Levitical law and the Eucharist


#1

I used to be a practicing Catholic doing things like going to daily Mass, saying Liturgy of the Hours, saying a daily rosary, etc. but now I’m more of a cultural Catholic with some doubts and questions.

Here’s my question that I hope good practicing Catholics can answer: In the OT, God forbade drinking and eating of blood yet according the CC intrepretation of John 6, Jesus says that we are to drink His blood and eat His Body. Doesn’t this seem a little contradictory of God?

If God is the source of all truth then He cannot contradict Himself, hence I’m more inclined towards a symbolic intrepretation of the Eucharist or doubt Jesus’ divinity. Please help me figure this out. Thank you! :slight_smile:


#2

From Catholic Answers “Quick Questions”:

**Q: Jehovah’s Witnesses told me that Jesus’ commands to eat his flesh and drink his blood in John 6 could not be literal because Jesus would be advocating something against God’s law by commanding us to eat blood (cf. Gen. 9:4, Acts 15:28-29). What can I say to this? **

A: You can say four things. First, any divine command that comes later modifies divine commands that came earlier. When Jesus declared all foods clean (Mark 7:19), his command superseded the earlier command that certain foods be regarded as unclean (Lev. 11:1-8). If Jesus today commands us to drink his blood, his command supersedes any prior command concerning drinking blood.

Second, the command against drinking blood, like all of the Old Testament dietary regulations, has passed away, for “These are only a shadow of what is to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink” (Col. 2:17, 16).

The mention of not eating blood in Acts 15:20, 29 was a pastoral provision suggested by James to keep Jews from being scandalized by the conduct of Gentile Christians. We know that these pastoral provisions were only temporary. One concerned abstaining from idol meat, yet later Paul says eating idol meat is okay so long as it doesn’t scandalize others (Rom. 14:1-14, 1 Cor. 8:1-13).

If it is objected that blood is not a food (though it is in some cultures), note that Jesus was asked (Mark 7:5) why his disciples ate with unwashed hands. He replied, “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him unclean? For it doesn’t go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body” (7:18-19). In context this refers to a non-food substance (the dirt on one’s unwashed hands).

Third, the Old Testament is very specific about why one was not to eat blood: “The life of every creature is the blood of it; therefore I have said to the people of Israel, You shall not eat the blood of any creature, for the life of every creature is its blood” (Lev. 17:14, cf. Deut. 12:23). The Israelites could not eat animal blood because it contained the animal’s life, but there is one Person whose life you must have in you, “Christ who is your life” (Col. 3:4).

Finally, even if the Jehovah’s Witnesses were right that drinking blood were intrinsically evil instead of the subject of a temporary prohibition, they would still have problems with John 6 because, in their interpretation, Jesus would be commanding us to eat his flesh symbolically and to drink his blood symbolically. He would be commanding us to act out symbolically an intrinsically evil deed as part of a sacred worship service. But this leads us to a ludicrous conclusion, so it must be that drinking Christ’s blood is permissible (not to say desirable).
catholic.com/thisrock/1995/9505qq.asp


#3

Thank you for your help! I have a follow up question: God, by nature, is infinity. To be infinite, He must be immutable, meaning that He can never change. Jews (according to my understanding) view the change in the levitical laws as a change in God’s commandment. Do you think this is valid? Do you think God’s commandments can change but not God Himself in the process? I mean if He is infinite and immutable, His divine attributes must be as well i.e. God’s love and justice are a part of who He is, one in the same God. Do you understand what I’m saying?

Thanks again for your help!


#4

I think the idea that God changes the rules are valid, much like parents change their rules as their children grow and mature. God does not change, but we do. So our relationship with him changes. So then the “rules of engagement” so to speak also change. The “we” in this case is humankind not us individually.


#5

God’s commandments change because he is raising up a chosen people, from spiritual infancy to spiritual maturity. Christ says this quite explicitly when talking about e.g. divorce (he tightens the restriction) and also “forbidden” foods (he removes all restrictions).

God is the same always, but in one sense humanity isn’t (in another sense, however, it is).


#6

I think so. You are asking: “If God’s laws can change, doesn’t that indicate a change in God himself who is supposed to be unchangable?”

I don’t think the abrogation of the levitical laws for ritual and purity indicate a change in God’s laws, rather, it was more that these laws had run their course, served God’s purposes so to speak. As St. Paul talks about in much of the book of Romans (Chapter 7, mostly), one of the purposes of these laws was to show, no matter how good they were, people just couldn’t keep them on their own. That’s why we needed grace that was made available by Christ.This is further indicated in the beginning of the Letter to the Hebrews where it says:

In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways to our ancestors through the prophets; in these last days, he spoke to us through a son, whom he made heir of all things and through whom he created the universe.

It is important to keep in mind that, even though the purity and ritual laws were abrogated under the New Covenant, the *moral *laws were not. This is because all moral law is based on the Natural Law that exists whether written down or not. Again, St. Paul talks about this in Romans 1 and 2.


#7

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