Jesus in the Eucharist
1. Jesus Himself told us to eat His flesh.
I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, that anyone may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down out of heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. Yes, the bread which I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
The Jews therefore contended with one another, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
Jesus therefore said to them, “Most certainly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you don’t have life in yourselves. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father; so he who feeds on me, he will also live because of me. This is the bread which came down out of heaven—not as our fathers ate the manna, and died. He who eats this bread will live forever.” He said these things in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum.
Therefore many of his disciples, when they heard this, said, “This is a hard saying! Who can listen to it?”
But Jesus knowing in himself that his disciples murmured at this, said to them, “Does this cause you to stumble? Then what if you would see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit who gives life. The flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and are life. But there are some of you who don’t believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who didn’t believe, and who it was who would betray him. He said, “For this cause I have said to you that no one can come to me, unless it is given to him by my Father.”
At this, many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Jesus said therefore to the twelve, “You don’t also want to go away, do you?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
-John 6:48-69, WEB-BE
THINGS TO NOTE:
1. Even though many of His disciples turned away and no longer followed Him because of this teaching, Jesus did not explain to them that He was not talking literally about eating His flesh, if such were the case. Jesus could have easily clarified and corrected what he meant. But the very reason they were astounded was because Jesus has indeed meant what He said literally.
2. Jesus was known to correct and clarify important issues so as not to mislead anyone, especially His disciples. This can be seen in Matthew 16:5–12 where Jesus clearly explained what He meant by the yeast of the Pharisees, that it was not literal bread He was talking about.
3. If Jesus were merely speaking metaphorically, why would people say, “This is a hard saying! Who can listen to it?”
4. When Jesus mentioned the sacrifice He was about to make on the cross by sacrificing His own life and flesh, He was not speaking metaphorically – Yes, the bread which I will give for the life of the world is my flesh. Indeed, the same flesh (body) which Jesus gave up on the cross for us is the same flesh the He told us to eat.
Some may cite verse John 6:63 (It is the spirit who gives life. The flesh profits nothing.) to say that Jesus did not really mean to eat His “flesh” literally. But “flesh” in this verse is meant to mean our human nature and reasoning which cannot understand the things of the spirit. If Jesus has successfully explained here that He didn’t mean to have us eat his flesh literally, why then did many of his disciples still walk away afterwards? Shouldn’t it have already been properly clarified?
2. St. Paul called the cup of blessing a “sharing” of the blood of Christ.
The cup of blessing which we bless, isn’t it a sharing of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, isn’t it a sharing of the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf of bread, we, who are many, are one body; for we all partake of the one loaf of bread. Consider Israel according to the flesh. Don’t those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar?
What am I saying then? That a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? But I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons, and not to God, and I don’t desire that you would have fellowship with demons. You can’t both drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You can’t both partake of the table of the Lord, and of the table of demons. Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?
-1 Corinthians 10:16-22, WEB-BE
3. St. Paul clearly said that whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy way will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
For I received from the Lord that which also I delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night in which he was betrayed took bread. When he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “Take, eat. This is my body, which is broken for you. Do this in memory of me.” In the same way he also took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink, in memory of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks the Lord’s cup in a way unworthy of the Lord will be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread, and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy way eats and drinks judgement to himself, if he doesn’t discern the Lord’s body. For this cause many amongst you are weak and sickly, and not a few sleep. For if we discerned ourselves, we wouldn’t be judged. But when we are judged, we are punished by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world. – 1 Corinthians 11:23-32, WEB-BE
4. Jesus Himself said that the bread is His body.
As they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks for it, and broke it. He gave to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” He took the cup, gave thanks, and gave to them, saying, “All of you drink it, for this is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the remission of sins. But I tell you that I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on, until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s Kingdom.” When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. – Matthew 26:26-30, WEB-BE
As they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had blessed, he broke it, and gave to them, and said, “Take, eat. This is my body.” He took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave to them. They all drank of it. He said to them, “This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many. Most certainly I tell you, I will no more drink of the fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it anew in God’s Kingdom.” When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. – Mark 14:22-26, WEB-BE
He took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body which is given for you. Do this in memory of me.” Likewise, he took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. But behold, the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table. The Son of Man indeed goes, as it has been determined, but woe to that man through whom he is betrayed!” – Luke 22:19-22, WEB-BE
5. Jesus is the Word through which all things on earth were created. In the beginning, God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. The Word itself came down from heaven and became flesh. When Jesus speaks of bread saying “this is my body”, would it be an impossibility that such indeed becomes His flesh also?
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him. Without him was not anything made that has been made… The Word became flesh, and lived amongst us.
-John 1:1-3,14, WEB-BE
As they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks for it, and broke it. He gave to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” – Matthew 26:26, WEB-BE
“Could not Christ’s word, which can make from nothing what did not exist, change existing things into what they were not before?” – St. Ambrose
Jesus said to them, “Fill the water pots with water.” They filled them up to the brim. He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the ruler of the feast.” So they took it. When the ruler of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and didn’t know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the ruler of the feast called the bridegroom, and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when the guests have drunk freely, then that which is worse. You have kept the good wine until now!” This beginning of his signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him. – John 2:7-11, WEB-BE
6. It has always been the belief since the early Church. To say that the Church has departed from the true faith at any point in time, most especially at the beginning is to invalidate Jesus’ own promise that not even the gates of hell can prevail over His Church.
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. – Matthew 16:18-19, KJV
Quotes from the Early Church:
“They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins and which that Father, in his goodness, raised up again. They who deny the gift of God are perishing in their disputes” – Ignatius of Antioch (letter to the Smyrnaeans about A.D. 110) Disciple of the Apostle John
“We call this food Eucharist, and no one else is permitted to partake of it, except one who believes our teaching to be true and who has been washed in the washing which is for the remission of sins and for regeneration [i.e., has received baptism] and is thereby living as Christ enjoined. For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these; but since Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nurtured, is both the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus” –Justin Martyr (A.D. 151)
“God speaks by the mouth of Malachi, one of the twelve [minor prophets], as I said before, about the sacrifices at that time presented by you: ‘I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord, and I will not accept your sacrifices at your hands; for from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same, my name has been glorified among the Gentiles, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering, for my name is great among the Gentiles . . . [Mal. 1:10–11]. He then speaks of those Gentiles, namely us [Christians] who in every place offer sacrifices to him, that is, the bread of the Eucharist and also the cup of the Eucharist”-Justin Martyr ([A.D. 155).
“I wish to admonish you with examples from your religion. You are accustomed to take part in the divine mysteries, so you know how, when you have received the Body of the Lord, you reverently exercise every care lest a particle of it fall and lest anything of the consecrated gift perish. You account yourselves guilty, and rightly do you so believe, if any of it be lost through negligence”.- Origen (A.D. 244)
“[T]here is not a soul that can at all procure salvation, except it believe whilst it is in the flesh, so true is it that the flesh is the very condition on which salvation hinges. And since the soul is, in consequence of its salvation, chosen to the service of God, it is the flesh which actually renders it capable of such service. The flesh, indeed, is washed [in baptism], in order that the soul may be cleansed . . . the flesh is shadowed with the imposition of hands [in confirmation], that the soul also may be illuminated by the Spirit; the flesh feeds [in the Eucharist] on the body and blood of Christ, that the soul likewise may be filled with God”-Tertullian (A.D. 210).
“Do not, therefore, regard the bread and wine as simply that, for they are, according to the Master’s declaration, the body and blood of Christ. Even though the senses suggest to you the other, let faith make you firm. Do not judge in this matter by taste, but be fully assured by faith, not doubting that you have been deemed worthy of the body and blood of Christ” – Cyril of Jerusalem (A.D. 350)
“Christ was carried in his own hands when, referring to his own body, he said, ‘This is my body’ [Matt. 26:26]. For he carried that body in his hands” –Augustine (A.D. 405).
“For when he says in another book, which is called Ecclesiastes, ‘There is no good for a man except that he should eat and drink’ [Eccles. 2:24], what can he be more credibly understood to say [prophetically] than what belongs to the participation of this table which the Mediator of the New Testament himself, the priest after the order of Melchizedek, furnishes with his own body and blood? For that sacrifice has succeeded all the sacrifices of the Old Testament, which were slain as a shadow of what was to come. . . . Because, instead of all these sacrifices and oblations, his body is offered and is served up to the partakers of it” – Augustine (The City of God A.D. 419).
“We will necessarily add this also. Proclaiming the death, according to the flesh, of the only-begotten Son of God, that is Jesus Christ, confessing his resurrection from the dead, and his ascension into heaven, we offer the unbloody sacrifice in the churches, and so go on to the mystical thanksgivings, and are sanctified, having received his holy flesh and the precious blood of Christ the Savior of us all. And not as common flesh do we receive it; God forbid: nor as of a man sanctified and associated with the Word according to the unity of worth, or as having a divine indwelling, but as truly the life-giving and very flesh of the Word himself. For he is the life according to his nature as God, and when he became united to his flesh, he made it also to be life-giving” –Council of Ephesus (A.D. 431).
“What then? Do we not offer daily? Yes, we offer, but making remembrance of his death; and this remembrance is one and not many. How is it one and not many? Because this sacrifice is offered once, like that in the Holy of Holies. This sacrifice is a type of that, and this remembrance a type of that. We offer always the same, not one sheep now and another tomorrow, but the same thing always. Thus there is one sacrifice. By this reasoning, since the sacrifice is offered everywhere, are there, then, a multiplicity of Christs? By no means! Christ is one everywhere. He is complete here, complete there, one body. And just as he is one body and not many though offered everywhere, so too is there one sacrifice”. – John Chrysostom (A.D. 403)
“As bodily nourishment restores lost strength, so the Eucharist strengthens our charity, which tends to be weakened in daily life; and this living charity wipes away venial sins. By giving himself to us Christ revives our love and enables us to break our disordered attachments to creatures and root ourselves in him… Catechism of the Catholic Church (1394)
Quotes from Saints:
One of the most admirable effects of Holy Communion is to preserve the soul from sin, and to help those who fall through weakness to rise again. It is much more profitable, then, to approach this divine Sacrament with love, respect, and confidence, than to remain away through an excess of fear and scrupulosity. – St. Ignatius of Loyola
Every morning during meditation, I prepare myself for the whole day’s struggle. Holy Communion assures me that I will win the victory; and so it is. I fear the day when I do not receive Holy Communion. This bread of the Strong gives me all the strength I need to carry on my mission and the courage to do whatever the Lord asks of me. The courage and strength that are in me are not of me, but of Him who lives in me – it is the Eucharist. -St. Faustina
“All the good works in the world are not equal to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass because they are the works of men; but the Mass is the work of God. Martyrdom is nothing in comparison for it is but the sacrifice of man to God; but the Mass is the sacrifice of God for man.”-St. John Vianney, Cure d’Ars
“Jesus has made Himself the Bread of Life to give us life. Night and day, He is there. If you really want to grow in love, come back to the Eucharist, come back to that Adoration.”-Mother Teresa
“We must understand that in order ‘to do’, we must first learn ‘to be’, that is to say, in the sweet company of Jesus in adoration.”-St. Pope John Paul II
“If angels could be jealous of men, they would be so for one reason: Holy Communion.”-St. Maximilian Kolbe
“You come to me and unite Yourself intimately to me under the form of nourishment. Your Blood now runs in mine, Your Soul, Incarnate God, compenetrates mine, giving courage and support. What miracles! Who would have ever imagined such!”-St. Maximilian Kolbe
“What wonderful majesty! What stupendous condescension! O sublime humility! That the Lord of the whole universe, God and the Son of God, should humble Himself like this under the form of a little bread, for our salvation…In this world I cannot see the Most High Son of God with my own eyes, except for His Most Holy Body and Blood.”-St. Francis of Assisi
I desire to unite Myself to human souls, Know, My daughter, that when I come to a human heart in Holy Communion, My hands are full of all kinds of graces which I want to give to the soul. But souls do not even pay any attention to Me; they leave Me to Myself and busy themselves with other things…They treat Me as a dead object. (1385) Now you shall consider My love in the Blessed Sacrament. Here, I am entirely yours, soul, body and divinity, as your Bridegroom. You know what love demands: one thing only, reciprocity…(1770)- Jesus to St Faustina, Divine Mercy in my Soul
“Always remain close to the Catholic Church, because it alone can give you true peace, since it alone possesses Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, the true Prince of Peace.”-St. Padre Pio
“Do grant, oh my God, that when my lips approach Yours to kiss You, I may taste the gall that was given to You; when my shoulders lean against Yours, make me feel Your scourging; when my flesh is united with Yours, in the Holy Eucharist, make me feel Your passion; when my head comes near Yours, make me feel Your thorns; when my heart is close to Yours, make me feel Your spear.”-St. Gemma Galgani
“How many of you say: I should like to see His face, His garments, His shoes. You do see Him, you touch Him, you eat Him. He gives Himself to you, not only that you may see Him, but also to be your food and nourishment.”-St. John Chrysostom
“When the Mass is being celebrated, the sanctuary is filled with countless angels, who adore the Divine Victim immolated on the altar.”—St. John Chrysostom
“When we work hard, we must eat well. What a joy, that you can receive Holy Communion often! It’s our life and support in this life — Receive Communion often, and Jesus will change you into himself.”
–Saint Peter Julian Eymard
Culled from Catholic Answers..