Skip to comments.The Real Presence of Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist (with full Scriptural references)
Posted on 11/04/2007 6:17:01 AM PST by NYer
The Catholic Church teaches that when a priest repeats the words of Christ at the Last Supper over bread and wine that these become truly the Body and Blood of the Lord, even though the appearance of the bread and wine remain. In addition, the Catholic Church teaches that the celebration of the Eucharist renews in an unbloody manner the Sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary, forming a unity with it. How can Catholics, who in every other way appear sane, hold these outrageous beliefs that utterly defy ordinary human sense? Moreover, how can Catholics maintain, in the light of Sacred Scripture, that these beliefs are the genuine teaching of Jesus as transmitted through the Apostles and held by Christians since the earliest days?
This article explores the scriptural basis of the Catholic claim that Jesus himself taught these things, as seen in the pages of Sacred Scripture. Further, this article examines the writings of early Christians to see what they believed and praticed.
cf. Matthew 26:26-29, Mark 14:22-25, Luke 22:14-23
This is the first written account of the Last Supper, being recorded in the year 57. Note particularly verses 27, 29; they indicate that the body of the Lord is truly present. Also note that verse 25 records our Lord's commandment to perpetuate the Eucharist, hence the need for the sacramental priesthood.
In verse 27, St. Paul points out that one commits a serious sin when he receives our Lord in the Eucharist while in a state of serious sin. This is why the Church teaches that we should confess any serious sins before receiving the Eucharist.
About this account of the Last Supper, the St. Cyril of Jerusalem in his Catecheses (c. 350 A.D.) says
Since Christ himself has declared the bread to be his body, who can have any further doubt? Since he himself has said quite categorically, This is my blood, who would dare to question and say that it is not his blood?
Therefore, is is with complete assurance that we receive the bread and wine as the body and blood of Christ. His body is given to us under the symbol of bread, and his blood is given to us under the symbol of wine, in order to make us by receiving them one body and one blood with him. Having his body and blood in our members, we become bearers of Christ and sharers, as Saint Peter says, in the divine nature.
Some Christians take umbrage at the Catholic Church's use of transubstantiation to describe the mystery of the Real Presence. They claim that this fancy word along with, what is to them, the fancy (descriptive) explanation, needlessly complicate the teaching of the Gospel with philosophy. What they are missing is that philosophy just helps us to refine our common-sense notions, and so to improve our understanding and expression of the Truth.
The truth is that this big word transubstantiation is a high fence to protect what has always been the Church's teaching on the Eucharist: that when Christ said 'This is my body,' he meant is in the usual way that we mean is, and that just because our senses tell us that this is still bread, doesn't detract from the words of Christ who is God, but rather from the evidence of our senses.
For comparison, when we say that a tree is a tree, we mean that the substance of this object is tree. If I chop down the tree and build a chair. I now say, 'This is a chair'-- the substance of the tree has become chair. The chair is a chair no matter what my eyes or sense of touch tell me: the chair is still a chair when in the dark when we can't see it or when it is covered by a stiff, opaque cloth.
The importance of the clarity of the Church's teaching on the Real Presence as expressed by the term transubstantiation became evident in the sixteenth century when the Reformers rejected it. Luther, who, unlike Calvin and his disciples, was not utterly blind to the clear meaning of the words of Sacred Scripture (cf. John 6 below), tried to preserve belief in the Real Presence while distancing himself from the Roman Catholic Church's teaching of transubstantiation. So he taught what we call consubstantiation: that the body and blood of Christ are present along with the bread and the wine.
The problem with this explanation is that it postulates an entirely new manner of being and says that Christ had to be using is in a way much different from the way we normally use the word, so that when he said, 'This is my body,' he really meant, 'This is my body (along with the bread which is still here too).' The real obscenity of this explanation is that Luther then has the temerity to complain about Catholics complicating the Gospel!
And if Luther twisted words in knots to avoid transubstantiation, much more did the other Reformers in entirely rejecting the Real Presence as clearly taught by Christ in the following passage of Sacred Scripture.
Verses 26 and 63 frame the whole discourse with the crowd. The reason they do not believe the great teaching he is about to reveal is that their vision is too earthly: ``Their end is destruction, their god is the belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.'' (Philippians 3:18,19). In the words of St. Paul:
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. (Romans 8:5)
The crowd cannot see the divinity of Jesus because they are impure and seek their own gratification: ``Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.'' (Matthew 5:8). In verse 40, he tells us that we must see the Son of man and have faith in him in order to gain eternal life. How is it that we modern-day disciples can see Jesus? Only through a pure act of faith: 'Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe' (Jn 20:29).
In verses 45-46, he as much as says that his authority is divine, as if to remind the crowd that though the teaching is difficult, the authority of the one who reveals it admits of no doubt. In verse 47 he says solemnly ``he who believes has eternal life''. But believes what? What is the content of this belief? It can only be the teaching that follows in verses 48-51: ``I am the bread of life.... if any one eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.''
Notice that the crowds clearly understand him to say that to live they must eat his flesh (v. 52), and, although they understand him in a carnal way (not seeing that his flesh will be veiled under the appearance of bread and wine), they grasp the basic truth of his words. The proof is that he does not try to correct them as if they had misunderstood, but rather reiterates and amplifies what they have understood from his saying in verse 51. Notice with what solemnity (``Truly, truly...'') and how many times he reaffirms this teaching (vv. 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, and 58). Each of these verses is a categorical affirmation of the crowd's understanding of his words. There is no indication that Jesus is speaking figuratively here; we must humbly accept the words of our Lord, even though if it require a great leap of faith. We must not allow our predispositions or traditions or even the purely empirical knowledge of our own senses to restrict our full recognition of the truth given from the mouth of God made Man: ``Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.'' (John 20:29) We must humbly ask God for the faith to believe in this truth beyond all expectation, tradition and sense. ``Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.'' (Mark 10:16)
Some interpret verse 63 to mean that the flesh about which Jesus has just been speaking does not contribute to salvation. The problem with this interpretation is that it denies the role of the Incarnation in our salvation: if Jesus' flesh is not beneficial to our salvation, why did he become a man and sacrifice himself? The correct interpretation is, as we have already noted, that `flesh' refers to the senses and the mind enslaved to the senses. Jesus is saying, `Don't judge by your senses; judge by the Spirit: have faith in me!' Besides, as St. Thomas Aquinas points out, Jesus gives us in the Holy Eucharist not just his body, but also his blood, soul, and divinity; Jesus died only once and these can never be separated from his body again.
Significantly, St. John has told us that the events of the previous episode take place just under a year before Jesus institutes the Sacrament of his Love at the Last Supper: "Now, the Passover, the Feast of the Jews, was at hand." (verse 4, not shown above). The present episode occurs on the Passover, a year before Jesus' sacrifice on the cross.
Verse 66 tells us that many of Jesus' disciples (not just an stray crowd, but his disciples) withdrew from following him because they understood his words literally and took offense. If Jesus had intended his words symbolically, he would have been morally obliged to clarify them for his misunderstanding disciples. But he does not do so.
Finally, notice that this is the first time St. John mentions that Judas is going to betray Jesus (v. 71), that it immediately follows many of Jesus's disciples falling away from him due to the apparent enormity of the idea of eating his flesh and drinking his blood (v. 60). In verse 64, St. John makes the connection between betrayal of Jesus and unbelief in what he has just taught. Here we learn that it was Judas' failure to believe the Lord in preference to sense evidence that started him on the road to perdition.
This should be an interesting thread.
Depending on the translation used, it either says "this do" or "do this".
Baptism and The Lord's Supper are symbols of the death, burial, and resurrection; and of the breaking of His body and the spilling of His blood. Both symbolic.
They are not merely symbolic, as Scripture clearly demonstrates.
1 Peter 3:21 There is also an antitype which now saves us -- baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ
1 Cor 11:27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks [this] cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
If it's not faith alone, what is it faith "with"? And, where is that in Scripture?
Romans 3:28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
Romans11:6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.
Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
And nowhere do I contradict Scripture.
KJV: 1Peter 3:21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:
an-teet'-oo-pon Neuter of a compound of G473 and G5179; corresponding (antitype), that is, a representative, counterpart: - (like) figure (whereunto).
We can be in Jesus (a branch on the vine), and then if we don't bear fruit, are cut off, wither up and die. Paul makes this absolutely clear in Rom. 11:20-23.
"Faith is an entirely free gift that God makes to man. We can lose this priceless gift, as St. Paul indicated to St. Timothy: 'Wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting conscience, certain persons have made shipwreck of their faith.' [1 Tim 1:18-19 .] To live, grow and persevere in the faith until the end we must nourish it with the word of God; we must beg the Lord to increase our faith; [Cf. Mk 9:24 ; Lk 17:5 ; Lk 22:32.] it must be 'working through charity,' abounding in hope, and rooted in the faith of the Church. [Gal 5:6 ; Rom 15:13 ; cf. Jam 2:14-26.]"
No, that's an oversimplification.
Though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 1 Cor 13:2
No, I mean, one can eat of His Body unworthily, which would obviously bring damnation upon a person who does so.
Yes, baptism is not merely symbolic.
"Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." Acts 2:38
"He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." Mark 16:16
"And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord." Acts 22:16
"How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." Rom 6:2-4
"you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God." 1 Cor 6:11
"In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with [him] through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses" Col 2:11-13
"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost. Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour" Titus 3:5-6
"Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and [of] the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." John 3:5
"Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of [our] faith without wavering; (for he [is] faithful that promised;)" Heb 10:22-23
For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do [them]. And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God. Ez 36:24-28
Can baptism alone save you? NO!
Can Jesus alone save you? YES!
I'm done...Matthew 10:14
You forgot one. Does "faith alone" save you?
Not according to Scripture.
In all honesty I don’t mean this in a snide way, but I do think it would be more fruitful if you researched the Catholic and Orthodox understanding of the Eucharist before you try to “debate” it. That would save much time, and if you still don’t agree, at least you wouldn’t have to ask “catch-up” questions about the the one of the oldest Christian traditions on the planet. After all, only baptism is older for us Christians (and that’s only because it predates Christianity as we understand it).
There are no such contradictions. The contradictions are between "Reformed" Christianity and Scripture on the subject of the Eucharist.
What better way to do research into the Catholic position than to engage in conversation with a Catholic?
As of all the sacred mysteries bequeathed to us by our Lord and Saviour as most infallible instruments of divine grace, there is none comparable to the most holy Sacrament of the Eucharist; so, for no crime is there a heavier punishment to be feared from God than for the unholy or irreligious use by the faithful of that which is full of holiness, or rather which contains the very author and source of holiness. This the Apostle wisely saw, and has openly admonished us of it. For when he had declared the enormity of their guilt who discerned not the body of the Lord, he immediately subjoined: Therefore are there many infirm and weak among you, and many sleep....
Finally, to comprise all the advantages and blessings of this Sacrament in one word, it must be taught that the Holy Eucharist is most efficacious towards the attainment of eternal glory. For it is written: He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life, and I will raise him up on the last day. That is to say, by the grace of this Sacrament men enjoy the greatest peace and tranquillity of conscience during the present life; and, when the hour of departing from this world shall have arrived, like Elias, who in the strength of the bread baked on the hearth, walked to Horeb, the mount of God, they, too, invigorated by the strengthening influence of this (heavenly food), will ascend to unfading glory and bliss....