Quote: “I know this has come up in these forums before, but I have yet to see a good answer.
How does that Catholic Church defend its interpretation of John 6 that Jesus is talking about His true flesh and blood in the Eucharistic species, and go on to maintain that it is possible for those who are not Catholic or have not received that same Eucharist to receive eternal life? How can someone who has “no life in them” possibly have eternal life? After all, this isn’t a positive affirmation such as “If you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood”. It is a negative statement: “If you don’t, you will not have life”. The two are very different in that the first can be reasoned by saying, “well, He doesn’t say that there are not other ways to obtaining eternal life”. You cannot make the same logical reasoning with the second.
When talking about John 6, this is often one of the first rebuttals I get from protestants. “So, only Catholics who receive the Eucharist can be saved?” Add to that the fact that the Church doesn’t allow non-Catholics to receive, which many protestants find to be nothing more than an exclusivist practice, and good two-way dialog is finished. Our interpretation basically condemns them, when taken at face value (which is what we essentially want from the surrounding verses).”
My comment: "On the contrary, Augustine writes (Ad Boniface contra Pelagius I): "Nor are you to suppose that children cannot possess life, who are deprived of the body and blood of Christ.“
I answer that, Two things have to be considered in this sacrament, namely, the sacrament itself, and what is contained in it. Now it was stated above (A1,OBJ 2) that the reality of the sacrament is the unity of the mystical body, without which there can be no salvation; for there is no entering into salvation outside the Church, just as in the time of the deluge there was none outside the Ark, which denotes the Church, according to 1 Peter 3:20,21. And it has been said above (Q68,A2), that before receiving a sacrament, the reality of the sacrament can be had through the very desire of receiving the sacrament. Accordingly, before actual reception of this sacrament, a man can obtain salvation through the desire of receiving it, just as he can before Baptism through the desire of Baptism, as stated above (Q68,A2). Yet there is a difference in two respects. First of all, because Baptism is the beginning of the spiritual life, and the door of the sacraments; whereas the Eucharist is, as it were, the consummation of the spiritual life, and the end of all the sacraments, as was observed above (Q63,A6): for by the hallowings of all the sacraments preparation is made for receiving or consecrating the Eucharist. Consequently, the reception of Baptism is necessary for starting the spiritual life, while the receiving of the Eucharist is requisite for its consummation; by partaking not indeed actually, but in desire, as an end is possessed in desire and intention. Another difference is because by Baptism a man is ordained to the Eucharist, and therefore from the fact of children being baptized, they are destined by the Church to the Eucharist; and just as they believe through the Church’s faith, so they desire the Eucharist through the Church’s intention, and, as a result, receive its reality. But they are not disposed for Baptism by any previous sacrament, and consequently before receiving Baptism, in no way have they Baptism in desire; but adults alone have: consequently, they cannot have the reality of the sacrament without receiving the sacrament itself. Therefore this sacrament is not necessary for salvation in the same way as Baptism is.” (Q 73, Art 3, On the contrary & I answer that, Part 3 of the third part, Summa, St. Thomas Aquinas)
Also, "As Augustine says, explaining John 6:54, “This food and this drink,” namely, of His flesh and blood: “He would have us understand the fellowship of His body and members, which is the Church in His predestinated, and called, and justified, and glorified, His holy and believing ones.” Hence, as he says in his Epistle to Boniface (Pseudo-Beda, in 1 Corinthians 10:17): “No one should entertain the slightest doubt, that then every one of the faithful becomes a partaker of the body and blood of Christ, when in Baptism he is made a member of Christ’s body; nor is he deprived of his share in that body and chalice even though he depart from this world in the unity of Christ’s body, before he eats that bread and drinks of that chalice.” (Reply to Obj 1, Same as above)
Also, I would add that non-catholics cannot receive the sacrament because they do not believe it is the Body and blood of Jesus Christ so they would be bringing damnation to themselves by receiving unworthily (1 Cor 11:29).
May God bless,