Of the third and fourth reason that the Lord gives His Body veiled.
“Come, eat my bread,” etc. as in the first sermon.
“How can he give us his flesh to chew?” John 6:53.
“It is good to hide the mystery [Sacramentum] of the King.” Tobit 12:7.
The third reason, therefore, the Lord gives His Body veiled,
is the instruction of morals. Job 28:18 — “Wisdom is drawn
out of secret places.” Truth is concealed in this sacrament in which morals
are taught, of course: the character of the Savior, great clarity of
excellence, and a wonderful work of the Almighty.
Of the first, Isaiah 45:15 — “Truly, you are a hidden God, the God
of Israel, the savior.” Of the second, Isaiah 8:17 — “I will await
the Lord who has hidden His face.” Of the third, Ecclesiasticus 43:36
(Sirach 43:36) — “Many greater things are hidden from us; indeed, we
have seen few of His works.” In these we get to know, of course, three
things so virtuous could be hidden in us: our characters, bodily excellence,
the intention of good works. The first [is hidden] from the furor of
persecutors, the second from the investigation of fools, the third from
The just one learns in this sacrament to hide his character for three
[reasons]: of course, so that the persecutor’s wrath quiets, so that
work fulfils the precept of the Lord, so that he acquires a glorious
Of the first, Isaiah 26:20 — “Go, My people, into your room, close your
door after you to hide a little while until My indignation passes“,
to wit, in persecution, which many of the just are picked out to
do. Of the second, 2 Corinthians 11:32-33 — “At Damascus, the governor…
guarded the city… to arrest me, and I was lowered in a basket
through a window by the wall, and so escaped his hands.” Similarly,
Tobit, whom the king ordered to be slain, fleeing naked, he hid,
for of course the works of mercy which he had begun, he carried out.
Of the third, 1 Kings 26:1 (1 Samuel 26:1) — David fled from Saul’s
face; “he is hidden on the hill of Hachila” — that is, in the Lord.
Indeed, Hachila is interpreted as supporting him, for “The Lord is
my supporter”. But he is hidden in the Lord, for the king’s crown
stands firm through his famous, glorious works. John 8:59 — “Jews
got rocks in order to throw them at Jesus. But Jesus hid himself
and went out of the Temple.”
Second, the just learn to hide bodily beauty from men’s inspection,
because adorned outer beauty has been the occasion for the fall of many.
Corporal beauty, therefore, must be hidden in three ways: through
cheapness of dress, austerity of fasting, and assiduity of good works.
Of the first, Job 16:16 — “I stitched sackcloth over my skin, and
covered my flesh with ashes.” Genesis 24:64-65 — “Rebecca also, when
she saw Isaac… took her cloak and covered herself.” 1 Corinthians 11:10 —
“Women must have a veil over their heads for the angels“, that is, for
Of the second, Galatians 6:14 — “The world is crucified in me, and I
in the world“, as if he says: The world is vile to me because of worry
about its punishment, and I am vile to the worldly because of the
exhaustion of my body.
* Psalm 148, 2.
Augustine: “Subdue your flesh through fasting and abstinence from
food and drink, as much as strength permits.”*
Of the third, Psalm 38:12 — “You make his spirit waste away like a
spider.” As a spider [spinning a web] drawn out of her innards
dries up for that reason, so the just is exhausted by frequently
repeating laborious works out of true charity, and he fades
in body. Ecclesiasticus 33:27 (Sirach 33:27) — “Yoke and thong bend the
stiff neck, and assiduous labor makes the slave bow.”
Canticles 1:5 (Song of Solomon 1:5) — “Do not consider me dark because the sun
has changed my color.” The hot sun did this — that is, the work
of love. Christ accepted the form of a slave, in which the
brightness of His Godhood hides. From which, Isaiah 53:2-3 —
“No kind of beauty is in him… and his face as if hidden and
The third thing the just learns in this sacrament is the
virtue of honor of hiding the intention to do good works
from human favor. Matthew 13:44 — “The Kingdom of Heaven”
that is, the conduct of the just, says the Gloss,**
“is like a treasure hidden in a field” — in the heart.
Gregory: “So work in public, so long as the intention
remains secret, and so that we provide our neighbors an
example of good works, and yet through the intention,
that we ask only to please God alone, always we wish
We have to hide three kinds of true good things especially
from the favor of men: to wit, alms, prayer, fasting. Of
the first, Matthew 6:2 — “When you give alms, don’t
blow a trumpet before you” — the trumpet of swelling,
boasting, and appearances — “like the hypocrites do,
so that they’ll be honored by men. Amen, I say to you,
they have received their pay. But when you give alms,
don’t let your left hand” (that is, crooked intention)
“know what your right hand” (pure love) “is doing, so
that your alms are hidden” (your pious intention). “And
your Father, who sees what is hidden, will repay you.”
* Regula ad servos Dei. n. 4. Migne, S.l. tom. 32. col. 1379. Cf.
De utili jejun. sermo. Ibid, tom. 40. col. 708.
*** In Evang. hom. 11. n. 1. Migne. S. 1. tom. 76. col. 1115.
Of the second, Matthew 6:6 — “When you pray, go into your room”
(that is, the privacy of your mind), “and close the door” (all
the entrances to the heart), “pray to the Father in secret”
(with hidden intention), “and He will repay you.”
Of the third, the same: “And when fasting, anoint your head”
(that is, restore to the Anointed the works of mercy that you
draw upon, bestowing them upon His members among the poor)
“and wash your face“, (purging the heart and senses of sin
with penitential tears); “do not let men see that you are fasting,
and your Father, who sees what is hidden, will repay you.”
The fourth reason that the Lord gives His Body veiled is the
feebleness of all that is done here. For no mortal man’s eye can
bear the brightness of His glorious Body, unless it is veiled.
Which is tested in three ways: by a legal figure, by material
accidents, by natural reason.
The first is tested by a legal figure. Exodus 34:29 — “The children
of Israel seeing that from sharing conversation with God,
Moses’ face was horned [shining], they feared to come near him;
so he put a veil in front of his face when he spoke to them.”
Indeed, Moses’ face receives so great of beams of radiance from frequent and
familiar approach to the divine light, which was seen by human eyes
as horns, because they could not bear the brightness of His looks
unless veiled. So doubtless, indeed many more, the Body of Christ
in His Resurrection was glorified, and made spiritual and in the form
of God, no human eye can examine Him unless veiled under another
The second is tested by this, what happened to Mary the Mother of God,
who could not bear the brightness and glory of the presence of the
Son of God, unless she were overshadowed. But the majesty was veiled
for the flesh of the Virgin; it was made possible for the Virgin to
bear, by the work of the Holy Spirit, and it is seen by us, too. Hence:
“The Word is made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory.”
But this flesh, after the Passion and through the Resurrection, was
glorified and clarified to the likeness of God, according to this
from John 17:5 — “Father, clarify Me… to the brightness which I had before
the world was made” — it is made impossible to us to see, or
to see it naked in its own shape with mortal eyes, unless it be veiled
as another visible species. Ecclesiasticus 11:4 (Sirach 11:4) — “Wonderful the works
of the Highest, and glorious, and secret, and hidden.” Together with
this from Exodus 33:20 — “Man shall not see Me and live“, in His own
real form. 1 Corinthians 13:12 — “Now we see through a mirror” of reason,
and in a riddle — that is, in the figure of bread.
The third is tested by that same natural reason, for which there is
too great a unlikeness, to the light of our eyes, from the brightness
of the light of the Body of Christ. “Indeed, our eye”, says Augustine,
“is sick and corruptible; this is the real brightness of the incorruptible,
and in a certain way is immeasurable”, because as it said, it is God-shaped.
Indeed, this is the reason for the visibility of all light; the likeness
somehow is seen to light, and as much greater as is the likeness to the greatest
light, so the vision is clearer and sweeter. Hence it is that the healthy eye
can see the body of the Sun naked, to a certain point, and not the Body of
Christ; because the Sun has a lot of likeness to the light and is
corruptible; which the Body of Christ doesn’t have. Indeed, unless the eye
somehow be like the light from the heavenly region, by no means can this be
seen, as not even the ear nor the finger can sense; but the eye is likewise
blind; of course, because of too great an unlikeness.
* Epist. 148. Migne, S. l. tom. 33, col. 623. (sed non ad verbum).
Therefore, because of our feebleness and the excessive brightness of the
Body of Christ, we cannot see it bare in this life; by His goodness, with
joy we have it in wrappings — until the Body transforms our humbleness
and configures our bodies to His brightness, and so through this brightness
are magnified — and until we are strengthened to incorruption, we may
sweetly see eye to eye with the brightness of the Lord’s Body. Luke 11:34 —
“If your eye be single” — that is, the intention of your heart is pure —
“the whole body will be bright” to see, of course, the brightness of Christ.
1 John 3:2 — “We know, when He appears, that we will be like Him, because
we will see Him as He is.” Bernard: “Indeed, it is worthy that truth be
seen to have to entered into the soul through the higher windows of the eyes,
but this to us, o soul, is kept for last, when we shall see face to face”*,
and this vision will be for us eternal life. Amen.