Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist Dates Back to the Beginning of the Church

We, as Catholics, believe this about the Eucharist: Jesus is present -- body, blood, soul, and divinity under the appearance of bread and wine.

Maybe you believe it and maybe you don't. I'm not going to try to prove it to you. I'm just here to say that the first Christians believed it to be true. That's a historic fact.

Question: Where is the doctrine of the real presence found in the Bible?

Answer: Many places, but I'll give you my favorites.

In John 6:32-71 Jesus repeats over and over about how you will have no life in you unless you eat the Son of Man's flesh. The passage uses the Greek words "Phago" - to eat meat, and "Trago" -  to gnaw. He says, "Whoever eats me will live because of me." Read the whole section. It's powerful. 

Question: Wasn't he speaking metaphorically?

Answer: No.

The passage says that a whole mess of followers left because of this "difficult teaching." The Jewish people would be shocked at the idea of eating human flesh and drinking blood. They had very strict food guidelines that sure didn't include cannibalism.

Think about it. They didn't freak when he said he was the vine and we are the branches. They understood when Jesus was talking literal and when he was speaking metaphorically.

But how were they to eat His flesh and drink His blood? Well, he taught them how at the Last Supper. Check out Luke 22:19-21 when Jesus takes the bread and wine, saying "this is my body" and "this is my blood." And "Do this in remembrance of me." (Read the whole passage for all the detail. I'm just highlighting a bit of it.)

So, he says "do this." Do what exactly? Transform the bread and wine into HIM.

Flip over to 1Corinthians 11 where Paul reminds the people of Corinth that when they come together, they do so to eat the Lord's Supper (1Cor.11:20) and he repeats the words Jesus said at the Last Supper (1Cor.11:24). Then Paul goes on to remind them of the seriousness of partaking in the Eucharist unworthily. "Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord." He says they will "eat and drink judgment against themselves" if they don't "discern the body" (1Cor.11:27-33). Wow. That doesn't indicate that they think it's all symbolic. It ain't Wonderbread and grape juice!

Question: I still say it's symbolic.

Answer: That's not a question. But okay, let's look at what the Christian's thought in the first century. St. Justin Martyr, in First Aplology, around A.D.151, actually used the word Eucharist for the bread and wine. And says you must be baptized before receiving it. "...the food that 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." You can check it out yourself on Wikipedia. I'm not making it up.

So, the dissenters, those who don't believe this idea that the Eucharist was always believed to be truly Christ, when do they think the idea got invented? If the idea wasn't there from the beginning, it must have been invented sometime between the Last Supper and today.

Fact is, it was understood from the start. That is why the Church has always celebrated the Eucharist and has always believed it to be the body, soul, and divinity of Christ.

Notice, not once did I try to convince you that it actually is. That post will be for another day.

Meanwhile, get more info on this topic by reading your Bible, Jimmy Akin's book, The Fathers Know Best, and, where you can do keyword searches for Eucharist, the Host, Communion, etc.
I got this from Romantic Catholic's FB page.


  1. I would love to put that last graphic on this post on my facebook but my husband's brother and sister are protestant and they may be offended. But I do concurr!

  2. Yeah, it doesn't do any good to offend anybody. On the other hand, it's true and it's not really insulting anybody. They really do only see bread and wine. But when in doubt, don't post what might bother friends and family. Better to bring up why you believe what you do when nobody is upset or they won't listen anyway.

  3. I agree. sometimes, I feel some resentment from them because I lured their brother away from their biblical views but oh well!

  4. What is significant in John 6 is that when His followers left Jesus, He did not call them back. He did not say: "Wait ... let me explain ... this is what I meant!"

    He let them go. He also offered the Disciples the choice to go too.

    We either accept what He said; or we don't.

    God bless.