Take and eat, this is my body.

During another post called “Eucharist,” I showed proof that Jesus was speaking literally in scripture about the Eucharist.  The following will show you how Christ’ sacrifice is made sacramentally present in bread and wine.

On the night before he suffered and died on the cross, Jesus shared one last meal with his friends.  While reclined at table, our Savior instituted the sacrament of his Body and Blood.  He did this in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the Cross forever and to entrust to the Church a memorial of his death and resurrection.  The Gospel of Matthew tells us:

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, “Take and eat; this is my body.”  Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Mt 26:26-28; cf. Mk 14:22-24, Lk 22:17-20, 1 Cor 11:23-25)

Recalling these words of Jesus, the Catholic Church professes that, in the celebration of the Eucharist, bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit and the instrumentality of the priest.  Jesus said: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world. . . . For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.”  The whole Christ is really and truly present, body, blood, soul, and divinity, under the appearances of bread and wine–the glorified Christ who rose from the dead after dying for our sins.  This is what is meant when the Church speaks of the “Real Presence” of Christ in the Eucharist.  The risen Christ is present to his Church in many ways, but most especially through the sacrament of his Body and Blood.

What does it mean that Jesus Christ is present in the Eucharist under the appearances of bread and wine?  The presence of the risen Christ in the Eucharist is an inexhaustible mystery that the Church cannot fully explain.  We must remember that the triune God is the creator of all that exists and has the power to do more than we can possibly imagine.  God created the world in order to share his life with persons who are not God.  This great plan of salvation reveals a wisdom that surpasses our understanding.  But we are not left in ignorance: for out of his love for us, God reveals his truth to us in ways that we can only understand through the gift of faith and the grace of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us.  We are thus enabled to understand at least in some measure what would otherwise remain unknown to us, though we can never completely comprehend the mystery of God.

While our sins would have made it impossible for us to share in the life of God, Jesus Christ was sent to remove this obstacle.  His death was a sacrifice for our sins.  Christ is “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”  Through his death and resurrection, he conquered sin and death and reconciled us to God.  The Eucharist is the memorial of this sacrifice.  The Catholic Church gathers to remember and to re-present the sacrifice of Christ in which we share through the priest and the power of the Holy Spirit.  Through the celebration of the Eucharist, we are joined to Christ’s sacrifice and receive its many benefits.

As the Letter to the Hebrews explains, Jesus is the one eternal high priest who always lives to make intercession for the people before the Father.  In this way, he surpasses the many high priests who over centuries used to offer sacrifices for sin in the Jerusalem temple.  The eternal high priest Jesus offers the perfect sacrifice which is literally his very self, not something else symbolical.  “He entered once for all into the sanctuary, not with the blood of goats and calves but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.”

Jesus has entered into human history for he is truly human.  At the same time, however, Jesus Christ is the Second Person of the Holy Trinity; he is the eternal Son, who is not confined within time or history.  His actions transcend time, which is part of creation. “Passing through the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made by hands, that is, not belonging to this creation,” Jesus the eternal Son of God made his act of sacrifice in the presence of his Father, who does live in eternity.  Jesus’ one perfect sacrifice is thus eternally present before the Father, who eternally accepts it.  This means that in the Eucharist, Jesus does not sacrifice himself again and again.  Rather, by the power of the Holy Spirit his one eternal sacrifice is made present once again, re-presented, so that we may share in it.

Christ does not have to leave where he is in heaven to be with us.  We partake of the heavenly liturgy where Christ eternally intercedes for us and presents his sacrifice to the Father and where the angels and saints constantly glorify God and give thanks for all his gifts: “To the one who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor, glory and might, forever and ever.”  As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “By the Eucharistic celebration we already unite ourselves with the heavenly liturgy and anticipate eternal life, when God will be all in all” (no. 1326).  The Sanctus proclamation, “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord . . . ,” is the song of the angels who are in the presence of God.  When in the Eucharist we proclaim the Sanctus we echo on earth the song of angels as they worship God in heaven.  In the eucharistic celebration we do not simply remember an event in history.  Rather, through the mysterious action of the Holy Spirit in the eucharistic celebration the Lord’s Paschal Mystery is made present and contemporaneous to his Spouse the Catholic Church.

Furthermore, in the Eucharistic re-presentation of Christ’s eternal sacrifice before the Father, we are not simply spectators.  The priest and the worshiping community are in different ways active in the eucharistic sacrifice.  The ordained priest standing at the altar represents Christ as head of the Church.  All the baptized, as members of Christ’s Body, share in his priesthood, as both priest and victim.  The Eucharist is also the sacrifice of the Church.  The Church, which is the Body and Bride of Christ, participates in the sacrificial offering of her Head and Spouse.  In the Eucharist, the sacrifice of Christ becomes the sacrifice of the members of his Body who united to Christ form one sacrificial offering (cf. Catechism, no. 1368).  As Christ’s sacrifice is made sacramentally present, united with Christ, we offer ourselves as a sacrifice to the Father.  “The whole Church exercises the role of priest and victim along with Christ, offering the Sacrifice of the Mass and itself completely offered in it” (Mysterium Fidei, no. 31; cf. Lumen Gentium, no. 11).

What are your thoughts on the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist?

4 thoughts on “Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist

  1. So, quick question here. What’s the official stance on non Catholics taking communion during mass? I’ve had a mixed experience with this. As a believer in Jesus Christ, Communion is an act of remembrance, obedience, love and celebration. While I take communion in my own church it seems that I shouldn’t do this in the Catholic Church. I say mixed bags because during some services when it’s known there are many denominations present, it’s encouraged. Yet in a traditional service it seems like a faux pas.

    1. Jennifer, thanks so much for your comment. And please come back anytime to comment again.
      I actually have a post where I talk about non-Catholic people wanting to take the Eucharist in Holy Communion. That post is called “Receiving the Eucharist.”
      The word Communion means so much more to a Catholic than just in remembrance, obedience, love and celebration. As this post and another called “The Eucharist,” explains more on this subject. The Catholic Church is based on the Eucharist, it is the true Body, Blood and Divinity of Jesus Christ. This is not taken lightly in the Church and should be taken seriously by our non-Catholic friends. This is one of the best ways I have ever heard it put…
      …And this food is called among us Eucharist, of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these…but…likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word…is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh. Since the beginning of Christianity, every believer recognized that the Eucharist is truly the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. Because of this, they consistently recognized that this holy thing was only available to those who were part of the Church…
      Thanks again so much for the comment and may God Bless you Jennifer.

  2. This was a very thoughtful post and I learned so much from it.
    I read Jennifer’s comment and what she wrote was very good. Then I seen what the Admin wrote in her answer, I thought Admin made good points.
    I don’t know much about the Catholic faith but I do have a good friend that was brought up Catholic but now she doesn’t go anywhere, but I do ask her questions sometimes about God, Catholics, Protestants and so much more. I will ask her to look at your site as well.
    Another person on this comment string asked why a non-Catholic cannot get communion, I know you already answered it but I think it should be ok. Can you explain more?
    Thanks, my friend and I will check back later.

    1. Thanks so much for your comments on this post.
      Jennifer did ask if a non-Catholic could receive the Eucharist. As a Catholic we believe that Christ IS really present in the Eucharist and that we ALL must believe in this and must have already prepared ourselves to recieve Him in the Eucharist. If you are not Catholic and do not believe that Jesus is actually present in the Eucharist, or if you believe but are not elgible to recieve, then you MUST not. Non-Catholics do not believe that Jesus is trully present in the Eucharist, therefore, they cannot recieve. Most Protestants or non-Catholics believe that Jesus was only speaking symbolically or figuratively when He was talking about the Eucharist. I also wrote a post about this subject.

      The short answer: No, non-Catholics cannot receive the Catholic Eucharist. And find a good staunch Catholic person to talk to about your Catholic questions, not your friend.

      As far as your friend that I assume you said does not go anywhere, you mean to a church. Right? The only thing I will say about asking a friend that is not Catholic about things about being Catholic is this: You wouldn’t go to your friend to ask them about your chest pain you are having, would you? Would you go to the hot sand dunes to learn how to snow ski?
      This would not make sense. If you have a Catholic question, go to a Catholic proffesional, not a Protestant or non-Catholic. If you want to know what a Protestant thinks about an issue than you would go to a Protestant. Simple. So if your friend is NOT Catholic, don’t go to her, find a Catholic person. Go to a trusted Catholic website. Not your friend.

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