We, therefore, are taught, through the slight want of faith shown by the blessed Thomas, that the mystery of the Resurrection is effected upon our earthly bodies, and in Christ as the firstfruits of the race. He was no phantom or ghost, fashioned in human shape, and simulating the features of humanity, nor yet, as others have foolishly surmised, a spiritual body that is compounded of a subtle and ethereal substance different from the flesh. For some attach this meaning to the expression “spiritual body”. For since all our expectation and the significance of our irrefutable faith, after the confession of the Holy and Consubstantial Trinity, centres in the mystery concerning the flesh, the blessed Evangelist has very pertinently put this saying of Thomas side by side with the summary of what preceded. For observe that Thomas does not desire simply to see the Lord, but looks for the marks of the nails, that is, the wounds upon His Body. For he affirmed that then, indeed, he would believe and agree with the rest that Christ had indeed risen again, and risen again in the flesh. For that which is dead may rightly be said to return to life, and the Resurrection surely was concerned with that which was subject unto death
‘Commentary on the Gospel of John’ 12.1. Commentary on the Gospel according to S. John, S. Cyril Archbishop Of Alexandria Vol. II: S. John IX—XXI. A Library Of Fathers of the Holy Catholic Church, Anterior To The Division Of The East And West. Translated By Members Of The English Church (London: Walter Smith, 1885), 682–3.
But lest they should suppose that eternal life was promised in this meat and drink in such manner that they who should take it should not even now die in the body, He condescended to meet this thought. For when He had said, “He that eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, has eternal life,” He immediately added, “and I will raise him up on the last day.” That meanwhile, according to the Spirit, he may have eternal life in that rest into which the spirits of the saints are received; but as to the body, he shall not be defrauded of its eternal life but, on the contrary, he shall have it in the resurrection of the dead at the last day.
Augustine of Hippo
Adapted from ‘Tractate XXVI’ on the Gospel of John’ 16. Philip Schaff (ed.), Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series I, Vol. 7 (New York: Christian Literature Publishing, 1886), 428.
The soldiers … pierced his side with a spear and now insulted the dead body. O abominable and accursed purpose! Yet, beloved, do not be confused or despondent. What these men did from a wicked will fought on the side of the truth, since there was a prophecy that spoke concerning this very circumstance: “They shall look on him whom they pierced” [Zech. 12:10]. And not only this, but this deed would become evidence to confirm the faith of those who should afterwards disbelieve, as it was for Thomas those like him. With this too an ineffable mystery was accomplished. For “there came forth water and blood”. Not without purpose or by chance did those fountains spring forth. Rather, it is because the church consists of these two together. And those who have been initiated know this, being regenerated indeed by water and nourished by the blood and the flesh. And so, the mysteries take their beginning. In this way, when you approach that awesome cup, you may so approach as though you were drinking from his very side.
Abbreviated and adapted from ‘Homilies on the Gospel of John’ 85.3. Joel C. Elowsky (ed.), Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament, Vol. IVb: John 11–21 (Downers Grove: IVP, 2007), 328–9.
Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lacked anything.
“A guest,” I answered, “worthy to be here”:
Love said, “You shall be he.”
“I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear,
I cannot look on thee.”
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
“Who made the eyes but I?”
“Truth, Lord; but I have marred them; let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.”
“And know you not,” says Love, “who bore the blame?”
“My dear, then I will serve.”
“You must sit down,” says Love, “and taste my meat.”
So I did sit and eat.
George Herbert (1593–1633)