Tuesday, June 13, 2006

In Honor of Corpus Christi

As you may know, this Sunday is the feast of Corpus Christi, which in English means, "Body of Christ." As the name suggests, this is the day on which we Catholics celebrate and honor in a special way the sacrament of the Eucharist, and the Real Presence of Christ - Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity - in our Catholic churches. In honor of this feast day, I'd like to expand just a little bit on what I said concerning the Eucharist in my previous post about the sacraments.

A common belief of Protestants especially is that our Lord meant us to take His words concerning eating His Flesh and drinking His Blood symbolically. But this doesn't hold up under examination. In John chapter 6, Jesus speaks in the most literal and forceful terms imaginable. He says such things as, "As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me." (John 6:57) Not once or twice does Jesus reaffirm His words, but eight times He says that He is the bread from heaven, that we must eat His flesh to gain eternal life. The Jews, understandably enough, are shocked, and most of them go away. Surely if Jesus were speaking symbolically He would have explained His words, rather than letting so many of His disciples leave Him under erroneous impressions. But He does not. He merely turns to the Apostles and says, "Will you also go away?" (John 6:67) Some Protestants point to the verse where Jesus says, "It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life." (John 6:63) They say that this verse 'proves' that Jesus was speaking symbolically. But since when did 'spirit' equal 'symbolic'? It doesn't. It refers to supernatural faith, and Jesus' words about eating His flesh are a part of supernatural faith that we must have. I would argue that perhaps what Jesus meant in this passage is that His flesh is not food for our bodies; it will not nourish our flesh. What it will nourish is our souls; it will give us spiritual life.

At the last Supper, Jesus fulfilled His promise to give us His flesh to eat. He took, blessed, and broke bread, and gave it to His Apostles, saying, "This is my body." He does NOT say, "This is a symbol of my body," or "this represents my body." No, he says that it is indeed His body. This makes sense when viewed in light of His earlier words on the subject in John 6. In 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, St. Paul tells the story of the Last Supper, using the exact words our Lord does. He immediately follows up this story with the following remarks: "Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself." (1 Corinthians 11:27-29) Paul obviously took our Lord's words at the Last Supper literally, as he goes on to say that those who don't believe them literally eat and drink judgment upon themselves. How much clearer could he have said it? The only option rationally left is to believe that our Lord meant exactly what He said: that we must eat His very flesh and drink His very blood to gain eternal life.

There is an excellent web-site with more info on this topic and on how to Biblically defend other truths of the Catholic faith. It's called Scripture Catholic, and can be accessed here. (I actually got some of the ideas in this post from their article on the Eucharist, and I'd recommend it.)


Blogger Gregaria said...

I love that there's a Feast totally devoted to the Eucharist. How wonderful!

It was good seeing you last night, Sanchez!

11:03 AM  
Blogger Sanchez said...

Nice to see you, too...both Wednesday and Thursday!

12:53 PM  
Blogger Gregaria said...

Happy Corpus Christi!

And congratulations again on your graduation!

8:34 PM  
Blogger Sanchez said...

Thank you! I have to admit it was a great evening. :)

8:47 PM  

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