The Burning Bush                  


Living Bread



"I 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: 

In 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" (6:2, 7:1).
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 66:1–20).

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" (Catechetical 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).





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