Eucharist, True Presence


#1

I posted a similar question to this in another forum. Hopefully someone here can help me. I am debating the Bread of Life Discuorse with a friend of mine who is a Calvinist Presbyterian. He is pretty knowledgable, especially when it comes to anti Catholic claims.

His basic point is that Christ words were Spiritual, not literal and that the bread is, of course, representative of His Body, but not actually it.

He has made a pretty good case, and being a beginner, I am not able to answer it on my own. I was able to get him to read through some of the early Father’s writings, but he found Tertulian using the word “represents” one time. While it was out of context, for him, that discounts all that all of the fathers had to say.

Below is his latest response.

OK, So now I am supposed to tell you why Christ let some people walk after he told them they were to eat his flesh? Now Geoff, you know ANY answer I give other than “cause they did not want to eat real flesh” will be wrong so I am not gonna even bother! You know I am right there. Since the passage does not say, you nor I have any proof to back either of our ideas. But, I will offer my paraphrase on the text on the build up to that point. Once again, context is important and the whole chapter revolves around the theme of Bread. Remember, this starts out 1 day earlier with the loaves [BREAD] and fishes feeding 5 thousand men… Quite a miracle. The 12 sneak out at night, Christ comes to them in the middle of the sea that night and they all land on the other side of the lake. The 5000 [or some of them] wake up and follow Christ over to the other side where he says “you follow me only cause you want the bread”. NOT real followers , wouldn’t you agree? Then he says this bread makes you hungry , but the bread from heaven . when you eat it you will never hunger again. CLEARLY, they now hear this as “physical bread” but we all know it is NOT that cause we , as Christians DO hunger physically. They quickly ask for this bread instead. He is talking spiritual now and they do not get it. He says the famous “I am the bread of heaven” and hits them [wrongly interpreting as they do] you must eat my flesh and drink my blood. “

NOW, This kind of teaching in NOT KNEW from Christ. He says, if someone wants to be his disciple, they must HATE their father , mother and family otherwise they cannot be his disciple. Do we teach we must hate our parents to be Christians? He taught we are to cut off our hands if they cause us to sin. Do we cut off body parts after we sin? We are to come as little children to Him. Do we get on our knees and crawl into church? We are to be born again…?

So when he says “we are to eat his flesh” there is MUCH precedent that what he is teaching is not on the surface. Back to the story. The not so dedicated followers who were after a meal of physical bread split. The disciples then go to him [the dedicated ones] and ask him to explain himself cause he just said they are to break the jewish law by drinking blood. Christ then says “my words are spirit and life”… Now he did not say from the “Spirit” and the Spirit is not capitalized and it is NOT a member of the trinity he is referring to. He said they are spirit. Get out your thinking caps, but I am of the persuasion that – and a child can easily understand this interpretation- that he says he is teaching a spiritual principle. Just as being born again, “hating your father, cutting off your eyes”,etc. He has taught like this MANY times before. All of a sudden we abandon his pattern and take him literally? That is out of context to me!. Out of context with how he has taught previously. Why did he let those go? They were not true followers, he tells them that while they are there.


#2

I would point him to 1 Corinthians 11:27-30 where Paul warns those who partake in communion without discerning/examining themselves are guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. I would then ask why would there be such a consequence (i.e. sickness and possibly death) for the partaking of something symbolic.

Also, we must remember that Christ is our paschal sacrifice (1 Cor 5:7) which was foreshadowed by the OT passover. In order for the angel of death to passover their houses they had to sacrifice an unblemished lamb (Christ), sprinkle blood on the doorpost (Cross), and finally, CONSUME the LAMB(Eucharist).

Therefore…“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day”. Jn 6:54

Hope this helps.

God Bless…


#3

Maybe if you show your friend how Jesus repeats this principle over and over again. He doesn’t just mention it once, and I fail to see how this could be construed as part of a parable or some kind of teaching story. Jesus said "For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. John 6:55 How about “Take and eat; this** is **my body…this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.” Matthew 26:26-28 Since most protestants will only use the Bible as a reference, he will not put much thought to the early church fathers. The fact that these are mostly the same people who compiled the Bible, that is lost on them. So, you can lead a horse to water, but…
Don’t let him get you drawn into some argument based on semantics and his own interpretation of the Bible. This is why God gave us the Church! So we all know the Truth. The reality of Jesus’ real presence in the Eucharist is a simple belief. Clearly stated by Jesus himself. Keep it simple. This is not just something that needs to be proved by scripture. It is something that needs to be believed with faith. God Bless, and Good Luck.

PS. I think Matthew has a good argument above, also. I was going to include this, but thought my post would get too long! :slight_smile:


#4

Jesus chose to be born in Bethlehem, which means “Bread.”

Jesus chose to be born in a stable where He was placed in a manger. Which is where the food is put for the farm animals to eat.

God fed the Hebrews with manna for 40 years. Now God feeds us with Himself.


#5

It IS possible to read this passage the way Protestants do and make an excellent case. Since they deny the authority of Sacred Tradition, Protestants are compelled to interpret it spiritually. But the Early Church interpreted it as “flesh indeed.” It was not until late in history – the 9th Century, if I remember correctly, that ANYBODY questioned the Real Presence. Poignantly, it is over this issue that Judas falls away.

In the Eucharist, which Body of Christ do we receive, the physical Body or the spritual? For Catholics it is not EITHER one OR the other. It is simply THE Body of Christ. It is the Resurrection Body and a Mystery. But we take Jesus’ word for it: This IS my Body.


#6

In Jn 6 the first time we see any followers of Jesus leave Him was when He said to eat His flesh. I might add that this may have been the time Judas left Him as well.

1 Cor 10 & 11 both contain verses that tell us to take the Body and Blood of Christ literally. See how when they eat a sacrifice they partake in the sacrifice. Jesus was our sacrifice on the cross. To partake in the sacrifice of the “lamb” we must eat the ‘Lamb’, not something ‘like’ or in remembrance of the ‘lamb’. Is not Jesus our ‘Lamb’?

Why would we be guitlty of of the Lord if the Lord was not in the Body and Blood? Elsewhere the Bible (even the KJV) says nothing we eat can save us or harm us but here it says HIS Body and Blood can pass judgement on us!

1 Cor 10:14-18 “14Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry. 15I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. 16Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? 17Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf. 18Consider the people of Israel: Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar?”

(NIV)

1 Cor 11:27-29 "27Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. 29For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. "

Now your friend is correct when he says protestants only have the symbolic preseance of Jesus in their communion. You see, only Catholics have the ‘Real Preseance’ since Catholics have valid apostolic succession and are not schismatics (Cor also talks about the evil of schismatics but I guess your friend overlooks or ‘symbolizes’ that too eh?).

Also, as you point out, the early Church writtings state that we do have His Body and Blood in our (Catholic only) communion! This is way so many protestants ignore, misquote, take out of context, leave out texts, etc. in Church writtings.:sleep: To study history is to become Catholic. To become an ‘historical revisionist’ is to become protestant. Remember how the commies reinvented history too? Remember Chekov on Star Trek allways had a communist tweek on history from his commie roots that raised the eyebrows of Spok and Kirk? (Ok, I’m a Trekkie too of sorts:) )

The bread from heaven IS NOT bread, it is Jesus! Again your friend is out of context.

Why did the early Romans accuse Christians/Katholics of being cannabils? Because Christians did in fact eat the Body of Christ! If this was symbolic why did they not correct anyone else?

Your friend is out of context or fails to “see” Scripture here or in other verses that would correct his false interpretation. Why did the Church for 1,500+ years all believe it was His Body and Blood then one afternoon in the 1500’s some heritic changes it? Who changed it? When? Why? Was he excomunicated then invented this theory?

Your friend must show proof he is right and so far he only has proof he has been mislead. Except that protestants truly do only have the symbolic preseance of Jesus in their communion. Ok, your friend is only right on this one point and you can tell him is right there.

Good luck


#7

The difficulty in believing in the real presence of the Christ boils down to human nature and lack of faith. Human beings ALWAYS want to believe what they can visually see. In other words if I see the bread and wind really change before my eyes I’ll really believe you. That is normal human nature.

But let’s examine closely the event of the Passover with our Lord and his apostles and the other disciples. We all know what Jesus said. But the key is, is HOW everybody reacted. MOST of the disciples upon hearing the words of Jesus about eating his flesh and drinking his blood, TURNED AWAY from Jesus. Why would they forsake Jesus if they thought he was only speaking spiritually and not literally? In other words the disciples who left Jesus after he told them what they should do to have eternal life told him in so many words, “No way man, I’m out of here!”

Now let’s look at who is left. And that was the twelve apostles themselves. Notice what Jesus said. He asked them, “WILL YOU ALSO LEAVE?” Here was a perfect opportunity for Jesus to explain the whole thing. He could have said, “Look guys, these other guys just freaked out, because they didn’t understand I was just speaking in spiritual language. But this is what I really meant.”

But Jesus didn’t do that. He didn’t change what he said previously. Jesus meant what he said.

What did the early chuch believe AFTER the death of the apostles? If you would please click on the Catholic Answers homepage and look under the Fathers know best section, under the sub category of “the Eucharist”, you will read how the early church fathers ALL agreed that the consecrated hosts of the bread and wine BECOME the literal flesh and blood of Jesus. How did they come to this unanimous decision. I mean ALL of them? Because this was passed on down through the tradition of the church. This is a very relevant issue. NO FATHER ever viewed the Eucharist as just being a figurative or spiritual ceremony.

                     Now what to tell a non believer today? Just what I told you. And then this. If we look upon the Eucharist by our human understanding,  then no change will ever occur. But we will only see a consecrated wafer. We must have FAITH that what we see BECOMES the ACTUAL flesh and blood of Christ, even though our human eyes say, no,no, no. The consecrated host is really changed, but without faith on our part no change occurs. This is difficult for someone looking from the outside, looking in to understand.

                      Everything with God has to do with faith. And faith is believing in what we CAN'T see, but yet is a reality nevertheless. Do you see what I mean? Our salvation, healings, forgiveness, afterlife of the soul, the resurrection and the receiving of Christ in the Eucharist all come about THROUGH FAITH. I hope I helped you. God bless.

                             Ron from Ohio  

#8

[quote=gmk]. . .
[/quote]

Let’s also take a look at what the early Church believed. Give Ignatius of Antioch (born 50 A.D and the 1st Martyr in the Roman Coliseum), Polycarp, Clement. If you look at all of the writings from the first century, clear up through the present, it is abundantly clear that it has always been believed that the Eucharist is the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.


#9

Another tack is to keep him to context. Quote the entirety of verse 63: " It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life."

Notice that this is the first time in the whole chapter Jesus doesn’t say my flesh, but **the **flesh. In this verse, he’s saying that the desciples who left understood his words in human terms, not in God’s terms.

Also, there is absolutely no indication that Jesus is using hyperbole in John 6 as he does in the brief quotations about hating mother & father (probably a first century Jewish idiom) and cutting off your hand and plucking our your eye. He’s camparing oranges and watermelons. Don’t let him get away with it.

God bless

Heart of Jesus, formed by the HolySpirit in the womb of the Virgin Mother, have mercy on us.


#10

[quote=Strider] Another tack is to keep him to context. Quote the entirety of verse 63: " It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life."

Notice that this is the first time in the whole chapter Jesus doesn’t say my flesh, but **the **flesh. In this verse, he’s saying that the desciples who left understood his words in human terms, not in God’s terms.

[/quote]

THANK YOU, Strider! I have been struggling with how to respond when Protestants quote “It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail . . .” and never noticed the change from **my **flesh to the flesh!

That says it all!


#11

Some more food for thought:

In the Old Testament, Melchisadech offered a sacrifice to God using bread and wine (Genesis 14, 18). And Psalm 110 refers to Jesus as “a priest forever, according to the order of Melchisadech.”. If Jesus and Melchisadech are of the same order, it makes sense that Jesus would also make a sacrifice with bread and wine, right?.

Now, Malachi predicted a new sacrifice after the rejection of the Jewish priesthood saying, “From the rising of the sun even to the going down, my name is great among the Gentiles; and in every place there is a sacrifice and there is offered in my name a clean oblation.” (Malachi 1, 10-11). Note that he speaks of “a” sacrifice and of “a” clean oblation, offered everywhere and always. If Christ’s sacrifice of His Body and Blood happened only once, at Calvary, then how can the sacrifice Malachi speaks of exist? He is speaking of the Mass, where Christ’s Body and Blood are offered everyday, just as He commanded “do this in remembrance of me.” Jesus does not die again, that part was once and for all, but He gives us His Flesh and Blood to offer as a sacrifice for all time.

In the Old Testament, the people of God made covenants with Him (Exodus 24, 5-8, Genesis 8, 20-22) and part of the making of the covenant was the shedding of blood. It is fitting, then, that Jesus would say “for this is my blood of the new covenant, which is being shed for many unto the forgiveness of sins” (Matt 26, 28). Jesus made a covenant with us and instructed us to renew the new covenant in His Blood for the forgiveness of sins. This is what happens at Mass when we celebrate the Eucharist.

So, with this in mind, what makes most sense regarding your question. If the Catholic interpretation is correct, we have real blood offered everywhere and always (fulfilling Malachi). We also have reason for Jesus being called a priest foreer in the line of Melchisadech (because the bread and wine offered in his name are a sacrifice, not a symbolic gesture). We also have reason for Jesus to tell us to do this in memory of Him, (because it renews the covenant in His blood).

I would ask your friend the following: What is this clean oblation, the sacrifice offerred everywhere and always? The protestant interpretation says the sacrifice happened once (on calvary). Would they say the sacrifice is the bread and wine offered at Protestant churches? This would indicate the sacrifice of Jesus was inadequate, wouldn’t it? if they other sacrifices?

The Catholic teaching so completley fulfills ALL of scripture, way better than Protestant teching on this matter, that it has better credibility than the Protestant notion. Plus, he has not addressed the FACT that the early church understood it the same way as the Catholic Church does and that his interpretation came much later.


#12

Okay one more thing (I’m fired up now).

Ask your friend if the bread and wine he offers at church is a sacrifice? Or is it a memorial (re-enactment so to speak)? If he says sacrifice ask him, a sacrifice of what?

I haven’t thought this out long enough perhaps, but I think he’s trapped with these questions. If he says it is not a sacrifice, then his church does not fulfill the prophesy of Malachi. If he says it is a sacrifice then, for him to say it is not the true Body and Blood of Jesus, it must be something else (bread and wine), which would be to say Jesus’ sacrifice was not enough.

Hmmm. I’ll have to think some more on this…

…Any thoughts out there from others viewing this thread?


#13

Hi GMK,

To give a short answer to John 6 I would say this. Jesus changes the word “Eat” [v54(53)] from a meaning that could be taken physically or symbolically to one in which the only meaning is physical. If you look at Strong’s Greek Concordance (A Protestant Concordance), the word “Eat” is used symbolically each time in chapter 6 until verse 54(53 - KJV). The Greek word is “Phago” (Strong’s #5315) which is symbolically eating but beginning in verse 54 the word “Eat” is “Trogo”(Strong’s # 5176). “Trogo” means to “Gnaw or chew”. In the Strong’s you see “Trogo” under “Eateth” instead of “Eat”.

This makes it real clear what is being said. If he studies a lot, ask him to look up in his Strong’s these 2 words.

May God bless,

James224


#14

I have read discussions of this sort often and mostly I find a certain tension in my stomache trying to sort things out and keep priorities straight. This seems like a place of thoughtful people seeking truth so please consider this.

It sometimes seems that the Eucharist, what ideally should be a source and reminder of unity for those who follow Christ, has in some ways become a source of division. Whatever Christ really meant when he said “this is My Body and this is My Blood”, I think I am prepared to accept. I am sure that whatever he actually meant would not contradict the rest of his teachings.

One thing he said was this: "Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you,

leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift."

This teaching does not seem easily reconciled with some statments I have heard from Catholic sources like “The Eucharist is the source and summit of Catholic life”

I submit that Jesus would seem to believe that the source and summit of our life is God’s kingdom with a very high priority being set on having peace with our neigbors. (I know others outside the Catholic faith can be a great obstacle to this)

Two widely respected modern popes have stated “That which seperates us as believers in Christ is far less than that which unites us” This is a statement that makes a lot of sense to me but I sometimes wonder how they would back that statement up in light of the differences in how various Christian denomination view the Eucharist.

I believe that Jesus is actually, factually, truly, really, spiritually, and historically present in the Eucharist. But I would like to respectfully present the following question in regards to his real Presence.

So What?

What if he is present but people don’t listen to Him
What if he is present but instead of choosing the better portion of his presence and sit and drink in his words, we do what Martha did and busy ourselves with the “details of hospitality.”

What if he is present and his words just don’t reach us?

Anyway, I may be off topic a little but for a long time I have felt certain priorities seemed unstated. In your discussion with your Calvinist friend I hope this discussion does not come between you and your friend in any significant way. I am convinced Jesus would not have it be so. I realize this depends at least partly on your friend.

Thanks for listening. I feel better now

-Jim


#15

[quote=trogiah]I have read discussions of this sort often and mostly I find a certain tension in my stomache trying to sort things out and keep priorities straight. This seems like a place of thoughtful people seeking truth so please consider this.

It sometimes seems that the Eucharist, what ideally should be a source and reminder of unity for those who follow Christ, has in some ways become a source of division. Whatever Christ really meant when he said “this is My Body and this is My Blood”, I think I am prepared to accept. I am sure that whatever he actually meant would not contradict the rest of his teachings.

One thing he said was this: "Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you,

leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift."

This teaching does not seem easily reconciled with some statments I have heard from Catholic sources like “The Eucharist is the source and summit of Catholic life”

I submit that Jesus would seem to believe that the source and summit of our life is God’s kingdom with a very high priority being set on having peace with our neigbors. (I know others outside the Catholic faith can be a great obstacle to this)

Two widely respected modern popes have stated “That which seperates us as believers in Christ is far less than that which unites us” This is a statement that makes a lot of sense to me but I sometimes wonder how they would back that statement up in light of the differences in how various Christian denomination view the Eucharist.

I believe that Jesus is actually, factually, truly, really, spiritually, and historically present in the Eucharist. But I would like to respectfully present the following question in regards to his real Presence.

So What?

What if he is present but people don’t listen to Him
What if he is present but instead of choosing the better portion of his presence and sit and drink in his words, we do what Martha did and busy ourselves with the “details of hospitality.”

What if he is present and his words just don’t reach us?

Anyway, I may be off topic a little but for a long time I have felt certain priorities seemed unstated. In your discussion with your Calvinist friend I hope this discussion does not come between you and your friend in any significant way. I am convinced Jesus would not have it be so. I realize this depends at least partly on your friend.

Thanks for listening. I feel better now

-Jim
[/quote]

I understand what you are saying, (loving our neighbor is the most important thing) but at the same time we cannot say we follow Jesus and not his teachings. If Jesus is truly present on this earth at every mass, then of course that is the source and summit of our faith, precisely because Jesus is the source and summit of the Christian faith. You can’t say so what so lightly. When his disciples during his time heard his teaching, they rejected him because of it. It is a hard saying, but you can’t allow “Christians” to reject him in the same way nowadays and say so what. That is the true offense to our Lord. (I do understand that some are innocently ignorant, though). Just as Ignatius said that people would refrain from coming to the early Christian assembly because they refused this teaching, so to many today won’t have anything to do with catholicism because of this teaching (along with others that are also misunderstood). So yes, we must reach out in love, but if we really love our seperated brothers, then we will tell them the truth and not merely say so what. Besides many of them are very sincere and if they knew that Jesus was truly present before them and they could partake of that, they would want to be there as much as we do.


#16

[quote=Veronica Anne]Jesus chose to be born in Bethlehem, which means “Bread.”

Jesus chose to be born in a stable where He was placed in a manger. Which is where the food is put for the farm animals to eat.

God fed the Hebrews with manna for 40 years. Now God feeds us with Himself.
[/quote]

Veronica, I have never heard that. It is very interesting.


#17

I am getting old, or I just posted a long reply to this question on another thread, I think sacraments, which is where it belongs. Please recheck forum rules, us old folks are easily confused.


#18

[quote=germys9]I understand what you are saying, (loving our neighbor is the most important thing) but at the same time we cannot say we follow Jesus and not his teachings.
[/quote]

I think that is exactly what I was trying to say. Only not just the teaching about the Bread of Life.

[quote=germys9]If Jesus is truly present on this earth at every mass, then of course that is the source and summit of our faith, precisely because Jesus is the source and summit of the Christian faith.
[/quote]

2000 years ago Jesus was truly actually and physically present. Not everyone benefited from that presence because they did not listen to his words and put them into action. Would it not be more true to say that the source and summit of the Christian faith is to respond to Jesus’s presence?

I didn’t mean to ask the question at all lightly. Perhaps I should rephase.

What if Jesus is truly present and we do not respond to his teachings and put them into action. Are we better off than someone who has not stood in His presence?

In an hour or so I am going to Mass with my family because the Real Presence calls. I hope the Word I here teaches me more clearly how to find God’s kingdom and I hope I have the wisdom and strength to follow that Word because I believe seeking and living God’s kingdom is the source and summit of our Catholic faith.

Peace

-Jim


#19

thanks everyone! this has been very helpful!

gmk


#20

I believe in miracles. And you all should too. I cant wait to go and celebrate the next Mass. Of course I am trying to live the good faith all week long. I would try 2 Masses a week. Thats not important. Its what you do with each Mass that counts ! On my way to Church, I’m already thinking about the Lord, and how I will recieve Him into my heart & soul when I take The Host. During the Mass, it is like a rush of anticipation until the Offitory and Concecration. The Preist concecrates the Bread and Wine. I begin to tremble when the Chalice is raised, then the Host. A few tears fall down my face without me knowing. I’m so excited to meet with Jesus. I can’t wait! If you sit in the front of Church, you will recieve The Eucharist first, and will have more time to talk with Jesus, while others are recieving. After I have recieved the Body and Blood of Jesus, I then put my head down as long as possible. I cant mention my secrets prayers, but I always say dont go. Its never enough time after Communion to praise Jesus. In my opinion, The Real Presence, is the Real Jesus in Your Heart, in Your Soul, in Your Thoughts. JESUS IS TRUELY IN THE EUCHARIST IF YOU BELIEVE!


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