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FOR REAL? Christ’s Presence in the Eucharist

The Church’s understanding about the Eucharist has changed little in more than 2,000 years. There has not been a single alteration in this teaching since Jesus himself shared it with his disciples.

The Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith because Jesus Christ is the source. He is the Eucharist. We can be no nearer to God now than when we receive his completeness, his Body, Blood, soul, and divinity—in the Eucharist. God knew this, and therefore he gave us this unimaginable gift.

To give you specifics on the consistency of eucharistic teaching, I will employ the analogy of a successful four-leg relay race. The first leg begins with the teachings of Jesus on the Eucharist. Jesus then hands off the relay “baton” (teachings on the Eucharist) to the leg-two “racers,” the apostles. The apostles then hand the baton that started with Jesus to those in authority who immediately followed them: the Church Fathers. Finally, the Church Fathers pass the baton to the ones who follow after them, including the Church of today.

Leg One: The Teachings of Jesus

• John 6: The Bread of Life Discourse

• More than 5,000 in attendance

• Jesus says “unless you eat my flesh” four times. When referring to himself, for the word eat, he uses trogon, which means “to gnaw or chew.”

• Many disciples left Jesus due to this teaching. Notice Jesus did not stop them to explain he was speaking symbolically because he wasn’t.

Leg Two: The Teachings of the Apostles

• The New Testament contains more than 125 verses linked to the Eucharist.

• Saint Paul writes about eating the bread and drinking the cup in 1 Corinthians.

• First Corinthians was written only eleven years after Jesus left earth.

Leg Three: The Early Church Fathers

• Hundreds of quotations and writings from the Church Fathers support the consistent belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

• Saint Ignatius, a disciple of John the Apostle, writes in the year 107, shortly after the death of John, that he wants God’s bread, which is the flesh of Christ, and Christ’s blood for drink.

Leg Four: The Church Today

Over the last century, a multitude of writings and formal teachings have been added to the public record to illustrate the Catholic Church’s belief that, in the Eucharist: “the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained. This presence is called ‘real’” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1374).

Adapted from For Real? Christ’s Presence in the Eucharist by Deacon Dennis Lambert, copyright © 2022 (Liguori Publications, 828539).
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Published inReflections