Voice ever ancient, ever new. Easter, Week 3: Tuesday

Saint Ephrem the Syrian
“Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” So Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.” (John 6:31-32)

Saint Ephrem the Syrian offers the following insight on these verses from today’s Gospel:

“From a little bread, our Lord made an abundance of bread in the midst of the desert, and in Cana he turned water into wine. At first he set out to give instruction to their mouths about his bread and wine, until the time came for him to give them his blood and his body also. He gave them the taste of a superabundance of transitory bread and wine in order to give them an eager desire for the superabundance of his living body and blood. He gave them these lesser things without price, so that they might know that this gift of his, of highest value, was free. He gave to them freely those things that they were able to purchase from him at a price. He therefore did not sell to them anything that they were able to buy, so that they might know that there was no fee he required from them for that which they did not have; for they were able to pay the price of his bread and wine, but they could not pay the price of his body and blood. It was in this way that he not only gave to us freely, but he was even enticing us as well; for he gave these lesser things freely to captivate us to come and receive this of highest value, which is without price. These lesser things that he gave of bread and wine delighted the mouth; that [highest gift] of body and blood brings aid to the mind. He captivated us with these things, which bring pleasure to the palate, in order to draw us to that which brings life to [our] souls. For this reason, he hid the sweetness in the wine he made, so that they might know what treasure is hidden in his life-giving blood.” (Commentary on Tatian’s Diatessaron, 12)

O God,
Who open wide the gates of the heavenly Kingdom
to those reborn of water and the Holy Spirit,
pour out on your servants
an increase of the grace you have bestowed,
that, having been purged of all sins,
they may lack nothing
that in your kindness you have promised.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

The Lord is risen! Alleluia!
He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!