The doctrine of the Real Presence asserts that in the Holy Eucharist, Jesus is literally and wholly present—body and blood, soul and divinity—under the appearances of bread and wine. Evangelicals and Fundamentalists often attack this doctrine as “umbilical,” but the Bible is forthright in declaring it (cf. 1 Cor. 10:16–17, 11:23–29; and, most forcefully, John 6:32–71). (Read more here)
As a Catholic, a lifelong Catholic, this has to be one of the most difficult concepts of the faith. The Real Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. Just the thought of it makes my head spin!
Last night I was watching a documentary on Parable TV, Apostle Peter and the Last Supper, and it made me think about the Eucharist, what it is and what it means. It made me ask myself why I believe that it is truly the Body and Blood of my Savior, why it is just a fact of my faith, and yet others find this so hard to grasp. Now please understand that I have questioned it, I have and still do struggle with it and am overwhelmed with the idea of it, but I do believe it, I do have faith in it. Not understanding is no reason not to believe…
But why do some Christians and Catholics find the truth so hard to see? Not picking on anyone here, but lets look at the Christians (by the way, yes I know Catholics are Christians), they take the bible literally, down to the last word, yet they fail to believe in the True Presence, they see it as symbolic. Jesus clearly states,
53 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 (The Bible)
After Jesus states this some of his followers walk away, leaving Jesus because they understood what Jesus was saying, that they must eat His flesh and drink His blood. Now, reason would stat that if Jesus was misunderstood, that if what He truly meant to say was that it was only a parable or a symbolic act, He would have called after them, He would have told them a new parable to clear it all up. But He did not, he let them go, and then asked his friends what they thought:
60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”
61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit[b] and life. 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.”
66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.
68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” (The Bible)
To me, this is very clear, we are to eat His flesh and drink His blood… And Jesus provides that for us in the form of the Holy Eucharist. There are many other passages in the bible that back this up, but my post is not about proving out the Catholic understanding, but more about the mind boggleingness of it all.
The simple yet profound fact that Jesus, my Lord and Savior came down from Heaven, became man, lowered himself to be one of his creations, took upon himself the humiliation of humanity, suffered, died and was buried, raised up again in glory to defeat sin and the punishment of sin, death. this, in-and-of-it-self was more than enough for a fallen people, a creation that condemned its creator, yet He, the creator of all, the giver of life, leaves us more, oh, so much more. He leaves us HIMSELF! He gives us the gift of His body, blood, soul and divinity… He gives us salvation in the form of His sacrificed body. This is mind-blowing! Yet it is also humbling.
But once again Jesus tells us:
56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. (The Bible)
So each week I do as I am commanded, to eat His flesh and drink His blood, do I understand it, no, not really, but I also don’t understand how God would choose to make himself human, or how He could be dead for 3 days then rise up and walk among his friends, this is called faith. For me, the simple fact that I know in my soul, in my heart of hearts that it is true, that Jesus did do all that is claimed, the God does love me, that He did create all and send His son down to save me, that I know in a very basic way, deep within me. I know that the Good News is truly the word of God and meant for me and all of humanity. And I know that the bread and wine is Jesus in the flesh, that it is His to give, to offer, and mine to take or reject.
I may not understand, but I do have faith… And in a very spiritual way, I do understand, because God has created me to.. And that, to me is A Head spinning Catholic teaching, one that is key to my salvation.