this is not due to yourself, for it is the gift of God” (Eph 2:8); “It has been granted to you not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him” (Phil 1:29). Sometimes, God the Father is said to give those who believe to the Son, as here: All that the Father gives me shall come to me. At other times, the Son is said to give them to the Father, as in 1 Corinthians (15~24): “He will hand over the kingdom to God and the Father.” We can see from this that just as the Father does not deprive himself of the kingdom in giving to the Son, neither does the Son in giving to the Father. The Father gives to the Son insofar as the Father makes a person adhere to his Word: “Through whom (that is, the Father) you have been called into the fellowship of his Son” (1 Cor 1:9). The Son, on the other hand, gives to the Father insofar as the Word makes the Father known: “I have made known your name to those you have given ine” (below 17:6). Thus Christ says: All that the Father gives me shall come to me, i.e., those who believe in me, whom the Father makes adhere to me by his gift.
9 19 Perhaps some might say that it is not necessary for one to use God’s gift: for many receive God’s gift and do not use it. So how can he say: All that the Father gives me shall come to me? We must say to this that in this giving we have to include not only the habit, which is faith, but also the interior impulse to believe. So, everything which contributes to salvation is a gift of God.
920 There is another question. If everything which the Father gives to Christ comes to him, as he says, then only those come to God whom the Father gives him. Thus, those who do not come are not responsible, since they are not given to him. I answer that they are not responsible if they cannot come to the faith without the help of God. But those who do not come are responsible, because they create an obstacle to their own coming by turning away from salvation, the way to which is of itself open to all.
921 Then (v 37b), the end attained by those who come is mentioned. For some might say, “We will come to you, but you will not receive us.” To exclude this he says, the one who comes to me, by steps of faith and by good works, I will not cast out. By this he lets us understand that he is already within, for one must be within before one can be sent out. Let us consider, therefore, what is interior, and how one is cast out from it.
We should point out that since all visible things are said to be exterior with respect to spiritual things, then the more spiritual something is the more interior it is. What is interior is twofold. The first is the most profound, and is the joy of eternal life. According to Augustine, this is a sweet and most interior retreat, without any weariness, without the bitterness of evil thoughts, and uninterrupted by temptations and sorrows. We read of this: “Share the joy of your Lord” (Mt 25:21); and, “You will hide them in the secret of your face,” that is, in the full vision of your essence (Ps 30:2 1). From this interior no one is cast out: “He who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of the living God; and he will no longer leave it” (Rv 3:12), because “the just will go to everlasting life,” as we see from Matthew (25:46). The other interior is that of an upright conscience; and this is a spiritual joy. We read of this: “When I enter into my house I will enjoy repose” (Wis 8:16); and “The king has brought me into his storerooms” (Sg 1:3). It is from this interior, that some are cast out.
So, when our Lord says, the one who comes to me I will not cast out, we can understand this in two ways. In one way, those who come to him are those who have been given to him by the Father through eternal predestination. Of these he says: the one who comes to me, predestined by the Father, I will not cast out: “God has not rejected his people, the people he chose” (Rom 11:2). In a second way, those who do go out are not cast out by Christ, rather, they cast themselves out, because through their unbelief and sins they abandon the sanctuary of an upright conscience. Thus we read: I will not cast out such; but they do cast themselves out: “You are the burden, and I will cast you aside, says the Lord” (Jer 23:33). It was in this way that the man who came to the wedding feast without wedding clothes was cast out (Mt 22:13).
922 Next (v 3 8), he gives the reason for what he just said. First, he mentions his intention to accomplish the will of the Father; secondly, he states what the will of the Father is (v 39); and thirdly, he shows the final accomplishment of this will (v 40b).
923 Concerning the first, we should note that this passage can be read in two ways: either as Augustine does, or following the interpretation of Chrysostom. Augustine understands it this way: the one who comes to me I will not cast out; and this is because the one who comes to me imitates my humility. In Matthew (11:29), after our Lord said, “Come to me, all you who labor,” he added, “Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart.” Now the true gentleness of the Son of God consists in the fact that he submitted his will to the will of the Father. Thus he says, the one who comes to me I will not cast out, because I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. Since a soul abandons God because of its pride, it must return in humility, coming to Christ by imitating his humility; and this humility of Christ was in not doing his own will, but the will of God the Father.
Here we should note that there were two wills in Christ. One pertains to his human nature, and this will is proper to him, both by nature and by the will of the Father. His other will pertains to his divine nature, and this will is the same as the will of the Father. Christ subordinated his own will, that is, his human will, to the divine will, because, wishing to accomplish the will of the Father, he was obedient to the Father’s will: “My God, I desired to do your will” (Ps 39:9). We ask that this will be accomplished in our regard when we say, “Your will be done” (Mt 6:10). Thus, those who do the will of God, not their own will, are not cast out. The devil, who wanted to do his own will out of pride, was cast from heaven; and so too the first man was expelled from paradise.
Chrysostom explains the passage this way. The reason I do not cast out one who comes to me is because I have come to accomplish the will of the Father concerning the salvation of men. So, if I have become incarnate for the salvation of men, how can I cast them out? And this is what he says: I will not cast out one who comes, because I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, my human will, so as to obtain my own benefit, but the will of him who sent me, that is, the Father, “He desires the salvation of all men” (1 Tim 2:4). And therefore, so far as I am concerned, I do not cast out any person: “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, now much more, having been reconciled, we will be saved by his life” (Rom 5:10).
924 Then (v 39), he shows what the Father wills; and next, why he wills it (v 40).
925 He says: I will not cast out those who come to me, because I have taken flesh in order to do the will of the Father: Now it is the will of him who sent me, the Father, that those who come to me I will not cast out; and so I will not cast them out. “This is the will of God, your sanctification” (1 Thes 4:3). Therefore he says that it is the will of the Father that of all that he, the Father, has given me I should lose nothing, i.e., that I should lose nothing until the time of the resurrection. At this time some will be lost, the wicked; but none of those given to Christ through eternal predestination will be among them: “The way of the wicked will perish” (Ps 1:7). Those, on the other hand, who are preserved until then, will not be lost.
Now when he says, lose, we should not understand this as implying that he needs such people or that he is damaged if they perish. Rather, he says this because he desires their salvation and what is good for them, which he regards as his own good.
926 What John later reports Christ as saying seems to conflict with this: “None of them,” that is, of those you have given me, “have been lost except the son of perdition” (below 17:12). Thus, some of those given to Christ through eternal predestination are lost. Accordingly, what he says here, that of all that he has given me I should lose nothing, is not true. We must say to this that some are lost from among those given to Christ through a present justification; but none are lost from among those given to him through eternal predestination.
927 Now he gives the reason for the divine will (v 40). The reason why the Father wills that I lose nothing of all that he has given me is that the Father wills to bring men to life spiritually, because he is the fountain of life. And since the Father is eternal, he wills, absolutely speaking, that every one who comes to me should have eternal life. And this is what he says: For this is the will of my Father, who sent me, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him, should have eternal life. Note that he said above: “Whoever hears my voice and believes in him who sent me, possesses eternal life” (above 5:24), while here he says: every one who sees the Son and believes in him. We can understand from this that the Father and the Son have the same divine nature; and it is the vision of this, through its essence, that is our ultimate end and the object of our faith. When he says here, sees the Son, he is referring to the physical sight of Christ which leads to faith, and not to this vision through essence which faith precedes. Thus he expressly says, every one who sees the Son and believes in him: “Whoever believes in him ... will not encounter judgment, but has passed from death to life” (above 5:24); “These things are written that you may believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name” (below 20:3 1).
928 This will of the Father will also be accomplished. So he adds: And I will raise him up on the last day, for he wills that we have eternal life not just in our soul alone, but also in our body, as Christ did at his resurrection: “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to an everlasting life, and others to everlasting shame” (Dn 12:2); “Christ, having risen from the dead, will not die again” (Rom 6:9).
41 The Jews therefore grumbled about him because he had said, “I amthe living bread that has come down from heaven.” 42 And they said: “Is he not the son of Joseph? Do we not know his father and mother? How then can he say that he has come down from heaven?” 43 Jesus responded and said to them:
“Stop grumbling among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless the Father, who sent me, draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets; ‘They shall all be taught by God.’ Every one who has heard the Father and has learned, comes to me. 46 Not that any one has seen the Father, except the one who is from God— he has seen the Father.”
929 Those opinions that conflict with the above teaching of Christ are now rejected. First, those of’ the people, who were discontented; secondly, those of the disciples, who were in a state of doubt (v 61). He does two things about the first. First, we see the people grumble about the origin of this spiritual food; secondly, we see Christ check the dispute which arose over the eating of this spiritual food (v 53). As to the first he does two things. First, he mentions the grumbling of the people; secondly, how it was checked (v 43). As to the first he does two things. First, he shows the occasion for this complaining; secondly, what those complaining said (v 42).
930 He continues that some of the people were grumbling over what Christ had said, that is, because Christ had said, I am the living bread that has come down from heaven, a spiritual bread they did not understand or desire. And so they grumbled because their minds were not fixed on spiritual things. They were following in this case the custom of their ancestors: “They grumbled in their tents” (Ps 105:25); “Do not grumble, as some of them did” (1 Cor 10:10). As Chrysostom says, they had not complained till now because they still hoped to obtain material food; but as soon as they lost that hope, they began to grumble, although they pretended that it was for a different reason. Yet they did not contradict him openly due to the respect they had for him arising from his previous miracle.
931 He says those who complained said: Is he not the son of Joseph? For since they were earthly minded, they only considered Christ’s physical generation, which hindered them from recognizing his spiritual and eternal generation. And so we see them speaking only of earthly things, “He who is of earth is earthly and speaks of earthly things” (above 3:3 1), and not understanding what is spiritual. Thus they said: How then can he say that he has come down from heaven? They called him the son of Joseph as this was the general opinion, for Joseph was his foster father: “the son of Joseph (as was supposed)” (Lk 3:23).
932 Next (v 43), the grumbling of the people is checked. First, Christ stops this complaining; secondly, he clears up their difficulty (v 47). As to the first he does two things. First, he checks their complaining, secondly, he tells why they were doing it (v 44).
933 Jesus noticed that they were grumbling and checked them, saying, Stop grumbling among yourselves. This was good advice, for those who complain show that their minds are not firmly fixed on God; and so we read in Wisdom (1:11): “Keep yourselves from grumbling, for it does no good.”
934 The reason for their grumbling was their unbelief, and he shows this when he says, No one can come to me .... First, he shows that if one is to come to Christ, he has to be drawn by the Father. Secondly, he shows the way one is drawn (v 45). As to the first he does three things. First, he mentions that coming to Christ surpasses human ability; secondly, the divine help we receive for this; and thirdly, the end or fruit of this help.
That we should come to Christ through faith surpasses our human ability; thus he says, No one can come to me. Secondly, divine help is effective in helping us to this; thus he says, unless the Father, who sent me, draws him. The end or fruit of this help is the very best, so he adds, And I will raise him up on the last day.
935 He says first: It is not unexpected that you are grumbling, because my Father had not yet drawn you to me, for No one can come to me, by believing in me, unless the Father, who sent me, draws him.
There are three questions here. The first is about his saying: unless the Father draws him. For since we come to Christ by believing, then, as we said above, to come to Christ is to believe in him. But no one can believe unless he wills to. Therefore, since to be drawn implies some kind of compulsion, one who comes to Christ by being drawn is compelled.
I answer that what we read here about the Father drawing us does not imply coercion, because there are some ways of being drawn that do not involve compulsion. Consequently, the Father draws men to the Son in many ways, using the different ways in which we can be drawn without compulsion. One person may draw another by persuading him with a reason. The Father draws us to his Son in this way by showing us that he is his Son. He does this in two ways. First, by an interior revelation, as in: “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you (that is, that Christ is the Son of the living God), but it was done so by my Father” (Mt 16:17). Secondly, it can be done through miracles, which the Son has the power to do from the Father: “The very works which my Father has given me to perform ... they bear witness to me” (above 5:36).
Again, one person draws another by attracting or captivating him: “She captivated him with her flattery” (Prv 7:21). This is the way the Father draws those who are devoted to Jesus on account of the authority of the paternal greatness. For the Father, i.e., the paternal greatness, draws those who believe in Christ because they believe that he is the Son of God. Arius—who did not believe that Christ was the true Son of God, nor begotten of the substance of the Father—was not drawn in this way. Neither was Photinus—who dogniatized that Christ was a mere man. So, this is the way those who are captivated by his greatness are drawn by the Father. But they are also drawn by the Son, through a wonderful joy and love of the truth, which is the very Son of God himself. For if, as Augustine says, each of us is drawn by his own pleasure, how much more strongly ought we to be drawn to Christ if we find our pleasure in truth, happiness, justice, eternal life: all of which Christ is! Therefore, if we would be drawn by him, let us be drawn through love for the truth, according to: “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Ps 36:4). And so in the Song of Solomon, the bride says: “Draw me after you, and we will run to the fragrance of your perfume” (1:4).
An external revelation or an object are not the only things that draw us. There is also an interior impulse that incites and moves us to believe. And so the Father draws many to the Son by the impulse of a divine action, moving a person’s heart from within to believe: “It is God who is working in us, both to will and to accomplish” (Phil 2:13); “1 will draw them with the cords of Adam, with bands of love” (Hos 11:4); “The heart of the king is in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he wills” (Prv 2 1:1).
936 The second problem is this. We read that it is the Son who draws us to the Father: “No one knows the Father but the Son, and he to whom the Son wishes to reveal him” (Mt 11:26); “1 have made your name known to those you have given me” (below 17:6). So how can it say here that it is the Father who draws us to the Son? This can be answered in two ways: for we can speak of Christ either as a man, or as God. As man, Christ is the way: “I am the way” (below 14:6); and as the Christ, he leads us to the Father, as a way or road leads to its end. The Father draws us to Christ as man insofar as he gives us his own power so that we may believe in Christ: “You are saved by grace, through faith; and this is not due to yourself, for it is the gift of God”’ (Eph 2:8). Insofar as he is Christ, he is the Word of God and manifests the Father. It is in this way that the Son draws us to the Father. But the Father draws us to the Son insofar as he manifests the Son.
937 The third problem concerns his saying that no one can come to Christ unless the Father draws him. For according to this, if one does not come to Christ, it is not because of himself, but is due to the one who does not draw him. I answer and say that, in truth, no one can come unless drawn by the Father. For just as a heavy object by its nature cannot rise up, but has to be lifted by someone else, so the human heart, which tends of itself to lower things, cannot rise to what is above unless it is drawn or lifted. And if it does not rise up, this is not due to the failure of the one lifting it, who, so far as lies in him, fails no one; rather, it is due to an obstacle in the one who is not drawn or lifted up.
In this matter we can distinguish between those in the state of integral nature, and those in the state of fallen nature. In the state of integral nature, there was no obstacle to being drawn up, and thus all could share in it. But in the state of fallen nature, all are equally held back from this drawing by the obstacle of sin; and so, all need to be drawn. God, in so far as it depends on him, extends his hand to every one, to draw every one; and what is more, he not only draws those who receive him by the hand, but even converts those who are turned away from him, according to: “Convert us, O Lord, to yourself, and we will be converted” (Lam 5:21); and “You will turn, O God, and bring us to life,” as one version of the Psalm (84:7) puts it. Therefore, since God is ready to give grace to all, and draw them to himself, it is not due to him if someone does not accept; rather, it is due to the person who does not accept.
938 A general reason can be given why God does not draw all who are turned away from him, but certain ones, even though all are equally turned away. The reason is so that the order of divine justice may appear and shine forth in those who are not drawn, while the immensity of the divine mercy may appear and shine in those who are drawn. But as to why in particular he draws this person and does not draw that person, there is no reason except the pleasure of the divine will. So Augustine says: “Whom he draws and whom he does not draw, why he draws one and does not draw another, do not desire to judge if you do not wish to err. But accept and understand: If you are not yet drawn, then pray that you may be drawn.” We can illustrate this by an example. One can give as the reason why a builder puts some stones at the bottom, and others at the top and sides, that it is the arrangement of the house, whose completion requires this. But why he puts these particular stones here, and those over there, this depends on his mere will. Thus it is that the prime reason for the arrangement is referred to the will of the builder. So God, for the completion of the universe, draws certain ones in order that his mercy may appear in them; and others he does not draw in order that his justice may be shown in them. But that he draws these and does not draw those, depends on the pleasure of his will. In the same way, the reason why in his Church he made some apostles, some confessors, and others martyrs, is for the beauty and completion of the Church. But why he made Peter an apostle, and Stepehen a martyr, and Nicholas a confessor, the only reason is his will. We are now clear on the limitations of our human ability, and the assistance given to us by divine help.
939 He follows with the end and fruit of this help when he says, And I will raise him tip on the last day, even as man; for we obtain the fruit of the resurrection through those things which Christ did in his flesh: “For as death came through a man, so the resurrection of the dead has come through a man” (1 Cor 15:21). So I, as man, will raise him up, not only to a natural life, but even too the life of glory; and this on the last day. For the Catholic Faith teaches that the world will be made new: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth” (Rv 2 1:1), and that among the changes accompanying this renewal we believe that the motion of the heavens will stop, and consequently, time. “And the angel I saw standing on the sea and on the land, raised his hand to heaven” (Rv 10:5), and then it says that he swore that “time will be no more” (v 6). Since at the resurrection time will stop, so also will night and day, according to “There will be one day, known to the Lord, not day and night” (Zec 14:7). This is the reason he says, And I will raise him up on the last day.
940 As to the question why the motion of the heavens and time itself will continue until then, and not end before or after, we should note that whatever exists for something else is differently disposed according to the different states of that for which it exists. But all physical things have been made for man; consequently, they should be disposed according to the different states of man. So, because the state of incorruptibility will begin in men when they arise—according to “What is mortal will put on incorruption,” as it says in 1 Corinthians (15:54)—the corruption of things will also stop then. Consequently, the motion of the heavens, which is the cause of the generation and corruption of material things, will stop. “Creation itself will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the children of God” (Rom 8:21).
So, it is clear that the Father must draw us if we are to have faith.
941 Then (v 45), he considers the way we are drawn. First, he states the way; secondly, its effectiveness (v 45b); and thirdly, he excludes a certain way of being drawn (v 46).
942 The manner in which we are drawn is appropriate, for God draws us by revealing and teaching; and this is what he says: It is written in the prophets: They shall all be taught by God. Bede says that this comes from Joel. But it does not seem to be there explicitly, although there is something like it in: “O children oi Zion, rejoice and be joyful in the Lord your God, because he will give you a teacher of justice” (JI 2:23). Again, according to Bede, he says, in the prophets, so that we might understand that the same meaning can be gathered from various statements of the prophets. But it is Isaiah who seems to state this more explicitly: “All your children will be taught by the Lord” (is 54:13). We also read: “I will give you shepherds after my own heart, and they will feed you with knowledge and doctrine” (Jer 3:15).
943 They shall all be taught by God, can be understood in three ways. In one way, so that all stands for all the people in the world; in another way, so that it stands for all who are in the Church of Christ, and in a third way, so it means all who will be in the kingdom of heaven.
If we understand it in the first way, it does not seem to be true, for he immediately adds, Every one who has heard the Father and has learned, comes to me. Therefore, if every one in the world is taught [by God], then every one will come to Christ. But this is false, for not every one has faith. There are three answers to this. First, one could say, as Chrysostorn does, that he is speaking of the majority: all, i.e., very many shall be taught, just as we find in Matthew: “Many will come from the East and the West” (Mt 8:11). Secondly, it could mean, all, so far as God is concerned, shall be taught, but if some are not taught, that is due to themselves. For the sun, on its part, shines on all, but some are unable to see it if they close their eyes, or are blind. From this point of view, the Apostle says: “He desires the salvation of all men, and that all come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4). Thirdly, we could say, with Augustine, that we must make a restricted application, so that They shall all be taught by God, means that all who are taught, are taught by God. It is just as we might speak of a teacher of the liberal arts who is working in a city: he alone teaches all the boys of the city, because no one there is taught by anyone else. It is in this sense that it was said above: “He was the true light, which enlightens every man coming into this world” ( 1:9).
944 If we explain these words as referring to those who are gathered into the Church, it says: They shall all, all who are in the Church, be taught by God. For we read: “All your children will be taught by the Lord” (Is 54:13). This shows the sublimity of the Christian faith, which does not depend on human teachings, but on the teaching of God. For the teaching of the Old Testament was given through the prophets; but the teaching of the New Testament is given through the Son of God himself. “In many and various ways (i.e., in the Old Testament) God spoke to our fathers through the prophets; in these days he has spoken to us in his Son” (Heb 1:1); and again in (2:3): “It was first announced by the Lord, and was confirined to us by those who heard him.” Thus, all who are in the Church are taught, not by the apostles nor by the prophets, but by God himself. Further, according to Augustine, what we are taught by men is from God, who teaches from within: “You have one teacher, the Christ” (Mt 23:10). For understanding, which we especially need for such teaching, is from God.
945 If we explain these words as applying to those who are in the kingdom of heaven, then They shall all be taught by God, because they will see his essence without any intermediary: “We shall see him as he is” (1 Jn 3:2).
946 This drawing by the Father is most effective, because, Every one who has heard the Father and has learned, comes to me. Here he mentions two things: first, what relates to a gift of God, when he says, has heard, that is, through God, who reveals; the other relates to a free judgment, when he says, and has learned, that is, by an assent. These two are necessary for every teaching of faith. Every one who has heard the Father, teaching and making known, and has learned, by giving assent, comes to me.
He comes in three ways: through a knowledge of the truth; through the affection of love; and through imitative action. And in each way it is necessary that one hear and learn. The one who comes through a knowledge of the truth must hear, when God speaks within: “I will hear what the Lord God will speak within me” (Ps 84:9); and he must learn, through affection, as was said. The one who comes through love and desire—“If any one thirsts, let him come to me and drink” (below 7:37)—must hear the word of the Father and grasp it, in order to learn and be moved in his affections. For that person learns the word who grasps it according to the meaning of the speaker. But the Word of the Father breathes forth love. Therefore, the one who grasps it with eager love, learns. “Wisdom goes into holy souls, and makes them prophets and friends of God” (Wis 7:27). One comes to Christ through imitative action, according to: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will refresh you” (Mt 11:28). And whoever learns even in this way comes to Christ: for as the conclusion is to things knowable, so is action to things performable. Now whoever learns perfectly in the sciences arrives at the conclusion; therefore, as regards things that are performable, whoever learns the words perfectly arrives at the right action: “The Lord has opened my ear; and I do not resist” (Is 50:5).
947 To correct the thought that some might have that every one will hear and learn from the Father through a vision, he adds: Not that any one has seen the Father, that is, a person living in this life does not see the Father in his essence, according to: “Man will not see me and live” (Ex 33:20), except the one, that is the Son, who is from God—he has seen the Father, through his essence. Or, Not that any one has seen the Father, with a comprehensive vision: neither man nor angel has ever seen or can see in this way; except the one who is from God, i.e., the Son: “No one knows the Father except the Son” (Mt 11:27).
The reason for this, of course, is that all vision or knowledge comes about through a likeness: creatures have a knowledge of God according to the way they have a likeness to him. Thus the philosophers say that the intelligences know the First Cause according to this likeness which they have to it. Now every creature possesses some likeness to God, but it is infinitely distant from a likeness to his nature, and so no creature can know him perfectly and totally, as he is in his own nature. The Son, however, because he has received the entire nature of the Father perfectly, through an eternal generation, sees and comprehends totally.
948 Note how the words used are appropriate: for above, when he was speaking of the knowledge others have, he used the word “heard”; but now, in speaking of the Son’s knowledge, he uses the word “seen,” for knowledge which comes through seeing is direct and open, while that which comes through hearing comes through one who has seen. And so we have received the knowledge we have about the Father from the Son, who saw him. Thus, no one can know the Father except through Christ, who makes him known; and no one can come to the Son unless he has heard from the Father, who makes the Son known.
47 “Amen, amen, I say to you: Whoever believes in me has eternal life. 48 1 am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate manna in the desert, and they are dead. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that if anyone eats of this [bread] he will not die. 51 I am the living bread that has come down from heaven. 52 If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread which I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world.”
949 After our Lord quieted the grumbling of the Jews, he now clears up the doubt they had because of his saying, “I am the bread that has come down from heaven.” he intends to show here that this is true. This is the way he reasons: The bread which gives life to the world descended from heaven; but I am the bread that gives life to the world: therefore, I am the bread which descended from heaven. He does three things concerning this. First, he presents the minor premise of his reasoning, that is, I am the bread of life. In the second place, he gives the major premise, that is, that the bread that descended from heaven ought to give life (v 49). Thirdly, we have the conclusion (v 5 1). As to the first he does two things. First, he states his point; secondly, he expresses it as practically proved (v 48).
950 His intention is to show that he is the bread of life. Bread is life-giving insofar as it is taken. Now one who believes in Christ takes him within himself, according to: “Christ dwells,in our hearts through faith” (Eph 3:17). Therefore, if he who believes in Christ has life, it is clear that he is brought to life by eating this bread. Thus, this bread is the bread of life. And this is what he says: Amen, amen, I say to you: Whoever believes in me, with a faith made living by love, which not only perfects the intellect but the affections as well (for we do not tend to the things we believe in unless we love them), has eternal life.
Now Christ is within us in two ways: in our intellect through faith, so far as it is faith; and in our affections through love, which informs or gives life to our faith: “He who abides in love, abides in God, and God in him” (1 Jn 4:16). So he who believes in Christ so that he tends to him, possesses Christ in his affections and in his intellect. And if we add that Christ is eternal life, as stated in “that we may be in his true Son, Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life” (1 Jn 5:20), and in “In him was life” (above 1:4), we can infer that whoever believes in Christ has eternal life. He has it, I say, in its Ciause and in hope, and he will have it at some time in reality.
951 Having stated his position, he expresses it as, I am the bread of life, which gives life, as clearly follows from the above. We read of this bread: “The bread of Asher will be rich, he will furnish choice morsels,” of eternal life, “to kings” (Gn 49:20).
952 Then when he says, Your fathers ate manna in the desert, and they are dead, he gives the major premise, namely, the bread that descended from heaven ought to have the effect of giving life. First, he explains this; secondly, he draws his point (v 50).
953 He explains his meaning through a contrasting situation. It was said above (909) that Moses gave the Jews bread from heaven, in the sense of from the air. But bread that does not come from the true heaven cannot give adequate life. Therefore, it is proper to the heavenly bread to give life. So, the bread given by Moses, in which you take pride, does not give life. And he proves this when he says, Your fathers ate manna in the desert, and they are dead.
In this statement he first reproaches them for their faults, when he says, Your fathers, whose sons you are, not only according to the flesh, but also by imitating their actions, because you are grumblers just as “they grumbled in their tents” (Ps 105:25); this was why he said to them: “Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers,” as we read in Matthew (23:32). As Augustine says, this people is said to have offended God in no matter more than by grumbling against God.
Secondly, he mentions for how short a time this was done, saying, in the desert: for they were not given manna for a long period of time; and they had it only while in the desert, and not when they entered the promised land (Jos 5). But the other bread [from the true heaven] preserves and nourishes one forever. Thirdly, he states an inadequacy in that bread, that is, it did not preserve life without end; so he says, and they are dead. For we read in Joshua (c 5) that all who grumbled, except Joshua and Caleb, died in the desert. This was the reason for the second circumcision, as we see here, because all who had left Egypt died in the desert.
954 One might wonder what kind of death God is speaking of here. If he is speaking of physical death, there will be no difference between the bread the Jews had in the desert and our bread, which came down from heaven, because even Christians who share the latter bread die physically. But if he is speaking of spiritual death, it is clear that both then among the Jews and now among the Christians, some die spiritually and others do not. For Moses and many others who were pleasing to God did not die, while others did. Also, those who eat this bread [of the Christians] unworthily, die spiritually: “He who eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks judginent upon himself” (1 Cor 11:29).
We may answer this by saying that the food of the Jews has some features in common with our spiritual food. They are alike in the fact that each signifies the same thing: for both signify Christ. Thus they are called the same food: “All ate the same spiritual food” ( 1 Cor 10:3). He calls them the same because each is a symbol of the spiritual food. But they are different because one [the manna] was only a symbol; while the other [the bread of the Christians] contains that of which it is the symbol, that is, Christ himself. Thus we should say that each of these foods can be taken in two ways. First, as a sign only, i.e., so that each is taken as food only, and without understanding what is signified; and taken in this way, they do not take away either physical or spiritual death. Secondly, they may be taken in both ways, i.e., the visible food is taken in such a way that spiritual food is understood and spiritually tasted, in order that it may satisfy spiritually. In this way, those who ate the manna spiritually did not die spiritually. But those who eat the Eucharist spiritually, both live spiritually now without sin, and will live physically forever. Thus, our food is greater than their food, because it contains in itself that of which it is the symbol.
955 Having presented the argument, he draws the conclusion: This is the bread that comes, down from heaven. He says, This, the Gloss says, to indicate himself. But our Lord does not understand it this way as it would be superfluous, since he immediately adds, I am the living bread that has come down from heaven. So we should say that our Lord wants to say that the bread which can do this, i.e., give life, comes from heaven; but I am that bread: thus, I am that bread that comes down from heaven. Now the reason why that bread which comes down from heaven gives a life which never ends is that all food nourishes according to the properties of its nature; but heavenly things are incorruptible: consequently, since this food is heavenly, it is not corrupted, and as long as it lasts, it gives life. So, he who eats it, will not die. Just as if there were some bodily food which never corrupted, then in nourishing it would always be life-giving. This bread was signified by the tree of life in the midst of Paradise, which somehow gave life without end: “He must not be allowed to stretch out his hand and take from the tree of life and eat, and live forever” (Gn 3:22). So if the effect of this bread is that anyone who eats it will not die, and I am such, then [anyone who eats of me will not die].
956 He does two things concerning this. First, he speaks of himself in general; secondly, in particular, And the bread which I will give is my flesh. In regard to the first, he does two things: first, he mentions his origin; secondly his power (v 52).
957 He said, I am the living bread; consequently, I can give life. Material bread does not give life forever, because it does not have life in itself; but it gives life by being changed and converted into nourishment by the energy of a living organism. That has come down from heaven: it was explained before [4671 how the Word came down. This refuted those heresies which taught that Christ was a mere man, because according to them, he would not have come down from heaven.
958 He has the power to give eternal life; thus he says, If anyone eats of this bread, i.e., spiritually, he will live, not only in the present through faith and justice, but forever. “Everyone who lives and believes in me, will never die” (below 11:26).
959 He then speaks of his body when he says, And the bread which I will give is my flesh. For he had said that he was the living bread; and so that we do not think that he is such so far as he is the Word or in his soul alone, he shows that even his flesh is life-giving, for it is an instrument of his divinity. Thus, since an instrument acts by virtue of the agent, then just as the divinity of Christ is lifegiving, so too his flesh gives life (as Damascene says) because of the Word to which it is united. Thus Christ healed the sick by his touch. So what he said above, I am the living bread, pertained to the power of the Word; but what he is saying here pertains to the sharing in his body, that is, to the sacrament of the Eucharist.
960 We can consider four things about this sacrament: its species, the authority of the one who instituted it, the truth of this sacrament, and its usefulness.
As to the species of this sacrament: This is the bread; “Come, and eat my bread” (Prv 9:5). The reason for this is that this is the sacrament of the body of Christ; but the body of Christ is the Church, which arises out of many believers forming a bodily unity: “We are one body” (Rom 12:5). And so because bread is formed from many grains, it is a fitting species for this sacrament. Hence he says, And the bread which I will give is my flesh.
961 The author of this sacrament is Christ: for although the priest confers it, it is Christ himself who gives the power to this sacrament, because the priest consecrates in the person of Christ. Thus in the other sacraments the priest uses his own words or those of the Church, but in this sacrament he uses the words of Christ: because just as Christ gave his body to death by his own will, so it is by his own power that he gives himself as food: “Jesus took bread, he blessed it and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying: ‘Take and eat it, this is my body’ “ (Mt 26:26). Thus he says, which I will give; and he says, will give, because this sacrament had not yet been instituted.
962 The truth of this sacrament is indicated when he says, is my flesh. He does not say, “This signifies my flesh,” but it is my flesh, for in reality that which is taken is truly the body of Christ: “Who will give us his flesh so that we may be satisfied?” as we read in Job (31:3 1).
Since the whole Christ is contained in this sacrament, why did he just say, this is my flesh? To answer this, we should note that in this mystical sacrament the whole Christ is really contained: but his body is there by virtue of the conversion; while his soul and divinity are present by natural concomitance. For if we were to suppose whal is really inipossible, that is, that the divinity of Christ is separated from his body, then his divinity would not be present in this sacrament. Similarly, if someone had consecrated during the three days Christ was dead, his soul would not have been present there [in the sacrament], but his body would have been, as it was on the cross or in the tomb. Since this sacrament is the commemoration of our Lord’s passion—according to “As often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord” (1 Cor 11:26)—and the passion of Christ depended on his weakness—according to “He was crucified through weakness” (2 Cor 13:4)—he rather says, is my flesh, to suggest the weakness through which he died, for “flesh” signifies weakness.
963 The usefulness of this sacrament is great and universal. It is great, indeed, because it produces spiritual life within us now, and will later produce eternal life, as was said. For as is clear from what was said, since this is the sacrament of our Lord’s passion, it contains in itself the Christ who suffered. Thus, whatever is an effect of our Lord’s passion is also an effect of this sacrament. For this sacrament is nothing other than the application of our Lord’s passion to us. For it was not fitting for Christ to be always with us in his own presence; and so he wanted to make up for this absence through this sacrament. Hence it is clear that the destruction of death, which Christ accomplished by his death, and the restoration of life, which he accomplished by his resurrection, are effects of this sacrament.
964 The usefulness of this sacrament is universal because the life it gives is not only the life of one person, but, so far as concerns itself, the life of the entire world: and for this the death of Christ is fully sufficient. “He is the offering for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the entire world” (1 Jn 2:2).
We should note that this sacrament is different from the others: for the other sacraments have individual effects: as in baptism, only the one baptized receives grace. But in the immolation of this sacrament, the effect is universal: because it affects not just the priest, but also those for whom he prays, as well as the entire Church, of the living and of the dead. The reason for this is that it contains the universal cause of all the sacraments, Christ. Nevertheless, when a lay person receives this sacrament it does not benefit others ex opere operato [by its own power] considered as a receiving. However, due to the intention of the person who is acting and receiving, it can be communicated to all those to whom he directs his intention. It is clear from this that lay persons are mistaken when they receive the Eucharist for those in purgatory.
53 The Jews therefore disputed among themselves, saying: “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 54 Jesus then said to them:
“Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, you will not have life in you. 55 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life; and I will raise him up on the last day. 56 For my flesh truly is food, and my blood truly is drink. 57 He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 58 Just as the living Father has sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me, he also will live because of me. 59 This is the bread that has come down from heaven. Unlike your fathers who ate manna and are dead, whoever eats this bread shall live forever.”
60 These things he said teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum.
965 Above, our Lord checked the grumbling of the Jews over the origin of this spiritual food; here, he stops their dispute over the ealing of this same food. First, we see their dispute; secondly, our Lord stops it (v 54); thirdly, the Evangelist mentions the place where all this happened (v 60).
906 As to the first, note that the Evangelist brings in the dispute among the Jews in the form of a conclusion, saying, The Jews therefore disputed among themselves. And this is fitting: for according to Augustine, our Lord had just spoken to them about the food of unity, which makes into one those who are nourished on it, according to, “Let those who are just feast and rejoice before God,” and then it continues, according to one reading, “God makes those who agree to live in one house” (Ps 67:4). And so, because the Jews had not eaten the food of harmony, they argued with each other: “When you fast, you argue and fight” (Is 58:4). Further, their quarreling with others shows that they were carnal: “For while you are envious and quarreling, are you not carnal?” (1 Cor 3:3). Therefore, they understood these words of our Lord in a carnal way, i.e., as meaning that our Lord’s flesh would be eaten as material food. Thus they say, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? As if to say: This is impossible. Here they were speaking against God just as their fathers did: “We are sick of this useless food” (Nm 21:5).
967 Our Lord stops this argument. First, he states the power that comes from taking this food; secondly, he amplifies on it (v 55). As to the first he does three things. First, he states why it is necessary to eat this flesh; secondly, its usefulness; and thirdly, he adds something about its truth (v 56).
968 Jesus said: Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you will not have life in you. As if to say: You think it is impossible and unbecoming to eat my flesh. But it is not only possible, but very necessary, so much so that unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you will not have, i.e., you will not be able to have, life in you, that is, spiritual life. For just as material food is so necessary for bodily life that without it you cannot exist—“They exchanged their precious belongings for food” (Lam 1:11); “Bread strengthens the heart of man” (Ps 103:15)—so spiritual food is necessary for the spiritual life to such an extent that without it the spiritual life cannot be sustained: “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word which comes from the mouth of God” (Dt 8:3).
969 We should note that this statement can refer either to eating in a spiritual way or in a sacramental way. If we understand it as referring to a spiritual eating, it does not cause any difficulty. For that person eats the flesh of Christ and drinks his blood in a spiritual way who shares in the unity of the Church; and this is accomplished by the love of charity: “You are one body, in Christ” (Rom 12:5). Thus, one who does not eat in this way is outside the Church, and consequently, without the love of charity. Accordingly, such a one does not have life in himself: “He who does not love, remains in death” (1 Jn 3:14).
But if we refer this statement to eating in a sacramental way, a difficulty appears. For we read above: “Unless one is born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (3:5). Now this statement was given in the same form as the present one: Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man. Therefore, since baptism is a necessary sacrament, it seems that the Eucharist is also. In fact, the Greeks think it is; and so they give the Eucharist to newly baptized infants. For this opinion they have in their favor the rite of Denis, who says that the reception of each sacrament should culminate in the sharing of the Eucharist, which is the culmination of all the sacraments. This is true in the case of adults, but it is not so for infants, because receiving the Eucharist should be done with reverence and devotion, and those who do not have the use of reason, as infants and the insane, cannot have this. Consequently, it should not be given to them at all.
We should say, therefore, that the sacrament of baptism is necessary for everyone, and it must be really received, because without it no one is born again into life. And so it is necessary that it be received in reality, or by desire in the case of those who are prevented from the former. For if the contempt within a person excludes a baptism by water, then neither a baptism of desire nor of blood will benefit him for eternal life. However, the sacrament of the Eucharist is necessary for adults only, so that it may be received in reality, or by desire, according to the practices of the Church.
970 But even this causes difficulty: because by these words of Our Lord, it is necessary for salvation not only to eat his body, but also to drink his blood, especially since a repast of food is not complete without drink. Therefore, since it is the custom in certain Churches for only the priest to receive Christ’s blood, while the rest receive only his body, they would seem to be acting against this.
I answer that it was the custom of the early Church for all to receive both the body and blood of Christ; and certain Churches have still retained this practice, where even those assisting at the altar always receive the body and blood. But in some Churches, due to the danger of spilling the blood, the custom is for it to be received only by the priest, while the rest receive Christ’s body. Even so, this is not acting against our Lord’s command, because whoever receives Christ’s body receives his blood also, since the entire Christ is present under each species, even his body and blood. But under the species of bread, Christ’s body is present in virtue of the conversion, and his blood is present by natural concomitance; while under the species of wine, his blood is present in virtue of the conversion, and his body by natural concomitance.
It is now clear why it is necessary to receive this spiritual food.
971 Next, the usefulness of this food is shown: first, for the spirit or sou; secondly, for the body, and I will raise him up on the last day.
972 There is great usefulness in eating this sacrament, for it gives eternal life; thus he says, Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life. For this spiritual food is similar to material food in the fact that without it there can be no spiritual life, just as there cannot be bodily life without bodily food, as was said above. But this food has more than the other, because it produces in the one who receives it an unending life, which material food does not do: for not all who eat material food continue to live. For, as Augustine says, it can happen that many who do take it die because of old age or sickness, or some other reason. But one who takes this food and drink of the body and blood of our Lord has eternal life. For this reason it is compared to the tree of life: “She is the tree of life for those who take her” (Prv 3:18); and so it is called the bread of life: “He fed him with the bread of life and understanding” (Sir 15:3). Accordingly, he says, eternal life, because one who eats this bread has within himself Christ, who is “the true God and eternal life,” as John says (1 Jn 5:20).
Now one has eternal life who eats and drinks, as it is said, not only in a sacramental way, but also in a spiritual way. One eats and drinks sacramentally or in a sacramental way, if he receives the sacrament; and one eats and drinks spiritually or in a spiritual way, if he attains to the reality of the sacrament. This reality of the sacrament is twofold: one is contained and signified, and this is the whole Christ, who is contained under the species of bread and wine. The other reality is signified but not contained, and this is the mystical body of Christ, which is in the predestined, the called, and the justified. Thus, in reference to Christ as contained and signified, one eats his flesh and drinks his blood in a spiritual way if he is united to him through faith and love, so that one is transformed into him and becomes his member: for this food is not changed into the one who eats it, but it turns the one who takes it into itself, as we see in Augustine, when he says: “I am the food of the robust. Grow and you will eat me. Yet you will not change me into yourself, but you will be transformed into me.” And so this is a food capable of making man divine and inebriating him with divinity. The same is true in reference to the mystical body of Christ, which is only signified [and not contained], if one shares in the unity of the Church. Therefore, one who eats in these ways has eternal life. That this is true of the first way, in reference to Christ, is clear enough. In the same way, in reference to the mystical body of Christ, one will necessarily have eternal life if he perseveres: for the unity of the Church is brought about by the Holy Spirit: “One body, one Spirit ... the pledge of our eternal inheritance” (Eph 4:4; 1:14). So this bread is very profitable, because it gives eternal life to the soul; but it is so also because it gives eternal life to the body.
973 And therefore he adds, and I will raise him up on the last day. For as was said, one who eats and drinks in a spiritual way shares in the Holy Spirit, through whom we are united to Christ by a union of faith and love, and through him we become members of the Church. But the Holy Spirit also merits the resurrection: “He who raised Jesus Christ our Lord form the dead, will raise our mortal bodies because of his Spirit, who dwells in us” (Rom 8:11). And so our Lord says that he will raise up to glory whoever eats and drinks; to glory, and not to condemnation, as this would not be for their benefit. Such an effect is fittingly attributed to this sacrament of the Eucharist because, as Augustine says and as was said above, it is the Word who raises up souls, and it is the Word made flesh who gives life to bodies. Now in this sacrament the Word is present not only in his divinity, but also in the reality of his flesh; and so he is the cause of the resurrection not just of souls, but of bodies as well: “For as death came through a man, so the resurrection of the dead has come through a man” (1 Cor 15:21). It is now clear how profitable it is to take this sacrament.
974 We see its truth when he says, For my flesh truly is food. I some might think that what he was saying about his flesh and blood was just an enigma and a parable. So our Lord rejects this, and says, my flesh truly is food. As if to say: Do not think that I am speaking metaphorically, for my flesh is truly contained in this food of the faithful, and my blood is truly contained in this sacrament of the altar: “This is my body ... this is my blood of the new covenant,” as we read in Matthew (26:26).
Chrysostom explains this statement in the following way. Food and drink are taken for man’s refreshment. Now there are two parts in man: the chief part is the soul, and the second is the body. It is the soul which makes man to be man, and not the body; and so that truly is the food of man which is the food of the soul. And this is what our Lord says: my flesh truly is food, because it is the food of the soul, not just of the body. The same is true of the blood of Christ. “He has led me to the waters that refresh” (Ps 22:2). As if to say: This refreshment is especially for the soul.
Augustine explains these words this way. A thing is truly said to be such and such a thing if it produces the effect of that thing. Now the effect of food is to fill or satisfy. Therefore, that which truly produces fulness is truly food and drink. But this is produced by the flesh and blood of Christ, who leads us to the state of glory, where there is neither hunger nor thirst: “They will neither hunger nor thirst” (Rv 7:16). And so he says: For my flesh truly is food, and my blood truly is drink.
975 Now our Lord proves that this spiritual food has such power, that is, to give eternal life. And he reasons this way: Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood is united to me, but whoever is united to me has eternal life: therefore, whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life. Here he does three things: first, he gives his major premise; secondly, the minor premise, which he proves (v 58); and thirdly, he draws his conclusion: This is the bread that has come down from heaven.
976 We should note, with respect to the first, that if his statement, He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him, is referred to his flesh and blood in a mystical way, there is no difficulty. For, as was said, that person eats in a spiritual way, in reference to what is signified only, who is incorporated into the mystical body through a union of faith and love. Through love, God is in man, and man is in God: “He who abides in love, abides in God, and God in him” (1 Jn 4:16). And this is what the Holy Spirit does; so it is also said, “We know that we abide in God and God in us, because he has given us his Spirit” (1 Jn 4:13).
If these words are referred to a sacramental reception, then whoever eats this flesh and drinks this blood abides in God. For, as Augustine says, there is one way of eating this flesh and drinking this blood such that he who eats and drinks abides in Christ and Christ in him. This is the way of those who eat the body of Christ and drink his blood not just sacramentally, but really. And there is another way by which those who eat do not abide in Christ nor Christ in them. This is the way of those who approach [the sacrament] with an insincere heart: for this sacrament has no effect in one who is insincere. There is insincerity when the interior state does not agree with what is outwardly signified. In the sacrament of the Eucharist, what is outwardly signified is that Christ is united to the one who receives it, and such a one to Christ. Thus, one who does not desire this union in his heart, or does not try to remove every obstacle to it, is insincere. Consequently, Christ does not abide in him nor he in Christ.
977 Now he presents his minor premise, that is, whoever is united to Christ has life. He mentions this to show the following similarity: the Son, because of the unity he has with the Father, receives life from the Father; therefore one who is united to Christ receives life from Christ. And this is what he says: Just as the living Father has sent me, and I live because of the Father. These words can be explained in two ways about Christ: either in reference to his human nature, or in reference to his divine nature.
If they are explained as referring to Christ the Son of God, then the “as” implies a similarity of Christ to creatures in some respect, though not in all respects, which is, that he exists from another. For to be from another is common to Christ the Son of God and to creatures. But they are unlike in another way: the Son has something proper to himself, because he is from the Father in such a way that he receives the entire fulness of the divine nature, so that whatever is natural to the Father is also natural to the Son. Creatures, on the other hand, receive a certain particular perfection and nature. “Just as the Father possesses life in himself, so he has given it to the Son to have life in himself” (above 5:26). He shows this because, when speaking of his procession from the Father, he does not say: “As I eat the Father and I live because of the Father, “ as he said, when speaking of sharing in his body and blood, whoever eats me, he also will live because of me. This eating makes us better, for eating implies a certain sharing. Rather, Christ says that he lives because of the Father, not as eaten, but as generating, without detriment to his equality.
If we explain this statement as applying to Christ as man, then in some respect the “as” implies a similarity between Christ as man and us: that is, in the fact that as Christ the man receives spiritual life through union with God, so we too receive spiritual life in the communion or sharing in this Sacrament. Still, there is a difference: for Christ as man received life through union with the Word, to whom he is united in person; while we are united to Christ t through the sacrament of faith. And so he says two things: sent me and Father. If we refer these words to the Son of God, then he is saying, I live because of the Father, because the Father himself is living. But if they are referred to the Son of Man, then he is saying, I live because of the Father, because the Father has sent me, i.e., made me incarnate. For the sending of the Son is his incarnation: “God sent his Son, made from a woman” (Gal 4:4).
978 According to Hilary, this is a rejection of the error made by Arius. For if we live because of Christ, because we have something of his nature (as he says, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life”), then Christ too lives because of the Father, because he has in himself the nature of the Father (not a part of it, for it is simple and indivisible). Therefore, Christ has the entire nature of the Father. It is because of the Father, therefore, that the Son lives, because the Son’s birth did not involve another and different nature [from that of the Father].
979 Next (v 59), he presents his two conclusions. For they were arguing about two things: the origin of this spiritual food and its power. The first conclusion is about its origin; the second is about its power: whoever eats this bread shall live forever.
980 With respect to the first, we should note that the Jews had been troubled because he had said, “I am the living bread that has come down from heaven” (v 51 ). Therefore, in opposition to them, he arrives at this same conclusion again, from his statement, “I live because of the Father,” when he says, This is the bread that has come down from heaven. For to come down from heaven is to have an origin from heaven; but the Son has his origin from heaven, since he lives because of the Father: therefore, Christ is the one who has come down from heaven. And so he says, This is the bread that has come down from heaven, i.e., from the life of the Father. Come down, in relation to his divinity; or come down, even in his body, so far as the power that formed it, the Holy Spirit, was from heaven, a heavenly power. Thus, those who eat this bread do not die; as our fathers died, who ate the manna that was neither from heaven, nor was living bread, as was said above. How those who ate the manna died is clear from what has been mentioned before.
981 The second conclusion, concerning the power of this bread, is given when he says, whoever eats this bread shall live forever. This follows from his statement, “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him” (v 57). For whoever eats this bread abides in me, and I in him. But I am eternal life. Therefore, whoever eats this bread, as he ought, shall live forever.
982 Jesus said this in the synagogue, in which he was teaching at Capernaum. He used to teach in the temple and in the synagogues in order to attract many, so that at least some might benefit: “I have proclaimed your justice in the great assembly” (Ps 39:10).
61 On hearing this, many of his disciples said: “This is a hard saying! Who can accept it?” 62 But Jesus, knowing fully that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them:
“Does this scandalize you? 63 What if you should see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 64 It is the spirit that gives life; flesh profits nothing. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 65 But there are some of you who do not believe.”
For Jesus knew from the beginning those who would believe in him and who it was that would betray him. 66 And he said:
“This is why I said to you, that no one call come to me, unless it be given him by my Father.”
67 From this time on, many of his disciples turned back, and no longer walked with him. 68 Jesus then said to the Twelve:
“Do you too wish to leave?”
69 Simon Peter replied: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 70 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Christ, the Son of God.” 71 Jesus answered him:
“Did I not choose you Twelve? And one of you is a devil.”
72 Now he was talking about Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, who would betray him, since he was one of the Twelve.
983 After our Lord put an end to the complaining and arguing among the Jews, he now removes the scandal given to his disciples. First, we see the scandal of those disciples who left him; secondly, the devotion of those who remained with him (v 68). Concerning the first, he does three things: first, we see the scandal given to his disciples; secondly, the kindly way Christ takes it away (v 62); and thirdly, the stubbornness and unbelief of those who leave him (v 67).
984 We should note, with respect to the first, that there were many Jews who adhered to Christ, believed him and followed him. And although they had not left all things as the Twelve did, they were still all called his disciples. It is of these that he says, many, that is, many of the people who believed him, on hearing this, what he had said above, said, This is a hard saying! We read of these: “They believe for a while, and in the time of testing fall away” (Lk 8:13). He says, many, because “The number of fools is infinite” (Ecc 1:15); and, “Many are called but few are chosen” (Mt 20:16).
They said: This is a hard saying! Now that is said to be hard which is difficult to divide, and which offers resistance. Accordingly, a saying is hard either because it resists the intellect or because it resists the will, that is, when we cannot understand it with our mind, or when it does not please our will. And this saying was hard for them in both ways. It was hard for their intellects because it exceeded the weakness of their intellects: for since they were earthly minded, they were incapable of understanding what he said, namely, that he would give them his flesh to eat. And it was hard for their wills, because he said many things about the power of his divinity: and although they believed him as a prophet, they did not believe that he was God. Consequently, it seemed to them that he was making himself greater than he was. “His letters are strong” (2 Cor 10:10), “Wisdom is exceedingly unpleasant to the unlearned” (Sir (, 21 ). And so it reads on. Who can accept it? They said this as an excuse: for since they had given themselves to him, they should have accepted what he said. But because he was not teaching them things that were pleasing to them, they were waiting for an occasion to leave him: “A fool does not accept words of wisdom unless You tell him what he desires” (Prv 18:2).
985 Next (v 62), we see the kindly way Christ dispelled their difficulty. First, he takes notice of it; secondly, he removes its cause (v 63); and thirdly, he mentions what the cause was (v 65).
986 He had noticed that they were scandalized because they had said, although privately, so he could not hear, This is a hard saying! But Christ, who in virtue of his divinity knew that they had said this, mentions it. And this is what he says: But Jesus, knowing in himself, what they said within themselves, that is, that his disciples were grumbling about this—“He did not need anyone to give him testimony about men. He was well aware of what was in man’s heart” (above 2:25); “God searches into the hearts and loins of men” (Ps 7:10)—said to them, Does this scandalize you? As if to say: You should not be scandalized at this. Or, it can be understood less strongly, as meaning: I know that you are scandalized at this. “He will be our sanctification,” i.e., those who believe in Christ, but “a stumbling-stone to the two houses of Israel,” to the grumbling disciples and the crowds (Is 8:4).
987 But since teachers should avoid creating difficulties for those who are listening to them, why did our Lord mention those things that would upset the people and have them leave? I answer that Christ had to mention such things because his teaching required it. For they had pleaded with him for material food, when he had come to strengthen their desire for spiritual food; and so he had to make known to them his teaching on spiritual food.
Nevertheless, their difficulty was not caused by any defect in what Christ was teaching, but by their own unbelief. For if they had not understood what our Lord was saying, because of their own earthly mindedness, they could have questioned him, as the apostles had done in similar circumstances. According to Augustine, however, our Lord purposely permitted this situation, to give teachers a reason for consolation and patience with those who belittle what they say, since even the disciples presumed to disparage what Christ said.
988 Then (v 63), he takes away the occasion of their scandal so far as concerns the person speaking and what he said, as Chrysostom says. First, he deals with the person who was speaking; secondly, with what he said (v 64).
989 The occasion for their scandal was when they heard our Lord say divine things about himself. And so, because they believed that he was the son of Joseph, they were upset at what he said about himself. God takes away this reason by showing them his divinity more openly, and says: You are upset over the things I have said about myself; What if you should see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? What would you say then? As if to say: You can never deny that I came down from heaven, or that I am the one who gives and teaches eternal life. He did the same thing before with Nathanael. When Nathanael said to him, “You are the King of Israel” our Lord, wanting to lead him to more perfect knowledge, answered him: “You will see greater things than this” (above 1:5 0). And here too, our Lord reveals to them something greater about himself which would happen in the future, saying, What if you should see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? Indeed, he did ascend into heaven in the sight of his disciples (Acts 1:9). If, therefore, he does ascend to where he was before, then he was in heaven before: “No one has gone up to heaven except the one who came down from heaven” (above 3:13).
990 Let us note that Christ is one person: the person of the Son of God and the person of the Son of Man being the same person. Still, because of his different natures, something belongs to Christ by reason of his human nature, that is, to ascend, which does not belong to him by reason of his divine nature, according to which he does not ascend, since he is eternally at the highest summit of things, that is, in the Father. It is according to his human nature that it belongs to him to ascend to where he was before, that is, to heaven, where he had not been in his human nature. (This is in opposition to the teaching of Valentinus, who claimed that Christ had assumed a heavenly body). Thus, Christ ascended in the sight of his apostles to where he was before according to his divinity; and he ascended, by his own power, according to his humanity: “I came forth from the Father, and I have come into the world. Now I am leaving the world and am going to the Father” (below 16:28).
991 Augustine understands this passage differently. He said that the disciples were scandalized when our Lord said that he would give him them his flesh to eat because they understood this in a material minded way, as if they were literally to eat this flesh, just like the flesh of an animal. Our Lord rejected this interpretation and said. What if you should see the Son of Man ascending, with his entire body, to where he was before? Would you say that I intended to give you my flesh to eat like you do the flesh of an animal?
992 Then (v 64), he settles the offense they took at what he said. And, as Chrysostom says, he distinguished two ways in which his words could be understood. And secondly, he showed which way was appropriate here (v 64b).
With respect to the first, we should note that Christ’s words can be understood in two senses: in a spiritual way, and in a material way. Thus he says, It is the spirit that gives life, that is, if you understand these words according to the spirit, i.e., according to their spiritual meaning, they will give life. Flesh profits nothing, that is, if you understand them in a material way, they will be of no benefit to you, they will, rather, be harmful, for “If you live according to the flesh you will die” (Rom 8:13).
What our Lord said about eating his flesh is interpreted in a material way when it is understood in its superficial meaning, and as pertaining to the nature of flesh. And it was in this way that the Jews understood them. But our Lord said that he would give himself to them as spiritual food, not as though the true flesh of Christ is not present in this sacrament of the altar, but because it is eaten in a certain spiritual and divine way. Thus, the correct meaning of these words is spiritual, not material. So he says, The words that I have spoken to you, about eating my flesh, are spirit and life, that is, they have a spiritual meaning, and understood in this way they give life. And it is not surprising that they have a spiritual meaning, because they are from the Holy Spirit: “It is the Spirit who tells mysteries” (1 Cor 14:2). And therefore, the mysteries of Christ give life: “I will never forget your justifications, because through them you have brought me to life” (Ps 118:93).
993 Augustine explains this passage in a different way, for he understands the statement, flesh profits nothing, as referring to the flesh of Christ. It is obvious that the flesh of Christ, as united to the Word and to the Spirit, does profit very much and in every way; otherwise, the Word would have been made flesh in vain, and the Father would have made him known in the flesh in vain, as we see from 1 Timothy (c 4). And so we should say that it is the flesh of Christ, considered in itself, that profits nothing and does not have any more beneficial effect than other flesh. For if his flesh is considered as separated from the divinity and the Holy Spirit, it does not have different power than other flesh. But if it is united to the Spirit and the divinity, it profits many, because it makes those who receive it abide in Christ, for man abides in God through the Spirit of love: “We know that we abide in God and God in us, because he has given us his Spirit” (1 Jn 4:13). And this is what our Lord says: the effect I promise you, that is, eternal life, should not be attributed to my flesh as such, because understood in this way, flesh profits nothing. But my flesh does offer eternal life as united to the Spirit and to the divinity. “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit” “Gal 5:25). And so he adds, The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life, i.e., they must be understood of the Spirit united to my flesh; and so understood they are life, that is, the life of the soul. For as the body lives its bodily life through a bodily spirit, so the soul lives a spiritual life through the Holy Spirit: “Send forth your Spirit, and they will be created” (Ps 103:30).
994 Then (v 65), he indicates the reason why they were upset, that is, their unbelief. As if to say: the cause of your difficulty is not the hardness of what I have just said, but your own unbelief. And so first, he mentions their unbelief; secondly, he excludes an incorrect interpretation; and thirdly, he gives the reason for their unbelief.
995 Our Lord indicated their unbelief when he said, But there are some of you who do not believe. He did not say, “who do not understand.” He did more than this, for he gave the reason why they did not understand: they did not understand because they did not believe. “If you do not believe, you will not understand,” as we read in another version of Isaiah (7:9). He said, some, in order to exclude his disciples: “All do not have faith” (2 Thes 3:2); “All do not obey the Gospel” (Rom 10:16); “They did not believe what he said” (Ps 105:24).
996 The Evangelist then rejects an incorrect interpretation when he adds, For Jesus knew. As if to say: Jesus did not say, there are some of you who do not believe, because he just recently learned it, but because Jesus knew from the beginning, i.e., of the world, those who would believe in him, and who it was that would betray him. “All things are naked and open to his eyes” (Heb 4:13); “All things were known to the Lord God before they were created,” as we read in Sirach (23:29).
997 Our Lord next mentioned the cause of their unbelief, which was the withdrawal of attracting grace. Thus he said: This is why I said to you. As if to say: Thus it was necessary to tell you what I told you before: that no one can come to me, i.e., through faith, unless it be given him by my Father. It follows from this, according to Augustine, that the act of believing itself is given to us by God. Why it is not given to everyone we discussed above, where our Lord used almost the same words (6:44). They are repeated here for two reasons. First, to show that Christ received them in the faith more for their advantage and benefit than for his own: “It has been granted to you to believe in him” (Phil 1:29). As if to say: It is good for you to believe. Thus Augustine says: “It is a great thing to believe: rejoice, because you have believed.” Secondly, to show that Christ was not the son of Joseph, as they thought, but of God, for it is God the Father who draws men to the Son, as is clear from what has been said.
998 Then (v 67), we see the stubbornness of the disciples: for although our Lord had rebuked them and had taken away the cause of their difficulty so far as it concerned himself, they still would not believe. Thus he says, From this time on, many of his disciples turned back. He did not say, “they left,” but that they turned back, i.e., from the faith, which they had in a virtuous way; and cut off from the body of Christ, they lost life, because perhaps they were not in the body, as Augustine says. There are some who turn back in an absolute way, that is, those who follow the devil, to whom our Lord said, “Go back, Satan” (Mt 4:10). We also read of certain women that “Some turned back after Satan” (1 Tim 5:15). But Peter did not turn back in this way; he rather turned after Christ: “Follow after me, Satan” (Mt 16:23). But the others followed after Satan.
Then follows: they no longer walked with him, that is, even though we are required to walk with Jesus: “I will show you man what is good,” and then it continues on, “to walk attentively with your God” (Mi 6:8).
999 Then (v 68), our Lord examined those disciples who remained with him. First, we see this in the question he asked them; secondly, Peter’s answer shows the devotion of those who remained; and thirdly, our Lord corrects Peter’s answer (v 71).
1000 Our Lord examined the Twelve who remained as to their willingness to stay on; and so he said to the Twelve, that is, to the Apostles, Do you too wish to leave? He asked them this for two reasons. First, so that they would not take pride, thinking it was due to their own goodness, in the fact that they stayed on while the others left, and think that they were doing Christ a favor. And so he showed that he did not need them by holding them off, but still giving them strength: “If you live rightly, what do you give him, or what does he receive from your hand?” (Jb 35:7). Secondly, it sometimes happens that a person would really prefer to leave another but is kept from doing so by shame or embarrassment. Our Lord did not want them to stay with him because they were forced to do so out of embarrassment (because to serve unwillingly is not to serve at all), and so he took away any embarrassment in their leaving or necessity for their staying, and left it to their own judgment whether they wanted to stay with him or leave, because “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor 9:7).
1001 Then, from Peter’s answer, we see the devotion of those who did not leave. For Peter—who loved the brethren, who guarded his friendships, and had it special affection for Christ—answered for the whole group, and said, Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Here he did three things. First, he extolled the greatness of Christ; secondly, he praised his teaching; and thirdly, he professed his faith.
1002 He extolled the greatness of Christ when he said, Lord, to whom shall we go? As if to say: Are you telling us to leave you? Give us someone better to whom we can go. But then, “There is no one like you among the strong, O Lord” (Ex 15:11); “Who is like God” (Ps 88:7). And so you will not tell us to go. “Where can I go that is away from your spirit?” (Ps 138:7). Further, according to Chrysostom, Peter’s words show great friendship; for to him, Christ was more worthy of honor than father or mother.
1003 He praised his teaching when he said, You have the words of eternal life. Now Moses, and the prophets, also spoke the words of God; but they rarely had the words of eternal life. But you are promising eternal life. What more can we ask? “Whoever believes in me has eternal life” (above 6:47); “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life” (above 3:36).
1004 He professed his faith when he said, We have come to believe and to know that you are the Christ, the Son of God. For in our faith there are two things above all that must be believed: the mystery of the Trinity, and the Incarnation. And these two Peter professed here. He professed the mystery of the Trinity when he said, you are the Son of God: for in calling Christ the Son of God he mentioned the person of the Father and that of the Son, along with the person of the Holy Spirit, who is the love of the Father and of the Son, and the bond or nexus of both. He professed the mystery of the Incarnation when he said, you are the Christ: for in Greek, the word “Christ” means “anointed”; anointed, that is, with the invisible oil of the Holy Spirit. He was not anointed according to his divine nature, because one who is anointed by the Holy Spirit is Made better by that anointing. But Christ, so far as he is God, is not made better. Thus, Christ was anointed as man.
He said, We have come to believe and to know, because believing comes before knowing. And therefore, if we wanted to know before believing, we would neither know nor be able to believe, as Augustine says, and as in that other version of Isaiah: “If you do not believe, you will not understand” (Is 7:9).
1005 Our Lord corrected Peter’s answer when he said, Did I not choose you Twelve? And one of you is a devil. First, we have the Lord’s reply: secondly, the Evangelist’s explanation of it (v 72).
1006 Because Peter was great-hearted and included all in his answer, We have come to believe and to know that you are the Christ, the Son of God, it seemed that all of them would arrive at eternal life. And so our Lord excluded Judas from this community of believers. This trust was commendable in Peter, who did not suspect any evil in his companions; but we must also admire the wisdom of our Lord, who saw what was hidden. Thus he says, Did I not choose you Twelve? And one of you is a devil; not by nature, but by imitating the devil’s malice: “Death came into the world -by the envy of the devil; his disciples imitate him” (Wis 2:24); “After the morsel, Satan entered into him” (below 13:27), because Judas became like him in malice.
1007 But if Christ chose Judas, who was later to become evil, it seems that our Lord made a mistake in choosing him. First, we might answer this as Chrysostom does, and say that this choice was not for predestination, but for some task, and in reference to a condition of present justice. Sometimes a person is chosen this way, not in relation to the future, but according to present realities; for being chosen in this way does not destroy one’s free choice or the possibility of sinning: hence we read, “Let him who thinks that he stands, take heed so he will not fall” (1 Cor 10:12). And so our Lord did choose Judas, but not as evil at that time; and being so chosen did not take away his possibility of sinning. Secondly, we could answer with Augustine, who said that our Lord did chose Judas as evil. And although he knew that he was evil, because it is characteristic of a good person to use evil for good, God made good use of this evil in allowing himself to be betrayed in order to redeem us. Or, we could say that the choice of the Twelve does not refer here to the persons, but rather to the number; as if to say: I have chosen Twelve. For this number is fittingly set apart for those who would preach the faith of the Holy Trinity to the four corners of the world. And indeed, this number did not pass away, because Matthias was substituted for the traitor. Or, according to Ambrose, Jesus chose Judas as evil so that when we read that our Lord and Master was betrayed by his disciple, we might be consoled if sometimes our friends betray us.
1008 We could ask here why the disciples did not say anything after our Lord said, one of you is a devil; for later on, when he says, “One of you will betray me” (below 13:21), they reply, “Is it I, Lord?” (Mt 26:22). 1 answer that the reason for this is that our Lord was speaking here in a general way when he said that one of them was a devil; for this could mean any kind of malice, and so they were not disturbed. But later on, when they heard of such a great crime, that their Master would be betrayed, they could not keep quiet. Or, we could say that when our Lord said this, each of them had confidence in his own virtue, and so none feared for himself; but after he said to Peter, “Follow after me, Satan” (Mt 16:23), they were afraid, and realized their own weakness. That is why they asked in that indecisive way, “Is it I, Lord?”
1009 Finally, what our Lord had just said privately is explained by the Evangelist when he says, he was talking about Judas, as events proved and which will be clear below (c 13).