|"Don't go after the food that spoils..." (Jn. 6:27)|
And, consequently, he that hungers after this bread, hungers after righteousness — that righteousness however which comes down from heaven, the righteousness that God gives, not that which man works for himself. For if man were not making a righteousness for himself, the same apostle would not have said of the Jews: "For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and wishing to establish their own righteousness, they are not subject to the righteousness of God." (Romans 10:3) Of such were these who understood not the bread that comes down from heaven; because being satisfied with their own righteousness, they hungered not after the righteousness of God. What is this, God's righteousness and man's righteousness? God's righteousness here means, not that wherein God is righteous, but that which God bestows on man, that man may be righteous through God. But again, what was the righteousness of those Jews? A righteousness wrought of their own strength on which they presumed, and so declared themselves as if they were fulfillers of the law by their own virtue. But no man fulfills the law but he whom grace assists, that is, whom the bread that comes down from heaven assists. "For the fulfilling of the law," as the apostle says in brief, "is charity." (Romans 13:10) Charity, that is, love, not of money, but of God; love, not of earth nor of heaven, but of Him who made Heaven and earth. Whence can man have that love? Let us hear the same: "The love of God," says he, "is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us." (Romans 5:5) Wherefore, the Lord, about to give the Holy Spirit, said that Himself was the bread that came down from heaven, exhorting us to believe in Him. For to believe in Him is to eat the living bread. He that believes eats; he is sated invisibly, because invisibly is he born again. A babe within, a new man within. Where he is made new, there he is satisfied with food. (Tractates on the Gospel of John, 26:1)This is hardly an interpretation coming from a Roman Catholic. No Romanist today would offer the same line of understanding John 6 the way St. Augustine did. The blessed Doctor makes it clear that the Bread of Life should be eaten by believing in Christ for Salvation. Thus we do not eat Christ literally as what Rome insists we should; we receive him by faith. St. Augustine elsewhere states in the same compilation of tractates:
"They said therefore unto Him, What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?" For He had said to them, "Labor not for the meat which perishes, but for that which endures unto eternal life." "What shall we do?" they ask; by observing what, shall we be able to fulfill this precept? "Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent." This is then to eat the meat, not that which perishes, but that which endures unto eternal life. To what purpose do you make ready teeth and stomach? Believe, and you have eaten already. Faith is indeed distinguished from works, even as the apostle says, "that a man is justified by faith without the works of the law:" (Romans 3:28)This goes out to those who insist on the literal interpretation of the eating of the Bread of Life mentioned in John 6. Well, which else it is but Rome?