am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any
one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the
bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my
flesh" (John 6:51).
This one sentence rocked the
followers of Jesus! This is the only time the bible
records that some of His disciples left as His
followers. His audience clearly understood that He was
telling them they would have to eat His flesh for they
then asked "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"
Jesus was not speaking symbolically here He was asking
His followers to take Him at His word for right after
this question He restates His teaching again by saying;
"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of
the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in
you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has
eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.
For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink
indeed" (John 6:53-55).
Some non-Catholics will try to claim that Jesus was only
talking symbolically, but it is clear what He is saying
here, at other times Jesus tells His followers when He
is talking symbolically such as in John 4:31-34 when His
disciples brought Him food and said "Rabbi, eat. But he
said to them, "I have food to eat of which you do not
know." So the disciples said to one another, "Has any
one brought him food?" Jesus said to them, "My food is
to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his
work." Now if Jesus was only speaking symbolically when
He talks about the need to actually eat His flesh and
drink His blood why after He saw His followers leaving
did He not say "Come back to Me you misunderstand what I
am teaching"? It has been the constant unwavering teaching
of the church from
the time of the Apostles that when we join together at
Mass that we are really and truly receiving the Body and
Blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
If non-Catholics continue to claim the
Catholic Church today is reading the bible incorrectly
when the take Jesus literally when he talks about eating
His body and blood what about the early Church's belief.
Here are some examples of writings about the Eucharist:
A.D.110 Ignatius, who was a disciple of the Apostle
John, wrote a letter to the Smyrnaeans telling those who
did not hold to the beliefs of the church to “they
abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they
do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our
Savior Jesus Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins
and which the Father, in his goodness, raised up again"
Also Justin Martyr, in A.D.150 wrote, "Not as common
bread or common drink do we receive these; but since
Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the word
of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation,
so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been
made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set
down by him, and by the change of which our blood and
flesh is nourished, . . . is both the flesh and the
blood of that incarnated Jesus" (First Apology
Both Cyril of
Jerusalem (mid 300s) and Theodore of Mopsuestia (5th
century) seemed at times to be speaking directly to
today's non-catholic Christians.
Cyril said "Do not, therefore, regard the bread and wine
as simply that, for they are, according to the Master’s
declaration, the body and blood of Christ. Even though
the senses suggest to you the other, let faith make you
firm. Do not judge in this matter by taste, but be fully
assured by faith, not doubting that you have been deemed
worthy of the body and blood of Christ"
Discourses: Mystagogic 4:22:9).
And then Theodore "When [Christ] gave the bread he did
not say, ‘This is the symbol of my body,’ but,
‘This is my body.’ In the same way, when he gave
the cup of his blood he did not say, ‘This is the
symbol of my blood,’ but, ‘This is my blood,’
for he wanted us to look upon the [Eucharistic
elements], after their reception of grace and the coming
of the Holy Spirit, not according to their nature, but
to receive them as they are, the body and blood of our
Lord" (Catechetical Homilies 5:1).