Sermon by St. Ambrose the Bishop
After the woman (who may be taken as a type of the Church) had been healed of the issue of blood, and the disciples had been appointed to preach the kingdom of God, then was given the food of heavenly grace. But mark who they were unto whom he gave it. He gave it not unto such as dwell at ease, not unto men in cities, not unto such as sit in places of worldly splendour, but unto men seeking Christ in a desert place. It is such as are not given to niceties that Christ receiveth; and unto them the Word of God speaketh, not of earthly things, but of the kingdom of God. And furthermore, if any bear in them the running sores of fleshly passion, he freely bestoweth his medicine of healing.
And then it cometh to pass that, after healing those in the need thereof, he next relieveth their hunger with spiritual nourishment. Thus it is that no man taketh Christ's meat unless he be first healed, and therefore, they that are bidden to the supper must first be cured by the very invitation itself. The same must receive the power to walk, that they they may be able to come; the blind, since they cannot see the door of the house of the Lord, must be given light.
Thus in all these teachings is shewn forth the order of the Sacraments. The sinful soul is first healed by the remission of sins, and afterward is filled at the Table of the Lord. However, the multitude described in this Lesson are such as do not as yet feed on those strong meats, nor pasture their spirits upon the Body and Blood of Christ, as do they of a more solid faith which had not yet come. To use the words of Paul: I have fed you with milk and not with meat, for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. The few little loaves are here, as it were milk; the stronger meat will be the Body of Christ; the more generous cup, the Blood of the Lord.