The Happy Priest: To Whom Shall We Go? Believing in the Holy Eucharist
As a priest, I would be willing to shed my blood for my parishioners. Would you be willing to shed your blood to protect the Eucharist and your priest?
Chapter six is divided into three parts: the miracle of the loaves and fishes (verses 1-15); the walking on the water (verses 16-21); the discourse in the synagogue at Capernaum (verses 22-71). The two miracles that precede Jesus' discourse are essential to a correct understanding of the discourse on the Eucharist.
The two miracles illustrate that Jesus is truly God. Because of his divine nature, he can multiply the loaves and the fishes and he can walk on water. These two miracles testify to the fact that as God, he can do as he pleases with physical reality.
The point made here is very clear. If Jesus can intervene within these physical realities, he can also change bread and wine into his own body and blood.
Those who heard Jesus' discourse on the Eucharist understood exactly what he was saying. For this reason they rejected his teaching. "As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him" (John 6: 66).
When the priest repeats the words that Jesus spoke at the Last Supper, the bread is no longer bread, and the wine is no longer wine. Instead, the entire substance of the bread and the entire substance of the wine have been changed into the substance of The Body and Blood of Christ.
Transubstantiation occurs only by the power of God, and in a way that we cannot empirically detect. We know that transubstantiation takes place through the certainty of faith.
Jesus, the Son of God; Jesus the Messiah; Jesus the Lord and Savior of the universe said: "This is my body"; "This is my blood". Faith is a vision superior to reason, but it does not contradict reason, precisely because faith relies upon the authority of God who does not deceive, nor can be deceived. Jesus is the truth and He cannot lie. "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life" (John 14: 6).
When it comes to the Eucharist, the bottom line is this: either Jesus Christ is true God and true Man, the Incarnate Word of God, or he is a complete and total lunatic. Either the Catholic Church possesses the greatest gift known to humanity, or we are idol worshipers.
"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" (John 6: 52-55).
There is no doubt that Jesus was not speaking symbolically. "I am the living bread which has come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I shall give is my flesh for the life of the world" (John 6: 51).
Personally, I have never doubted. However, I think that aside from the volumes of beautiful theology and spirituality that have been written about the Eucharist, and even aside from the countless number of our brothers and sisters, who throughout the centuries, have shed their blood to defend the Eucharist, my favorite proof of the Eucharist is contained in this Sunday's Gospel reading.
Had Jesus been telling his disciples that the Eucharist was merely a symbol of his presence among us, he would have begun calling after them, asking that they return even as they were departing from his company. He would have attempted to explain his words to them and to assure them that they must have misunderstood him.
Instead, what did he do? He stood firm and watched them leave.
Then with majesty and self-dominion he turned to his Apostles and asked an amazing question: "Will you also go away?" (John 6: 67).
Without hesitation, Peter, the first Pope of the Catholic Church, pronounced some of the most powerful words of the Bible: "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" (John 6: 68-69).
The real difficulty of Catholicism is two-fold.
Catholicism demands an act of total surrender to Jesus, the Lord and Savior of the universe, with a complete acceptance of him as the final authority; and Catholicism also demands a moral standard of the highest level.
The difficulty for the first disciples and for many of his disciples today, is to ...
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