The Real Presence is one of the most biblically supported of all Catholic teachings. When taken as a whole, it is extremely difficult to find a rational explaination of thinking this is a “symbol” only. If you’ve never read these passages, now might be a good time. Once you are done, you may want to explain the following verses to your Protestant friend (all from www.scripturecatholic.com ):
Exodus 12:5 - the paschal lamb that was sacrificed and eaten had to be without blemish. Luke 23:4,14; John 18:38 - Jesus is the true paschal Lamb without blemish.
Exodus 12:7,22-23 - the blood of the lamb had to be sprinkled on the two door posts. This paschal sacrifice foreshadows the true Lamb of sacrifice and the two posts of His cross on which His blood was sprinkled.
Exodus 12:8,11 - the paschal lamb had to be eaten by the faithful in order for God to “pass over” the house and spare their first-born sons. Jesus, the true paschal Lamb, must also be eaten by the faithful in order for God to forgive their sins.
Exodus 12:43-45; Ezek. 44:9 - no one outside the “family of God” shall eat the lamb. Non-Catholics should not partake of the Eucharist until they are in full communion with the Church.
Exodus 12:49 - no uncircumcised person shall **eat **of the lamb. Baptism is the new circumcision for Catholics, and thus one must be baptized in order to partake of the Lamb.
Exodus 12:47; Num. 9:12 - the paschal lamb’s bones could not be broken. John 19:33 - none of Jesus’ bones were broken.
Exodus 16:4-36; Neh 9:15 - God gave His people bread from heaven to sustain them on their journey to the promised land. This foreshadows the true bread from heaven which God gives to us at Mass to sustain us on our journey to heaven.
Exodus 24:9-11 - the Mosaic covenant was consummated with a meal in the presence of God. The New and eternal Covenant is consummated with the Eucharistic meal - the body and blood of Jesus Christ under the appearance of bread and wine.
Exodus 29:33 – God commands that they shall eat those things with which atonement was made. Jesus is the true Lamb of atonement and must now be eaten.
Lev. 7:15 - the Aaronic sacrifices absolutely had to be eaten in order to restore communion with God. These sacrifices all foreshadow the one eternal sacrifice which** must also be eaten** to restore communion with God. This is the Eucharist (from the Greek word “eukaristia” which means “thanksgiving”).
Lev. 17:11,14 - in the Old Testament, we see that the life of the flesh is the blood which could never be drunk. In the New Testament, Jesus Christ’s blood is the source of new life, and now must be drunk.
Gen. 9:4-5; Deut.12:16,23-24 - in these verses we see other prohibitions on drinking blood, yet Jesus commands us to drink His blood because it is the true source of life.
2 Kings 4:43 - this passage foreshadows the multiplication of the loaves and the true bread from heaven which is Jesus Christ.
2 Chron. 30:15-17; 35:1,6,11,13; Ezra 6:20-21; Ezek. 6:20-21- the lamb was killed, roasted and eaten to atone for sin and restore communion with God. This foreshadows the true Lamb of God who was sacrificed for our sin and who must now be consumed for our salvation.
Neh. 9:15 – God gave the Israelites bread from heaven for their hunger, which foreshadows the **true heavenly bread **who is Jesus.
Psalm 78:24-25; 105:40 - the raining of manna and the bread from angels foreshadows the true bread from heaven, Jesus Christ.
Isaiah 53:7 - this verse foreshadows the true Lamb of God who was slain for our sins and who must be consumed.
Ezek. 2:8-10; 3:1-3 - God orders Ezekiel to open his mouth and eat the scroll which is the Word of God. This foreshadows the true Word of God, Jesus Christ, who must be consumed.
Hope this helps!