The Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist
The Catholic belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist is a hard saying, no doubt. Yet, it’s no harder a saying as is said by Jesus himself as he begins his colloquy in the synagogue at Capernaum with his disciples (see Jn 6:30). This teaching, the Catholic Church defends as the definitive and apostolic origins of the Eucharist, points to the Eucharist (from the Greek for “thanksgiving”) as the “source and summit of the Christian life” (see Lumen Gentium) https://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19641121_lumen-gentium_en.html.
To understand this gift is truly a gift of grace from the Source and Summit of Grace himself. If so proclaimed, then why have our Protestant brothers and sisters in Christ, and others, continued to protest this doctrine, which has been defended for over two millennia? The answer should not surprise us: It takes an act of complete faith and abandonment of one’s own will to unite ourselves entirely to God’s will. It takes an act of the will. It takes an act of humbling oneself to the gift God has given to us in his son, Jesus Christ, as the Paschal Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.
Even disciples in the Capernaum synagogue long ago recognized this was a hard saying. Some turned away never to return. They murmured, as is done still today, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” (Jn 6:60) http://www.usccb.org/bible/john/6. Yet let us, rather, respond to God’s grace, as we accept with faith and dutifully follow Saint Peter’s wise counsel when, responding to Jesus, he answered, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (Jn 6:60-69).
Since the Apostolic Age, such has been the faith and obedience of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church and her faithful.
For a beautiful summation of the scandal of such a saying – the recognition of how hard it is to believe – enjoy this brief writing from Fr. Richard Veras of Saint Joseph’s Seminary; and for a Catholic answer addressing common Evangelical Fundamentalist challenges to the Catholic understanding of the Real Presence please also see below.
Peace be with you!
The Scandal of the Eucharist
by Fr. Richard Veras
Have you ever seen someone express shock when they learn that the Church believes that the “communion bread” is not bread at all, but has truly become the Body of Christ?
This shock hearkens back to the response to Jesus’ original prophecy of the Eucharist. John 6 recounts that after Jesus repeatedly proclaimed that his disciples would eat his flesh and drink his blood, many no longer followed him. They found his promise too difficult to accept; and Jesus did not force them to accept it, but allowed them to leave. He was interested in conversion, not compliance.
He even asked those who remained if they, too, wanted to leave, and Peter responded, “Master, to whom would we go? We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”
Belief in the Eucharist is a gift. It is the fruit of a relationship of faith and trust in Jesus. Eucharistic faith also reveals that the unimagined love expressed on the cross is even further magnified by Jesus’ desire to be so closely and carnally united to us in the Eucharist. The love that would not be contained by death is a love that also refuses to be contained by time and space. It is a love that seeks to be present in all times and places where there are believing disciples. Present, not just spiritually, but through the Real Presence of the Word made flesh, the very Body of Christ.
Come, let us adore him. Amen.
Used with generous permission from the author, Father Richard Veras; and as first published by MAGNIFICAT, June 2020, https://us.magnificat.net/. Fr. Veras is director of pastoral formation at Saint Joseph’s Seminary in New York. He is the author of three books, his latest being The Word Made Flesh: Foreshadowed, Fulfilled, Forever (Magnificat).
They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, of His goodness, raised up again. Those, therefore, who speak against this gift of God, incur death in the midst of their disputes.”
Saint Ignatius of Antioch, c. 110 A.D.
It is allowed to no one else to participate in that food which we call Eucharist except the one who believes that the things taught by us are true, who has been cleansed in the washing unto rebirth and the forgiveness of sins and who is living according to the way Christ handed on to us. For we do not take the things as ordinary bread or ordinary drink. Just as our Savior Jesus Christ was made flesh by the word of God and took on flesh and blood for our salvation, so also were we taught that the food, for which thanksgiving has been made through the word of prayer instituted by him, and from which our blood and flesh are nourished after the change, IS the flesh of that Jesus who was made flesh.”
Saint Justin Martyr, (100-165 A.D.)
St. Justin Martyr converted to Christianity around 130 A.D. He taught and defended the Christian faith in Asia Minor and at Rome, where he suffered martyrdom. He is the patron saint of philosophers, apologists, and lecturers.
A defense and response to protestations
For more about the Catholic teaching of the Real Presence, and a defense and response to Evangelical Fundamentalist protestations to this Catholic doctrine, please visit: https://www.catholic.com/tract/christ-in-the-eucharist .
As for me, when asked, “Why are you Catholic?” The answer is simple, really: I’m Catholic because I will never turn my back on Jesus in the Eucharist.”
Author, My Daily Bread: A Reason2bCatholic blog
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis
Be not afraid! And may the peace of Christ be with you and your loved ones today and always. Holy Family, pray for us. Amen.