A Few Questions for Apologists about the Eucharist

One consideration is the understanding of “flesh.” From biblehub, the word also translates into “creature.” Since Christ is not a creature, then there is no violation of the law.

The Eucharist is a sacramental oath that Jesus made in promising us his body and blood even though it appears to be bread and wine. When Jesus made the promise in the discourse in John chapter 6, it was clear that the disciples believed him and believed that he was speaking of cannabalism, and thus many of them left him.

If, at that moment in time, the disciples had killed Jesus and eaten his flesh and drank his blood, they would have been guilty of cannabalism. This would not have been a good thing, and it would have been worthy of condemnation. Instead, Jesus gives us his flesh to eat and blood to drink sacramentally in the transubstantiated bread and wine. There is no cannabalism under the classic and graphic definitions that man has attributed to it. The sacramental food of the Eucharist is food for the spiritual journey and it does not carry with it the character of cannabalism.

cont. on next post

cont. from prior post:

A scriptural analysis of the prohibition against eating blood does not support arguments against the Eucharist.

Jesus, himself, that gives us the command to eat his flesh and blood as true food and true drink.

A look at the OT reveals some interesting insights relative to the new covenant. In Leviticus 1:1-5 we read the following:

“THE LORD called Moses, and spoke to him from the tent of meeting, saying, "Speak to the people of Israel, and say to them, When any man of you brings an offering to the Lord, you shall bring your offering of cattle from the herd or from the flock. ‘If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he shall offer a male without blemish; he shall offer it at the door of the tent of meeting, that he may be accepted before the Lord; he shall lay his hand upon the head of the burnt offering, and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him. Then he shall kill the bull before the Lord; and Aaron’s sons the priests shall present the blood, and throw the blood round about against the altar that is at the door of the tent of meeting.”

There are many similar references in the OT describing animal sacrifice and the sprinkling of the blood upon the altar. This was done for the atonement of sin. When we compare this with the NT we see that “In speaking of a new covenant he treats the first as obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. [Hebrews 8:13]

The scriptures then go on to say “Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly sanctuary. For a tent was prepared, the outer one, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence; it is called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain stood a tent called the Holy of Holies, having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, which contained a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail. These preparations having thus been made, the priests go continually into the outer tent, performing their ritual duties; but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood which he offers for himself and for the errors of the people. By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the sanctuary is not yet opened as long as the outer tent is still standing (which is symbolic for the present age). According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper, but deal only with food and drink and various ablutions, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation. But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the Holy Place, taking not the blood of goats and calves but his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” [Hebrews 9:1-14]

There is clearly a foreshadowing in the Old Testament and an unveiling in the New Testament when it comes to blood, sacrifice, atonement, and eternal redemption. This foreshadowing includes the Eucharist which is prefigured by the manna and the bread of the presence as well as the sprinkling with blood. This whole theme in the OT is also continued in the Passover which requires the participants to consume the lamb. Jesus is the paschal lamb in the New Covenant.

cont. on next post

cont from prior post

So why is blood so important and why the prohibition of consuming blood in the OT? Furthermore, why does the consumption of Jesus flesh and blood become mandated in the New Covenant? Scripture clues us in by telling us the significance of the flesh and blood. The blood is considered to be “the life” in the living creature. Leviticus 17:11 says, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it for you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement, by reason of the life.” Once again, this is a prefiguring of Jesus eternal redemptive sacrifice where we have a better covenant.

Please note that the “life” of the animal is in the blood and that is why the blood was given to God in sacrifice and everyone was forbidden to consume it. In the New Covenant Jesus blood gives us life. Animal blood in sacrifice cannot give that to us and that is why the Jews were told not to consume it. Eternal life is given to us through the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus. His flesh and blood are not like the flesh and blood of the animal sacrifices of the OT. Moreover, we do not consume the flesh and blood of Jesus in the same fashion as condemned in the OT. In the Eucharist we receive Jesus body, blood, soul, and divinity. In the Eucharist we receive this precious life giving gift sacramentaly rather than carnally. The prohibition in the Old Law simply does not trump Jesus’s command that we eat his flesh and drink his blood as true food and true drink.

The body and blood of Jesus are the “life” of Jesus. We are a priestly people and have a ministerial priesthood. Priests offer sacrifice. Hebrews 9:7 indicates that sacrifices are not offered without blood. Our sacrifice is the re-presentation of Jesus sacrifice of his body and .blood offered to the Father. Jesus has told us to “do this in remembrance” of him. Jesus is the paschal lamb and must be consumed. Jesus says, “this is my body…this is my blood.” Jesus says, ““Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.”

Eternal life is in the body and blood of Jesus and it is his body and blood that we are to consume.

I hope this answers your question.

God bless

Greetings David,

Jesus being God, as well as Man, is eternal. He created the Time-Space continuum and is outside of it. He is not restricted by time like we are. He has the ability to take what for the Apostles would be a future event and make it present then. Just as for us now, Jesus takes what is a past event, Calvary, and make it present in our Mass today.

**Leviticus 17:14 “… I have said to the people of Israel, You shall not eat the blood of any creature, for the life of every creature is its blood; whoever eats it shall be cut off.”
**

**Catholic response: **
**Yes !!! We must be cut off !!!
**

**Jews and everyone is born in the family of Adam. We must be cut off from Adams family and be grafted into Christ’s family. We must be cut off from the Old Covenant and its laws so that we can get into the New Covenant.
**

**1 Corinthians 15:21-22
“For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” **

**To be “cut off” means to die. Cf.
Isaiah 53:8
“… he was taken away … he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?”
**

Also see Job 27:8 Footnote 5.
**
**
**We must be cut off. That is we must die to ourselves in order to live for Christ.
**

**Luke 9:23-24
“And he said to all, ‘If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake, he will save it.’ ”
**

**Romans 7:1-6
“ Are you unaware, brothers … that the law has jurisdiction over one as long as one lives? …
4 In the same way, my brothers, you also were put to death to the law through the body of Christ, so that you might belong to another, to the one who was raised from the dead in order that we might bear fruit for God. …
6 But now we are released from the law, dead to what held us captive, so that we may serve in the newness of the spirit and not under the obsolete letter.” NAB
**

**Saint Paul compares Adam’s sin to Christ’s reward in
**

Romans 5:15-19
“But the gift is not like the transgression. For if by that one person’s transgression the many died, how much more did the grace of God and the gracious gift of the one person Jesus Christ overflow for the many. …
17 For if, by the transgression of one person, death came to reign through that one, how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of justification come to reign in life through the one person Jesus Christ.
18 In conclusion, just as through one transgression condemnation came upon all, so through one righteous act acquittal and life came to all.
19 For just as through the disobedience of one person the many were made sinners, so through the obedience of one the many will be made righteous.” NAB

See more at:
defendingthebride.com/sc/eucharist.html

.
.

Lev 17:10 – I will even set my face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people.

God says He will turn against that person who eats blood. He will withdraw His presence from that person. He will “cut him off,” from among the people He calls His own – the very people whom He made His Old Covenant with, as well as His New Covenant.

The apostle Paul warns: “Boast not against the branches… Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off that I might be graffed in… Be not high-minded but fear: For if God spared not the natural branches [Israel], take heed lest he also spare not thee” (Rom. 11:18-21).

Paul then continues: “Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee [Gentile], goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou shalt be CUT OFF” (v. 22).

We would not want to be cut off from the people of Israel because the promise was made to them through Abraham, their patriarch (Rom. 9:4). Our only hope of salvation rests on that promise (Eph. 2:11-12). That is why Paul said that a Gentile convert is like the branch of a wild olive tree “grafted… into a good olive tree [Israel]” (Rom. 11:24). If we are cut off from them and become “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel” we will be “strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12).

“Christ’s family” is the same people of Israel of old whom the Eternal said: “This people have I formed myself; they shall shew forth my praise” (Isa. 43:21). Gentiles need to become a spiritual Israelite in order to have the hope to be saved. That is the New Testament Church teaching.

Fuego,

Your interpretation of the New Covenant is somewhat skewed.

No, that last sentence is incorrect. He will set His Face against only those of the Old Covenant. In Jesus we have suffered the penalty of being cut off, if any. We have died and have risen in Him. In Baptism. We have suffered the penalty of "eating blood’. We now live in Christ’s life, with Him as our Lord.

The apostle Paul warns: “Boast not against the branches… Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off that I might be grafted in… Be not high-minded but fear: For if God spared not the natural branches [Israel], take heed lest he also spare not thee” (Rom. 11:18-21).

The means of being grafted in, is to be “in Him.” To do as He commands. He is the Lord even of the Sabbath.

Paul then continues: “Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee [Gentile], goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou shalt be CUT OFF” (v. 22).

That’s true because that cutting off, is to be separated from Christ, Who has grafted us into Him.

We would not want to be cut off from the people of Israel because the promise was made to them through Abraham, their patriarch (Rom. 9:4). Our only hope of salvation rests on that promise (Eph. 2:11-12). That is why Paul said that a Gentile convert is like the branch of a wild olive tree “grafted… into a good olive tree [Israel]” (Rom. 11:24).

This is a total misunderstanding of what we are grafted into. We are grafted into the life of Chris through the Holy Spirit. We are not grafted into Israel. The promise was made to the gentiles through the Jews, but that is only because they have been grafted into the Spirit of God, and were acting as His agent.

If we are cut off from them and become “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel” we will be “strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12).

What a misreading of the text! Christ is the hope for the Gentiles! It says right there in that passage. Paul did not require circumcision of the Gentiles, and that is just as an eternal sign of the old Covenant as not eating Blood.

“Christ’s family” is the same people of Israel of old whom the Eternal said: “This people have I formed myself; they shall shew forth my praise” (Isa. 43:21). Gentiles need to become a spiritual Israelite in order to have the hope to be saved. That is the New Testament Church teaching.

No Christ’s family is composed of those who do the will of His Father in Heaven. And that is to follow Jesus as Lord. And eat His Blood in the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

peace
steve

Not sure if this is what’s concerning the OP, but isn’t the Eucharist Jesus’ glorified body? If so, how could it have been glorified when He was still alive?

This IS my body, present participle? Either way His body is divine.

CARM are certainly not as clever as they think and like to make out.

  1. I’m sure CARM agrees people in the old testament were saved by Jesus Crucifixion through time. Well they can learn this, Jesus is God and is not bound by time and space. His sacrifice transcends time and space, and even if it happened after he can make it appear and benefit a situation before for Time is nothing for God.

  2. What about the old testament law against eating pork? What about the law against drinking blood? The first was a sin because it was unclean so if pork is clean eating it does not violate the law. Drinking blood was a sin because it is the blood that gives life, however Jesus gave his life for us, so drinking his blood does not violate the command.

The key thing is context, we must know why God makes them laws in order to understand what violating them is, violating them is going against what God means by the commands rather than going against rigid pacific sentences. God wills that Jesus gives his life for us.

Wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey… stuff. :smiley:

Doctor Who reference aside, God’s outside of time. It’s asking the same question as “How was Mary immaculately conceived through her son’s death on Calvary?” or “How can the Mass be the same sacrifice as on Calvary, if that happened a couple thousand years ago?”

I agree, people ask sorts of questions. The answer to that is:

The Sacrifice of Calvery and the Sacrifice of the Mass are the same sacrifice in as much as that they are the same priest and victim.

And in that calvery’s sacrifice is made present

Hi David,

Pax has answered your questions most excellently in Post #22, 23 & 24. Here are some links for further reading:
The Fourth Cup by Scott Hahn The Sacrament of the Eucharist (If you are Jewish, you will understand the importance of The Fourth Cup in the Jewish celebration of Passover:
webpages.marshall.edu/~trimbol3/4thcup4.htm

Link on Eucharistic Miracles and Real Presence
therealpresence.org/eucharst/scrip/a6.html

Also, I don’t recall reading in the other post explaining what a Sacrament is:
Sacraments are at the same time signs and instruments of God’s Grace. The Sacraments that we receive are bound until they meet our faith. We are all called to participate in the liturgy of the Mass not be mere spectators. Some good video clips on the magnificence of the Mass - I believe that those “cradle Catholics” that leave Jesus’ Church, leave because of ignorance - Their parents never taught them what is going on at Mass: Jesus is the center of our worship.
olgcparish.net/education/true_magnificence.html

The Sacraments are rooted in the Old Testament and instituted by Jesus in the New Testament:
jesuschristsavior.net/Sacraments.html

Holiness is Christ in me. It is Christ in me (literally physically- not just “spiritually”) that makes me holy. He transforms me from the inside out until He breaks my heart and moves me to be His hands and feet in the world that needs Jesus so desperately.

Peace in your journey.

Hi Faith,

GREAT question! This touches on speculative Eucharistic theology. One really good short answer is: The Eucharist now is Jesus’ Body, which happens to now be glorified, and, the Eucharist at the Last Supper was Jesus’ Body, which happened to not be glorified. Shorter answer: the apostles received the non-glorified Body of Christ at the Last Supper.

Like I said, this is speculative, but a really good answer. It is a good answer because it is the answer that St. Thomas Aquinas gives and a number of other theologians echo. I’d say that it may very well be the common teaching, or, at the very least, is consistent with Church teaching on the topic. I would personally go further and say that, to me, it represents a very real view of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and in fact safeguards that reality.

What do you think?
VC

Either we have Faith in Jesus Christ, (believe Him), or we don’t! Picking apart every thing isn’t Faith. I believe HIM and am so thankful for what HE has done for us. God Bless, Memaw

When we look at Holy Scripture we will find that everything revolves around Jesus. He is prefigured in the Old Testament and He is proclaimed and revealed in the New Testament.
He is prefigured in the Old testament by many leaders and heroes that were saviors to their people. The Old Covenant was replaced by the New Covenant, it was fulfilled in the New Covenant. In Gen 22.9 Abraham was commanded by God to sacrifice his son Isaac but was stopped by God for it’s consummation. In the New Testament God, the Father consummated the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ This sacrifice now in a Catholic mass is called an unbloody sacrifice. Jesus again in an unbloody manner is offered to the Father for the atonement of the sins of mankind. It also involves the worship of God, the petitioning to God, the thanksgiving to God. And somewhere in the world this adoration of God is continually going on. Jesus stated that by repeating His words of Consecration found in Matt;26:26-28, MRK l4:22-24, Luke 22:l9-20, and Cor ll, 24-25 the change takes place from bread and wine into the Actual Body and Blood of Jesus. This is a mystery of Christian Catholic Faith. It is a paradox that when the Bible should be taken literally, it isn’t and when it shouldn’t be taken literally, it is. Satan has done a good job at confusing people about the Truth. God has the first, and last words and even those inbetween and they will never pass away!

God made the New Covenant with the same people of the Old Covenant.

This is the teaching of the apostle Paul when he revealed how Christ is now our High Priest in heaven and the Mediator “of a better covenant” (Heb. 8:1-6); and why a new covenant is necessary (v. 7).

Paul went on to explain that, God, “finding fault with them [that is, the people of the Old Covenant],… saith” – then Paul quoted the prophet Jeremiah (Jer. 31:31) – “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the House of Israel and with the House of Judah” (v. 8).

This is a total misunderstanding of what we are grafted into. We are grafted into the life of Chris through the Holy Spirit. We are not grafted into Israel. The promise was made to the gentiles through the Jews, but that is only because they have been grafted into the Spirit of God, and were acting as His agent.

How can a Gentile be saved? Can he be saved on his own without being grafted into Israel – without becoming a spiritual Israelite through Christ? Not if you ask the the apostle Paul.

Paul taught this truth that he said we all should not forget: “Wherefore, remember,” he said, “that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh…that at that time ye were without Christ…” (Eph. 2:11-12).

And why are Gentiles in the past [prior to conversion] without Christ? Because, continuing verse 12, at that time, they were “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel….”

How clear is Paul’s teaching! When we do not belong to this “commonwealth of Israel” we are without Christ. We do not, and cannot, have Christ.

But why is that? It is because, as Paul’s next statement reveals, we are “strangers from the covenants of promise.” Since we do not have the promises which God gave to the children of Israel through Abraham, we cannot have Christ in us.

We need to have that promise and the only way to obtain it is to be grafted into Israel, the children of promise, “by the blood of Christ” (v. 13). When before we were “strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world,” through faith in Christ we “are no more strangers and foreigners but” – now notice what has become of us after conversion– “fellowcitizens with the saints and of the household of God” (v. 19). We become citizens of Israel, not foreigners or aliens anymore.

Our becoming an Israelite citizen would allow us to inherit the promise because it is only to the children of Israel that the promises were made (Rom. 9:4). Without that promise, we have absolutely nil of salvation (Eph. 2:12).

Greetings to all. Could I please append some Eucharistic questions of my own? These have bothered me for many years now.

Q1. Regarding John 6:53: “Unless you eat my flesh…drink my blood, you will not have life within you”. What life does Jesus refer to? Obviously not physical life; so it must mean some sort of spiritual life. But what is that “life”, and how is it’s presence or absence manifested in a person? Does it mean, perhaps, “holiness”, living a holy life? Many millions of people all through the ages have lived and died without ever hearing about the Eucharist, and I’m sure many of these people were still “holy” by any standards. How were these people lacking for not having the Eucharist? But what about that reference to “our ancestors who ate Manna in the desert - they are dead.” Obviously, they are physically dead. But are they also spiritually dead, ie, damned? So what did he mean by “dead” in this context?

The next questions are related:

Q2. What exactly does the Eucharist do for us? Obviously, the Eucharist doesn’t guarantee to make a person live a holy life, and conversely, many non-Christians are very holy, despite their being deprived of it. I, personally, don’t notice any special effect when I receive Communion, which seems strange to me, given that I have received the living God. I pray, I listen, but I hear nothing.

Q3. Do Catholics really believe in the Real Presence? I know officially, we do. But if we really, really, really believed that Jesus was really there in the Bread, wouldn’t Catholics spend lots of time near the Tabernacle, trying to make conversation with him, out aloud even, as if to a real person? During each Consecration, as I watch the host being lifted up, I beg Jesus to send my some tiny sign, any tiny hint that all this is really true and He is really present there. But so far, only static. Is my understanding of the Real Presence too fetishistic?

I’ll stop here as this post is getting too long.
Thank you.

Greetings, thanks for sharing the interesting food for thought! The life Jesus refers to, although spiritual, is physical life.

But what is that “life”, and how is it’s presence or absence manifested in a person?

The life is that of God: the Greatest Being, True Unconditional Love, the Holy Trinity, the Creator of Everything, the Almighty, and is manifested in a person by opening his/her feelings, rembrance of person, thoughts, and will to the Divine Life, and allowing them to grow freely to perfect union with God.

Does it mean, perhaps, “holiness”, living a holy life?

That is definitely a graceful way to understand it! Perhaps consider it as a “wholly” Divine Life. Although many of us have lived “unified” lives, our union, “holiness,” has been limited to a single aspect of God. For example, although many of us believe we do our absolute best in living, we are not doing The absolute best possible. Therefore, we are holy for doing our best, but not wholly holy because we are not doing the best.

But are they also spiritually dead, ie, damned? So what did he mean by “dead” in this context?

I understand spiritually dead to be spiritually asleep, or having no interest to grow to perfect union with Unconditional Love: The Holy Trinity.

What exactly does the Eucharist do for us?

The Eucharist opens the feelings, spirit, thoughts, and will of a person to know God’s Love, become God’s Love, and share God’s Love with others.

Do Catholics really believe in the Real Presence?

Some believe and some don’t. Some don’t believe because it doesn’t make sense to them, and others don’t believe because they know Jesus is Really Present. For example, I don’t believe my family exists because I know they exist. Regarding a sign, consider paying more attention to what’s happening: Jesus is telling you that His Body and Blood will be broken and shed for the forgiveness of sins; then you become one with the Body and Blood that is to be broken and shed for the forgiveness of sins; then you go and live in a world where sins are being committed against you, your loved ones, and earthly livelihood, and you are growing in mercy and forgiveness of sins.

Thank you once again for the enjoyable good for thought! I look forward to further discussion!

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.