15 December, 2010

Discussion with Frank about the Eucharist

(Frank) Introduction - Jesus' own statements When Jesus instituted the Church ordinance of the Lord's Supper or Communion at His "Last Supper," He made some statements that the Roman Catholic Church has taken to be a literal saying.

(Cristoiglesia) First of all let me correct an error of yours. Jesus did not institute an “ordinance” but a Sacrament and His words were literal.

(Frank) And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of me." And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood. (Luke 22:19-20)

This saying, or something similar to it, is given in three of the four gospels and in Paul's first letter to the Corinthians. In all accounts, Jesus is quoted as saying, "this is My body" referring to the unleavened bread and "this is My blood of the covenant" referring to the cup. However, it is obvious that from the situation that these words were not meant to be taken literally. How could Jesus, still present in His own body, say that bread and wine were His body and blood? Jesus told them to commemorate His sacrifice and New Covenant by using the bread and wine as symbols of His body and blood.

(Cristoiglesia) The Passover Seder was completed on the cross with the words, “It is finished” meaning the Old Covenant relationship with man but it began in the upper room. Jesus was acting as both priest and as the victim. As you mentioned Jesus instructed the disciples to do this in “remembrance” of me in most English translations. However “remembrance is not a direct translation but what we call an approximation since there is no word in the destination language that has exactly the same meaning. So “Remembrance” is as close as one can get to the original Koine Greek. The Greek word that is being translated is “anamnesis” which does not mean to recall a past event to memory as is the meaning of “remembrance”. Instead it means that a miracle is occurring where the past or the future is being made present. It represents an act that transcends time and place. In the case of the last supper Jesus is making the future present. Today when we receive the truly real and substantial Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity Jesus is making the past present. We are literally present at the foot of the Cross when the Eucharist is celebrated.

Jesus NEVER said to commemorate His sacrifice or that the elements were symbols but instead in the most literal language possible said, “This is my Body, This is my Blood.” Actually, Jesus was speaking literally and was certainly not using symbolic language that might indicate that what He was saying is not literal. Jesus was present at the Last Supper in both a corporeal natural way and in a sacramental way in the elements He consecrated. This is identical to the way He is present today in the Eucharist. It truly is a mystery as to how He can be present in these ways simultaneously but nonetheless it is a religious truth. We could never understand it but our inability to understand does not make this impossible. It is no different than believing God is omnipotent even though there is no way to comprehend this with our finite minds and intellect. Certainly the creator of all things can make Himself into the bread and the wine.

There is no indication from any teaching of Christ on the Eucharist that the bread and the wine are symbols but instead Jesus said, “This is my Body, this is my blood”. He never said that the elements of the bread and wine were symbols but used literal language instead. Had this been His intent He could have easily said exactly what you claim but He did not do so.

(Frank) Passover - the origin of Communion The use of the unleavened bread and wine did not originate with the Lord at the Last Supper. Jews had been celebrating Passover for thousands of years. The unleavened bread was a symbol of the bread that did not have time to rise, because of their haste in getting away from Pharaoh in their flight from Egypt. The Jews had a tradition regarding the unleavened bread (matzah). Three matzahs are put together (for the Christian, representing the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). The middle matzah is broken, wrapped in a white cloth, and hidden, representing the death and burial of Jesus. The matzah itself is designed to represent Jesus, since it is striped and pierced, which was prophesized by Isaiah, David, and Zechariah. Following the Seder meal, the "buried" matzah is "resurrected," which was foretold in the prophecies of David.

(Cristoiglesia) While I like the symbolism for Christians such as the 3 pieces of unleavened bread representing the three persons of the Trinity (I know that you are a modalist and did not mean Trinity but I like the Christian symbolism as well) the Jews would not agree with you.

(Frank) It was during a Passover Seder that Jesus proclaimed that the meal represented Himself and that He was instituting the New Covenant, which was foretold by Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Isaiah. The celebration of this covenant has become the ordinance of communion in the Christian Church. At the end of the meal, Jesus took the unleavened bread, broke it, and said that it represented His body. Then He took the cup of wine, which would have been the third cup of the Seder - the cup of redemption. He said that it was the new covenant in His blood "poured out for you." It is through the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ that we are declared clean before God, allowing those of us who choose to accept the pardon, to commune with Him - both now and forevermore through the eternal life He offers.

(Cristoiglesia) Jesus NEVER claimed that the elements of the Eucharist represented Himself but instead He proclaimed it to be His truly real and substantial Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. He said “This is my Body, this is my Blood”. There was no indication that what He instituted represented His Body and Blood but the words were literal indicating a literal understanding. He did not establish an ordinance but a Sacrament. It is wrong for you to add to Scriptures your own meaning to Christ’s plain and literal teaching. You are not applying sound hermeneutical practice but instead using eisegesis which is injurious to proper understanding and as such it has resulted in false teaching or what may be referred to as the creation of a doctrine of men with no biblical support.

(Frank) John 6 - Jesus declares the Eucharist to be His body? The primary passages cited to support the doctrine of transubstantiation are in John chapter 6. In this chapter, Jesus makes statements such as these:

Jesus therefore said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. "He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. "For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. "He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. (John 6:53-56)

(Cristoiglesia) Surely and truly these are literal words by our Lord.

(Frank) Reading this verse out of context makes it look like Roman Catholics have a good point that Jesus indicated that you must eat His body and blood. However, we
will find a different meaning when we examine the entire chapter in the context of what Jesus was saying. So, get out your Bible and follow along as we look at John 6 to determine if it really is literal or symbolic.

Where does this conversation start? The chapter begins with the feeding of the 5,000 with bread and fish. It is not coincidence that this event, which takes place at the beginning of the chapter is referenced again at the point that Jesus declares Himself to be the bread of life. The crowd that had been fed real bread at the beginning of the chapter were back to get another free handout:

Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. (John 6:26)

You must believe in Me - Jesus' main message The rabbis had quoted Psalms 72:16 to prove that the Messiah, when he came, would outdo Moses with manna from heaven. Jesus, claiming to be the Messiah, offered to give bread for eternal life (John 6:27). The crowd then asked Jesus, "What must we do to do the works God requires?" (John 6:28) Jesus' answer was:
"The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent."(John 6:29)

(Cristoiglesia) Just a note here, Jesus was calling for a right belief in Him and not a man-made interpretation of what it means to believe.

(Frank) You will notice that He did not mention anything about eating, but only about believing.

(Cristoiglesia) He will!

(Frank) Jesus declares the metaphor next, they talked about a miraculous sign and the manna God had given them in the desert (a references to what the rabbis had said about the Messiah). Jesus declared Himself to be the true bread out of heaven (John 6:32-33).The Jews asked for this bread, demonstrating that they did not understand that Jesus was giving them an earthly metaphor for a spiritual truth. Jesus' response was to define the metaphor:

Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go
hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. (John 6:35)

It is obvious from this statement that Jesus is NOT referring to physical bread. All who eat physical bread will hunger again. Jesus is declaring Himself to be spiritual bread. Those who "eat" of the spiritual bread by believing in Him will not hunger again. Jesus has clearly defined the "eating" of Himself as "He who comes to me" and the drinking of Himself as "he who believes in me". In this verse, Jesus has defined the entire metaphor as being a symbolic representation of spiritual truth. One can find other examples of "eating" and "drinking" from Jesus' other sermons:

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. (Matthew 5:6)

If anyone believes in Jesus, his spiritual hunger will be satisfied. The Eucharist cannot satisfy one's physical hunger. Neither can it satisfy one's spiritual hunger. This hunger can only be satisfied by the living bread (John 6:51), which is the living Lord Himself.

You must believe in Me - How many times does Jesus need to say it? Following the
statement of John 6:35, Jesus again makes the claim that they must believe in Him:

But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. (John 6:36) For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." (John 6:40)

Jesus has already told the unbelievers four times that they must believe in Him, yet they still don't get it! The Jews started complaining again that Jesus claimed to be bread from heaven (John 6:42-43). Obviously, real bread does not come from heaven. It comes from grain grown on the earth. Jesus could only be referring to spiritual bread. The analogy is quite clear that Jesus is the spiritual bread from heaven that gives spiritual (eternal) life. Physical bread gives physical life. Spiritual bread gives spiritual life. Jesus talked
twice more about believing in Him:

"No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:44)

I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. (John 6:47-48)

You will notice that I have combined verses 47 and 48. This is the natural flow of the original Greek. All the verse notation in our modern Bibles is NOT in the original Greek and was artificially added. If you read the Bible using verse and chapter breaks as indication of context, you can get into real trouble. Jesus clearly states that those who believe have everlasting life and that He is the "bread" that gives that life. It has nothing to do with the Eucharist and nothing to do with eating. It is an earthly example comparing physical bread for physical life with heavenly bread (Jesus Himself) for eternal life. The symbolism is quite clear. Jesus continues to pound away at the difference between physical bread and spiritual bread:

Your forefathers ate the manna [physical bread] in the desert, yet they died. (John 6:49) But here is the bread that comes down from heaven [spiritual bread - Jesus],which a man may eat and not die. (John 6:50)

If you eat the Eucharist, you will still die. It is only by belief that one will live forever.

"Bread of heaven" for the world vs. Eucharist for the believer However, if you "eat" the Bread of Life, you will live forever:

I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." (John 6:51)

(Cristoiglesia) I would remind you that the manna from heaven was real food and not symbolic. If the Israelites had not eaten the real food (manna) and ate a symbolic food as you describe as faith they would have died in the desert. The faith was fulfilled by the manna just as our faith is fulfilled by eating the truly, real and substantial Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord. The food that Jesus is speaking of is the food for eternal life. He goes on to explain this in the most literal of language for those that doubts as you do what he means.

If one understood the culture of the time they would never come to a conclusion that the teaching of our Lord was figurative. In Arab countries today “to eat the flesh and drink the blood” in a figurative sense is to inflict upon a person extreme injury by false accusation and it was the same in Jerusalem in the first century. So if indeed, according to the understanding of the time, Jesus was to say this He would be promising everlasting life to someone for hating Him and slandering Him. That would make Jesus’ teaching nonsensical as He would be saying that one who reviles Him would have eternal life.

(Frank) Jesus declares that this spiritual bread is His body, which He gives for the life of the world. This is not a vague reference to the Eucharist, but a reference to the sacrifice of His body and blood, which He gave at the cross of Calvary. The Eucharist is not given for the world, but is given to the believer. However, Jesus' body was given as a sacrifice for the sins of the entire world (John 1:29, John 3:16, 2Corinthians 5:19, 1 John 2:2, 1 John 4:14).

The Jews still did not understand that Jesus was giving them spiritual truth and they said:

Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" (John 6:52)

This is an obvious giveaway that the Jews had no spiritual discernment and weren't “getting it." The whole time, Jesus had been comparing Himself as spiritual food for eternal life and they are still thinking about their stomachs! It was like Nicodemas asking how He could be born again by entering into his mother's womb a second time. The parallel is obvious. You are born physically in the first birth. You must be born spiritually in the second birth to gain eternal life. Likewise, you eat physical bread to live physically, but you must "eat" (i.e., believe) spiritual bread (Jesus) to live eternally.

(Cristoiglesia) Wrong! Nowhere does Jesus say that we must eat spiritual bread (whatever that is). If they had any doubts about what Jesus was saying He made it clear in verses 53-58 where He emphasized the literalness of His teaching lest anyone had any doubts. He told them to gnaw on His Flesh and drink His Blood. Certainly these are NOT the words of metaphor but an emphasis on the literal teaching.

(Frank) Transubstantiation problems If we interpret the verses that you must literally eat Jesus' body and blood, we run into some obvious problems. First, the verses claim that you must eat His body and drink His blood to have eternal life. Over and over again in this chapter, Jesus made it clear that eternal life came from believing in Him. We "eat" Jesus only in a spiritual sense. Eating is not a spiritual act - only believing.

(Cristoiglesia) Yes, Jesus said we must believe in Him for eternal life but this does not exclude His commandment to eat His Body and to drink His Blood. Jesus said this bread is my flesh, which destroys your contention that Jesus was speaking metaphorically only.

(Frank) The thief on the cross did not eat Jesus' body or drink His blood, so Jesus lied when He told him that He would be with Him in heaven that very day. Of course Jesus did not lie! The man believed in Jesus and was given eternal life without eating His body and drinking His blood.

(Cristoiglesia) Jesus said to the thief that he would be in heaven. This was a promise of eternal life but Jesus did not say when he would be with Him in heaven “that very day”. That would have been impossible since Jesus had not yet resurrected. This man was saved under the Old Covenant by Jesus looking into His heart and knowing His belief. David was saved yet did not receive the blessed feast of our Lord as did the other Old Testament prophets and patriarchs.

(Frank) In John chapter 6, Jesus was illustrating spiritual truths with earthly examples. Eternal life comes from belief, not eating the Eucharist. To test whether Jesus was referring to the Eucharist, substitute the word "Eucharist" in every instance where Jesus uses the term "bread." You will soon find that this interpretation makes Jesus proclaim heretical ideas.

(Cristoiglesia) I tried it and you are wrong.

(Frank) The second problem is that if one were to interpret the entire discourse in terms of the Eucharist, Jesus would have been talking utter nonsense to the Jews. Why would Jesus be telling the unsaved Jews about the Eucharist, which was to be given to the church, but had not even been instituted yet (not until the Passover on the eve before Jesus was crucified)? He wasn't! Jesus was trying to make them understand that belief in Him (the bread from heaven) was the only way gain eternal (spiritual) life.

Third, the Bible prohibits the eating of blood:

As for the Gentile believers, we have written to them our decision that they should abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality." (Acts 21:25)

If the Eucharist really becomes the blood of Christ, then we are sinning by eating it!

(Cristoiglesia) It was hard teaching and no one who heard the teaching understood its meaning. To understand this with the privilege of knowing the future we find that this colloquy occurred a year before the sacrifice of Calvary and Jesus gave it in preparation for the disciples to understand when everything unfolded on the cross. It was not fully understood until His resurrection. Then the twelve came to understanding. They understood that His sacrifice replaced the Passover sacrifice and that just as the Israelites were required to eat the Paschal Lamb so were they to eat who they now knew was the Lamb of God prophesied. What was originally hard teaching became clear. If the Israelites of the Exodus had not eaten the Lamb then their first born sons would have died. It was the eating of the Lamb that gave them life as it is the eating of the Lamb of God that gives us life. They could not have eaten a symbolic lamb or a substitute of the lamb but the actual lamb for their first born sons to live. So too must we eat of His Body which is the Lamb of God.

In truth what confused them was that the teaching of Moses said that to drink blood of an animal separated one from the familial relationship of the Old Covenant. They did not know of the final sacrifice to come where the eating of the flesh and the drinking of the Messiah’s blood is what brings one into the familial relationship with our Lord and gives us eternal life. Unless we eat His flesh and drink His blood we have no life eternal in us. Some who heard his colloquy believed He was teaching them to leave the Old Covenant relationship with God that they enjoyed and that is why all but the twelve left Jesus and never followed Him again. In truth He was preparing them for the new relationship of the New Covenant.

(Frank) A fourth problem is that the Catholic Catechism claims that Jesus is sacrificed at every Mass,13 while the Bible claims that Jesus' one sacrifice was sufficient:

When Jesus therefore had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And He bowed His head, and gave up His spirit. (John 19:30) For the death that He died, He died to sin, once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. (Romans 6:10) For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins, and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. (Hebrews 7:26-27) But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. (Hebrews 9:11-12) Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now He has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself. (Hebrews 9:26) so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him. (Hebrews 9:28) By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (Hebrews 10:10) But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God. (Hebrews 10:12) For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. (Hebrews 10:14) For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; (1 Peter 3:18)

(Cristoiglesia) You make a gross error in thinking that the sacrifice that occurs at every Mass is a different sacrifice than the one from the cross. The truth is that it is the self same sacrifice that we celebrate through the miracle of our Lord of anamnesis. He makes the past present for us and we are present at the foot of the cross with St. John and the female disciples of our Lord. We are there with the whole Church, Militant, Suffering and Triumphant and we all along with our high priest Jesus offer to the Father this sacrifice for the redemption of mankind. This is the belief that Jesus spoke of that we must discern in our spirit as taught by the Holy Spirit that indwells in His people of the New Covenant. Jesus calls for us to believe but it is a call to the right belief and that is that the bread is His Body and the wine is His blood. St. Paul in Scriptures in His epistle to the Corinthian Church speaks of the necessity of discerning the Body or we bring condemnation on ourselves and can even die. Certainly he is not speaking of something symbolic for one cannot be guilty of injury to a person simply by attacking a picture of a person. Why would we be condemned for believing a metaphor?

(Frank) What did Jesus say He was talking about Jesus ends the discourse by telling them that He was talking about spiritual truths:

The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. (John 6:63)

Jesus establishes the metaphor He will use throughout the sermon that coming, believing, eating, drinking - all of these lead to eternal life. They are not different things but the same thing. Jesus is directing those who were seeking merely physical benefits from Him to the fact that He does not promise such things: He promises spiritual nourishment to all who come to Him as their source.

(Cristoiglesia) Now you are coming to a ridiculous conclusion. Jesus has just commanded His followers to eat His flesh and drink His blood and then states that to do so is to no avail or a waste of time. Why would Jesus command them to do something that would be pointless? He did not and you are trying to twist the interpretation away from the Catholic understanding in a most ridiculous way.

(Frank) Other physical examples to illustrate spiritual truths Bread was not the only earthly example Jesus gave to try to make people understand that they must come to Him. Jesus said that He was the light of the world:

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12)

Does this mean that Jesus was composed of fire?

(Cristoiglesia) This metaphor compares Christ’s teaching to enlightenment.

(Frank) He also said that He was the gate:

Therefore Jesus said again, "I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. (John 10:7)
I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. (John 10:9) Does this mean that He was made out of wood and that He would give them grass?

(Cristoiglesia) In this metaphor Jesus compares himself to a gate through which one must pass to eternal life.

(Frank) Jesus claimed to be the good shepherd of sheep:

"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (John 10:11)

Jesus never was a "real" shepherd, but was a carpenter by trade.

(Cristoiglesia) This metaphor says He is like a shepherd. There is no evidence that Jesus was ever a carpenter.

(Frank)Jesus claimed to be a vine:

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. (John 15:1) "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)

Does this mean that Jesus was part plant?

(Cristoiglesia) In this metaphor Jesus compares himself to a vine that connects him to life.

(Frank) Jesus also claimed to be able to give "living water:"

Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water." (John 4:10)

Does this mean that we should institute a church ordinance in which water is given to people in order to be saved?

(Cristoiglesia) This metaphor compares Jesus to life giving water.

Clearly the preceding statements are metaphor but there is no parallel between Jesus saying “this is my Body, this is my Blood” because with the metaphors it is possible that they can have a symbolic sense. His Body and His Blood have no symbolic sense because Flesh is nothing like the bread and the wine is nothing like His blood in a metaphorical sense.

(Frank)This is the most obvious example that Jesus was talking about the same thing in John 4 as John 6. In both instances, He used the term "living." Jesus is the "living bread" and the "living water." Neither example was referring to a physical reality, but to spiritual truth. Like the Jews in John 6, this Samaritan woman had no clue about what Jesus was talking about. As bread is required for physical life, so water is also required for physical life. Jesus provides the living (spiritual) water that is required for eternal life:

Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (John 4:13-14)

Jesus used many different physical, earthly examples of physical life in order to convey the reality of how to achieve spiritual (eternal) life. The bread, given in John 6, is just one of those examples of using an earthly example to convey spiritual truth. Jesus Himself defined His terms quite clearly as symbolic spiritual truth.

(Cristoiglesia) While His metaphorical teaching illustrates the spiritual aspects of His teaching He was not speaking of only the spiritual aspects of our beliefs but also instituted His great feast for eternal life. Just as His literal flesh and His literal blood is the food of eternal life so too was the literal manna eaten in the wilderness by the Israelites. As I said previously in parallel to the exodus it is necessary to eat the truly real and substantial Body, Blood Soul and Divinity of our Lord to be saved. A symbolic eating will not save anyone.

(Frank) Church Fathers regarding the church fathers, Roman Catholics have also stated that all of them believed that the Eucharist is the real Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. However, this is not true. Augustine, in commenting on this very passage said:

Let them then who eat, eat on, and them that drink, drink; let them hunger and thirst; eat Life, drink Life. That eating is to be refreshed; but you are in such wise refreshed, as that that whereby you are refreshed, does not fail. That drinking, what is it but to live? Eat Life, drink Life; you will have life, and the Life is Entire. But then this shall be, that is, the Body and Blood of Christ shall be each man's Life; if what is taken in the Sacrament visibly is in truth itself eaten spiritually, drunk spiritually. For we have heard the Lord Himself saying, It is the Spirit that gives life, but the flesh profits nothing. The words that I have spoken to you are Spirit and Life."

(Cristoiglesia) What the great doctor of the Church is saying is that we must discern the Body and Blood of our Lord with our spiritual senses as the miracle cannot be understood in the fleshly or carnal intellect unless convicted by the Holy Spirit. He is speaking of an openness of each individual to the Spirit of God.

(Frank) Augustine also indicated that the sacrament was to be commemorated, but not relived:

Augustine (Faustus 20.18, 20): "Before the coming of Christ, the flesh and blood of this sacrifice were foreshadowed in the animals slain; in the passion of Christ the types were fulfilled by the true sacrifice; after the ascension of Christ, this sacrifice is commemorated in the sacrament.

(Cristoiglesia) Commemorated does not mean that what we receive is not real nor does it mean that the Mass is not the actual one Sacrifice on Calvary represented by Christ’s miracle of anamnesis.

St. Ignatius in His letter to the Smyrnaeans in 107AD said, “They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins and which the Father, in His goodness, raised up again.”

Around the year 150 AD Justyn Martyr said, “We call this food Eucharist, and no one else is permitted to take of it, except one who has been washed in the washing which is for the remission of sins and for regeneration and is thereby living as Christ has enjoined. For not for 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 nourished is both the flesh and the blood of the incarnate Jesus.” (Apologia prima pro Christianis)

St. Irenaeus in “Against Heresies” said the following at the end of the 2nd century said of Christ: “has declared the cup, a part of creation, to be His own Blood, from which He causes our blood to flow; and the bread, a part of creation, He has established as His own Body, from which He gives increase to our own bodies.” He goes on to say, “If the Lord were from other than the Father, how could He rightly take bread, which is the same creation as our own, and confess it to be His Body and affirm that the mixture in the cup is His blood?”

St. Athanasius the Bishop of Alexandria said in 373 AD, “But after the great and wonderful prayers have been completed, then the bread is become the Body, and the wine the Blood, of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Sermo ad nuper baptizatos)

St. Ambrose makes it clear the understanding as literal in “The Sacraments” at the end of the 4th century, “You may perhaps say: My bread is ordinary. But that bread is bread before the words of the Sacraments; where the consecration has entered in, the bread becomes the flesh of Christ. And let us add this: How can that what is bread be the Body of Christ? By the consecration. The consecration takes place by certain words, but those words? By the Lord Jesus…. Therefore it is the words of Christ that confects the Sacrament. Nothing vague about that.”

There is no teaching of the early Church fathers of anyone not understanding Jesus’ words literally in John 6 and at the last supper.

(Frank) Real Presence only at communion? Roman Catholics take comfort in the idea that Jesus is with them at communion. However, before He left Earth, Jesus promised to be with us always, until He returns in glory:

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:19-20)

Jesus is with each believer at all times, not just when we take communion. I find that very reassuring and trust that it is true.

(Cristoiglesia) Nothing is as reassuring to the faithful as really and truly having His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity within us as He commanded us to do and as Christians who are in Christ have been doing for 2000 years. But you and others trust is a symbolic representation of His Body and Blood and refuse His great feast provided for all even though He told us that unless we eat His Body and drink His Blood we have no life in us. Indeed you have a false assurance. God bless!

In Christ
Fr. Joseph

02 December, 2010

False teaching and discerning the Body of our Lord

So many people do not question what is told to them by these false teachers that have no fear of God and have not even begun to have knowledge of God's desires for the faith of man. They just do not care because they are not afraid of what the consequences are for their lies. They are either Calvinists who believe that they can sin and that the sin has no effect on their souls or their eternal destination or they are atheists pretending to be men of God. Some are delusional or are consumed by pride and are desperately trying to justify their disobedience to our Lord.

Not everyone has a Berean spirit where they verify what is told to them. Most times they trust the person who tells them the lies instead of verifying them from their source which for Catholics is the Catechism. They do not realize that there is nothing in the Bible that can be contradicted by the Catechism. They must be in perfect harmony and by the guidance of the Paraclete they are perfectly aligned with each other. If it is not in the Catechism it is not taught by the Church. One would think that this fact would discourage people from bearing false witness against the Church since the lie can be revealed so easily with very little research. But, the ravening wolves that teach these things depend on the trust of the lemmings that follow them that keep them in darkness and the bondage of their misguided trust.

What happens is that it creates people that have developed a hatred for the caricature of the Catholic Church that has been created by these ravening wolves. The truth is that if the Catholic Church actually taught what they think it does there would be no Catholics. We would be the first to condemn it and depart. Even those who have been exposed to outstanding theological training at some of the best schools available can be deceived. I accepted so many things that I thought was the teaching of the Church which is not and never was.

My whole life I was a seeker of the first century faith of the disciples and the first followers of Christ who had to face so much persecution for their beliefs. I studied the New Testament for insight as to why they left the familial relationship with God under the Old Covenant for the teaching of Christ and the New Covenant and a new familial relationship with God which is a perfected one from the old in Christ. Certainly even those who had just observed the feeding of the 5000 could not continue to follow Him after His colloquy at Capernaum because they feared the loss of the familial relationship that they were promised and enjoyed as obedient Jews. It is significant that the discourse at Capernaum occurred just a year before the reality of Jesus' teaching would be realized from the cross on Golgotha. Both occurred at Passover and Jesus was slain at the same time as the lambs were being slain for Passover in the Temple fulfilling the prophecy of being the Lamb of God, the perfect sacrifice that only God could fulfill. To the disciples there was finally a full understanding of what Jesus was saying at Capernaum which was impossible to be understood with reason but only through the surrender to the Spirit through the humbling of seeing their rabbi slain. They understood the sacrifice in view of the Passover and saw the parallels.

The timing was one as I just mentioned where on the first day of Passover Jesus said that He would not drink of the cup of consummation but stopped the Passover celebration short of completion in the Upper Room after the cup of blessing and then they sang the Great Hillel and went to the Garden of Gethsemane at the base of the Mount of Olives. While in great agony, there Jesus prayed to the Father to take the cup of consummation from Him that He would receive on the cross. He prayed His prayer of surrender saying to His Father, "let them be one as you and I are one". He was arrested and the disciples except St. John and His female followers went into hiding. Only St. John of the twelve was witness to the consummation of what had begun the night before and he recorded the events in his Gospel. We know that Jesus cried "I thirst" and that a sponge was dipped into sour wine and brought to His lips with a hyssop branch. This was the cup of consummation that Jesus said He would not drink of until His kingdom come and that it would be shared with them in the kingdom He established by His sacrifice. It is significant that it was a hyssop branch which was the same that the blood of the Paschal Lamb was spread on the doorposts to protect the first born of Israel. Just as this act gave them life so too does the blood of Christ from the cross for humanity past, present and future. It is a timeless promise to humanity fulfilled by a perfect man and a perfect act of atonement. Jesus then said, It is consummated ending the Passover and beginning the redemptive work through Him. He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.

Imagine the impact when the disciples heard from St. John, the blessed mother and the other ladies present. They knew what they must do as well as what Christ had provided for them from the cross which is eternal life but for this life just like the Israelites they were required to eat the Lamb but not one of their own choosing which was a perfect male lamb but the Lamb of God. It could not be a substitute or a facsimile as that would not have saved the first born sons of Israel but the actual flesh of the Lamb as they had done. Now all of the teaching over the last year came into focus and was understood from Capernaum to the cross. Jesus Words came into real meaning and dwelled in their spirit when He said to them, he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood will abide in me and I in him. (John 6:56) He even said to gnaw on His flesh. These were not the words of metaphor but the plainest of teaching that was no longer the hard teaching of Synagogue in Capernaum but opened their eyes just clearly as St. Paul's eyes were opened after his experience on the road to Damascus. The followers of our Lord thereafter have hungered for His flesh and His Blood and realized that there is no substitute for this great feast He has provided of His truly real and substantial, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity that our Lord died to give us.

It is this reality and daily reminder through the Mass and continuing sacrifice from the rising sun to another that we join Him as we offer this sacrifice to the Father for all time. This is what gave the followers of Christ through those first three centuries of intense persecution the fortitude to endure. This is the same source of strength that gave the martyrs the the desire to be honored to be among those who were martyred before them. It is said that St. Ignatius cried out joyfully when the beasts consumed him and St. Peter begged to be crucified upside down so not to lessen the unique suffering that His Lord had endured.

Reflecting on these things makes the eisegesis that some will do of St. Paul's teaching that we MUST discern the Body and the Blood of our Lord and the condemnation he speaks of as ridiculous. He surely was not speaking of the "Body" represented by the invisible Church as reason for condemnation but by receiving the Body, the living flesh of our Lord unworthily as a non-believer in His miracle and His great feast for eternal life. One does not receive condemnation for not discerning the invisible Church which is only known to God. God would not allow us to be taught that which is impossible for us to discern but instead teaches us through the ultimate test of faith which is to accept His unambiguous teaching to eat His truly real and substantial Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity which is only discerned in the spirit of one abiding in Him and He in us. God bless!

In Christ
Fr. Joseph