Skip to comments.Believing the Unbelievable (the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist)
Posted on 08/12/2006 7:01:28 AM PDT by NYer
Jesus hearers cannot believe the seemingly unbelievable. When Jesus makes the radical claim, I am the living bread come down from heaven, He is not only asking the Jews to accept His assertion that He can give His body as flesh to eat under the appearance of bread, Jesus is asking the Jews to believe in something even more fundamental that He is the Son of God.
That is why the Jews murmur among themselves that Jesus is nothing more than the son of Joseph, another man just like them. For Jesus to claim that He has come down from heaven is too unbelievable. If the Jews can believe that Jesus is the Son of God, then they might accept that He is the living bread come down from heaven. We learn that they cannot accept either claim.
What lies at the heart of our Lords teaching, which forms the foundation of our belief in the Eucharist, is His humble and self-effacing love. In making the claim that He is the bread of life, He shows us the depth of His love. As if it were not enough that He condescends to take our human nature upon Himself in all things but sin, He goes further by dying at Calvary for our redemption. And as if that were not enough, He goes the extra mile by choosing to remain with us always, until the end of time, in the sacramental form of the Eucharist. We must ask, Is this too incredible for us to believe? Is the transubstantiation of ordinary bread and wine into the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ too much for us to accept? Even though the appearances of bread and wine remain, we know that nothing of bread and nothing of wine is present in the Eucharist. Perhaps we can consider this doctrine in this way: If Jesus Christ is both true God and true man, and we know that God created the entire universe by His mere word, then what is to stop us from believing that the Son of God could transform ordinary bread and wine into His own body and blood by His word? It is more difficult to create something out of nothing (as in the case of creation) than it is to change pre-existing matter (bread and wine) into the Eucharist.
Yet how sad it is when statistics show a significant decline in Catholics who believe in the Real Presence; when Mass attendance in some parts of the world is at an all-time low; when peoples attire for Mass shows an obvious lack of due respect or recognition of the miracle occurring on the altar; when many fail to keep the one-hour Eucharistic fast; or even worse, when people come forward to receive Holy Communion when they are in a state of mortal sin. Christs love, made manifest in the Eucharist, is returned with so much indifference in our own day.
This claim, I am the bread of life, would cost Jesus some credibility and certainly some popularity. At the end of the sixth chapter of the Gospel of St. John, many of the disciples would abandon our Lord. The claim costs all of us as well at least those of us who live according to the Amen we say when we receive holy Communion. When communicants say, Amen to the words The body of Christ when they receive the Eucharist at Mass, they are saying Amen to several things, whether they know it or not. First, they are saying Amen to the reality of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Next, they are saying Amen to the priesthood that confects the Eucharist and the authority of the bishops and the pope who govern and ordain men into the priesthood. Finally, they are saying Amen to all that the Church proposes as being true and definitively taught as worthy of our belief. So, in order to make a genuine Communion, a person receiving the Eucharist must be in full communion with the Church, that is, he accepts all of what the Church teaches. To believe in anything less makes that persons Amen a disingenuous act. Only a true Amen links us to Jesus and nourishes us into everlasting life.
For those who do not accept the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the murmuring of disbelief in the Gospel continues in our own day. This is particularly disturbing when the murmuring comes from within our own ranks in the Church. Let us pray that we continue to grow in our belief of the seemingly unbelievable and teach others to love our blessed Lord, Who, through the Eucharist, pledges to remain with us until the end of time.
I think I finally get it ! Thanks!
>>When God changes water into wine it becomes WINE.
It doesn't remain water.<<
Good point... I also liked your illustration of Christ when He said that He was the "door"... He was speaking figuratively of course... Just like when there in the upper room with his disciples He said; "Take eat this is my body which is broken for you.."
RCC theology has some real problems understanding when a thing is said in a figurative sense... And when it is meant to be taken literally...
I had one fellow actually tell me that he takes everything literally.. That Christ never said anything that was meant to be taken figuratively... This is just one of the problems where RCC theology and reality are mutually exclusive...
Keep up the good work...
Have you ever heard of Lanciano and the Eucharistic miracle that happened there??
Check it out.
With God all things are possible. Why do these people doubt?
It is not a matter of a lack of faith, it is a matter of a lack of Scriptural support for a doctrine. If there is no Scriptural support for a particular doctrine then there is no reason to believe that doctrine. The Bible is silent regarding the exact nature in which the communion is the body and blood of Christ. Transubstantiation (and consubstatiation) is, at best, human speculation. Yet people have been burned at the stake over this issue - an issue of human speculation!
Incidentally, according to the Apostles themselves, there are certain things which are, in fact, impossible for God.
"... in which it was impossible for God to lie,..." - Heb. 6
"... He cannot deny Himself...." - 2 Tim. 2
"... for God cannot be tempted with evil..." - James 1
"... which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;" - Titus 1
Which "edition" of the Bible are you using that prevents your ability to find a Scriptural basis for the Eucharist?
Yes friend it is true. I feel that you believe the same way that they did and have had non-Catholics tell me exactly that, it's cannibalism. I believe it scandalizes you and many non-Catholics as much as it does the disciples that left Him that day. I also feel I can prove the Catholic position from Scripture. So...I guess that leaves us at a stalemate.
"Which "edition" of the Bible are you using that prevents your ability to find a Scriptural basis for the Eucharist?"
The Greek edition - first published around 40 to 60 AD.
"This is my Body" and "This is my blood" isn't enough for you?
Sorry you are denying the omnipotence of God. Just because you "don't get it" doesn't mean God couldn't do it.
The fact that he was standing before them holding bread and wine in his hands shold be some indication that he was speaking in a metaphorical manner - or that he was pointing them to a spiritual reality.
Look at this...
"Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not as the fathers ate and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever."
If what Jesus was refering to here was simply partaking in a mass/communion ceremony then he is stating that anyone who does so abides in him and will have eternal life. Manifestly this is not the case. Multitudes have taken part in mass/communion over the centureis who are now in hell.
That is because Jesus is speaking of something else - something deeper. He makes it clear in this passage...
"Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe.
It is the coming to and the believeing in Jesus that is the way in which people find Jesus to be the bread of heaven. This is how Jesus become bread to the soul - through our coming to him and believing in him, daily, moment by moment. This is how the "just shall live by faith".
"I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh."
Jesus flesh, his human flesh, beaten and bloodied, hanging on a cross is the only thing that can ever give the starving, emaciated and sin-sick soul of man the sustinance it so deeply craves. The knowlege that Jesus died in the sinners place and has won for him eternal forgiveness and peace with God - this is the manna from heaven. And just like the manna of old, it is offered as a free gift. All you need to do is accept it.
As the Scriptures say, "Blessed are they which huger, for they shall be filled".
This is from Catholic Answers.
They say that in John 6 Jesus was not talking about physical food and drink, but about spiritual food and drink. They quote John 6:35: "Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst." They claim that coming to him is bread, having faith in him is drink. Thus, eating his flesh and blood merely means believing in Christ.
But there is a problem with that interpretation. As Fr. John A. OBrien explains, "The phrase to eat the flesh and drink the blood, when used figuratively among the Jews, as among the Arabs of today, meant to inflict upon a person some serious injury, especially by calumny or by false accusation. To interpret the phrase figuratively then would be to make our Lord promise life everlasting to the culprit for slandering and hating him, which would reduce the whole passage to utter nonsense" (OBrien, The Faith of Millions, 215). For an example of this use, see Micah 3:3.
Fundamentalist writers who comment on John 6 also assert that one can show Christ was speaking only metaphorically by comparing verses like John 10:9 ("I am the door") and John 15:1 ("I am the true vine"). The problem is that there is not a connection to John 6:35, "I am the bread of life." "I am the door" and "I am the vine" make sense as metaphors because Christ is like a doorwe go to heaven through himand he is also like a vinewe get our spiritual sap through him. But Christ takes John 6:35 far beyond symbolism by saying, "For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed" (John 6:55).
He continues: "As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me" (John 6:57). The Greek word used for "eats" (trogon) is very blunt and has the sense of "chewing" or "gnawing." This is not the language of metaphor.
It is also the consistent testimony of the early Church that Christ is truly present in the Eucharist.
St. Ignatius became the third bishop of Antioch, He heard St. John preach when he was a boy and knew St. Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna. Eventually, he received the martyr's crown as he was thrown to wild beasts in the arena.
"... They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not admit that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, the flesh which suffered for our sins and which the Father, in His graciousness, raised from the dead."
"Letter to the Smyrnaeans", paragraph 6. circa 80-110 A.D.
St. Justin Martyr was born a pagan but converted to Christianity after studying philosophy. He was beheaded with six of his companions some time between 163 and 167 A.D.
"This food we call the Eucharist ... For we do not receive these things as common bread or common drink; but as Jesus Christ our Savior being incarnate by God's Word took flesh and blood for our salvation, so also we have been taught that the food consecrated by the Word of prayer which comes from him, from which our flesh and blood are nourished by transformation, is the flesh and blood of that incarnate Jesus."
" First Apology", Ch. 66, inter A.D. 148-155.
St. Irenaeus succeeded St. Pothinus to become the second bishop of Lyons in 177 A.D. St. Irenaeus is best known for refuting the Gnostic heresies.
"So then, if the mixed cup and the manufactured bread receive the Word of God and become the Eucharist, that is to say, the Blood and Body of Christ,... -"Five Books on the Unmasking and Refutation of the Falsely
Named Gnosis". Book 5:2, 2-3, circa 180 A.D.
There are many others. But of interest may be the words of ST. ATHANASIUS
St. Athanasius was born in Alexandria ca. 295 A.D. He was ordained a deacon in 319 A.D. He accompanied his bishop, Alexander, to the Council of Nicaea, where he served as his secretary. Eventually he succeeded Alexander as Bishop of Alexandria. He is most known for defending Nicene doctrine against Arian disputes.,
"'The great Athanasius in his sermon to the newly baptized says this:' You shall see the Levites bringing loaves and a cup of wine, and placing them on the table. So long as the prayers of supplication and entreaties have not been made, there is only bread and wine. But after the great and wonderful prayers have been completed, then the bread is become the Body, and the wine the Blood, of our Lord Jesus Christ. 'And again:' Let us approach the celebration of the mysteries. This bread and this wine, so long as the prayers and supplications have not taken place, remain simply what they are. But after the great prayers and holy supplications have been sent forth, the Word comes down into the bread and wine - and thus His Body is confected.",
-"Sermon to the Newly Baptized" ante 373 A.D.,
There are many others. These are men who learned the faith from the Apostles and/or their earliest followers. More often then not these men were martyred for believing in Jesus. These are men who defended the church against the heresies of gnosticism and Arianism. How likely is it that they would teach a corrupt faith?
I find it somewhat curious that some Protestants, who take the scripture sooooo literally, seem to fall down when Jesus says "this IS my body"
Miracle of Lanciano
Sorry, here's the direct link.
What translation is it marketed under? There are many "Bibles" out there that claim to be "original" - but only serve to advance the agendas of the cults that publish them.