His Body & Blood


His Body & Blood

Jesus, at the Last
Supper, took bread and broke it, and gave it to his apostles and
said—“Take and eat for this is my body. Do this in remembrance of me.”
Likewise, with the wine, he gave it to his disciples and told
them—“Drink this for it is my blood. Do this in memory of me” (Matt 26:
26-28; Mk 14: 22-24; Lk 22, 19f; 1 Cor 11: 24f).

For centuries, this is just what Christians have done at Mass.
The early Fathers of the Church talk about it in their writings, just as
other New Testament writings of St. Paul speak about it. Imagine now,
that someone comes up to you on the street and tells you that no longer
is there going to be the celebration of Christmas, for we are not sure
that Christ was actually born. For centuries, this wonderful event has
been looked forward to in the month of December as a holy festival of
the Savior who came into the world over 2,000 years ago. Then, all of a
sudden, there are places on the earth that no longer celebrate
Christmas because of what one man said was not true. This is what
happened with the Eucharist in the 16th century, when Martin Luther
became confused over the true meaning of the Catholic Faith.

Changing so many things, he also altered the meaning of the Eucharistic
celebration. He taught that the Body and Blood of Jesus existed with
the bread and the wine in Holy Communion. No longer did he believe that
the bread and the wine were changed into the Body and Blood of Jesus.
His doctrine was called consubstantiation and he took away countless followers who fell for his false teachings against the
Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation—the Real Presence. The people
wanted to have their own way of doing things. They, like many today,
wanted to “pick and choose” what felt good for them. Princes fell away
from the truth. The peasants also fell away. They took
advantage of the lands and the wealth of the church just to get their
own way. Sadly today, there are many Catholics who do not believe in
the Catholic doctrine of the Holy Eucharist.

With Luther, the history of the Church was forever changed. A major
split had occurred. No longer were the Church and the state in such an
intimate relationship as before. Each German prince chose the religion of his
principality and the people had to follow. Other Protestants
also defied the Catholic Church. John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli, and
others taught that the Eucharist was just a memorial service. For the
faithful Catholic, the Holy Eucharist is not only a memorial service,
it is the real thing.

When Jesus told his disciples that “unless you
eat my flesh and drink my blood, you will not have life in you”
(Jn 6:
51f), he was not joking. He literally meant what he said. And at that
time in the New Testament, many, like today went away sad. But Jesus did
not change what he had said. Jesus asked the apostles if they too were
going to leave and Peter said—“To whom do we turn, Lord, for you have
the words of everlasting life.”
Peter knew that Jesus was “the Christ,
the Son of the Living God”. He, without a doubt was told by God the
Father that Jesus was the Messiah. 1 Corinthians 10:16 states: “The
cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood
of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the
body of Christ?”
St. Paul affirms in verse 17 that “we all partake of
the one loaf”.
St. Paul further goes on to say in verse 27 that “whoever eats the
bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for
the body and blood of the Lord”.
In verse 29, he says that “for anyone
who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks
judgment on himself”
.

What did the Fathers of the Church say about the
Holy Eucharist? St. Jerome (347-420) stated—“If Christ did not want to
dismiss the Jews without food in the desert for fear that they would
collapse on the way, it was to teach us that it is dangerous to try to
get to heaven without the Bread of Heaven”. He explained in his
Commentaries on St. Matthew 4: 26-28—“After the type had been fulfilled
by the Passover celebration and He had eaten the flesh of the lamb with
His Apostles, He takes bread which strengthens the heart of man, and
goes on to the true Sacrament of the Passover, so that just as
Melchisedech, the priest of the Most High God, in prefiguring Him, made
bread and wine an offering, He too makes Himself manifest in the
reality of His own Body and Blood.” In a letter to the Smymaeans, St.
Ignatius of Antioch in the 2nd century declared that the Eucharist is
the “flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ” and that “they who deny the gift
of God are perishing in their disputes.” St. Cyril of Alexandria in the
4th century states that ingesting the Eucharist is “ingesting the
Godhead” and divinity refers to Three Persons and One God. St. Irenaeus
in the 2nd century proclaims that the “womb of Our Immaculate Mother
Mary… provides mortal men with the Bread of angels and the food of
eternal life.”

Many other Fathers of the Church, as well as Councils and Popes, have
spoken out about the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. How wonderful
that we as Catholics are privileged to receive, at the hands of the
priest, the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ! This
doctrine of transubstantiation is not something
invented by the Church. Christ Himself gave it to us. The word
transubstantiation is the best that the Church can use to describe the
reality of what takes place when the bread and wine are changed during
the consecration of the Mass into the Body and Blood of Jesus. The
bread and wine then becomes Jesus, and the Trinity is received in Holy
Communion. The Church is true to all her teachings and the Eucharist is
fundamental. The Eucharist and the Mass are the heart of the Catholic
Faith, whereby the bread and wine may appear the same according to the
senses before consecration, but let no one tell you anything different
about so precious a sacrament and privilege that all are called to
receive.

Roman Catholic dramatist and poet Pedro Calderon de la Barca in the
17th century Spain has given us this poem about the Holy Eucharist
which beautifully describes God’s gift to us—


The Holy Eucharist Honey
in the lion’s mouth, Emblem mystical, divine, How the sweet and strong
combine;




Cloven rock for Israel’s drouth;


Treasure-house of golden
grain By our Joseph laid in store, In his brethrens’s famine sore
Freely to dispense again; Dew on Gideon’s snowy fleece;


Well, from
bitter turned to sweet, Shew-bread laid in order meet, Bread whose cost
doth ne’er increase, Though no rain in April fall;


Horeb’s manna freely
given Showered in white dew from heaven, Marvelous, angelical;
Weightiest bunch of Canaan’s vine;


Cake to strengthen and sustain
Through long days of desert pain;



Salem’s monarch’s bread and wine;


Thou the antidote shall be Of my sickness and my sin, Consolation,
medicine, Life and Sacrament to me.

 

 

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