The National Catholic Reporter asked both a knowledge question, and a belief question in their 2011 survey about the Eucharist. They found that half of adult Catholics (50 percent) know the church’s teaching regarding the real presence and half do not. We also found that close to two-thirds of adult Catholics (63 percent) believe that “at the consecration during a Catholic Mass, the bread and wine really become the body and blood of Jesus Christ.” Therefore, more adult Catholics believe the statement than understand its source. But how are these two items related?
Jesus sacrificed himself for each and everyone of us. And through the sacrifice of the Mass, he gives his his glorified body as food for our spiritual journey in this life.
In the three synoptic Gospels, it tells that Jesus took bread, blessed it and said, “Take it, this is my body.” Then he took the cup of wine and said, “This is my blood of the new covenant.”
In the gospel of John he says, “unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.” Do we as Catholics truly believe his words? Do we truly believe that bread and wine, once consecrated, become the real body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ? Either the Holy Eucharist is really Jesus or its not. There is no in-between. Either Jesus is in the tabernacle of every Catholic Church or he’s not. If he is truly present in the Holy Eucharist, then we are receiving food for eternal life. But if it isn’t Jesus, then we are worshiping and receiving just a plain piece of bread and a cup of wine.
You see, the Holy Eucharist is not only a sacrament, but it is also a sacrifice. Now for you and I, everyday of our life we need food in order to live, in order to sustain our physical life. We eat things like wheat, fish, vegetables, meat and so on. Now before we are able to receive these foods for nourishment, they must be submitted to some kind of sacrifice. Before they can be a sacrament of your physical life, they must die. They must be sacrificed. Death must take place before you can live. Before you have a sacrament, you must have a sacrifice. Before we can eat a hamburger, an animal had to be sacrificed. Before we can eat the bread of a hamburger, wheat had to die. So it is with our spiritual lives. Before you have communion, we must have the sacrifice or the consecration on the altar. The Eucharist is the bread of life for our spiritual lives.
The Holy Eucharist which Catholics share is truly our God in the person of Christ Jesus, who bled and died for us. Not because we are special, nor because we are worthy, but because He loved us. That is what unites us with not only God, but with one another.
So today, l invite you to hear those words of the Eucharist in a special way. “He took bread, said the blessing, broke it, gave it to them, and said, ‘This it; this is my body.’ Then he took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them and they all drank from it. He said to them, ‘ this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many (Mark 14: 22-24).”
For 3 other articles on the Eucharist I have posted:
Until next time, God bless.