Monday, April 13, 2009

Why do Catholics believe the Eucharist is Jesus’ actual body and blood? #2

As the #2 implies in the heading of this post, this is the second discussion of why Catholics believe in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. If you haven’t read the first post, please check it out here. It lays the foundation we’ll be working from today.

In John 6, at the time of the Passover (more on that in another post), Jesus has a chat with the “multitude” after feeding them. They want to make him their king because he worked miracles but then he starts talking about eating his body: Non-Catholics like to think Jesus was being symbolic and poetic. They say Jesus was speaking only as a metaphor and that we don’t really have to eat anything; just believe. Let’s see for ourselves.

I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will
live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the
The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying,
"How can this man give us (his) flesh to eat?" (Jn 6:51-52)

Here we have a “multitude” that is so enamored with Jesus that they want to make him be their king. Then Jesus goes and tells them they must eat his flesh. Do they say “ah, what rhetoric. Clearly this is a symbol!” No, they quarrel amongst themselves about how this can be. Do they take him literally at this point? Yes.

Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the
Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my
flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last
day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my
flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father
sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me
will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven.
Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live
forever." These things he said while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. (Jn

Does Jesus say “oh come on, I’m being figurative!” No. He says not only do you have to eat my flesh but also drink my blood! He gets more literal, not less. In all he says we must eat his body five times (verses 51, 53, 54, 56, 57).

Then many of his disciples who were listening said, "This saying is hard; who
can accept it?" … As a result of this, many (of) his disciples returned to their
former way of life and no longer accompanied him. (Jn 6:60, 66)

The crowds want nothing to do with this teaching, and nothing to do with Jesus after this. They had wanted to make him king! What happened? Did the crowds take him figuratively or literally? I’d say it’s obvious the crowd is still taking Jesus words literally as Catholics do.

Jesus then said to the Twelve, "Do you also want to leave?" Simon Peter answered
him, "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have
come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God." (Jn

In every other story when the multitude misses the point Jesus explains it to the twelve. The story of the scattered seeds for example he had to explain in detail because they “didn’t get it”. Does he explain to his closest friends that he was being symbolic? No, he simply asks if they’re going to leave, too. He’s willing to lose everyone because of this literal teaching.

Do the twelve say, as some suggest, “well we know your speaking figuratively so we’ll stay.” No, they make it clear the only reason they’re staying is that they have nowhere else to go!

In all cases the people around Jesus react as though Jesus were speaking literally about eating his body. Jesus never corrects them.

Historians believe this took place at Passover two years before the Last Supper (also at Passover). As Jesus intended, we’ll keep John 6 in mind when we talk about the Last Supper when we continue discussing the Eucharist.


Anonymous said...

It is interesting that the "crowd" you use to support eating Jesus's flesh, the crowd that supposedly had the proper understanding of what Jesus was saying, was what crowd ? What was it that they could not believe primarily ? To eat his flesh ? Or that He was the Messiah who must first suffer death ? What did Jesus mean in the end when "He knew from the beginning who they were that believed NOT"(whom the father had not drawn). Did Peter do better when just after this he said, "We believe, and are sure you are the Christ, the son of the living God" ? What did Jesus mean when He said, " The flesh profiteth nothing ". What did their flesh understand when He fed their belly (5ooo of them).That they understood (being literally fed-very carnal, no spiritual insight needed),as well as the story of Moses and the manna(again, being literally stomach fed) but Jesus being the bread of life ? If Jesus stopped there, they may have kept following, even as you imply. Were they understanding with their flesh ? Did Jesus want to be made King by this lot ? How would you seperate the good from the bad of this crowd ? How would you seperate them from their stomachs and carnal view of the Messiah ? How did Jesus do it ? Yes by saying "Eat and drink me". Was He laying down a doctrine ? To people who were carnal and fleshly ? Actually it is quite humorous or sharp, to use this idea to turn away people who did not beleive the bigger message,(hopefully we know what that is -hint,Peter did) I do not know if Jesus said anywhere else "you must eat and drink me ,except to remind the disciples of His Messiahship thru blood shedding, to have hope in the dark hour (last supper). So again, did not this crowd have a carnal approach to Jesus and His words ?.Did they have ANY spiritual discernment and did they remain ? No, and it worked, they left(seperating the believers from non believers).... The apostles did have spiritual discernment. Jesus said the spirit quickeneth, the Father reveals it to your hearts(vs-65). Did they believe in a literal eating of Jesus, like the carnal ones that left, or did they realize the biger picture of whom Jesus really is, and only the spirit could reveal the beautiful symbolism of Jesus's words. Did not Peter say your "words are eternal life" ? Did he say my literal eating of you(Jesus) is eternal life ? Belief in this man being the Son of God is the bigger, in fact the only picture Jesus is conveying. "Believe" is found 7 times in the chapter, and not believe you must eat Him but believe Him as to whom He is and what He must go thru-death. Would you crown a king who is saying I am going to die ?....Be careful to which "crowd" you want to associate with, for this crowd we have discovered was unfaithful,non believeing ,carnal,not believing in His Messiahship, as a sacrificial Lamb. They wanted the kingdom now, not waiting for His second coming as King of Kings. They were zealots, like Judas, who did not understand that Jesus must die first. Twice Judas is mentioned here, early in the gospel story, but rather fittingly...... Indeed Jesus corrected even chided this "crowd" 'This offends you,that I should die(eat and drink me)-what???? and if you see Me ascend back to heaven ??? Like ooops, there goes your King........ Is not this chapter(John 6) full of gold ? and yet seek and you shall find,according to ones heart.,but hopefully mor according to His graces

Dan 'n Tara Brooke said...

Hey, Anon,

Glad you found what you were looking for. Next time you get stuck just email your question to and we'll find the answer for you.

God bless