Holy Bible

Chapter Six Christ, the Bread of Life Or The Heavenly Bread In the first stage, John the Evangelist presents to us Christ as renovator; in the second stage He is the resuscitator. Now the evangelist presents to us the person of the Lord Christ as the Heavenly Bread that feeds the spirit and satisfies it so that it may remain alive and grow. He is the Incarnate Word; with His word He raises us to the new life and with His body, the Heavenly Bread, He enlivens us abide in Him. In this chapter we see the Lord Christ feeding the multitude with two fish and five barley loaves offered by a lad. First: Jesus lifted up His eyes and saw the hungry multitude. He did not wait for someone to ask for food or someone to feed the crowd; He looked out for the people's needs. Secondly: As He gives food to the people, He accepts the offereing of a small boy. Just as He gives, He takes; this is a sign of mutual love between God and humanity. He raised the morale of the boy who saw his small offering satisfying the hunger of the crowed and filling twelve baskets with leftover fragments. Thirdly: God honors every person and asks for an offering from a small boy, a young man, or a child, no matter how small the offering may be! This is a sign of man's feeling of his vital role and his participation in the service of humanity. Fourthly: The two fish symbolize the two Testaments, the Old and the New. The five loaves are symbolic of the five Books of Moses. What a difference between receiving the word from the Lord Christ's hand and rading it through human interpretation. The word of God satisfies and is abundant when Christ gives it to us through His church (His disciples). Fifthly: He made the people sit down on the grass which symbolizes the body so that we do not let the body, but rather the mature spirit, be the guide. The body submits and works according to the guidance of the spirit and for the spirit, not for physical desires. Sixthly: The multitude returned the next day to look for Him, not to rejoice in the Maker of miracles, but because they ate and were filled [26]. Therefore, the Lord Christ offered them a new and different food: His Flesh and Blood sacrificed as food that grants eternal life and resurrection. He who walked on the water to carry us in Him so that we take His roayl path offers us Himself as bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world [33]. The Lord spoke clearly saying that He is the divine bread that invigorates us toward eternal life. Many of His followers stumbled and left Him. But He said to the twelve, "Do you also want to go away?" [67] He insisted to offer His Flesh and Blood, not as symbols of something else; else those who left https://coptic-treasures.com/ Him would not have gone away. The Jews were not able to accept the divine word, nor did they enjoy His body and drink His blood; they, therefore, left Him and went away. 1 - Feeding the Multitude 1-14. 2 - Christ Walks on the Water 15-21. 3 - The People Seek Him in Capernaum 22-25. 4 - I Am the Living Bread 26-59. 5 - The Complaint of Some 60-65. 6 - To Whom Shall We Go? 66-71. 1 - Feeding the Multitude: John the evangelist was accustomed to mention the miracles not mentioned by the other three evangelists, except for this mriacle about which all the evangelists spoke. Everywhere in Matthew the Lord Christ is presented as king (The Gospel according to St. Matthew); as the servant of humanity (the Gospel according to St. Mark), as the friend of human beings (the Gospel according to St. Luke) or as the Son of God who grants sonship to humanity (the Gospel according to St. John). The Gospel wants to satisfy the needs of the people in every respect. Moreover, the evangelist was careful to mention this miracle so that He may report the long discourse, related to it, about Christ's offer of Himself as the bread comin down from heaven so that we may be filled with Him who is the divine Word. He also offers His Body and Blood, a sacrifice for us for remission of sins and eternal life. "After these things Jesus went over the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias." [1] The evangelist estabishes the place, time and all surrounding circumstances of this mirace as a testimony for the truth of the story because of its importance in the life of the Church over the ages. Jesus went over the Sea of Galilee, which is the lake of Tiberias and is called in a different place, Gennesaret. Here, it is called the Sea of Tiberias with reference to a town on the wet of the lake which was recently expanded and adorned by Herod and which he called Tiberias after the name and in honor of emperor Tiberius. Herod may have made it his capital. The Lord did not cross the sea, but made His jurney over the sea, that is to say, on its shores. Saint Cyril the Great observes that the Lord Christ departed from Jerusalem and went over to the opposite shore of the lake of Tiberias to avoid the hatred of the unbelievers in Him. He did that willingly and not against His will. He teaches us to run away from the attacks of evil, not out of fear of death, but out of love for those who give us trouble. ? We do not strive for our own good, but for the good of others also. The work of love is not in resisting those who want our harm, nor in accepting what we endure, for this will https://coptic-treasures.com/ arouse their bitter anger because of their failure in controlling what they hate. Love does not seek its own as Paul says (1 Cor. 13:5). This was obvious in Christ. Saint Cyril the Great. ? My beloved, would we did not compete with the violent, but rather learn that when they do so they do not harm our viture whith their wicked counsels, but rathe their vilent work is repressed. When an arrow falls on a firm, strong resisting body, it returns with great force against whoever shot it and the violence of those who shot it does not find whom they opposed. Likewise, when we struggle against thedisdainful, they intensify their cruelty, but if we bow and bend easily to earth, we stop their madness. Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Scribes and Pharisees heard that He baptized more disciples than John, He went to Galilee to put out their envy and, with His withdrawal, calm their anger which grew with the reports that reached them. When He went for the second time to Galilee, He did not go to the same place as before; He did not go to Cana, but went "over the sea"1. Saint John Chrysostom. ? As for Saint Cyril the Great, he thinks that the crossing to the other shore carries the symbol of the preaching of the Gospel of the Lord Christ crossing from the Jews over to the gentiles and it is impossible for the Jews to cross over because of their disbelief. ? The crossing of the sea which separates the two sides denotes the difficulty for the Jews to cross over, or rather the impossibility of their walking along the path that leads to it. For God declares that He "will hedge up thy way with thorns… that she shall not find her paths." (Hosea 2:6). What the thorns indicate here, the sea indicates there because it separates the reviled from those who relentlessly abused Him; and it separates the Holy from the defiled. Saint Cyril the Great. "Then a great multitude followed Him, because they saw His signs which He performed on those who were diseased." [2] Saint John does not mention these healing miracles because Matthew the evangelist refers to them in details (Matt. 12:10,22; 14:34-36). The multitude gathered around Him and wished to know Him because of the numerous signs He did. However, for the Lord Christ, theis multitude meant no honor to Him, but showed the right of work to present the word of truth and to serve them so that they may rejoice in their communion with Him. Saint John Chrysostom comments on this verse pointing out that what is said here does not reveal people who have great wisdom, for they were attracted more by the miracles than by the teaching although the signs are for the unbelievers and not for those who believe. "And Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat with His disciples." [3] The pulpit from which He spoke to the multitude was the mountain where He sat with His disciples. This mountain is the wilderness of Sidon in Philip's province that is in Galilee. ? He went up on the mountain to teach us always to rest from time to time far from the noise and confusion of buplic life because solitude is appropriate to study wisdom. Christ often went up obove on the the mountain and spent the night there praying, to teach us 1 1 Homilies on St. John, Hom:42:1 https://coptic-treasures.com/ that whoever wishes to approach God must free himself of worry and look for a calm time without confusion2. Saint John Chrysostom. ? Let us follow Him as He is persecuted and escapes from trouble caused by those who oppose Him, so that we also may "go up on the mountain and sit with Him.” So that we may rise to a glorious blessing, more sublime than everything, and reign with Him. He Himself said, "you are those who have continued with Me in My trials… that in the regeneration when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you … will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." (Luke 22:28; Matt 19:28). Saint Cyril the Great. "Now the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near." [4] John the evangelist links this miracle with the Passover by saying, "Now the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near." [4] The true Passover is the offering of Christ's body as a sacrifice on the cross, and this is the very same Eucharist that we enjoy on the altar. This miracle was an introduction for the acceptance of the world of believers of the Flesh and Blood of the Lord sacrificed to give spiritual satisfaction and everlasting life that will not be conquered by time or death. This happened before the third Passover that the Lord celebrated during His service. It was about ten or twelve days before the feast. The Jews were accustomed to spend a whole month before the Passover in the big preparations for it. They paved the roads, repaired the bridges if necessary, and they spoke about the Passover and how it was instituted. The multitude in this region may have realized that the Passover was near and all men must go to Jerusalem. Consequently, Jesus Christ will certainly go to Jerusalem and they will have no chance to meet Him among the vast crowds coming from many nations. They, therefore, wanted to take the opportunity to gather around Him and, as much as possible, not to leave Him. They did not postpone their meeting with Him until after the feast, but were wise to take every opportunity to rejoice in Him. ? If you say: What was the aim of Christ to go, now, up on the mountain and sit there with His disciples? I would answer: because of the miracle that He intended to perform… and so that He may teach us to rest away from what worries us. The quiet and the wilderness agree with wisdom. Christ went up alone on the mountain many times and remained all night praying. Saint John Chrysostom. "Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, 'Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?'"[5] Jesus lifted up His eyes and saw a great crowd of people from the popular poor class whose spirits are reflected in their eyes, precious spirits like those of the rich without discrimination. The Lord cares for their spiritual and physical needs and, therefore, asks Philip, "Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?" For it was Judas who had the money box, and 2 1 Homilies on St. John, Hom. 42:2 https://coptic-treasures.com/ Philip was responsible for the management of daily food for the disciples. ? This shows that He never sat inactive with His disciples. He spoke to them, made them listen to Him and directed them toward Him. This shows in particular, His compassinate care, His meekness and His condescension in His conduct with them. They sat with Him and may be looked at each other while He lifted up His eyes and saw the multitude coming toward Him3. Saint John Chrysostom. ? Christ lifted up His eyes to announce that those who loved Him are worthy of the divine look, as it was said to Israel in the blessing: "The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace." (Numbers 6:26). Saint Cyril the Great. ? Jesus gave some barley bread lest they faint on the way, and He granted the sacrament of His body to the others (Matt 26:26) so that they may strive for the kingdom4. Saint Ambrose. Saint John Chrysostom compares what God did with Moses the prophet and what the Lord Christ did with Philip. In the old time God asked Moses what he held in his hand and Moses informed Him he had a rod that has no power, but God caused it to be His rod with which He perfomed miracles. Here, the Lord Christ asks Philip about his and the disciples' potentials to feed the multitude. Philip had almost nothing: five barley loaves and two fish that a boy had, but the Lord used them to feed thousands and a load of fragments remained. Because of His love for man, God wishes always to exchange a dialogue with him and ask him about his possibilities, so that God may, on His part, offer His divine capability that will act through our inability and weak possibilities. 2- Christ Walks on the Water The disappearance of the Lord Christ when the multitudes wanted to make Him king, and His appearance, to the disciples alone, walking on the sea bears an important Biblical indication. The Lord Christ offers His Body, heavenly bread, not so that He may reign on earth, but that He may carry the members of His body (the Church) to the heavenly Canaan. He wanted to correct the wrong interpretations of the Messiah’s kingdom. On the other hand, if Moses parted the sea so that the people may go across, the Lord Christ came walking on water to carry His people above the world currents. The Holy Bible says about God, “He treads upon the waves of the sea.” (Job 9:8) The Judaic tradition of the Rabbins says that the Messiah will come from the sea. So the Lord wanted to affirm to them that He is the expected Messiah about whom the Bible prophesied and who is mentioned in the Tradition. “Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone.” [15] 3 1 Homilies on St. John, Hom. 42:2. 4 2. Concerning Widows, 13:79 https://coptic-treasures.com/ The multitude wanted to take Him by force to make Him a king on earth according to their wish. However, He disappeared from among them and departed to the mountain alone. They did not understand the nature of Christ’s kingdom and they wanted to honor him in accordance to their thinking, not to divine thought. The multitude wanted to liberate themselves from Caesar and Roman occupation. But the Lord Christ did not want His disciples to be preoccupied with political business or bear enmity to any person. By departing alone to the mountain He asserts to us the importance of our withdrawal from the world, from time to time, to meet God in secret talk and to enjoy holy silence. Our service of others, no matter how important it is, should not waste for us our personal secret worship. + When they filled their stomachs, and food for them was what they mostly cared for, they decided to make Christ a king. However, He escaped… teaching us to despise worldly ranks, showing that He does not need earthly positions because the gifts coming to Him from heaven were radiant and great. Those gifts were the angels, the star, His Father proclaiming and the Holy Spirit testifying, and Prophets warning concerning Him a long time in the past. As for earthly gifts, these are all trivial. He came to teach us to look down upon things here and love future blessings. Saint John Chrysostom. + He departed from those who wanted to give Him worthy honor. He refused a kingdom that was regarded as the greatest earthly reward, though for Him it was not, in fact, a thing He wished since He has dominion with the Father over all things. It befits us to avoid the love of glory that is akin to arrogance and is not far from it. We must also avoid the glow of honor in this present life because it is harmful. Let us search for holy humility. Let us give preference to one another, as the blessed Paul also gives advice saying, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bond servant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name” (Philippians 2:5-9) If we care for heavenly concerns and live for affairs that are above more than for earthly matter, let us reject exaltation on earth if it is offered to us, since it is the origin of all vain glory. Saint Cyril the Great. Saint Cyril the Great observes that His going to the mountain by Himself alone when they wanted to make Him king, indicates His rejection on earth, but He ascends to heaven, the holy mountain (Ps. 24:3-4), so that when He returns from heaven in His second coming He reigns completely over us. + When the Lord sat on the mountain with His disciples, He saw the multitude coming https://coptic-treasures.com/ toward Him, so He went down from the mountain and gave them food at the foot of the mountain. For how could he depart again to the mountain, if He had not descended from the mountain before? This bears this meaning: the Lord descended from on high to give food to the multitude and then ascend… He came not to reign immediately, for He reigns in the sense for which we pray “Thy kingdom come.” He reigns always with the Father as He is the Son of God, the Word through whom all things were made. However, the prophets inform us concerning His kingdom in which He is the Christ who became man and caused the believers to be Christians… His kingdom expands and is declared when the glory of His saints is declared after judgement is accomplished through Him. That is the judgment about which He spoke earlier that the Son of Man will achieve. That kingdom about which the apostle says “when He delivers the kingdom to God” (1 Cor. 15:24). Besides, He Himself refers to it saying “Come you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (Matt 25:34). However, the disciples and the multitude that believed in Him thought that He came to reign at once. They, therefore, wanted to take Him by force to make Him king. They wanted to act before the time that He Himself concealed so that He may announce it at the right time.5 Saint Augustine + What is meant by “escaped (departed)”? His sublimity cannot be comprehended. If we do not understand something we say about it, “it escaped me.” Therefore, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone, this firstborn from the dead rose to the heavens to make intercession for us (Col. 1:18; Rom 8:34).6 Saint Augustine. “Now when evening came, His disciples went down to the sea.” [16] It may be through the direction of the Lord Christ that the disciples took a boat to go toward Capernaum so that they may not be preoccupied with the useless dialogue about making Jesus king. He wanted to withdraw them from this test, but they face another test, which is the raging sea because of a great wind. His walking on the sea came after He fed the multitude (Mark 6:34-51; Matt 14:13-33). Here, Christ after giving His life-giving word and His resurrection, He offers Himself at the time of famine as at the time of tempests announcing His divine presence “It is I” who grants help, who satisfies needs, “do not be afraid.” + This boat denotes the Church, while He is in the highest… He truly said, “it was dark” because the Light had not come to them. It was already dark, and Jesus had not come to them. When the end of the world approaches and dangers increase, horror intensifies, evil multiplies 5 St. Augustine: On the Gospel of St. John, tractate 25:1-2. 6 St. Augustine: On the Gospel of St. John, tractate 25:4. https://coptic-treasures.com/ and denial of faith spreads, then in general, the light is extinguished. In brief the light that John the evangelist reveals wholly and clearly to be love as he says, “he who hates his brother is in darkness.” The darkness of enmity increases between brothers; it increases daily and Jesus has not yet come.7 Saint Augustine. “They got into the boat, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was already dark, And Jesus had not come to them.” [17] + If you ask, why did He leave them and did not appear to them? I shall answer: to make them have a greater effect. Saint John Chrysostom. “Then the sea arose because a great wind was blowing.” [18] + The great waves toss those who are not with Jesus, those who are separated from Him or who seem absent from Him because they have departed from His holy law. Because of sin they were separated from Him who can save. If it is a burdensome matter for us to be in spiritual darkness. if we are troubled because we are overwhelmed by the sea of bitter voluptuousness, let us come to Jesus for He will save us from the dangers and from death in sin. Saint Cyril the Great. “So when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near the boat; and they were afraid.” [19] 25 or 30 stadia equal about 3.5 miles. The sea was about 6 miles in width. According to Josephus the historian8 the lake was about 40 stadia, that is about 5 miles wide. As for its length, it was about 140 stadia or 18 miles. But Pliny says it was 6 miles wide and 16 miles long9. Saint Augustine observes that the number 25 refers to the law understood literally, whereas the number 30 denotes the law understood through the Gospel. He did not determine whether they reached 25 or 30 stadia. The number 5 indicates the law or the five Books of Moses to which it was referred in the five porches leading to the pool, and the five barley loaves which the lad carried. If someone tried to understand it according to the law (5x5) the result is 25. However, if he tries to understand it through the evangelistic perfection which is the number 6, the result would be 30. The evangelistic perfection is symbolized by the number 6 when creation was completed. When we understand the law according to the Gospel we see Jesus walking on the sea, drawing very close to us. + For those, the law is complete and, therefore, Jesus comes. How does He come? Walking on the waves, controlling under His feet all the whirlpools of the world that submerge 7 St. Augustine: On the Gospel of St. John, tractate 25:5. 8 War, b.3, c.25. 9 Lib. 5, c.15. https://coptic-treasures.com/ us, pressing down all heights. This is what happens: as time passes and generations succeed, tribulations increase; disasters and sorrow augment. All these rise to swallow us, but Jesus crosses over treading underfoot the waves10. + He walked over the heights of the world, down, to be glorified by the humble11. Saint Augustine. + It seems to me that this miracle is other than the miracle mentioned in the Gospel according to Saint Matthew (Matt 14: 22-23). If you ask: why were they afraid?! I shall answer: The reasons why they were afraid were many: concerning the time, it was dark; concerning the sea, a great wind was blowing; concerning the place, they were not near the land12. Saint John Chrysostom. “But He said to them, ‘It is I. Do not be afraid.’” [20] He says: “It is I”; that is to say “I who dwells (among the people)” or “I AM THAT I AM” (Ex 3:14) He came walking on the water, not to show His power over the sea and nature, but to declare the submission of the laws of nature for those who believe in Him, particularly in the middle of their suffering. He is the Lord who rides the clouds to save His people. He allows that His children have tribulations, but He does not leave them in the middle of their trial. He rather announces His presence to grant them rest and peace. When they saw the Lord Christ walking on the water, they were afraid and terrified, because they thought He was a ghost. So fear of an illusion is stronger than fear of the trial itself. + Contemplate how that Christ did not appear to those who were in the boat right when it sailed, nor when the dangers began, but when they were many miles away from the shore. So it is that the grace of Him who saves does not befall us right when danger begins around us, but when fear reaches its highest and the danger itself seems very violent and we find ourselves in the middle of the waves of affliction. It is then that Christ appears unexpectedly and expels our fear. He saves us from all danger, and with His inexpressible power, He dispels the fears with joy, calm and peace. Saint Cyril the Great “Then they willingly received Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going.” [21] The more anguish comes near us, the LORD Christ comes nearer to save us. He draws near us but does not enter the boat of our life by force. He enters when we willingly receive Him. 10 St. Augustine: On the Gospel of St. John, tractate 25:6. 11 St. Augustine: On the Gospel of St. John, tractate 25:7. 12 Homilies on St. John, Hom 43:1. https://coptic-treasures.com/ Saint John Chrysostom thinks that Christ did not reveal Himself walking on the water because they were not ready for that because of their weakness. As for the disciples, they saw Him for a short time, then He disappeared because He did not enter the boat13. At any rate, the LORD Christ appeared to the disciples when they were in the center of trouble. As for the multitude who were on land, they did not enjoy seeing Him so. Trouble is a fertile means fpr the spirit in order that it enjoys seeing its Savior drawing near it walking on the water of the world, trampling over the rough waves challenging the winds. We do not hear, here, that the LORD Christ rebuked the waves of the sea, or the winds, to be still. However, as soon as they received Him into the boat, they found the boat safe on the shore. It seems the boat came ashore in an unusual way, miraculously. Acceptance of the LORD Christ in the spirit is enough to grant it inner peace in a supernatural manner. +Christ is our deliverance from all danger. He achieves all deeds more than is expected by those who receive Him. His disciples alone, and by themselves, as a model for the successive Church teachers across the ages, swim in the waves of the present life, as a model of the sea. They face many hard trials and, in preaching, endure dangers not to be overlooked, at the hands of those that oppose the faith and fight the spread of the Gospel. However, they will be free of fear and of all danger: They will rest from their labor and sorrow when Christ appears to them in His divine power after His death also when He has treaded underfoot the whole world. This is what walking on the sea indicates, as long as the sea, in general in the holy books is considered a symbol of the world…Thus, when Christ will come in the glory of His Father, as it is written (Matt 16:27)then the boat of the saintly apostles, that is to say the Church, and those who sail in it, that is those who in faith and love rise above worldly business, will without delay or trouble, win the land where they were going, for their aim is to reach the heavenly kingdom, their calm harbor. Saint Cyril the Great + O Christians, why are you afraid? Christ speaks: “It is I; do not be afraid.” Why do you worry about those affairs? Why are you afraid? He has already told you that those events will surely happen…”It is I; do not be afraid. Then they willingly received Him into the boat.” [20-21] When they recognized Him, they were happy and free of their fears, “and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going” [21]. An end at land was found: from the water region to the solid region, from trouble to steadfastness, from the road to the destination14. Saint Augustine + He permitted the tempest to rage so that they may seek Him. He appeased the storm so that they may know His authority, and He did not enter the boat so that the miracle may be 13 Ibid. 14 St. Augustine: On the Gospel of St. John, tractate 25:7. https://coptic-treasures.com/ greater!15 Saint John Chrysostom 3—The People seek Him in Capernaum “On the following day, when the people who were standing on the other side of the sea saw that there was no other boat there, except that one which His disciples had entered, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with His disciples, but His disciples had gone away alone—[22] Saint Cyril the Great says that the miracle of the LORD Christ walking on the water happened at night in darkness. The multitude who watched His movements discovered what happened without being informed by Him. “Whoever wants to follow Christ’s footsteps, and as much as is possible to humankind to be formed according to His model, must necessarily refuse to live the life of pride. He must not deviate seeking praise when he practices virtue. He must not boast when he enters an unusual life of great asceticism. He must rather yearn for God’s eyes only to see him, He who sees all that is hidden and reveals openly and clearly what is done in secret.” “However, other boats came from Tiberias, near the place where they ate bread after the LORD had given thanks” [23] “when the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, nor His disciples, they also got into boats and came to Capernaum, seeking Jesus.[24] And when they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, ‘Rabbi, when did You come here?” [25] What does the other side of the sea mean? It is the north shore where Capernaum is in the land of Geennesaret. It seems that they found Him in the synagogue [59] for it was the LORD’s custom to attend religious meetings (Luke 4:16). It befits us to seek Him in His people’s meeting place because He is in their midst. When they found that He had departed when they wanted to make Him king, they began to treat Him as a rabbi and not as a king. + What did the multitude anticipate, except that He came there walking on the sea? It was not possible that He took another boat, for the evangelist says that there was one boat only, that which the disciples entered. Therefore, when they came to Him after great astonishment, they did not ask Him how He crossed the sea or how He arrived there. They did not want to understand such a great miracle. What did they say then? ‘Rabbi, when did You come here?’ [25]16 + The Jews crossed the Red Sea directed by Moses, but in circumstances totally different from these. Moses did all that through prayer as a servant. As for Christ, He acted with absolute authority. There, when the winds from the south blew, the water divided to make them cross on 15 Homilies on St. John, Hom.43:1 16 Homilies on St. John, Hom.43:l. https://coptic-treasures.com/ dry land (Ex 14:21). But here, the miracle is greater because the sea kept its appropriate nature and its LORD walked on its surface. Thus testifying to what the Book says, “and treads upon the waves of the sea”(Job 9:8).17Saint John Chrysostom 4—I Am the Living Bread “Jesus answered them and said, Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, But because you ate of the loaves and were filled.” [26] Many people do not seek God except to ask Him to stretch His hands and give them their temporary needs. Few people long for a meeting with God for Himself. Many ask of God the cheap bread, and not the precious love: the bread coming down from heaven (Ex 16:14; Neh 9:15; Ps 78: 24; Ps 105:40). He stresses that He grants bread equal to the Father’s gift, not to Moses’ level [32]. He is God the gift, the bread that comes down from heaven. He feeds man, because He is divine wisdom (Prov. 9:1-5). He grants bread, and is greater than Moses. He is the bread that comes down from heaven. He is the bread that gives satisfaction as He is the wisdom of God. The Eucharist that grants eternal life. + The lenient, gentle style is not always beneficial, for there are times when the teacher must employ a strong language… When the multitude came and found Jesus and flattered Him saying ‘Rabbi, when did You come here?’ [25] He, to show that He does not want glory from men, but rather demands one thing which is their salvation, answered them severely to correct their attitude, not only by using this manner of speech, but also by exposing and revealing their thoughts…18 + He rebuked them with His words, but He did that kindly and with compassion. For He did not say to them: ‘You gormandizers, slaves of your stomachs, I did for you so many miracles but you did not follow Me, nor were you amazed at my works.’ He rather spoke to them gently and amiably saying ‘You seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.’19 Saint John Chrysostom. + We must obey and love Christ, not to obtain physical blessings but to receive salvation from Him. Saint Cyril the Great. + Rarely is Jesus sought for His own sake only.20 Saint Augustine. 17 Homilies on St. John, Hom. 43:2. 18 Homilies on St. John, Hom. 44:1. 19 Ibid. 20 St. Augustine: On the Gospel of St. John, tractate 25:10. https://coptic-treasures.com/ “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.” [27] The Father has set His seal on Him so that He may execute the work of conciliation and accept, in lieu of the believers, the Holy Spirit to descend on Him. The seal is set on Him, so that we all may be sealed in Him and that we may be counted God’s anointed. + As though He says to them: I have fed your bodies so that you may ask for the other food that endures and feeds your spirits. But you hurried to take earthly food and, therefore, I will not guide you toward earthly food, but rather toward that food which does not give temporary life, but everlasting life: food to nourish your spirits, not your bodies. + There is nothing neither worse nor more shameful than voracity. It demeans the intellect and renders the spirit corporeal. It causes blindness so that one does not see well21. + “God the Father has set His seal on Him” [27] meaning: “He sent Him for this purpose, to give you food.” The word announces other interpretations also, for he says in a different place, “He who has received His testimony has certified that God is true” (John 3:33)… It seems to me that this statement hints here at “the Father has set His seal” not that He “admitted” or “declared His testimony.” Christ indeed, admitted about Himself, but as He argues with the Jews He presents His Father’s testimony for Him22. Saint John Chrysostom. + Who can give the people food that keeps them to everlasting life? This is an entirely strange thing for human nature. This befits He who is God above all. As though He says ‘I am not incapable of giving you food that can endure and be fruitful toward eternal life and eternal joy. For, in spite of that I seem to be one of you, a man that has a body, yet I have been anointed and God the Father has sent His seal on Me to be like Him. Saint Cyril the Great. + What is the seal but a particular sign? To set a seal means to set a mark on the thing in order that no confusion may happen between it and another thing. So, ‘the Father has sent His seal on Him’… that is to say has granted Him a certain thing that in consequence, He may not be compared to other human beings. For this reason, it is said concerning Him: ‘God, Your God has anointed You with the oil of gladness more than Your companions.’ (Ps. 45:7) What, then does ‘has His seal’ mean other than that He is excepted from the others? This is the importance of ‘more than Your companions.’ He says: ‘Do not despise Me because I am the Son of Man. Rather ask of Me not food that perishes but the food which endures to everlasting life. For I am the Son of Man in a way by which I am not one of you. I am the Son of Man in a way by which the Father has set His seal on Me… He gave me something 21 Homilies on St. John, Hom. 45:1. 22 Hom. 44. https://coptic-treasures.com/ peculiar to Me so that no confusion may occur between Me and human beings, rather human beings are saved through Me.’23 Saint Augustine. “Then they said to Him, ‘What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?’” [28] When He asked them to labor not for the food that perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, they asked Him how they may accomplish divine works, or the works according to God’s pleasure. What is required of them more than to obey the Law? Is the Law incomplete and is there what is better than the Law? Saint Augustine says that the Lord Christ instructed them not to ask for food which perishes, but for food which endures to everlasting life. Therefore, the multitude asked Him, ‘What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?’ [28] meaning ‘How can we practice this instruction?’ The answer came: to believe in Him whom He sent. Belief makes their works acceptable to God. The LORD did not want to differentiate between the works and faith, but rather He declared that belief is itself work. This is faith working through love (Gal 5:6). + Their question was not of good intent. We can suppose it did not originate in their wish for learning, but was rather the result of excessive pride, as though they refrained from more knowledge than that they already had. As though they say, ‘suffices us, good Lord, to know the writings of Moses. We know more than we need about the things that the skillful in the works of God should seek. What new thing will You give us in addition to those determined at that time? And what strange thing will You teach us that has not been revealed to us through divine words?’ The questioning here was by way of stupidity, not motivated by an active will. Saint Cyril the Great. + They did not say that because they wanted to learn and work (as is shown in what followed that), but so that He may give them food once more24. Saint John Chrysostom. “Jesus answered and said to them, This is the work of God, That you believe in Him whom He sent.” [29] The answer was that they lacked one thing that was the essence of the Law: that they believe in Him, the Messiah that the Law mentions as the Savior of the world which sin corrupted. The word ‘believe’ here has the meaning of practical, living faith: the believer clings to Him and follows Him in the path of the Cross. 23 St. Augustine: On the Gospel of St. John, tractate 25:11. 24 Hom. 45. PG 59:262. https://coptic-treasures.com/ + It was necessary that He shows them that they were still very far from worship acceptable to God and that they knew nothing about the truly good things. For, as they adhered to the letter of the Law, their minds were filled with symbols and abstract forms… The work that the pure spirit practices is faith going toward Christ. What is much more sublime than this is man’s zeal to be wise in knowing Christ more than to adhere to the symbolic shadows. Saint Cyril the Great. “Therefore they said to Him, ‘What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do?’” [30] The Jews demanded of the Lord a sign so that they may believe in Him. Did they consider feeding the multitude among whom were about 5000 men, with five barely loaves and two fish, a trivial sign? They demanded of Him a miracle comparable to that that happened at the time of Moses when their fathers ate the manna in the desert; they ate bread coming down from heaven. They saw the miracle of feeding the multitude with five loaves and two fish and they did not believe. It was not possible that they see greater than this, but their minds were unable to comprehend the truth. “Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” [31] “Then Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, But my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.’” [32] So that they may understand the truth, Christ revealed to them the depth of God’s deed with their fathers when He supported them in the desert for 40 years with manna coming down from heaven: a) It was not Moses, but God who gave them the manna. b) The manna was not the true bread, but was a symbol for it. c) Now God gives them the true bread not to compare at all with the manna. d) He is the true bread from heaven, for whose sake their fathers were given the manna as a symbol for Him. + With extreme stupidity they crown Moses with this work (the manna from heaven) and, therefore, they ask of Christ a sign equivalent to that sign, without showing any admiration, at all, of the sign He showed them during an entire day. Even though it was great, they say giving food must extend for them a long time. Consequently, we see Him rebuking them strongly so that they may admit and accept the fact that the power of the Savior and His teaching which they are about to receive, are the more glorious. https://coptic-treasures.com/ + Now also the Savior tells them they do not understand and they are extremely ignorant concerning the writings of Moses. For, they should have known quite clearly that Moses was serving God’s works for the people and also, the works of the Israelites toward God. Moses himself did not perform the miracles, but was rather a servant and a worker in service of these deeds…Let us, then, learn with more discernment and prudence to respect our fathers the saints…However, when the speech is about our Savior, we must say: “For who in the heavens can be compared to the LORD? Who among the sons of the mighty can be likened to the LORD?” (Ps.89:6) Saint Cyril the Great + He could have answered them: “I now perform greater miracles than Moses did since I do not need a stick or prayer, but I do everything by Myself. If you remember the manna, behold, for I give you bread.” However, the time was not appropriate for such talk because the only thing He earnestly wanted was to give them spiritual food. Contemplate His infinite wisdom and the manner of His answer.25 + Christ’s words to Jews: “Moses did not give you the bread from heaven”, since the manna is not from heaven, so how may it be said that it is from heaven? It is an expression similar to “birds of the air” and “the LORD thundered from heaven.” His words: “the true bread from heaven” as Christ is the true bread, not that the miracle of the manna was false, but because it was an image and not the truth itself. + Why did He not say: “It was not Moses who gave you, but I” but instead He put God in place of Moses, and Himself in place of the manna? He did so because of the extreme weakness of His hearers…Christ guided them gradually. Saint John Chrysostom + Jesus promised them a greater thing than Moses gave them. True, through Moses was the promise of a kingdom, of a land that flows with milk and honey, the promise of temporary peace, of many children, good physical health and all the other temporary blessings which imply a spiritual symbol….It was the promise of filling the stomach on earth with food which perishes. As for the other, Jesus, He promises not food which perishes, but food which endures to everlasting life. 26 Saint Augustine “For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” [33] + With extreme stupidity you suppose that the manna is the bread from heaven, although the manna fed the Jews only in the desert while the world extends to other innumerable nations. However, when the time of truth came close to our doors, “My Father gives you the true bread from heaven” for whom the gift of the manna was a shadow in old times. He says, “Let no one think that that manna was truly the bread from heaven, but rather was in the interest of that bread that can feed all the earth and give the world perfect life.” 25 Homilies on St. John, Hom. 45:1. 26 St. Augustine: On the Gospel of St. John, tractate 25:12. https://coptic-treasures.com/ The true manna is Christ Himself understood as regarding God the Father gave Him in the sign of the manna to those who were in ancient times. “And given them of the bread of heaven. Men ate angels’ food” (Ps 78:24) …It is obvious to all that there is no bread and food for the intellectual powers in heaven other than the only Son of God the Father. He, therefore, is the true manna and the bread from heaven whom God the Father gives to all the rational creations. Christ promises to give us the food that is from heaven, that is to say, comfort through the Spirit, meaning the spiritual manna. With that manna we have strength to endure all hardship and resolution. When we obtain that, we do not fall, because of our weakness, in those matters to which we must not descend. It was more appropriate for them to realize that Moses was only doing the service of mediation and that the gift was not made by a human hand, but was the work of divine grace. The spiritual is thus in a dense frame and is expressed to us as the bread from heaven that gives life to all the world, not only a food for one only race. Saint Cyril the Great + He did not say it was for the Jews only, but for the entireworld. This is not a simple food, but is rather the life: another life that is different. He called Him “life” because all were dead in sins.27 Saint John Chrysostom “Then they said to Him, ‘LORD, give us this bread always.’”[34] The Jews expected with the coming of the Messiah, to enjoy, along with authority, dominion, freedom and all kinds of temporary pleasures. Rabbi Mayemon said that when the Messiah comes He will raise the dead who will assemble in the Paradise of Eden. They will eat, drink and become full at all times. Their houses will be built with precious stones. Their beds will be soft silk. The rivers will overflow with wine and oil flavored with spices. The manna will descend on them having various tastes and every Israelite will find on his plate what pleases him. If he wants fat food, he will find it. A young man will taste it and find it is bread; to an old man it will be honey, and to a child it will be oil. Such will be Christ’s coming times. He will grant Israel peace and will sit in the Paradise of Eden…28 + While our Savior Christ in many words—if we may say so—tries to attract them away from corporeal concept, and with His perfectly wise teachings to make them soar in spiritual meditation, they do not go far from physical benefit. When they hear about the bread that gives life to the world, they imagine for themselves earthly bread because as it is written their “god is their belly” (Phil 3:19). And as they are conquered by the evils of the belly they deserve to hear the saying: their “glory is in their shame.” Saint Cyril the Great “And Jesus said to them: ‘I am the bread of life. 27 Homilies on St. John, Hom.45:1. 28 Cf. Adam Clarke Commentary. https://coptic-treasures.com/ He who comes to Me shall never hunger, And he who believes in Me shall never thirst.’” [35] The LORD Christ, in His other discourses, used to present testimonies that He was declaring the truth. Sometimes, He announces that the Father testifies of Him. At other times He quotes the prophecies of prophets, or He gives His signs, works and miracles. However, here, as Saint John Chrysostom comments29 ,Christ does not mention witnesses as He declares about Himself that He is the bread from heaven, for they saw and felt how He fed them with a few loaves. The saint says that Christ declares His divinity, for whoever comes to Him will be filled and will never hunger. + He said to them “I am the bread of life” [35] to rebuke them, because when they thought that the food was ordinary, they rushed to Him, but not when they learned that it was of a spiritual kind.30 Saint John Chrysostom + Now I have come to fulfill My promise in its time. “I am the bread of life”, not corporeal bread, for it does not just satisfy the feeling of hunger and free the body from destruction caused by hunger, but it forms the whole living being once more toward everlasting life. The human being thus created lives forever conquering death. These words refer to the life and blessing we obtain through His holy body. Through His holy body the special characteristic of the only Son, that is life, is transferred to us. + When we are called to the kingdom of heaven through Christ—because this is, I think, what the entrance into the Promised Land refers to—the symbolic manna does not concern us any more. For, we are not nourished by Moses’ writings, but rather we have the bread of life, that is Christ. He feeds us to everlasting life by means of the provisions of the Holy Spirit, and partaking of His special body that pours in us communion with God and blots out death that overcame us since the ancient curse. + I agree with you that the manna was given by means of Moses. However, those who ate at that time got hungry. I admit with you that water came out from a rock for you, but those who drank got thirsty. And that gift, about which we spoke, gave them merely temporary delight. But, “He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” What, then, does Christ promise? He does not promise a perishable thing, but rather promises that mystery-—he Eulogia—in partaking of His Body and Blood. The whole human being then regains incorruption and does not need anything that drives away death, I mean food and drink. Christ’s holy body gives life to them who have the Body in them and preserves them totally in incorruption because His body blends with their bodies. For we realize no other body but His has life in essence. His Body has no equivalent body. + When we approach that divine, heavenly blessing and ascend to the holy communion with Christ, by that only do we vanquish Satan’s deception and as we become partakers of the divine nature (2 Pet 1:4) we rise to life and incorruption. Saint Cyril the Great 29 Homilies on St. John, Hom. 45:2. 30 Homilies on St. John, Hom.45:l. https://coptic-treasures.com/ + You demand bread from heaven. This bread is before you and you do not want to eat. “But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe.”[36]31 Saint Augustine “But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe.” [36] + They saw the LORD, God in essence, when He fed the great innumerable crowd. They had come to Him with five barley loaves and two small fish that He broke and distributed to them. They saw but did not believe because of the blindness that covered their understanding like fog because of the divine wrath… As they adhere to innumerable stumbling blocks and are bound by cords of their iniquities from which there is no escape (Prov 5:22) they did not accept Him when He came to them He who is able to untie their fetters and liberate them. For this reason, these people were hard-hearted. Saint Cyril the Great “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.” [37] Saint John Chrysostom directs our attention here to the role of God and the role of man. Man cannot believe by Himself, but by God attracting him to Himself and by God’s free active grace in man. But the human being does not enjoy this faith by force, but rather comes to the LORD, in all freedom, and He keeps and sanctifies him and does not cast him out. + He denotes, here, the gentile people who are about to believe in Him whole-heartedly. I shall not cast out the person who comes to Me: that is to say, I shall not throw him like a useless vessel…as a despised person and he will not remain without a share of My care. I shall gather him into My barn and he will dwell in the heavenly places. He will see himself having all hope surpassing man’s understanding. Saint Cyril the Great + What He declares, here, is nothing but this: “Belief in Me is not an ordinary thing. It does not come by means of human evidence or proofs. It rather needs a proclamation from above and a spirit whose disposition is good. God attracts that spirit so that it may accept the proclamation.”32 Saint John Chrysostom “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” [38] He came down from heaven, not to do what human beings wish, but to act in accordance to His divine unlimited wisdom, according to His goodness and mercy. The Jewish tendency is to despise the tax collectors and sinners and shut the door of heaven in the face of gentiles; but God’s mercies embrace them. The Word, the Son, came to declare these divine mercies. + “I have come down from heaven” that is to say, I became man in accordance to the good pleasure of God the Father. I have refused to do deeds incongruous with God’s will so that I may fulfill for them—those who believe in Me—everlasting life and resurrection from the dead 31 St. Augustine: On the Gospel of St. John, tractate 25:14. 32 Homilies on St. John, Hom.45:2. https://coptic-treasures.com/ by destroying the power of death. He endured the contempt of the Jews, their insults, offense, mockery, scourge, spitting and what is worse, false witness, and lastly death. You will understand why Christ our Savior did not desire the suffering on the cross, and yet wanted it for our sake and for the good pleasure of God the Father. For, when He was about to go to suffer, He addressed God (the Father) saying, in the form of a prayer “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” (Matt 26:39). As He is God the Word, the immortal, incorruptible and life itself in essence, He could not be afraid in front of death. And I believe this is obvious to all, for as He should be alarmed before death when He is on its verge, He is shown truly as a man…The union of humanity with the Word brought back the assurance appropriate to God and was recalled to an honorable aim. I mean to say that human nature did not do what seemed to be good for its own will, but rather followed the divine aim, being immediately prepared to run toward whatever its Creator’s law demands of it to do. Do you now see how Christ did not want death because of the body and the mortification of suffering, and yet He wanted death so that He may accomplish the purpose of the good pleasure of the Father for the sake of the whole world, that is life and redemption for all! Saint Cyril the Great “This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.” [39] God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. But He does not force them to be saved as though they were pieces of rock. He treats them like rational beings having complete freedom. + What do you say? Is Your will different from His will? In order that no one may think that, we read what follows. What He said was this: “I came not to do anything but what the Father wills. For, I have no will of My own that is different from that of the Father. Everything that is for the Father is for Me; and everything that is for Me is for the Father. Everything that is for the Father and for the Son is shared. So, He says truly, “not to do My own will”…because as I said at a different place, He concealed higher concerns for a while. He desired to prove that if He said, “this is My won will” they would have despised Him. Therefore, He says, “As I cooperate with that will” desiring to avert them the more. As though He says, “What do you think? Do you vex Me with your disbelief? No, for you anger My Father” and “This is the will of who sent Me that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing”[39]. Here, He appears He does not need their service, since He did not come for personal benefit, but for their salvation, not to obtain honor from them…What came before and after that is that He strives with all zeal to show that He came for the sake of their salvation. And He says that He brings glory to the Father, so that they may not distrust Him.33 Saint John Chrysostom “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him 33 Hom. 45. PG 59:267. https://coptic-treasures.com/ may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” [40] + Our redemption and deliverance from death, and our restoration to life is the work of the entire Holy Trinity…Through all the Holy Trinity come all good things to us, so that God the Father is all in all through the Son in the Holy Spirit. Saint Cyril the Great + Who believes in Him eats the living bread.34 Saint Augustine + Why does He always stress resurrection? So that the people may not judge God’s care through the present circumstances alone, like those who despair because they do not enjoy munificence here. They should rather wait for the future affairs. Also they must not think anything of God because they are not punished for their sins. They should rather look out for the coming life. Now, those people do not gain anything (from their iniquity), but we must win profit through suffering by a continuous remembrance of the resurrection…There is resurrection and it is near and not far or at some distance from us. “For, yet a little while He who is coming will come and will not tarry.” (Heb.10:37)35 Saint John Chrysostom “The Jews then complained about Him, because He said, ‘I am the bread which came down from heaven.’”[41] The Jews complained about Him because in His talk He asserted to them that He is infinitely greater than Moses, that He alone can give them everlasting life, and that He came down from heaven. They heard about angels coming down from heaven, but they never heard that a man was of heavenly essence. + He Himself is “the bread which came down from heaven”, the bread that quickens the deficient and does not diminish. Bread that can be eaten (and tasted) and cannot be wasted. This bread is denoted by the manna. For it has been said, He gave “them of the bread of heaven. Men ate angels’ food” (Ps 78:24-25). Who is the angels’ food but Christ? However, so that man may eat angels’ food, the LORD of angels became man. If He had not become man, He would not have had a body; and if He had no body, we would not eat the altar bread. Let us hurry to the inheritance, looking out for our acceptance of a great pledge from Him. Brethren, would we yearned for Christ’s life, looking out for holding the pledge of Christ’s death. Saint Augustine + “Whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame.” (Phil 3:19) This is what 34 St. Augustine: On the Gospel of St. John, tractate 26:1. 35 Homilies on St. John, Hom.45:2. https://coptic-treasures.com/ Paul said about some people in his epistle to the Philippians. Now it is clear that those Jews were of this kind. This is obvious in what happened before and in what they said when they came to Christ. When He gave them bread and filled their stomachs, they said He is a prophet and wanted to make Him a king. However, when He preached to them about the spiritual bread and everlasting life, when He led them away from the palpable and spoke about the resurrection and raised their minds to what is above, it befit them to admire that, but instead they complained and went away.36 Saint John Chrysostom “And they said, ‘Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, ‘I have come down from heaven?’” [42] + It was more appropriate for them to realize that Christ who is expected to come would not be without a physical body, but would rather come in a human form as was prophesied about Him. He is in the appearance shared by all. For this reason, the voice of the prophet tells us that the holy virgin “shall conceive, and bear a son” (Isaiah 7:14) …and “the LORD has sworn in truth to David” (Ps 132:11). He will not turn from what He promised that “I will set upon your throne the fruit of your body” as it was written. It was prophesied also that “there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse” (Isaiah 11:1)…However, as the Jews comprehend the physical measure of Christ our Savior, and as they know His mother and His father (though Joseph was not really His father) they were not ashamed to complain because Christ said that “He came down from heaven.” Saint Cyril the Great + The Jews said about Christ “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph?” It is clear that they still did not know His miraculous, wonderful birth. They, therefore, called Him the son of Joseph. They did not say this because He was the son of Joseph, but they said this because they could not hear about His wonderful birth. Saint John Chrysostom + Those Jews were far from the bread that is from heaven, and they did not know how to hunger for it… Their heartstrings were weak; they had open ears but were deaf; they saw but stood blind. This bread in truth requires hunger in the inner man. For this reason He says at a different place, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” (Matt 5:6). The apostle Paul says that Christ is for us righteousness (1 Cor 1:30). Therefore, he who hungers for this bread, hungers for righteousness, that righteousness who came down from heaven, righteousness that God grants, not that which man does for himself… What is the righteousness of God for man? It is that man becomes righteous in God. However, once more, what was the righteousness of those Jews? That was the righteousness they made with their strength and upon which they relied. By this they declared they observed the law by their uprightness, although no one perfects the law without the help of grace, that is to say, the help of the bread that came down from heaven.37 Saint Augustine 36 Homilies on St. John, Hom.46:1. 37 St. Augustine: On the Gospel of St. John, tractate 26:1. https://coptic-treasures.com/ “Jesus therefore answered and said to them, ‘Do not murmur among yourselves.’” [43] In spite of the prophecies which affirm that the Messiah will come of David’s descendants, and that He is born of a virgin, the Jews criticize Christ looking on Him with contempt as the son of Mary and Joseph who are perfectly known to them. On the other hand, He gently draws their attention to His heavenly Father who alone can reveal to them the Son Incarnate who grants the resurrection. + The Jews looked at Jesus and did not know that His Father is in heaven. They did not confess that He in essence is the Son of the God of all. They only perceived His earthly mother, and Joseph. As He answers them gently, He quickly works by turning them to His divine honor for their benefit. It is as if He knows their secret murmur and what goes on in their minds. Through this same matter He moves them to realize that they fell away from the truth and formed an extremely base idea about Him. It befit them to offer divine honor to Him who knows their hearts perfectly and tests the movement of thought. He does not lack knowledge of the thoughts that go on in their minds…He reveals to them that His knowledge is of the work of exalted grace… For their good He asserts to them the promise that He will raise from the dead those who believe in Him. Thus, He proves even to the most ignorant people, that He is God truly and in essence because the ability to raise from the dead is that of God alone and does not pertain to any creature. Saint Cyril the Great “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.”[44] How does the Father draw him? Saint Augustine answers that what draws a person is what he enjoys. If you offer grass, the flock will be drawn to it, and if you offer fruit a child will be drawn. Thus the Father draws a human being by offering him the Savior as being his desire. The human being that realizes in himself that he is a lost sinner, and yearns to fly from hell and reach heaven, finds in Christ’s blood what attracts him. As though He says to them “Why do you murmur among yourselves? You cannot believe unless the Father draws you.” He draws the spirits not with partiality, but he who asks enjoys faith; yet He draws no one against his will. Saint Augustine says “It is possible that a person comes to church against his will. He can approach the altar against his will and partake of the Sacrament by force, but he cannot believe unless he wants to. Faith is not something that is achieved through the body. Listen to the apostle ‘with the heart one believes unto righteousness.’ What follows is this…’and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation’ (Rom 10:10). This confession is issued from the bottom of the heart. Sometimes you hear a person confessing, and you do not know whether he believes or not. https://coptic-treasures.com/ Therefore, since a man believes in Christ with the heart, and what he does he does not do unwillingly, nor is he drawn against his will, so how may we answer the question ‘No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him’ [44]? Someone may say ‘If he is drawn, he goes against his will. And if he goes unwillingly, he believes…For we do not go to Christ with our feet, but with faith, not with physical emotion, but against our will…’ Do not think that you are drawn against your will, for the mind also is drawn with love. It is necessary for us also that we do not fear, lest we are reproached in accordance to this evangelical word of the holy Bible by those who are oppressive with words while they are far from active work and from spiritual concerns, lest we are told ‘how can I believe willingly if I am not drawn?’ I say, it is not enough that you are drawn willingly, for you can be drawn even joyfully. “Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” (Ps 37:4). There is delight for the heart that finds sweetness in that bread from heaven. In addition to this, if what the poetic line says is true ‘Every man is drawn by his desire’, it follows that not through necessity, but through delight, not as an obligation but as a joy, a man is drawn. How much more we must say that a human being is drawn to Christ when he delights in the truth, when he rejoices in the blessing, in righteousness and in everlasting life, all of which is Christ?”38 “It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.” [45] This occurs in Jeremiah 31:34 and Isaiah 54:13. How does God teach us? By declaring His practical love for us through His Son’s cross. Before, they were in terror of God as the judge, but after His declaration of His love for them through the cross, He taught them and drew them to Him so that they may enjoy the everlasting life. Saint Cyril the Great comments on the statement of the LORD Christ that all will be taught by God, saying “As God is the Father, and this is how He is comprehended and how it is preached about Him, He, through this, sows the knowledge of His Son Himself in His hearers. It is thus said of the Son also, that He is of Him truly in essence and so proclaims the Father. Consequently, He says ‘I have manifested Your name to the men’ (John 17:6) …The Father plants in us the perception of His Son proper, not with a voice that comes from above the clouds, or encircles the earth like thunder, but by divine enlightenment shining in us that we may understand the revelation of the holy Bible. + Do you not see the honor of faith and that it is not of a human being, nor by a human being that they are taught this, but by God Himself?39 Saint John Chrysostom 38 St. Augustine: On the Gospel of St. John, tractate 26:2-4. 39 Homilies on St. John, Hom.46:1. https://coptic-treasures.com/ + It is written in the prophets “And they shall all be taught by God” [45] Why, O Jews, do I say this? The Father does not teach you, so how can you know Me? For, God shall teach all men of that kingdom. They will not be taught by human beings. And if they are taught through people, what they understand is an inner gift for them that shines in them and is announced in them. What is the role of men who preach the news from without? What I do until now is from without. I pour the sound of words into your ears. What is the value of what I say or speak about unless it is revealed for you from within? Outside, there is the man who plants the tree; inside, there is the Creator of the tree. He who plants and he who waters work without. This is what we do. However, “neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase” (1 Cor 3:7). That means that all those are taught by God. Who are all those? “Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me” [45]. Look how the Father attracts. He gives joy through His teaching. He does not use compulsion. How does He attract? “They shall all be taught by God” [45]. This is the Father’s attraction.40 + We know how God teaches those who are God’s meek ones. For those who hear from the Father and learn, come to Him who justifies the ungodly (John 6:45; Rom 4:5) in order that they may keep God’s justification not only in their memory, but also in carrying out righteousness. Thus, he who glories, glories not in himself but let him glory in the LORD (1 Cor 1:31) and overflow with gratitude. Saint Augustine “Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God; He has seen the Father.” [46] He does not teach them by letting them see Him face to face, or through a direct vocal conversation, but rather, His Holy Spirit works in them. No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him (John 1:18). Saint Cyril the Great observes that here, the LORD Christ means, in an implicit way, Moses the great among the prophets. Some Jews thought that when Moses entered into the thick darkness, he saw with his physical eyes, God who cannot be seen. Here, the LORD Christ affirms that He alone sees the Father because He is born of Him. “However, how and by what means He sees the Father or the Father sees Him, our tongue is incapable of mentioning that thought, but we must understand it in a divine manner.” + Someone may object saying, what then, is it not written that ‘the angels of these little ones always see the face of My Father who is in heaven’ (see Matt 18:10)? Yes, but the angels see God not as He is, but according to their endurance. So, Jesus Christ says, “Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God, He has seen the Father.” The angels see God according to their power of enduring and the archangels see Him as much as they can endure, the 40 St. Augustine: On the Gospel of St. John, tractate 26:7. https://coptic-treasures.com/ thrones and authorities see more than the former., but do not see as God is worthy.41 The Son with the Holy Spirit alone can see the Father as He really is because He “searches all things, yes, the deep things of God” (1 Cor 2:10). Thus the only begotten Son with the Holy Spirit comprehend the Father in His perfection, for it is said, “Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him” (Matt 11:27). As He sees all according to the power of enduring, He, therefore, sees the Father in His perfection and reveals God the Father through the Spirit, since the Son with the Spirit are “One” with the Father in divinity. The begotten knows the begetter, and the begetter knows the begotten. If the angels are ignorant in ‘knowing God in His perfection’, let no one be ashamed of confessing his ignorance. Truly, I speak now as anyone speaks at any occasion. But how do I speak, I do not know. So, how can I inform you concerning Him who grants the gift of speaking! And as I cannot acquaint you with the distinctive qualities of the spirit, how can I describe the Giver of the spirit?!42 + We believe in One God: the Immeasurable, Inexpressible Father whom “no one has seen” but “the only begotten Son…has declared Him” (John 1:18). For, “He who is from God, He has seen the Father” (1 Tim 6:16) He whom the angels always see (Matt 18:10) according to the degree of each. As for the brilliance of the Father’s face “in perfection”, this will remain in sanctity for the Son with the Holy Spirit.43 Saint Cyril of Jerusalem + He Himself has clarified this and declared to us the meaning He intends as He says, “Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.” He immediately adds what enables us to understand: “Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God; He has seen the Father” [46]. What does He say? I see the Father; you do not see Him; in spite of that you do not come to me, except the Father draws you. And does being drawn by the Father mean other than that you learn from the Father? What do you learn from the Father except what you hear about Him? What do you hear about Him, except you hear the Word of the Father, that is to say you hear Me? In this case when I say “everyone who has heard and learned from the Father” you must say to yourselves: but we have never seen the Father, how can we hear Him? Hear from Me. For, “Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God; He has seen the Father.” I know the Father. I am from the Father. Hear from Me as the Word that is from Him, not the 41 In his article about ‘Divine Care’ translated by Aida Hanna, chapter 3 Saint John Chrysostom discusses the limitations of the wisdom of the heavenly beings in knowing God as He is or His judgments perfectly. He says, “Truly, God even in relation to these ranks is not comprehended and they cannot approach Him. He, therefore, condescends in the manner related in Revelation. For, God is not restricted by place and does not sit on a throne…Rather, His sitting on a throne and being surrounded by heavenly hosts is by way of His love for them.” 42 Article 6:6. 43 Article 7:11. https://coptic-treasures.com/ vocal, articulate word, but the Word that remains with the Speaker and draws the hearer.44 Saint Augustine “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.” [47] The LORD Christ declares in this that he who believes in Him: 1- The Father draws him through His Son’s attracting works of redemption. 2- Hears His teachings. 3- Accepts the salvation offered to him. 4- Is nourished by the Heavenly Bread. 5- Is preserved in the Faith. 6- Does not perish but is raised in the Last Day. 7- Enjoys everlasting life. + Considering He is the everlasting life after He gives Himself to those who believe in Him, that is to say “that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith” (Eph 3:17). Saint Cyril the Great + Would that what follows urges us: “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.” He wishes to declare Himself who He is. He says, he who believes in Me possesses Me. For, Christ Himself is the real God and everlasting life. He, therefore, says, he who believes in Me dwells in Me, and he who dwells in Me, I am for him. And what does “I am for him” mean? That he has everlasting life.45 Saint Augustine “I am the bread of life.” [48] “Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead.” [49] That manna did not keep their bodies from death, nor did it grant them everlasting life. This is as they understand it because they believed their fathers died in the wilderness and they did not have everlasting life. Their eating of the manna did not preserve them from the wrath of God that descended on them because of their continual rebellion and complaint in the wilderness (1 Cor 10:3-5). + He institutes something to attract them; that is that they suppose they are capable of higher affairs than their fathers (meaning the amazing people who lived at the time of Moses). Therefore, after He says that those who ate the manna are dead, He continues “If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever” [51].46 Saint John Chrysostom “This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die.” [50] In accordance to that, the LORD came to offer His body as bread that supports their 44 St. Augustine: On the Gospel of St. John, tractate 26:9. 45 St. Augustine: On the Gospel of St. John, tractate 26:10. 46 Homilies on St. John, Hom.46:2. https://coptic-treasures.com/ bodies, glorifies them and grants them communion with the spirits forever. + The Son only and truly is the bread of life. Those who have communion in Him once and are combined with Him in some manner through their communion with Him are shown to be above the bonds of death itself. We have said several times that the manna is rather a symbol or shadow of Christ. It represented the bread of life. We are supported by the Psalmist in this who shouts in the spirit “[He] had rained down manna on them to eat, and given them of the bread of heaven. Men ate angels’ food” (Ps 78:24-25)…Here the words are addressed to us because is it not foolish and extremely lacking knowledge to assume that the holy angels who are in heaven may, in spite of their incorporeal nature, be able to share with us a material dense food? Saint Cyril the Great + To this present day we accept the visible food, for the mystery is one thing and the action of the mystery is another thing. How many are those who partake of the communion on the altar and die? They truly die through that communion. For this reason, the apostle says, “eats and drinks judgment to himself” (1 Cor 11:29). For, was not what he took in his mouth of the LORD poison for Judas, and yet he took it and when he partook of it, the enemy entered him, not because what he took was an evil thing, but rather because he was evil; he partook of what is good in an evil manner. Therefore, behold, brethren that you partake of the heavenly bread in a spiritual sense. Present purity to the altar. For though your sins are daily, at least let them not be deadly. Before you approach the altar, take into consideration to say well, ”Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” You forgive and, consequently, you are forgiven. Approach in peace, it is bread, not poison. However, behold, if you say you forgive but do not forgive you lie; you lie to who is not deceived. You can lie to God, but you cannot deceive Him.47 Saint Augustine “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; And the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.” [51] I die for the sake of everybody, so that I may give life to all, Myself. I have made My flesh a sacrifice for all because death will die in My death and with Me the fallen human nature will rise. For this reason I have become like you, O man. I became an offspring of Abraham in order that “in all things He had to be made like His brethren” (Heb 2:17). + The body of Christ gives life to all that partake in Him because He expels death. He 47 St. Augustine: On the Gospel of St. John, tractate 26:11. https://coptic-treasures.com/ comes and enters the dead to eliminate corruption, for (the body of the Word) is entirely full of the Word that removes corruption. Saint Cyril the Great + Let not your mouth, but rather your heart be ready…When we accept Him we think in Him. We accept only a little and rejoice in the heart. What nourish us is not what we see, but rather what we believe in. Therefore, we do not require what touches our exterior senses. We do not say ‘Let those who see with their eyes and touch with their hands the LORD Himself after His resurrection, believe. If what is said is true that we did not touch Him, why then do we believe?’48 Saint Augustine Saint John Chrysostom points out the fruits of the Eucharist: + Those who partake of the Eucharist (the Body and Blood of the LORD) are granted a calm spirit, forgiveness of sins, communion of the soul, attaining the heavenly kingdom, liberty with Him rather than judgment and condemnation.49 Saint John Chrysostom Saint Irenaeus describes the Eucharist as the Bread of Eternity. Likewise, Saint Ignatius of Antioch calls the Eucharist, the Eternal Remedy.50 + In the last days He summed up everything in Himself. Our LORD came to us not in His own capability, but rather in accordance to what we can see. Truly, He could have come to us in His inexpressible glory. However, we were not able to endure the greatness of His glory. Therefore, the Perfect Bread of the Father offered Himself to us in the form of milk because we are small children. Thus He came as a man so that we may eat, I say, from His very Body, and with this milk secretion we get accustomed to eat and drink the Word of God and so carry in us the Bread of Eternity, that is the Spirit of the Father.51 Saint Irenaeus “The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, ‘How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?’” [52] Saint John Chrysostom comments on this statement saying that it was not appropriate for the Jews to argue in this manner after witnessing the miracle of the five loaves. In his comment, he also writes: + We need to understand the sacraments, what they are, why they are granted and what benefits we get through them. We become one body and “members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones” (Eph 5:30). If only the partakers of Communion follow what I say! So that we may become one not through love only, but in the very fact, we unite with that Body. This is realized with the food that He offered to us without charge, yearning to reveal His love for us. For this reason, He mixed Himself with us and blended flesh with our flesh in order that we may become one, like a body united with the head… Christ guides us toward a true friendship, so that He may reveal His love for us. He grants those who desire Him, not only that they see Him, but also that they touch, eat, stick their 48 Sermons on N.T. Lessons, 62:5. 49 The Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, prayer after the Epiclesis. 50 Ad. Eph. 20:1. 51 Adv. Haer 4:38:1. PG 7: 1105-6. https://coptic-treasures.com/ teeth into His body, that they accept and be filled with their love for Him. Would God we return from that table like lions breathing flames that terrify Satan, thinking of our Head and of His love that He revealed to us. In most cases the fathers introduce their children to others to feed them. As for Him, He says, ‘As for Me, I do not do this. I feed you with My body, wishing that you all be born again and have good hope in the future.’ For He who gives you Himself here, how much more He will give you later. I desired to become your brother. For your sake I associated Myself with you in flesh and blood. I again give you the flesh and blood to be related to you. This blood renews the image of our King in us. It radiates inexpressible beauty and hinders the sublimity of our spirits from being taken from us; but rather waters and invigorates it perpetually. Blood that is extracted from our food does not become blood immediately, but becomes something else. As for this Blood, it is not so; it rather at once quenches the thirst of our spirits and acts in them with great power. This secret Blood, if we take in truth, repels the evil spirits and keeps them far from us, while summoning angels and the LORD of angels to us. For, as soon as the evil spirits see the Blood of the LORD, they run away, while the angels come…He shed this Blood and caused heaven to be easily attained.52 + Truly, the ecclesiastical sacraments are awe- inspiring. In truth, the altar is aweinspiring. A spring flows from Paradise and overflows in actual rivers. From this table, a spring is brought that produces spiritual rivers.53 Saint John Chrysostom + The LORD of all, Himself, requires us to be so as the prophet Isaiah says, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, says the LORD. For as heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Is 55:8-9) However, He who excels us immeasurably in greatness of wisdom and power, how can He not do something wonderful that surpasses our understanding? If you, O Jew, insist saying ‘how?’ I also say to you How did you go out of Egypt? How did Moses’ rod change into a serpent? If you always use the word ‘how’ you will not believe in the whole Bible and you will reject the sayings of the saints. + Those who believe now can also learn; because this is what Isaiah the prophet says, “If you will not believe, you will not understand” (Is 7:9 LXX). Therefore, it was right that first, faith becomes firmly rooted in them, then will follow the understanding of things they do not know. Saint Cyril the Great 52 Homilies on St. John, Hom.46:3. 53 Homilies on St. John, Hom.46:4. https://coptic-treasures.com/ + Like Nicodemus who was confused and said, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” (John 3:4), similarly those were confused and asked, “How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?” Saint John Chrysostom + The believers recognize the Body of Christ is they do not neglect being the body of Christ. They become the body of Christ when they desire to live in the spirit of Christ.54 Saint Augustine “Then Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.” [53] + If with a touch of His holy body only (in the raising of Jairus’s daughter, Luke 8:54 and the raising of the widow’s only son, Luke 7:12-14) He gives life to a decaying body, how may we not benefit with the greater wealth of blessing (the Eucharist) of which we partake! When we taste it we obtain Him who grants life. For it will surely be transformed for our personal good which is eternal life… We, who by nature are prone to physical corruption, abandon our natural weakness by mingling with Life and change into the quality of life. So, this does not just require a re-creation of the spirit through the Holy Spirit toward everlasting life; but rather this earthly coarse body needs to be sanctified and called unto incorruption through the denser and nearer participation. Saint Cyril the Great Saint Cyril the Great is astonished that the Jews who believe that by eating the paschal lamb and sprinkling its blood on the doors, they escape from death and are considered holy, still do not believe that by partaking of the Body and Blood of the Lamb of God they obtain everlasting life. + When both His Body and Blood gave us vigorous health, and in short, the big question concerning perfection (that is to say with Christ the head and the Church the body) arose, would God those who eat continue eating and those who drink continue drinking. I wish that the hungry and thirsty eat Life and drink Life…For, it will be so; the Body and Blood of Christ will be Life for the human being. If what we take in the sacrament is a visible thing; yet in truth we eat and drink that spiritually.55 Saint Augustine + It is not permitted for anyone to partake of the food called “Eucharist” unless (a) he believes that what we preach is true (b) he washes with the water of the forgiveness of sins and the new birth, and (c) he lives as Christ taught us. For, we do not accept that as ordinary bread and drink. Rather, that Jesus Christ our Savior became flesh through God’s Logos. He took flesh and blood for our redemption. This is what we learned that the food sanctified by the prayer which is His words; this food that enlivens our; body and blood through transmutation from the 54 St. Augustine: On the Gospel of St. John, tractate 26:13. 55 Sermons on N.T. Lessons, 81:1. https://coptic-treasures.com/ Body and Blood of Jesus who became flesh and blood.56 Saint Justin the Martyr + There is no doubt whatsoever concerning the truth of the Body and Blood. For, now with the declaration of the LORD Himself and our faith, this is true Body and true Blood and what we eat and drink take us across so that we exist in Christ and He exists in us.57 Saint Hilary Bishop of Poitiers + We offer Him what is His rightly the partaking and union of the body and spirit. For, when the bread, which is a product of the earth, accepts God’s call, it is transformed from ordinary bread into the Eucharist containing two realities, the earthly and the heavenly. Likewise, when we accept the Eucharist, our bodies become incorruptible because we hope for the everlasting resurrection.58 + He saved us with His blood…and as we are His members we also are animated by means of His creation… He knows the chalice (it is part of the creation) that it is His Blood with which He moistens our blood. And He knows the bread (which is also part of the creation) that He elevates as His Body and from which He grants growth to our bodies…Therefore, the mixed chalice and broken bread…become the Eucharist, the Blood of Christ and His Body giving growth and support to our body. How can the heretics assert that the body is unable to accept the gift of God which is everlasting life, which animates (the body) with the Body and Blood of the LORD and become a member in Him? The blessed Paul declares that we are “members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones” (Eph. 5:30). He does not say this about the spiritual, unseen man, for the spirit has neither bones nor flesh; but he indicates this provision by which the LORD became a real man having flesh, nerves and bones. The chalice that is His Blood and grows in the Bread that is His Body animates this Body Thus, also He enlivens our bodies, and when buried and decomposed in the earth, they will rise at the right time and the Logos will grant them resurrection for the glory of God the Father. He is who freely grants the dead immortality, and the decaying incorruption; for God’s strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor. 12:9)59 Saint Irenaeus + There is a chalice with which the inner rooms in our spirit are purified. This chalice is not in accordance with the old provision, nor is it filled with public honor. This is rather a new chalice that comes down from heaven to the earth (John 6:50-51) filled with wine pressed out of an amazing cluster hung in the shape of a body on the wooden cross, like a bunch of grapes hanging on a vine. This is the cluster from which is the wine which cheers man’s heart (Judges 9:13). It removes sadness, pours in us and carries the smell of wonder which is that of faith, true piety and purity.60 Saint Ambrose “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” [54] 56 The Faith of Christians, First Apology, 65-67. 57 On The Trinity, Book 8:14. 58 Adv. Haer. 4:18:5. 59 Adv. Haer. 5:2, 3. 60 On the Christian Faith, Book 2:20:135. https://coptic-treasures.com/ + He did not say ‘He came to pass in flesh’, but ‘He became flesh’ to clarify the unity. And, we do not say that God the Word, who is of the Father, changed into the nature of flesh, or that the incarnation changed into the Word….But in an inexpressible manner that surpasses human understanding, the Word united with His particular body and He joined it all to Himself…He expelled corruption from our nature and also removed death which ruled since old times because of sin. Therefore, whoever eats the holy Body that is Christ’s has eternal life, because this Body has the Word that is for Life by nature. He, therefore, says, “and I will raise him up at the last day.” Instead of saying, “My Body will raise him up”, that is to say, will raise whoever eats My flesh, He puts the pronoun “I” in the statement “I will raise him up.” Not as though He were different from His own peculiar flesh, for after the unity, the separation into two is forever impossible. He, therefore, says, “I, God, became in him, through My distinctive flesh. That is, I will raise up at the last day the person who eats My flesh. For, it was truly impossible that He who is life by nature would not conquer corruption with certainty, and would not prevail over death.” Saint Cyril the Great Saint Cyril the Great observes that the LORD Christ granted us His Body that gives life, like yeast thrown in us so that the dough is leavened. And as the leaven is in the dough, so is the dough in the leaven. Similarly, Christ abides in us and we in Him. Once more, He offers us His Body and Blood like seeds in our depth “Thus, our LORD Jesus Christ hides life in us through His distinctive Body and plants it like a seed of immortality and removes all corruption in us.” + Lest they think that the promise of eternal life through this food and drink is in a manner that they do not die now physically, He condescends to confront this thinking. He says, “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life”, and immediately completes, “and I will raise him up at the last day” [54]. Thus, it is in spirit that he has eternal life in the tranquility that the spirits of the saints receive. As for the body, eternal life will not be taken from it; on the contrary, it will obtain it in the resurrection of the dead at the last day.61 Saint Augustine “For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed.” [55] + What does He say? He wishes to say that it is true food that saves the spirit For, He affirms to them…that it does not befit them to consider His words a puzzle or a parable. They rather must know in particular that there is a need for eating the Body.62 Saint John Chrysostom + The manna food satisfied the need of the body for a very short time. It eliminated the pain of hunger, but after that it had no power and did not grant those who ate it eternal life. So, this was not the true food and the bread that comes down from heaven. As for the holy Body that is Christ’s that nourish to immortality and to eternal life, this is indeed the true food. They drank water from the rock also…but what did those who drank benefit by that, for they died. That was not the true drink, but rather the true drink is in fact the precious Blood of Christ that removes corruption from its root and gets rid of death that dwells in the human body. 61 St. Augustine: On the Gospel of St. John, tractate 26:16. 62 Hom.47. PG 59:275. https://coptic-treasures.com/ Saint Cyril the Great “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.” [56] + Christ nourishes His Church with these sacraments, for they strengthen the essence of the spirit. Therefore, the Church seeing this great blessing encourages her children and friends to come together to the Sacrament. The Church says, “eat, O friends, drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.” (Song of Solomon 5:1). What we eat and what we drink are revealed elsewhere in the statement, “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him.” (Ps 34:8). In this Sacrament, Christ who is the Body of Christ is not a corporeal, but a spiritual food…This food as recorded by the prophet strengthens our hearts, and this drink makes glad the heart of man (Ps 104:15).63 Saint Ambrose + What an awe-inspiring condescension! The Creator gives Himself to His creatures for their gladness. Life gives Himself as food and drink to the mortal. He urges us, “Come; eat My flesh and drink the Wine I have mixed for you. I have prepared Myself as food and mixed Myself for those who desire Me. Of My own will I became flesh; I shared your flesh. I am the wheat grain that gives life. I am the bread of life. Drink the Wine that I have mixed for you, because I am the drink of immortality. I am the true vine (John 15:1). Drink of the Wine that I have mingled (Prov. 9:5).64 + The smallest bit of the blessing (the Eucharist) mingles with our whole body and fills us with its powerful effect. Thus, Christ came to be in us and we also abide in Him. Saint Cyril the Great + These days the teachers nourish you; Christ nourishes you everyday. His table is always ready in front of you. Why, O listeners, do you see the table and do not come to the feast? Believers know well what the LORD says. As for you, catechumen, who are called to listen, you are deaf because your physical ears are open wanting to hear the words that are said, but your hearts’ ears are closed since you do not understand what is said. Easter is near; submit your name for baptism…so that you may understand the meaning of ,”He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.”[56]65 + How necessary is it for us to understand Him? Do these words (“He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him”) include even those about whom the apostle says, they “eat and drink judgment to themselves” (1 Cor 11:29) when they eat this Flesh and drink this Blood? Did Judas who sold his LORD and betrayed Him (although Luke the evangelist declares very clearly that Judas ate and drank with the other disciples the first sacrament of the Body and Blood, receiving them from the LORD’s hands) abide in Christ and Christ in him? 63 On the Mysteries 9:55, 58. 64 Meditation on the Mystical Supper, Hom. 10. PG 77 in Toal 3:155-157. 65 Sermons on N.T. Lessons, 82:1. https://coptic-treasures.com/ Do many of those who partake of that Body and drink that Blood hypocritically, or those who after partaking of the Body and Blood retrogress, abide in Christ and Christ in them?66 Saint Augustine “As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me.” [57] The statement, “I live because of the Father” as expressed in Greek carries the meaning that the cause of His life is the Father. Thus, the Son does not live alone, but the life of the Father is the life of the Son without separation. + When the Son says that He was sent, He refers to His incarnation…Who takes Me in himself by partaking of My body will live and will be completely engrafted in Me. I am He who can grant him life, because I am of an origin that grants life, that is God the Father. Saint Cyril the Great + Some people ask, how can the Son be equal to the Father, as He says that He lives because of the Father? Would that those who oppose us in this point, tell us first what the life of the Son is. Is it a life granted by the Father to someone who is in need of life? Moreover, how can the Son be in need of having life, as He Himself is life, for He says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life”? Indeed, His life is eternal and His power is eternal. Was there a time when life did not have itself? Contemplate what was read today about the LORD Jesus that He “died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.” (1 Thes 5:10). He whose death is life, cannot His Divinity be life, and we regard His Divinity as eternal life? However, is His life truly in the power of the Father? Why? He has revealed that even His physical life was not in the power of another. He states, “I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.” Therefore, how can His Divine life be looked upon as though it depended on the power of another, if His physical life is not subject to any power but His own power? Yet, there is another power for the sake of the unity of power. That is as He gave us to understand that He lay down His life through His own power and His completely free will. Likewise, He also teaches us that He lay it down in obedience to His Father’s command. Here is the unity of His will and the will of His Father.67 Saint Ambrose “This is the bread which came down from heaven not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.” [58] + The prophet Malachi, one of the twelve, had already proclaimed, “I have no pleasure in 66 Sermons on N.T. Lessons, 21:17. 67 Of the Christian Faith, 4:10:108-122. https://coptic-treasures.com/ you, says the LORD of hosts, neither will I accept an offering at your hand. For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen” (Mal 1:10-11). These words indicate clearly that the ancient people (the Jews) will stop giving offerings to God. However, in every place a pure offering will be offered and the name of the LORD will be glorified among the Gentiles. But, what other name will be glorified among the nations like that of our LORD, by whom the Father is glorified and man also? And because this is the name of His Son who was incarnate by Him, therefore He calls Him “His name.”68 Saint Irenaeus + It is appropriate for the Eternal to give that which is eternal, rather than give temporary pleasure with food that can hardly last for a few moments…It is suitable for Him who came down at that time to place those who partake of Him above death and evanescence. Saint Cyril the Great + So, we live because of Him, because we partake of Him, that is we partake eternal life that is not ours of ourselves. On the one hand, He lives because of the Father who sent Him when He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of the death of the cross (Phil 2:8)…. He says, “I live because of the Father” meaning that He is of the Father, not that the Father is of Him. This is said without effect on Their equality. As for saying, “he who feeds on Me will live because of Me”, this does not mean that His equality with the Father is similar to our equality with Him. He rather clarifies the grace of the intercessor: “This is the bread which came down from heaven” [58]. We live because we eat Him, for we cannot have eternal life of ourselves. He says, “not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever” [58]. Those fathers are dead, means they did not live forever (by means of the manna). As for those who partake of Christ, they certainly die temporarily, but will live forever because Christ is eternal life.69 Saint Augustine “These things He said in the synagogue, as He taught in Capernaum.” [59] They saw Him teaching everybody openly in the synagogue, as He Himself says through Isaiah also, “I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth” (Is 45:19) for He said those things openly. Saint Cyril the Great Saint John Chrysostom observes that the LORD Christ delivered His speech at the synagogue for two reasons. The first was to get hold of the largest number possible of His enemies. The second reason was that He wanted to stress the point that He does not oppose the Father. Therefore, if they serve God in the temple, He does not avoid the temple, but rather considers it the house of His Father in which He teaches. 5—The Complaint of Some 68 Adv. Haer. 4:17:5, 6. 69 St. Augustine: On the Gospel of St. John, tractate 26:19-20. https://coptic-treasures.com/ “Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, ‘This is a hard saying; who can understand it?” [60] It is clear that besides the twelve disciples, there were many who accompanied Him. Some of them found His talk, concerning His celestial being and His offering of His Body and Blood for everlasting life, difficult and they went away. + The spiritual person cheers himself with our Savior’s words and shouts in truth, “How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth” (Ps 119:103). As for the worldly, he, in ignorance, considers the spiritual mystery, foolishness…It is appropriate for him who rushes toward true faith in Christ, to travel across a royal path. Saint Cyril the Great + The LORD gives us His Body to eat. If we understand this as corporeal, this is death. But He says about His Body that it has everlasting life. Therefore, we need to understand the Body not in a corporeal sense.70 Saint Augustine “When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, ‘Does this offend you?’” [61] By saying this to His disciples He made it clear to them that He is divine and knows their hearts. And, as He cannot be deceived by appearance, He also does not deceive others. In this He made it evident for them that He is God and His teaching is the truth. “When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this” [61]. He knew their inner thoughts by His divine power, for nothing is hidden from Him. His knowledge was not through divine revelation as in the case of some prophets. He is the divine Word who discerns the thoughts of the heart (Heb 4: 12-13). Therefore, we must sanctify not only our spoken words and apparent behavior, but also our thoughts with His Holy Spirit. “What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before?” [62] Here, He hints at His ascension into heaven because the delight with the Body and Blood of the LORD grants us an exaltation of the heart, mind and all our inner self so that we may enjoy the participation with the divine Christ. + Christ used this meaning when He spoke with Nathaniel. For He said to him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree’, do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” (John 1:50). Also in His discussion with Nicodemus, He said, “No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.” (John 3:13) Saint John Chrysostom + They did not recognize the beauty of the Sacrament, nor that excellent provision concerning it. Moreover, they discussed it among themselves, how can a human body plant in us everlasting life; how can a thing of our same nature grant immortality? When Christ knew their 70 St. Augustine: On the Gospel of St. John, tractate 27:1. https://coptic-treasures.com/ thoughts, because all things are naked and open to His eyes (Heb 4:13), He again cured their illness and guided them with His hand in various ways so that they may understand those things they still ignored…. If you suppose that My body cannot grant you life, how can it ascend to heaven like a bird? For, if it cannot give life because it is not in its nature to give life, how can it fly into the air and ascend to heaven? For this is also impossible. However, He who has made this earthly body, heavenly, He will make it grant life also even if its nature disintegrates according to its particular being. Saint Cyril the Great + He said to them that He will ascend to heaven surely in His whole being “if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before” [62]. Then, you will surely at least see that will not be in that way you think He will distribute His Body. Then, they will certainly realize that His grace is not consumed through eating.71 Saint Augustine “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” [63] + When you look closely at the mystery of the Incarnation, you know who He is who came in that body. You then will surely feel, without considering the Divine Spirit Himself also that this Body can grant life though that flesh in itself profits nothing at all. For, if the flesh unites with the Word that gives life, the flesh will grant life entirely rising to the supernatural power without obliging the insubordinate to change to that particular nature. Saint Cyril the Great + “It is the Spirit who gives life, the flesh profits nothing.” This is what He says, ‘There is a necessity that you continue listening spiritually to the things concerning Me. Whoever listens physically, profits nothing, nor does he gain any goodness.’ It is a carnal matter that you despise Him who came down from heaven, and you think He is the son of Joseph. “How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?” [52] All this attitude is corporeal. However, there is a need to understand these words with the soul, spiritually… “The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” [63] This means that they are divine, spiritual words. They have nothing that is corporeal or that follows the rules of nature. They, rather, are free of such needs and are above the laws that came down to govern this world. They also have a different meaning. Now as in this statement, He says ‘spirit’ instead of ‘My Spirit.’ Therefore, when He speaks about flesh, He does not mean things of the body, but listening bodily. He, at the same time, points out to those who always ask for the physical, when they should ask for the spiritual, that if they accept His words bodily, they will profit nothing. What then, is His body not flesh? It certainly is. How then does He say, ‘the flesh profits nothing’? He does not speak about His flesh, God forbid! He speaks rather about those who accept His words in a physical way. What does physical understanding mean? Looking at what is before our eyes merely without imagining what is beyond. This is physical understanding. However, it befits us not to judge by sight, but to behold all the sacraments with the inner eyes. 71 St. Augustine: On the Gospel of St. John, tractate 27:3. https://coptic-treasures.com/ This is ‘spiritual vision.’72 Saint John Chrysostom Saint Augustine wonders, how does the LORD Christ say ‘the flesh profits nothing’ [63], whereas the Word became flesh, and He Himself gives us His flesh? Saint Augustine answers, that the statement here is like the saying, “knowledge puffs up, but love builds up” (1 Cor 8:1). Thus, knowledge without love puffs up; yet this does not deny the importance of knowledge. Likewise, the flesh without the Spirit profits nothing. Consequently, he who accepts the Body of Christ in a bodily manner is similar to the person who eats sheer material food and his partaking of it has no profit for him. “Add the Spirit to the flesh, like adding love to knowledge. If through the flesh Christ profits us much, does the flesh profit nothing? It is by the flesh that the Spirit works for our salvation. The flesh is a vessel filled with the contents, not as what it is (alone). Did He not send His disciples, and did their bodies profit nothing? If the bodies of the apostles profited us, is it possible that Christ’s flesh profits nothing?…Therefore, ‘It is the Spirit who gives life, the flesh profits nothing’ is in accordance to the understanding of the flesh, not as ‘I give My flesh to eat.’” 73 + It is the Spirit that gives life to us the members…This is said so that we may love union and fear schism. Nothing a Christian should fear like his separation from Christ’s body and, in consequence of not being a member of Christ, he does not live by Christ’s Spirit. The apostle says, “if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” (Rom 8:9)74 Saint Augustine “’But there are some of you who do not believe.’ For Jesus knew from the beginning who were who did not believe, And who would betray Him.” [64] The statement here concerns Judas who betrayed Him and also concerns those who left Him. He declares that what will happen is not strange to Him because from the beginning He knew everything. He also shows that what happens is of His own complete free will. All souls are exposed before the LORD Christ. He knows the honest and faithful in their belief, and also the pretenders who behave hypocritically. + He does not say, ‘there are some of you who do not understand.’ He tells us the reason why they do not understand, ‘there are some of you who do not believe’ [64] and, therefore, they do not understand. For, the prophet says, “if you will not believe, you will not understand” (Is 7:9 LXX). We are united by faith and live by understanding. Let us approach Him first by faith so that we may live by understanding. For who approach do not resist, and anyone who resists does not believe. How can the resisting live? He is the opponent to the ray of light by which he understands. He does not close his eyes, but shuts his mind. Therefore, “there are some of you who do not believe.” Let them believe and open up and be enlightened.75 + Judas was present there…The LORD did not mention his name. He described him, but did not mention his name. Yet, He did not stop talking about him, in order that all may fear, 72 Hom 47. PG 59: 277-278. 73 St. Augustine: On the Gospel of St. John, tractate 27:8. 74 St. Augustine: On the Gospel of St. John, tractate 27:6. 75 St. Augustine: On the Gospel of St. John, tractate 27:7. https://coptic-treasures.com/ though one only will perish. 76 Saint Augustine “And He said, ‘Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.’” [65] This does not mean that God distinguishes between one group and another. It means that he who asks will receive. He who asks for the truth, the Father will deliver to him the truth and secure him in the Truth, and so he will not fall. + In the case of those who did not believe in God in the wilderness, they were, therefore, restrained from entering the Promised Land. Similarly, those who do not honor Christ because of their disbelief will not be granted entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven. Saint Cyril the Great + It is an amazing thing that when preached concerning the crucified Christ, one listener scorns and the second listener esteems. Would that he who despises ascribes to himself this accusation (disbelief). As for the person who reveres, let him not claim for himself (his belief). When he hears the LORD Himself saying, “no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father” [65] he must rejoice that he received. Let him with a humble heart, not with arrogance, offer thanksgiving to Him who granted that, lest what he obtained through humility he loses through pride. + We believe and so are granted; for when we believe we are given that great gift. Therefore, rejoice that you believe, and if you have not grown yet, that is because “what do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Cor 4:7)77 + To teach us that belief itself is a gift and that it is not by rights, He says, “ Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.” [65] When the LORD says this, we remember the words of the Gospel as the LORD says, “No one can come to Me unless the Father draws him” [44]. He does not say “guides” him, but He says “draws” him. This force (in pulling) happens to the heart, not to the body. Why, then, are you astonished? Believe and you will come. Love and you will be pulled. Do not suppose here a type of cruel or difficult force. It is a gentle, delightful force and the pleasure itself draws them. What draws the flock when fresh grass appears and they are hungry? Nevertheless, I do not imagine a physical attraction. It is rather a quick relation to desire (to eat). In this manner you also come to Christ. Do not understand this as a long journey. Rather, wherever you believe you come. For, we come to Him who is everywhere. We come to Him by love, not by sail, since in this journey the waves of temptation are various and violent. Believe in the Crucified. Your faith will enable you to climb up to the cross. You will not drown. The cross will carry you. In this way, in the midst of the disturbances of the world he sailed, he who said, “But God forbid that I should boast except in 76 St. Augustine: On the Gospel of St. John, tractate 27:7. 77 St. Augustine: On the Gospel of St. John, tractate 27:7. https://coptic-treasures.com/ the cross of our LORD Jesus Christ.”78 Saint Augustine “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.” [66] + It is well that the evangelist does not say they “left”, but that they “went back” to the affairs they had left behind. He declares that they deprived themselves of any growth in virtue. By departing they lost the faith they had before. However, this did not happen to the twelve disciples.79 Saint John Chrysostom Saint Cyril the Great observes that just as those who have weak sight go away from the sun and are pleased to sit in dark places, those who are mentally ill go away from Christ the sun of righteousness who reveals the great divine mystery. This is also what the people of Israel did when Joshua returned after spying into the Promised Land. They rebelled against him and went back. They lost Joshua’s company in crossing over to the Promised Land. + That which is precious in the eyes of God is not at all the number of His worshippers. It is, rather, the exaltation of their true faith that is important, not their small number. For this reason, the Holy Book says that many are called, but a few come. Saint Cyril the Great + This may have been written for our comfort. For, sometimes when a person announces the truth, he is not understood. He is opposed and his audience leaves him. This person is then sorry that he said the truth and he thinks, “It was appropriate for me not to speak in that manner. I should not have said that.” Behold, for this is what happened to the LORD. He spoke and lost many. Those who remained with Him were a few, but He was not troubled. He knew from the beginning who will believe and who will not. If this happens to us we are bitterly alarmed. Let us find rest in the LORD and let us speak with dignity.80 Saint Augustine 6—To Whom Shall We Go? “Then Jesus said to the twelve, ‘Do you also want to go away?’” [67] The words of the LORD Christ addressed to the twelve are stern because He desires believers who trust Him and abide in the truth with all their free will without any coercion or difficulty. He chose them from the world, gave them the exalted sacraments, and offered them His capabilities. They were in touch with His divine life, and it remained that they decide, themselves, without hesitation, because they were about to walk the path of the cross. He said nothing to those who went back because He does not oblige anybody to believe. However, He used that situation to strengthen His disciples’ faith. + If I said, ‘Why did He not praise them?’ I would answer, ‘In that, He combined two 78 Sermons on N.T. Lessons, 81:2. 79 Hom 47. PG 59:279. 80 St. Augustine: On the Gospel of St. John, tractate 27:8. https://coptic-treasures.com/ aims. The first was to preserve the suitable rank of the teacher; for, if He had praised them, they would have thought that they had given Him a present. The second aim was to make it clear to them that He did not need them to follow Him.'’ Saint John Chrysostom + He did not rebuke those who left Him. Nor did He threaten them in a cruel manner. On the contrary, He turned to His disciples and said, ‘Do you also want to go away?’ Thus, He acknowledged the legal rights by which a man exercises his freedom and freely chooses his death or his salvation.81 Cyprian the Martyr “But Simon Peter answered Him, ‘LORD, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.’” [68] Saint Peter was distinguished by his extreme zeal and by being always ready. He, therefore, answered at once, not only for himself but also for all the disciples. He realized that they could not enjoy everlasting life without Messiah the Savior. Eternal death, hell and eternal suffering cannot overtake anyone who clings to the Savior. The world, the flesh, or Satan do not grant eternal life. Some people did not accept the words of the LORD Christ and they went back. But some approached Christ even more and realized, with the apostle Peter, the power of Christ’s words that grant eternal life. His words have the fragrance of life for life, and the stench of death to death. Saint Peter spoke in the name of all souls clinging to the LORD Christ. He spoke like Ruth who said to her mother-in-law, “Entreat me not to leave you, or to return from following after you; for where you go, I will go; and where you lodge, I will lodge” (Ruth 1:16). Peter spoke also like Nehemiah who courageously refused to leave his place of work, to hide in the temple and shut its doors, lest they kill him. Nehemiah said, “should such a man as I flee?” (Neh 6:11) “LORD, to whom shall we go?” [68].If we went to the Patriarchs, they would send us back to You. For, Abraham saw Your day and rejoiced. And if we went to Moses, he would give us the Law that guides us to You. If we went to the high priests, or the Scribes and Pharisees and sat at their feet, what would they offer except their hypocrisy and hatred of the truth? Who declares the truth to us but You? Who grants us eternal life but You? + We need to sit beside the One and only teacher, Christ. We must adhere to Him continuously and never separate. He is our LORD who knows well how to guide our footsteps toward life without end….For, it befits us, thus, to rise to the heavenly divine dwellings and proceed toward the Church of the first born to feast with goods beyond human comprehension. + As though they say, ‘We shall stay with You. We shall cling to Your commandments forever and accept Your words without stumbling.’ Saint Cyril the Great Saint Cyril the Great observes that the events that took place during the journey of the Israelites in the wilderness, symbolize the truth that we now live. In the Book of Numbers, it is 81 Letter 59 to Cornellius: 7. https://coptic-treasures.com/ said that the real guide of the people of Israel was God. He appeared as a cloud that when taken up from the tabernacle, the people traveled, and ‘where the cloud abode, there the children of Israel pitched their tents.’ (Nu 9:15-18). In this same manner we must attach ourselves to the LORD. We must not move unless He commands us. “We cannot leave the LORD. We must rather strive to remain with Him spiritually. This is truly more appropriate for the saints.” “Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” [69] With spiritual wisdom, the apostle Peter gives priority to faith over knowledge without ignoring the role of knowledge. They believed in the Son of the living God and knew His mysteries by adhering to Him and participating with Him. + The Word announced these teachings through His bride’s windows. She is the dove who responded to His beauty because she was enlightened by the ray of understanding and got to know the rock that is Christ. She says, “let me see Your countenance, let me hear Your voice; for sweet is Your voice and Your countenance is comely.” (Song 2:14)…Simon saw that which the bride wanted to see. Those who heard the sweet voice of Christ got acquainted with the grace of the Gospel and cried, “LORD, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68)82 Saint Gregory of Nyssa + They say they believe and know, so they link the two together. For, a person must believe and also understand. We accept the divine concerns by faith; but this does not mean that we avoid altogether examining those concerns. We rather try to attain a moderate knowledge as Paul says, “now we see in a mirror, dimly” (1 Cor 13:12). It is good that they did not say that they knew first, then they believed. They put faith first followed by knowledge and not the opposite. For, it is written, “if you will not believe, you will not understand” (Is 7:9 LXX). Saint Cyril the Great + Not that we knew and believed, but “we have come to believe and know” [69]. We believe so that we may know, because if we wanted to know first and then to believe, we would neither know nor believe… What have we come to believe and know? “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” [69], meaning You are life eternal itself that You grant only by Your Body and Blood that are You.83 Saint Augustine “Jesus answered them, ‘Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?’” [70] The LORD Christ corrected Saint Peter by declaring that He was the one who chose them as His disciples and He knew that among them is a person who will be used by Satan who is a murderer from the beginning and does not know love, but only knows hatred and betrayal. 82 Song of Solomon by St. Gregory of Nyssa, translated into Arabic by Dr. George Nawar, Sermon 5. 83 St. Augustine: On the Gospel of St. John, tractate 27:9. https://coptic-treasures.com/ + I ask Him why He chose Judas the traitor? Why did He give him the moneybox, though He knew that Judas was a thief? Shall I tell you why? God judges the present, not according to the future. He does not use His foreknowledge to condemn a person, though He knows that later that person will do something that will not please God. Nevertheless, in His inexpressible goodness and mercy, He chooses a person who, He knows, will be good for sometime, but will veer to evil. He gives that person a chance to change and repent. This is the meaning of the apostle’s words, “not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance. But in accordance with your hardness and you unrepentant heart you are storing up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to each one according to his deeds” (Rom 2:4-6). Adam did not sin because God knew beforehand that he would do so. God, being God, knew beforehand that which Adam will do with his complete free will.84 Saint Jerome + He shows that those who withdraw from Christ will perish in their sin., As for the Church that believes in Him and abides in His teachings, she will never withdraw from Him. And those who remain in the house of God are the Church.85 Cyprian the Martyr + His rebuke rouses their consciousness and causes each of them to be steadfast in regard to himself. For, He does not frankly say who will betray Him; He rather throws the yoke of offense on only one without clear definition. He, thus, makes them all face the challenge. He asks them to be more careful and vigilant, for each of them is terrified lest he should lose his life. + He called the man who does the will of the devil, ‘a devil.’ This is so, because just as “he who is joined to the LORD is one spirit with Him” (1 Cor 6:17), so is the opposite also. Saint Cyril the Great + Consider His wisdom. He did not declare the traitor (He did not mention his name). Yet, He did not leave him hidden. Thus, on the hand, the man will not be ashamed and become despised. But, on the other hand, lest he should think his behavior is not known, and offends without fear, the LORD rebuked him clearly gradually.86 Saint John Chrysostom “He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve.” [71] The LORD Christ indicated much the traitor without hinting at his name so that He may give Judas a chance to repent and examine himself if he wished. Some would ask, “if Judas had changed his mind, how would it have been possible to fulfil the prophecies? How would our salvation have been achieved?” Certainly, God would have accepted Judas and the design of redemption would have been realized in a different way. The prophecies would have been fulfilled in a different person because the prophecies did not indicate the name of the betrayer. 84 Against the Pelagians, 3:6. 85 Letter 59 to Cornellius: 7. 86 Homilies on St. John, Hom.47:4. https://coptic-treasures.com/ + He was a denier of Him who offered him great benefit and honor. He took money and lost righteousness. As he was dead, he betrayed Life. He followed Him as a disciple, but persecuted Him like an enemy. All this iniquity is of Judas, but the LORD used Judas’s wickedness for good. Christ endured being in the place of betrayal so that He may save us. Behold, for the iniquity of Judas was transformed into goodness. How many martyrs Satan persecuted! If Satan had stopped persecuting them we, now, would not have celebrated the crowning of the martyrs…Thus, the evil done by the wicked harms him, but does not violate God’s goodness.87 + Let us, beloved, profit much by this aim that we partake of the Body and Blood of Christ, not in mere mystery, as many wicked people do, but in the Communion of the Spirit. We then abide in the Lord’s body as members and we live by His Spirit. Let us not be offended by many people who now partake of the Sacrament in a worldly manner, for they will have eternal punishment. Now, the body of Christ is as mixed and an object of study “but the LORD knows who are His.”88 Saint Augustine Inspired by John 6 Your Wonderful Body Sanctifies My Body + Your eyes always look at the multitude coming toward You. They come to You and do not return empty. You satisfy the hungry and quench the thirst of the thirsty. + Like a lad I give You five loaves and two fish. I give You the five books of Moses and the Gospels that You granted me. I clear my perception to find in Your Book food to fill the crowds! Yes, grant me that I sit down with Your people on the grass. Grant our spirits inflamed by Your Spirit to guide and control our bodies. + We sit down and through Your Church enjoy Your spiritual food. We are filled exceedingly and the baskets of the world are full of the abundance of Your grace. You give our spirits drink and our bodies food. You never leave us in want! Our spirits are grateful for You are the source of all blessings! + You came, O Word Incarnate. So, we are not ashamed to ask You for our needs. I confess to You, O Friend of mankind My spirit groans under the burden of my physical desires. 87 St. Augustine: On the Gospel of St. John, tractate 27:10. 88 St. Augustine: On the Gospel of St. John, tractate 27:11. https://coptic-treasures.com/ + My screams have reached Your heavens! Woe unto me a wretch, who will save me from my dead flesh? Because of Your love, You, O Word of God, became flesh. You lived among us as one of us! We saw Your body not separate from Your divinity! Your holy Body is the source of all holiness! + You gave me Your Body and Blood, a true food and drink! I enjoy them and abide in You and You in me! I get engrafted into You, O True Vine. Sin cannot control me again. Neither can death overcome me As long as I enjoy union with You! + Your Body and Blood is remedy for my life. They set me free from the sphere of corruption to incorruption I withdraw my relation to the earthy Adam And become Your son, O You Last Adam! Instead of dust I become truly a heaven! + Accept, O my Savior, my thanksgiving offering I wished to take delight in the manna in the wilderness of Sinai! But my fathers ate it and died!! You now grant me Your Body and Blood I partake of them and do not forever die For I will live with You, sharing in glory as You promised. + Your promises are truly great. Who, but those whom You draw with Your love, can understand Your promises. Many went back and did not walk with You. They thought it hard to obtain what they could not understand. But I cry with Your disciple “LORD, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” I hear Your sweet voice and my whole being is attracted to You by love. I hear Your voice and Your splendor shines in the depth of my soul. I hear Your voice and my inmost being is silent so as to delight in the sweetness of Your word! How wonderful are Your words, and how generous are Your promises! You are all love, O Savior of the world!

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