Of the second and third reasons that the Lord gives His Body as food.
“Come, eat my bread,” etc. And “Your reasons“, etc., as in the first sermon. Other particular themes as above.
The second reason of God’s Wisdom that the Lord gives humans the Body (as is known) as food, is the corruption of human nature, which this food of his is the remedy to expel, and this in three ways: as a fitting beginning of treatment, as a vigorous treatment of corruption, as a constant maintenance of health.
The first way the corruption of human nature is expelled by so great a food is by how fitting a beginning of treatment it is, because just as the start of corruption and death entered as food forbidden by the Physician (as is known) from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, so the start of justification and life has to begin as food, as that same Physician will have persuaded you (as is known) from the true Tree of Life, that is, from the Lord’s Body.
Of the first, Genesis 2:17 — “But of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat. For in whatever day you shall eat of it, you shall die the death.”
Of the second, John 6:54 — “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you.”
The second way the corruption of human nature is expelled by so great a food is by how vigorous a treatment of corruption it is. Namely, the spiteful serpent poured three kinds of corruption into people through the poison of the forbidden fruit, to wit: the darkness of ignorance into the soul, the sickness of crooked concupiscence into the flesh, and death into both. Genesis 3:13 — “The serpent tricked me.”
Of the first [kind of corruption], Psalm 48: 13 — “…when Man was in honor, he did not understand; he is compared to senseless beasts….” Genesis 1:2 — “Darkness was over the face of the abyss“, to wit, ignorance was over the face of the human heart, from diabolic deception.
Of the second, Galatians 5:17 — “….the flesh lusts against the spirit….” Romans 7:23 — “….I see another law in my members, fighting against the law of my mind….” The law in the members is the sickness of concupiscence, moving the members toward acts of wickedness.
Of the third, Wisdom 2:24 — “By the envy of the devil, death came into the world.”
Of all [the kinds of corruption], Augustine: “If that particular angel’s outpouring had not been heard in Paradise, we would not have been led into death. But he came fallen from heaven, the serpent did, and spat his particular venom, spoken by him: Taste and you will be like gods. And greedy for what they weren’t, they dropped what they reached for — to wit: true understanding, righteous life, the possibility of not dying.”*
* De civit. Dei, lib. XIV. c. 11. Migne, S. l. tom. 41. col. 419.
Therefore, because the devil through venomous food had poured in three kinds of corruption, it was necessary for a vigorous treatment that our Physician and Savior would give food medicinal against these three, and this is His Body which, taken dutifully, illumines the darkness of ignorance, cures the sickness of concupiscence, and conquers destructive death.
Of the first, Psalm 26:1 — “The Lord is my illumination and my salvation.” Psalm 33:6: “Come to Him and be enlightened.” Namely, the Body of Christ is the Word of God, that is, true light in human flesh, as in a lantern, by which the faithful soul is illumined.
Of the second, Psalm 77:24 — “….He had rained down manna upon them to eat….” Exodus 16:13 — “….in the morning, dew lay…like frost over the ground.” Therefore, heavenly bread appeared in the likeness of a rain of dew and frost, because the Lord’s Body cools the heat of crooked concupiscence.
Of the third, John 6:49 — “Your fathers ate manna in the desert, and they died. This is the bread come down from heaven, so that if any eat of it, they will not die.” And thus this food destroys eternal death.
The second way the corruption of human nature is expelled by the Lord’s Body as a food is by how constant a maintenance of health it is. Namely, a certain person feels the prick of conscience at the time of sinning and is somewhat cured, but is corrupted for a second recurrence of a time of temptation.
Psalm 37:6 — “My sores on my face are putrified and corrupted, because of my foolishness.” This food has the power to maintain the health of the soul as well, and to keep a good life incorrupted.
Canticles 1:12 — “A bundle of myrrh is my beloved to me; he shall abide between my breasts.” Namely, just as incorrupt myrrh serves the body, so the Lord’s body is received by the dutiful heart.
St. Ambrose:* “Consider whether the bread of angels, or the flesh of Christ, is more excellent, of which certainly the body is alive. That manna was from heaven; this from higher than the heavens. That was liable to rot if stored for another day; this is estranged from all corruption — and whoever has tasted it reverently will not be able to feel decay.
* In Decr. Grat. P. III. Dist. II. c. 69. S. Ambr. De myster. cap. 8.
Migne S. l. tom. 16. col. 404.
The third reason of the Wisdom of God that the Lord gives His Body as food for people, is the condition of human nature, which is that of a rational creature and one connected to a body. But a rational creature can be considered in three ways, and accordingly, requires three kinds of food.
First, a rational creature may be considered like this, that he is incorporeal and a pure spirit just like the angelic nature. The second way is that he is joined to a body just as dissimilar is with dissimilar, the spirit to flesh. The third way, according to these two natures — to wit, body and soul in the single person of a man are in intimate fellowship and conjoined in wondrous love. But no matter what mode of these three by which a rational creature is considered, according to his appropriate condition, he requires nourishment.
Considered in the first mode then, to wit, according to what is incorporeal and a pure spirit like an angelic nature. According to his condition, he requires food through which he lives and subsists — to wit, the eternal Word of God according to His incorporeal self — that is, the eternal Wisdom of God.
Tobias 12:19 — “I use an invisible food and drink which cannot be seen by men.” Proverbs 3:18 — “She is a tree of life to them that lay hold on her.” The tree of life is the Wisdom of God. Ecclesiasticus 1:5 — “The Word of God on high is the fountain of wisdom“, certainly restoring the angels in heaven.
A rational creature is considered in the second mode as a body joining, as it were, unlike to unlike, the spirit to the flesh, the precious to the cheap. According to the condition of the natures, each of the two natures requires fitting but dissimilar food for itself — the spirit, spiritual [food] in the style of angels; the body, bodily food in the style of beasts.
Of the first, Psalm 77:25 — “Man ate the bread of angels.” 1 Corinthians 10:3 — Our fathers “all ate the same spiritual food.” Wisdom 9:6 — “…if one be perfect among the children of men, yet if thy wisdom be not with him, he shall be counted as nothing.” As if it says: Whoever abstains from spiritual food, who is the Wisdom of God, will run out of spiritual life. Ecclesiasticus 15:3 — “With the bread of life and understanding, she shall feed him, and give him the water of wholesome wisdom to drink….”
Of the second, 2nd Kings 12:3 (2 Samuel 12: 3) — “…a certain poor man had… one little ewe lamb which was… eating of his bread, [drinking from his cup]”, etc. Ecclesiasticus 39:31 — “The principal things necessary for the life of men are… milk and bread, honey and the bunch of grapes, and oil… All these things shall be for good to the holy; thus to… the ungodly they shall be turned into evil.”
Of either, Deuteronomy 8:3. [“But you that adhere to the Lord your God, are all alive until this present day.“] Matthew 4:4 — “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
St. Augustine: “The soul is the life, as it were, of the body, but this does not make it live without bodily food; so God is the life of the soul, but does not make it live without spiritual food — that is, without the Word of God.”*
* Enarr. in Ps. 70. Migne, S. l. tom. 37. col. 1150. Similiter in tract.
27. in Joh. c. 6. (cf. Lect. 8. Sabb. infra Oct. Corp. Christ.) Migne, S. l.
tom. 35. col. 1618.
And thus [both] this and that are the nature of humans, so that they had unlike food for their unlike selves, and of old, they ate in turn in different styles. Spiritual food didn’t agree with the body nor bodily food with the spirit.
A rational creature is considered in a third way, according to these natures — to wit, body and soul in the single person of a man are in intimate fellowship and conjoined in wondrous love, then for eternal salvation one food will expel from both [natures] in all men — that is, one fitting either nature, simultaneously spiritual and corporal — to wit, the Word made flesh which they eat intimately together as that certain sacrament, that together their souls by virtue might be reaching out from present misery to blessed eternal life, and that their bodies, stored for a short time in the earth, in the end might rise up gloriously.
Of this food, John 6:56 — “My flesh is real food….” that is, the flesh of God, human flesh united with the Word of God, is real food, to wit, for the whole human, healthy for body and soul. Ecclesiasticus 1: 8-10 — “There is one Most High, Creator of all… He created [Wisdom] in the Holy Spirit… and according to His gift…He has shown her to those who love Him.”
“He created [Wisdom] in the Holy Spirit“, that is, by the power of the Holy Spirit He accepted flesh from the Virgin and in His wisdom became one with it, “and according to His gift“, that is, His generosity, “He has shown her to those” — to wit, in food — “who love Him” — to wit, to the faithful that would be benefitted, as it is said, body and soul.
Of this banquet for body and spirit, Isaiah 11:7 — “The calf and the bear shall feed together.” The calf signifies the body that will be slaughtered in the Lord’s sacrifice; the bear, the spirit, which like the bear among terrible beasts, ought to eat with bestial movements and manners. They “feed together“, to wit, on true food — that is, on the flesh of Christ, and are benefitted body and soul.
Of the first, John 6:55 — “Who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life” — to wit, until the soul will be led, after this misery, into eternal life, by the power of this sacrament.
Of the second, what follows: “And I will raise him up on the last day“, because the Lord, by the power of the very same sacrament, “will reform the body“* from dust, “made like to the body of his glory“. Amen.
* Philippians 3:21.