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The Eucharist

Taken from I’m Glad You Asked!; St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, Picayune, MS. Access the entire document at http://www.scborromeo.org/glad.htm

Q. Why do you believe that it is the Body and Blood of Christ?

Q. Where is the proof of the Eucharist in the Bible?

As I have said before, you cannot use the Bible to "prove" anything to those who choose not to believe. That said, there are many passages which show the Eucharist to be much more than a symbol very clearly.

The first place to look is John 6:25-71 where Jesus promises the Eucharist. This account, which occupies 2/3 of the chapter, describes Jesus' exchange with a crowd of disciples; probably numbering several thousand as this event follows the feeding of the 5,000 (most of the preceding 1/3 of the chapter) and these disciples have followed Him seeking more of this miraculous bread. After all, Moses provided bread for those who followed him during their wanderings in the

desert. Jesus tells them that He is the bread of life that came down from heaven and those who come to Him will never be hungry. The disciples do not understand and grumble because Jesus has said that He comes down from heaven, but they know that He is a man; they know His parents. Jesus again tells them that He is the living bread which came down from heaven and anyone who eats this bread will have eternal life. The disciples understand Him literally and begin to dispute among themselves because they don't understand how He can give them His flesh to eat. Jesus then underscores this literal interpretation by stating four times [in four successive verses (53-56)] that they must eat His Flesh and drink His Blood or they will not have everlasting life. The Greek verb used in these four verses for "eat" is much stronger than the verb used earlier in this discourse; in this case it literally means "chew, gnaw"; hardly a word to be taken symbolically. Jesus then tells the disciples that the "Spirit gives life, the flesh

counts for nothing". In other words, stop worrying about food for your flesh and start worrying about food for your Spirit (notice that he talks about "the flesh" and not "My flesh"; He is talking about the flesh of John 3:6). Then many of His disciples left Him–the only place in Holy Scripture where people cease to follow Him for a reason of doctrine–they have understood Him literally and He, who understands perfectly, does not seek to change or modify their understanding; because there is no misunderstanding. Jesus then asks His apostles if they wish to leave too but Peter, speaking for the rest, tells Him that although they don't understand, they will continue to follow Him because they know that He has been sent by God for their salvation. It is interesting to note that this is the first time in the Bible where it is noted that Judas Iscariot will later leave to betray Him (Judas didn't believe that Jesus could give His Flesh to eat and His Blood to drink and so left at the Last Supper when the Eucharist was instituted).

The second place to look is one of the Gospel accounts of the Last Supper so let's turn to Mark 14:17-26. This account is where the promise of John 6 to give His Body and Blood is fulfilled and it starts off by pointing out that Judas will leave to betray Him, the second time in the Bible that Judas' betrayal is mentioned. During the Passover liturgy the presiding elder explains the significance of the elements. Following this custom Jesus takes the bread, and

later the cup, and after giving thanks (the Greek word is eucharisteo) departs from the customary significance and instead says "this is My Body . . . this is My Blood." When God speaks, what He pronounces comes into being (God said "Let there be light . . . "). He then says that His Blood is the blood of the covenant which is poured out for many. This is the only time in Jesus' recorded life where He uses the word "covenant"; a word which when used in the Jewish liturgical sense, means the forming of an irrevocable sacred family bond. Just as during the original Passover the blood marked the homes of the members of God's family, so now, drinking His Blood marks the members of His family.

The third place to look is 1 Corinthians 10:16-17 where St. Paul tells us that when we partake of the bread and the cup we participate in the Body and Blood of our Lord and that we are united because we all eat of the same loaf which is Christ. It is awfully hard to "partake of" and "participate in" something which is only figurative rather than real.

The final place to look is 1 Corinthians 11:23-30. Here, St. Paul reminds us that although he was not present at the Last Supper, he received revelation directly from the Lord. St. Paul then gives us the same account of the happenings at the Last Supper with the clarification from Jesus to "do this in remembrance of Me." Remembrance for a Jew is a lot more than looking back fondly on a past event, when a remembrance (memorial) sacrifice is offered, the participants are made present at the original event and participate in that event. Here, Jesus is telling His apostles to institute a perpetual memorial sacrifice for Him. St. Paul then goes on to warn the Corinthians, most of whom believe that the Eucharist is truly the Body and Blood of Christ, that they are to exclude themselves from participation in the meal if they do not recognize that it is the real presence of the Lord or they will eat and drink damnation upon themselves. These words would not have been spoken, because there would be no need for the warning, if the Eucharist were a mere symbol.

Does this "prove" the Eucharist? It convinces me, because I have only three choices: 1) It is true; 2) The Bible is wrong; or 3) Jesus lied. Of the three choices, only the first one is acceptable.

Recommended reading:

● Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 1322-1419
● Currie, David B., Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic, Ignatius

Press, San Francisco, CA, 1996, pages 35-49

● Staples, Tim, "How to Explain the Eucharist", Catholic Digest, St. Paul, MN 55164, September 1997, pages 75-78

● Hahn, Scott & Suprenant, Leon J. (Editors), Catholic for a Reason, Emmaus Road Press, 1998, pages 159-180 

Q. When you go to Communion are you completely saved through Christ? 

Reception of the Eucharist in a worthy manner makes us one with Christ. As such we have a pledge of heavenly bliss and of the future resurrection of our body. Jesus said in John 6:56:

"He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him" (KJV).

By having Jesus dwell in me, He feeds my soul and increases its supernatural life by reinforcing the power of my will so I can withstand the temptations of sin. By receiving the Eucharist in a worthy manner my soul is purged of venial sins and the temporal punishments due to sin.

By receiving the Eucharist in a worthy manner, I refer to not being in a state of mortal sin, all mortal sins I may have committed having been confessed and forgiven in the sacrament of penance. If I were to die before I commit any sins after worthy reception of the Eucharist, I would be saved. It is my responsibility to avoid sin and having received the Eucharist in a worthy manner, I am strengthened to avoid sins in the future as I journey down the path toward my salvation.

Recommended reading:

● Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 1391-1401, 1407, 1416 ● Ott, Dr. Ludwig, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, TAN Books and

Publishers, Rockford, IL 61105, 1974, pages 394-396 

Q. Why do we receive Communion? 

Aside from the reasons cited in the answer to the preceding question (being united with Christ, receiving supernatural life for my soul and reinforced power to resist sin for my will, being purged of venial sin and the temporal punishment for my sins) the only other reason is because Jesus told me to and I am obedient. We must always remember that each time we receive Holy Communion we receive God's graces and the more grace we receive the easier it is to resist the temptations of sin. Q. Is a person who doesn't believe that the Eucharist is truly the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus really a Catholic? No, they are not. Although we may not understand the doctrines of the Catholic Church, we must accept them. The Catholic faith is not a cafeteria style faith where we can go down the line of dogmas taking some of this, some of that, a double portion of something else, and avoiding the things we don't like. There are many things about which we do have a choice as to whether to accept them or not (Marian apparitions and devotion to the Sacred Heart, for example) but the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist is not among them.

Examples of dogmas (those truths that the Catholic Church requires the faithful to accept as

doctrine revealed by God), although not by any means a complete list, are: the divinity of Christ, the Blessed Trinity, the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the Immaculate Conception, and the bodily assumption of Mary.

 

Recommended reading:

● Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 88-94

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