Why do Christians receive the body and blood of Jesus?
First, not all Chritians receive him. Second, so we can gain eternal life.
we are fulfilling Christ’s declaration as given in the Gospel of John, Chapter 6.
Read the Gospel of St John. The Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches follow this perfectly.
I know why. I’m Catholic. This thread is for someone else, who is asking why something so profound “doesn’t have a reason attached to it.” I’m trying to explain the Catholic position, but I’m having difficulty wording the argument.
A sacrifice is a meal. That’s something we don’t really appreciate in modern conditions, where we don’t kill the animals that eat and food comes from a supermarket or McDonald’s.
In the days of Abraham if you killed an animal you would sacrifice it on an altar. Abraham would have seen the two as synonymous. So the Mass wouldn’t be a real sacrifice it wasn’t also a meal.
It’s one of the ways that we come into contact with the blood of the New Covenant. Baptism is the other.
The primary purpose of receiving the Eucharist is connected with the kernel and center of the Gospel message, namely, that Jesus came to liberate us from all that oppresses us, especially sin. That is the primary reason Jesus came, to save us from our sins and all that oppresses us. (Mt 1:21, Lk 4:18).
We receive this salvation upon hearing the Gospel the Apostles preached, through the Catholic Church, and being baptized (Mk 16:15-16). Then in order to maintain this salvation of liberation from sin, Jesus instituted the Eucharist in order that we could receive the necessary grace to remain free from serious sin (… give us this day our daily bread…).
“Unless you eat my body & drink my blood you have no life within you” (Jn 6:53). Since we can lose our salvation (Gal 5:21) by serious sin Jesus left us the sacraments so we could constantly receive grace to maintain our salvation.
Then when we die, if we are still in the state of being saved from serious sin, then God will reward us with eternal salvation in heaven, after being purified in purgatory first (for most of us).
For the forgiveness of sins.
Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, "Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
Grace. That’s why it is a sacrament; a sacrament is a physical means by which we receive supernatural grace. And it is grace that gives us the power to overcome sin and endure to death against this world.
To do as Christ bid us do.
This begs the question, why did Christ bid us to do it? Just to give us another rule? Something to keep us busy on Sunday mornings?
Christ, being God, had a very important purpose in mind when he bid us to do it. The whole Catholic faith, the Gospel, revolves around why he commanded us to do it. To understand why he commanded us to do it is to understand the kernel and center of the Gospel. This is basic and foundational.
Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist that it should serve as the spiritual food whereby they are nourished and strengthened who live by the life of Him who said: ‘he who eateth me, the same shall live by me,’ and as an antidote by which we are freed from daily faults and preserved from mortal sins. He desired, moreover, that it be a pledge of our future glory and everlasting happiness, and hence a symbol of that one body of which He is the Head, and to which He willed that we, as members, be united by closest bonds of faith, hope and charity so that we might all speak the same things and there be no schisms among us." - Council of Trent
Not so much—we won’t know the whys and wherefores unless and until God tells us on the other side.
Christ simply told the apostles to do this in remembrance of him and that those who did not would not have eternal life. Perhaps you have a line on the particulars, but I believe we refer to the Eucharistic mystery for a reason; namely, that we don’t know all the ins and outs of it.
The Holy Eucharist is one of the seven Sacraments.
A Sacrament is an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace.
In receiving the Eucharist, we are given grace.
EphelDuath: Since you are having some trouble finding the right words to explain this for your friend, you might try giving him/her some references to look at and then have them come back to you with specific questions or misunderstandings.
Here is a simple explanation from the old Baltimore Catechism:
**356. Why does Christ give us His own body and blood in the Holy Eucharist? **Christ gives us His own body and blood in the Holy Eucharist: first, to be offered as a sacrifice commemorating and renewing for all time the sacrifice of the cross; second, to be received by the faithful in Holy Communion; third, to remain ever on our altars as the proof of His love for us, and to be worshiped by us.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church goes into more detail along with footnotes and references. See especially paragraphs 1391-1401 “The Fruits Of Holy Communion” [FONT=Times New Roman][FONT=Arial]1391[/FONT] Holy Communion augments our union with Christ. The principal fruit of receiving the Eucharist in Holy Communion is an intimate union with Christ Jesus. Indeed, the Lord said: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.” Life in Christ has its foundation in the Eucharistic banquet: “As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me.”[/FONT]
You are assuming the only words Jesus spoke to his apostles are those recorded in scripture. That is, that the Gospel the apostles preached was learned by recalling exactly what Jesus told them as recorded in scripture.
This is faulty reasoning according to the Church. The Catechism says that the Gospel the Church has transmitted from generation to generation for 2,000 years was both oral & written (scripture). Both are the Word of God. Vatican II says this in Dei Verbum.
The Word of God was preached in the New Testament by tradition, orally, the same way Jesus preached it. That was the way everyone learned back then and this has continued for centuries. Jesus taught his apostles everything he learned from his Father (Jn 15:15 I believe). Also in Mt, Mk & Lk we are told the apostles learned the secrets of the kingdom of heaven in secret from Jesus. He spoke to the crowds in parables but revealed to them and them alone the fullness of the Gospel.
The four gospels contain certain of the many elements of what the apostles had learned, according to the Catechism. If the Gospel preached by the apostles was limited to Jesus’ words in scripture, the apostles would have gone around reading scripture. This would have been hard to do especially since the canon wasn’t fixed until 390 AD or so.
In Mk 16:15-16 Jesus laid out the conditions for salvation. They are to hear the gospel, believe it & be baptized. He did not say to read the bible or base your salvation on the bible. We must do as he says if we are to put our faith in him.