I wrote one post on the Eucharist and I thought it was really explained and written well, but I have been getting several questions and comments and some people say that it is not so easy to grasp. Here below is the second attempt to explain and help all understand the truth about this very important matter, the Eucharist.
Catholics believe that the Eucharist is the literal body and blood of Christ. Virtually all on the more than 36,000 different Protestant denominations believe Christ is only present symbolically in the Eucharist.
Because the Eucharist is such an important doctrine, and because it divides us from nearly all Protestants, Catholics must insist on discussing this issue in any dialogue to bring the truth of this matter to all those that will listen.
In order to understand the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, please read and study:
All of John 6
1 Cor 11:23-29
1 Cor 10:14-17
In Jn 4:31-34 and Mt 16:5-12, describe Jesus speaking about food in a symbolic or figurative way. The disciples interpret Him to mean real food. Note how Jesus shows them in plain, unmistakable language that He is only speaking figuratively.
Compare this with Jn 6:51. Jesus says we must eat His flesh in order to have life. In Jn 6:52, the Jews interpret Him literally. Jesus then repeats again and again (verses 53-56) –in the clearest possible language–He does not clarify but emphasizes his words, not once but 5 times that we must eat His flesh and drink His blood in order to have eternal life. Take special not of verse 55: “my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink” —this is NOT language of symbolism.
Protestants often cite John 6:35: “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger; whoever believes in me will never thirst.” They claim that when Jesus calls Himself the “bread of life” He is simply saying that if we believe in Him, He will nourish us spiritually, just as bread nourishes us physically. Protestants claim that we “eat” and “drink” Jesus, our spiritual food, by coming to and believing in Him.
Let’s take a close look at this claim. We must read the rest of this Eucharist discourse, especially verses 48-58, where Jesus tells us exactly what He means by calling Himself “bread.” The bread Jesus is speaking of is not merely a symbol for spiritual nourishment. Jesus tells us plainly that the bread is His own flesh (verse 51), which we must eat in order to have eternal life. When Jesus explains that the bread of life is literally His flesh, we must accept His clear words.
Many Protestants claim that , in John 6:60-70, Jesus explains that He was only speaking symbolically in the previous verses. They focus on verse 63, “It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.”
A closer look into this claim we find that it doesn’t hold water either. First of all Jesus’ Eucharistic talk ends with verse 58. The dialogue of verses 60-70 occurs later and deals with faith, not the Eucharist. Read verse 59, you will see how Jesus has moved on past the subject of the Eucharist. Second of all, the word “spirit” is nowhere used in the Bible to mean “symbolic.” The spiritual is just as real as the material. Thirdly, in verse 63, Jesus is contrasting the natural or carnal man (“the flesh“) with the spiritual or faith-filled man. Read 1 Cor 2:14-3:4 for a really good explanation of what Jesus means by “the flesh.” Note that Jesus says “my flesh” when discussing the Eucharist. He says “the flesh” when referring to the carnal man who will not believe anything beyond his senses and reason. No Christian believes that Jesus’ flesh is “of no avail,” for His flesh was the means of our redemption. Finally, the last point here, note that the unbelieving disciples leave Jesus after verse 63–they would not have left at this point if Jesus had assured them that He was only speaking symbolically. This is the only time recorded in the New Testament that any of Jesus’ disciples left Him because they found a doctrine of His too hard to accept. Of the twelve Apostles, apparently only Judas rejected the Eucharist (Jn 6:70-71).
Now read the other Eucharistic Bible passages. Again and again the biblical language indicates the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Note the strong language of St. Paul in 1 Cor 11:27, “whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily sins against the body and blood of the Lord.”
In the Aramaic language that Our Lord spoke, to symbolically “eat the flesh” or “drink the blood” of someone meant to persecute and assault him. See Ps 27:2; Isaiah 9:18-20; Isaiah 49:26; Micah 3:3; 2 Sam 23:15-17; and Rev 17:6, 16. Thus, if Jesus were only speaking symbolically about eating His flesh and drinking His blood, as the Protestants say, then what He really meant was “whoever persecutes and assaults me will have eternal life.” This of course, makes nonsense of the passage!
Consider Christ’s use of bread and wine at the Last Supper. Bread and wine are not normal or natural symbols of flesh and blood. Yet in all four Last Supper accounts Jesus tells us plainly that “this IS my body” and “this IS my blood.” Never is there a hint that He is speaking symbolically. Either the symbols would have been clearly explained if He were speaking symbolically (which is not the case) or Jesus spoke literally (which is the case!).
Sometimes a non-Catholic will insist that we Catholics, because of our belief about the Eucharist, engage in cannibalism and violate the biblical prohibition on the drinking of blood. It was exactly his misunderstanding that led the unbelieving Jews and disciples in John 6 to reject Jesus when he spoke about the need to eat His body and drink His blood. The believing disciples were rewarded for their faith at the Last Supper. Jesus revealed to them that they would receive His body and blood in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, not in the bloody, cannibalistic way the unbelievers had imagined.
I hope this helps for all to understand that Jesus was speaking about His true Body and Blood in the Eucharist in a literal way.
What are your thoughts?