The bread that I will give is My flesh for the life of the world.
Verse 52. The bread which I will give, is my flesh for the life of the world. In most Greek copies we read, is my flesh which I will give for the life of the world. Christ here promised what he afterwards instituted, and gave at his last supper. He promiseth to give his body and blood to be eaten; the same body (though the manner be different) which he would give on the cross for the redemption of the world. The Jews of Capharnaum were presently scandalized. How (said they) can this man give us his flesh to eat? But notwithstanding their murmuring, and the offence which his words had given, even to many of his disciples, he was so far from revoking, or expounding what he had said of any figurative or metaphorical sense, that he confirmed the same truth in the clearest and strongest terms. Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat, &c. And again, (v. 56.) For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. I cannot omit taking notice of what S. Chrysostom and S. Cyril, in their commentaries on this place, have left us on these words, How can this man do this? These words which call in question the almighty and incomprehensible power of God, which hinder them, says S. Chrysostom, from believing all other mysteries and miracles: they might as well have said: How could he with five loaves feed five thousand men? This question, How can he do this? Is a question of infidels and unbelievers. S. Cyril says that How, or, How can he do this? cannot, without folly, be applied to God. 2dly, he calls it a question of blasphemy. 3dly, a Jewish word, for which these Capharnaites deserved the severest punishments. 4thly, He confutes them by the saying of the prophet Isaias, (lv. 9.) that God’s thoughts and ways are as much above those of men, as the heavens are above the earth. But if these Capharnaites, who knew not who Jesus was, were justly blamed for their incredulous, foolish, blasphemous, Jewish saying, how can he give us his flesh to eat? much more blameable are those Christians, who, against the words of the Scripture, against the unanimous consent and authority of all Christian Churches in all parts of the world, refuse to believe his real presence, and have nothing to say, but with the obstinate Capharnaites, how can this be done? Their answers are the same, or no better, when they tell us that the real presence contradicts their senses, their reason, that they know it to be false. We may also observe, with divers interpreters, that if Christians are not to believe that Jesus Christ is one and the same God with the eternal Father, and that he is truly and really present in the holy sacrament of the Eucharist, it will be hard to deny but that Christ himself led men into these errors, which is blasphemy. For it is evident, and past all dispute, that the Jews murmured, complained, and understood that Christ several times made himself God, and equal to the Father of all. 2ndly, When in this chapter, he told them he would give them his flesh to eat, &c. they were shocked to the highest degree: they cried out, this could not be, that these words and this speech was hard and harsh, and on this very account many that had been his disciples till that time, withdrew themselves from him, and left him and his doctrine. Was it not then at least high time to set his complaining hearers right, to prevent the blasphemous and idolatrous opinions of the following ages, nay even of all Christian Churches, by telling his disciples at least, that he was only a nominal God, in a metaphorical and improper sense; that he spoke only of his body being present in a figurative and metaphorical sense in the holy Eucharist? If we are deceived, who was it that deceived us but Christ himself, who so often repeated the same points of our belief? His apostles must be esteemed no less guilty in affirming the very same, both as to Christ’s divinity, and his real presence in the holy sacrament, as hereafter will appear. Wi. — Compare the words here spoken with those he delivered at his last supper, and you will see that what he promises here was then fulfilled: “this is my body given for you.” Hence, the holy Fathers have always explained this chapter of S. John, as spoken of the blessed sacrament. See the concluding reflexions.
930 — That Laymen and Clerics who are not Offering Mass are not Bound by Divine Law to Communion under Both Species
COUNCIL OF TRENT SESSION XXI (July 16, 1562) The Doctrine on Communion under both Species and that of Little Children
Thus, the holy Synod itself, instructed by the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and piety, [Isa. 11:2]. and following the judgment and custom of the Church itself, declares and teaches that laymen and clerics not officiating are bound by no divine law to receive the sacrament of the Eucharist under both species, and that without injury to the faith there can be no doubt at all that communion under either species suffices for them for salvation. For although Christ the Lord at the Last Supper instituted and delivered to the apostles this venerable sacrament under the species of bread and wine [cf. Matt. 26:26 f.; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19; 1 Cor. 11:23, f.], yet, that institution and tradition do not contend that all the faithful of Christ by an enactment of the Lord are bound [can. 1, 2] to receive under both species [can. 1, 2]. But neither is it rightly inferred from that sixth discourse in John that communion under both forms was commanded by the Lord [can. 3], whatever the understanding may be according to the various interpretations of the holy Fathers and Doctors. For, He who said: “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you shall not have life in you” [John 6:54], also said: “If anyone eat of this bread, he shall live forever” [John 6:52]. And He who said: “He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood hath life everlasting” [John 6:55] also said: “The bread, which I shall give, is my flesh for the life of the world” [John 6:52]: and finally, He who said: “He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, abideth in me and I in him” [John 6:57], said nevertheless: “He that eateth this bread, shall live forever” [John 6:58].
52. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? 53. Then Jesus said to them, Verily, verily, I say to you, Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54. Whoso eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, has eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
AUG. The Jews not understanding what was the bread of A peace, strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us His flesh to eat? Whereas they who eat the bread strive not among themselves, for God makes them to dwell together in unity.
BEDE. The Jews thought that our Lord would divide His flesh into pieces, and give it them to eat: and so mistaking Him, strove.
CHRYS. As they thought it impossible that He should do as He said, i.e. give them His flesh to eat, He shows them that it was not only possible, but necessary: Then said Jesus to them, Verily, verily, I say to you, Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, you have no life in you.
AUG. As if He said, The sense in which that bread is eaten, and the mode of eating it, you know not; but, Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, you have no life in you.
BEDE And that this might not seem addressed to them alone, He declares universally, Whoso eats My flash, and drinks My blood, has eternal life.
AUG. And that they might not understand him to speak of this life, and make that an occasion of striving, He adds, has eternal life. This then he has not who eats not that flesh, nor drinks that blood. The temporal life men may have without Him, the eternal they cannot. This is not true of material food. If we do not take that indeed, we shall not live, neither do we live, if we take it: for either disease, or old age, or some accident kills us after all. Whereas this meat and drink, i.e. the Body and Blood of Christ, is such that he that takes it not has not life, and he that takes it has life, even life eternal.
THEOPHYL. For it is not the flesh of man simply, but of God: and it makes man divine, by inebriating him, as it were, with divinity.
AUG. There are some who promise men deliverance from eternal punishment, if they are washed in Baptism and partake of Christ’s Body, whatever lives they live. The Apostle however contradicts them, where he says, The works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkeness, revelings, and such like; of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Let us examine what is meant here. He who is in the unity of His body, (i.e. one of the Christian members,) the Sacrament of which body the faithful receive when they communicate at the Altar; he is truly said to eat the body, and drink the blood of Christ. And heretics and schismatics, who are cut off from the unity of the body, may receive the same Sacrament; but it does not profit them, may, rather is hurtful, as tending to make their judgment heavier, or their forgiveness later. Nor ought they to feel secure in their abandoned and damnable ways, who, by the iniquity of their lives, desert righteousness, i.e. Christ; either by fornication, or other sins of the like kind. Such are not to be said to eat the body of Christ; forasmuch as they are not to be counted among the members of Christ For, not to mention other things, men cannot be members of Christ, and at the same time members of an harlot.
AUG. By this meat and drink then, He would have us understand the society of His body, and His members, which is the Church, in the predestined, and called, and justified, and glorified saints and believers. The Sacrament whereof, i.e. Of the unity of the body and blood of Christ, is administered, in some places daily, in others on such and such days from the Lord’s Table: and from the Lord’s Table it is received by some to their salvation, by others to their condemnation. But the thing itself of which this is the Sacrament, is for our salvation to every one who partakes of it, for condemnation to none. To prevent us supposing that those who, by virtue of that meat and drink, were promised eternal life, would not die in the body, Ho adds, And I will raise him up at the last day; i.e. to that eternal life, a spiritual rest, which the spirits of the Saints enter into. But neither shall the body be defrauded of eternal life, but shall be endowed With it at the resurrection of the dead in the last day.