[In England & Wales the feast of the Assumption is transferred to this Sunday, but for the purposes of the Gospel commentary, I am continuing with the ‘Bread of Life’ discourse, which is the reading in most other places for this Sunday]
St Cyril of Jerusalem notes that the Jews do not believe what Jesus is saying, nor do they understand it. When he speaks, they think he is referring to cannibalism. They do not understand that in the new covenant this is the bread of heaven and the cup of salvation, which corresponds to the body and the blood of Christ. Prefiguring the Eucharist. Jesus is telling us that the consecrated bread and win are his body and blood; do not judge on what your eyes can see or your tongue taste, judge rather on the basis of faith in the words of Jesus Chris, Our Lord, whose body and blood you receive at every Eucharist.
St Cyril of Alexandria comments that the Jews to who he speaks are still in drakness and do not understand what he is telling them The power of learning follows on from belief. Whomsoever eats the holy felsh and drinks the holy blood has eternal life, because his flesh has the Word which, by nature, is life. In so far as we receive his body and his blood, even though we are sinners, he is in us, and we are in him, and he will strengthen us against the powers of sin. What mercy, what Grace he shows to us, that the Creator of all things gives himself to us that we should live. He became felsh and blood that pur flesh and blood might be redeemed – eat of him, for he is life, drink of him, for he is the true vine.
Hilary of Poitiers, pointing out that everything that is the Father’s is also the Son’s, and vice-versa, tells us that he and the Father, and the Spirit are one; their essence is once, the Trinity is three and yet one.
Chysostom reminds us that the life of which Jesus speaks here is not merely life, but the everlasting life to which we are, through him, the heirs. This is the bread that gives us life – the body and the blood of the Lord, which we receive at the Divine Liturgy. Let us give praise and thanks to the Lord for his goodness to us, unworthy sinners, who are saved by his grace and mercy through the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus.