Does this quote from the book of acts refute the Eucharist?


“For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship–and this is what I am going to proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands.” - Acts 17:22-23

If the God who made the world and everything in it does not live in temples built by human hands, how can Jesus become fully present: Body, Blood, Soul, Divinity in Eucharist at the Mass? I know that, at least spiritually, church is considered a temple.


The Greeks Paul was addressing viewed their gods as having limitations similar to those of mankind, namely being confined to a certain space at any given point in time. The primary emphasis of this verse is that our God is all-powerful, including omni-present. He is not confined to a temple of human construction. However, that doesn’t negate the fact that he chose to reside in the Eucharist in our tabernacles. If this verse were to be interpreted as us putting God in a human temple, how could we believe Him to be in more than one tabernacle at a time? Also, the Eucharist is not man-made; it is a work of human hands become (transubstantiated into) the Presence of our Lord by His divine work, not our human doing.


I agree with what you wrote but the bolded part above might be a little confusing. Maybe you meant to say is “reside as the Eucharist” since God the Son doesn’t reside in the Eucharist, he is the Eucharist.


Paul here is speaking of pagan Greek gods.

From the NABRE:

Paul’s Speech at the Areopagus. 22 Then Paul stood up at the Areopagus and said:[a]

“You Athenians, I see that in every respect you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around looking carefully at your shrines, I even discovered an altar inscribed, ‘To an Unknown God.’** What therefore you unknowingly worship, I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and all that is in it, the Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in sanctuaries made by human hands,**

From the NABRE’s footnotes:


In Paul’s appearance at the Areopagus he preaches his climactic speech to Gentiles in the cultural center of the ancient world. The speech is more theological than christological. Paul’s discourse appeals to the Greek world’s belief in divinity as responsible for the origin and existence of the universe. It contests the common belief in a multiplicity of gods supposedly exerting their powers through their images. It acknowledges that the attempt to find God is a constant human endeavor. It declares, further, that God is the judge of the human race, that the time of the judgment has been determined, and that it will be executed through a man whom God raised from the dead. The speech reflects sympathy with pagan religiosity, handles the subject of idol worship gently, and appeals for a new examination of divinity, not from the standpoint of creation but from the standpoint of judgment.


‘To an Unknown God’: ancient authors such as Pausanias, Philostratus, and Tertullian speak of Athenian altars with no specific dedication as altars of “unknown gods” or “nameless altars.”


The Scriptures also say: “God is not a man, that he should lie, nor as the son of man, that he should be changed” (Num. 23:19). Does this refute the doctrine of the Incarnation? No, because that doctrine does not hold that God changed into a man, but rather that he assumed a human nature.

Remember the tabernacle in Exodus, and the temple built by Solomon? The glory cloud? God’s presence was manifested in those places for man’s sake. By the same token, the doctrine of the Eucharist holds that God’s presence, though in a general way everywhere, is manifested in a special way in the Sacrament. (It is different from, and superior to the glory cloud, but similar in the respect outlined above.)


Read “Eucharistic Miracles”

by Joan Carroll Cruz.


The unique and indivisible existence of the Lord glorious in heaven is not multiplied, but is rendered present by the sacrament in the many places on earth where Mass is celebrated. And this existence remains present, after the sacrifice, in the Blessed Sacrament which is, in the tabernacle, the living heart of each of our churches. And it is our very sweet duty to honor and adore in the blessed Host which our eyes see, the Incarnate Word whom they cannot see, and who, without leaving heaven, is made present before us. ( 26Credo of the People of God,)

An explanation that makes sense to me is that every crumb of bread and every drop of wine, when consecrated at Mass, becomes something of a “wormhole” directly to Jesus dwelling in heaven. Thus, Jesus, without leaving heaven, is not divided or multiplied but is made present by the sacrament in the many places on earth where Mass is celebrated and remains present in the blessed Hosts reserved in the tabernacles of our churches.


It’s always good to recall that right before Jesus described himself as being the bread of life, he showed us that he could multiply matter, including bread. He took a small amount of bread and made enough for 5000 people. Why did he do this? To feed people? Surely, but also to show us that he has power over matter and is not confined or limited by it.

The false Gods are shown to be false precisely because they can be contained and limited as apposed to Jesus who is not limited by the Eucharist since he can make it present anywhere he wants it to be.


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