How to Interpret John 6:53?

My first post, and it’s a bit of a doozy…

When Jesus states in John 6:53 “Unless You Eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and Drink His Blood You Have No Life In You,” how does the Catholic Church interpret that specific verse?

There are MANY Protestants (e.g. see who believe that Catholic teaching requires that the Eucharist be received in order for salvation to be gained. I know that is not the case, but I am clueless as to how we should respond to Protestants on the interpretation of this particular scripture verse with regard to salvation in light of receiving the Eucharist.

Thanks in advance for any help you can provide toward answering this question, and for helping me to be a better Catholic witness of the Fullness of Truth to our separated Protestant bretheren!

Welcome Quo,

This is not a doozy. But we do have to remember that every passage in Scripture can only be properly understood in its context—and not isolated from it as some Bible Christians continually do.

Jesus was under attack for suggesting that people could eat His flesh and drink His blood. Jews were forbidden from drinking any kind of blood and so they strongly objected. So Jesus goes so far as to state: “I tell you solemnly, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you will not have life in you.” (Jn 6:53) His concern is that they understand that He is serious about what He just said. “For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.” (Jn 6: 55) But with regard to salvation, this has to be seen in the light of other things He also said such as believing in Him (Jn 3:36), doing the will of His Father (Mt 7:21) and being faithful to the end (Mt 24:13). ALL these are necessary for salvation insofar as one knows about them.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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