Sunday, December 12, 2010

Collecting Manna: St. Augustine on John 6

The miracles which Our Lord Jesus Christ performed are indeed divine works, and, from visible things and events, they encourage the human mind to come to some understanding of God. God, after all, is not the kind of substance that can be seen with the eyes, and his miracles, by which he governs the whole world and administers every creature, have grown cheap in our estimation through their regularity, so that almost no one bothers to pay attention to the wonderful and stupendous action of God in every grain of seed. So with his usual kindheartedness he kept back some things for himself, to perform them at a suitable time apart from the usual course and order of nature, so that wonders that were not greater than the daily ones, but just more out of the ordinary, would amaze people who had ceased to value those that occur every day.

Governing the whole cosmos, after all, is a greater marvel than satisfying five thousand men on five loaves of bread, and yet nobody marvels at it; people marvel at the latter because it is uncommon. Who, after all, even now feeds the whole world but the one who creates the crops from a few grains? So, on this occasion, the Lord acted as God...

Something therefore was brought to the attention of the senses whereby the mind would be alerted, something displayed before the eyes whereby the understanding could be exercised, so that we might marvel at the invisible God through his visible works; and so, being thus raised up to faith and purified through faith, we might even long to see in an invisible manner the one we recognized through things visible and invisible. (Homilies on the Gospel of John. Trans. Edmund Hill. Hyde Park: New City Press, 2009, 423-4)

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