The Bread of Life, Part 3
This week I resume my reflections of the Bread of
Life discourse, describing how we come to believe in the
real presence of Christ in the Eucharist..
Today, many non-Catholic Christian denominations
diverge from Catholic teaching on the real presence
of Christ in the Eucharist, namely that after the rite of
consecration, the bread and wine change into the Body
and Blood of Christ so that Christ is present--soul and
divinity--as he once was present on the shores of the
Sea of Galilee. According to the doctrine of
transubstantiation, the bread and wine change in
substance to the Body and Blood of Christ.
The late Billy Graham, Joel Osteen, Anthony Campolo,
T. D. Jakes, Rick Warren, Jeremiah Wright and other
prominent Protestant ministers and theologians attest
that Catholics have it wrong when it comes to the real
presence of Christ in the Eucharist. But prominent early
Christian preachers such as St. Paul or St. John the
Evangelist, St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Irenaeus,
Justin Martyr, and Bishop Polycarp, among others,
have a very different point of view. Let me tell you
why I believe these Church fathers.
All Christians believe that while Jewish people trace
their ancestry to Abraham and believe the blood of
Abraham flows in their body through this ancestry.
Christians believe their faith began in Jesus. We believe
we all have the body and blood of Jesus in us. How?
Through the Last Supper—the Eucharist! The Body and
Blood of Jesus lives in His people and He is present in
the world through us. This does not happen through
ancestral lines like the Jews, but through consuming the
elements of the Eucharist.
Some people, such as Emperor Nero, believed that
the Church fathers preached cannibalism. For several
hundred years, through careful thinking and reflection,
the Church fathers refuted this, using what they knew
including platonic philosophy to explain the reality of
the Eucharist as found in the words of Jesus. St. Ignatius
of Antioch wrote several letters claiming that those
who abstain from and do not confess the Eucharist are
in opposition to the work of God. He expressed his
desire for the flesh and blood of Jesus which is the seed
of David. Justin Martyr declared that those who
received the food of the Eucharist were receiving both
the flesh and the blood of the incarnated Jesus.
Irenaeus, a disciple of Bishop Polycarp wrote how Jesus,
who had declared the bread and the wine as part of
creation, established it as his Body and Blood. Early
Christians believed in the real presence of the Eucharist
and remain our bridge to the Last Supper when Jesus
pronounced the words we read in St. John’s Gospel this
week. This is what I believe, what devout Catholics
Next week, I will draw indications of the real presence
in the Eucharist through the ritual of the mass.
On another note, I welcome all school-age children
back from the summer months of relaxation, travel,
and other enjoyments to the 2018-19 academic year.
Yes, summer vacation is over! Can you believe it? Is it
because the early summer was so wet and cold that it
is so hard to believe? Still, August is a time to turn the
focus to school. As with every year, some students are
embarking on that all-important first step to the next
level of their education. This can bring anxiety and tears
or anticipation and excitement. Regardless of how your
child(ren) approach the school experience, we wish them
an exciting and successful academic year. We still have
room at St. Catherine Labouré School if you are looking
for a great school with high spiritual and moral values,
strong academics and a family-like environment. For
those who have not registered for Sunday Religious
Education (English), we are still taking registrations.
Those classes start on September 9.
May God bless you and your family.
With you a Christian, for you a priest