Friday, August 15, 2008

A Question For You!!!


"I am the living bread that has come down from Heaven. If anyone eat of this bread he shall live forever; and the bread that I will give is mu flesh for the life of the world."

"Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you... For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed... He who eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, abides in me, and I in him..."

My question is this:

Can you help me to explain the TRUE PRESENCE of Christ like you're speaking to an 8 year old? And how do you argue the point with someone who believes that Christ was speaking symbolically and not literally?


Aunt Laura said...

Great question. I am truly hoping someone will answer this one for me too.

Batjacboy said...


As always: start with the Bible, and verify with the practice of the early Church.

In the Gospel of John, right after Christ fed the 5000, the people come back to Him the next day and ask for another sign (as if feeding 5000 wasn't enough). They challenge Him by reminding Him that Moses had given them manna in the desert. Christ reminds them that it was God the Father who gave them the manna (bread), and that He, God the Son, would give them the Bread of Life. Over and over Christ says He is the Bread of Life, and that this Bread, His Body, MUST be eaten (which makes sense, since He is the new Lamb, and the Old Testament Passover Lamb had to be eaten). Over and over He speaks literally and His listeners object--because they TOOK Him literally. They wouldn't have objected to a symbol.

And then they LEFT Him. It is the ONLY time in Scripture that His followers left Him over a doctrine. Would they have left Him over a symbol?? Of course not. And when they objected,and started to leave, Christ didn't soften what He said, didn't backtrack, and didn't say "Wait! Don't go!! I was just speaking figuratively!" No--He repeated it, over and over--You MUST eat His flesh, AND, what's more, in the ancient language of Aramaic, He switched verbs, and used the word for "CHEW". Nothing figurative there.

Now, we know from the story that the people (except the Apostles) left Him. Why didn't, say, half of them take Him figuratively, instead of all taking Him literally? Because, in the ancient culture, "Eat my flesh" already HAD a figurative meaning. It meant, "To calumniate" (slander). And we know this because it's used that way in the book of Psalms. So could Christ have been saying, "Unless you slander Me, you can't have eternal life"? Of course not--it wouldn't make any sense.

St. Paul said in First Corinthians: "whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord." In those days to "be guilty of the body and blood" of someone meant to be guilty of a crime equivalent to murder--which wouldn't be possible if the Eucharist is only symbolic.

Now, some may argue, "But John 6:63 says, "It is the spirit that gives life, THE flesh is of no avail" and this means Christ was speaking figuratively!" Nope--doesn't work. First, NOWHERE in the Bible is the word SPIRIT used to mean "figurative". Second, Christ repeatedly said "You must eat MY flesh." When He says THE flesh is of no avail, He's referring to OURS, not HIS. Meaning, our physical senses can't explain this doctrine--it's the spirit of faith that makes us accept this literal teaching.

Another argument: "But elsewhere Christ said, "I am the gate" or "I am the vine" or "My meat is to do the will of the Father". He wasn't speaking literally there!"
Yes, and NOBODY THOUGHT HE WAS, except for the last one, and Christ immediately corrected them, being the Good Teacher that He was. And He would have done the same in John Chapter 6--IF He had been speaking figuratively. But if the people at the time recognized that His being a gate (we go to heaven through Him) or a vine (we are all connected to Him) made sense metaphorically, they were equally qualified to take Him LITERALLY in John Chapter 6--which they did. It makes no sense to say WE know more about the figures of speech back then than THEY did.

What did the Early Church believe? Well, St. John's most famous disciple, St. Ignatius of Antioch, who worked with John and was taught by John, said that those who "abstain from the Eucharist because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ"--he said those people were heretics! St. Justin Martyr, 50 years later wrote, "the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by Him . . . is both the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus."

Interestingly, the first formal challenge in the Christian world to the LITERAL belief that the Eucharist is the actual Body of Christ was put forth by Berangarius of Tours.

In the 11th century!! 1000 years after Christ.

So there you have it: Christ spoke LITERALLY, the listeners took Him LITERALLY (and they should know), Christ didn't change the teaching but repeated it (over and over and over to drive it home) and the Early Church believed it.

And so should we.

Aunt Laura said...

Thank you!!!

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