Sunday, June 14, 2009

Jesus inside

Corpus Christi Sunday
June 14, 2009

"Take it; this is my body."
(Mk 14:12-16, 22-26)

The apostle John recounts in chapter 6 that Jesus said: "My flesh is really food and my blood is drink.", whereupon many of Jesus' followers said: "This language is very hard! Who can accept it?". Only in that narrative of John do we see an account of some followers of Jesus abandoning Him for theological reasons. If this abandonment was based on a simple misunderstanding, Jesus would certainly have assured them that He was speaking metaphorically. But Jesus did no such thing. On the contrary, He reiterates his hard teaching no less than four times ! (Jn 6:54-58)

Even today, the Catholic doctrine of the Eucharist is much misunderstood by non-Catholics (and many Catholics as well). Jesus' physical and substantial presence in the Eucharist does not negate other types of spiritual presence. Rather, as Pope Paul VI reiterates in Mysterium Fidei, it is "real" in the fullest possible sense of the word. The writings of the early Fathers was further cited by Pope Paul VI in that document, all of whom assert the real presence in no uncertain terms. St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St. John Chrysostom, Cyril, the Bishop of Alexandria, St. Ambrose... In fact the early church apologist St Justin Martyr (a permanent fixture in this site's sidebar) wrote: "......And this food is called among us Eukaristia...for not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation...". That was written in the year 150 AD.

Finally, the Council of Trent in its Decree Concerning the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist (of 1551), defined the following tenets - which we see has always been the prevailing beliefs throughout Church history - as absolutely binding on all Catholics:

First of all, the holy council teaches and openly and plainly professes that after the consecration of bread and wine, our Lord Jesus Christ, true God and true man, is truly, really and substantially contained in the august sacrament of the Holy Eucharist under the appearance of those sensible things...For thus all our forefathers, as many as were in the true Church of Christ and who treated of this most holy sacrament, have most openly professed that our Redeemer instituted this wonderful sacrament at the last supper, when, after blessing the bread and wine, He testified in clear and definite words that He gives them His own body and His own blood...But since Christ our Redeemer declared that to be truly His own body which He offered under the form of bread, it has, therefore, always been a firm belief in the Church of God, and this holy council now declares it anew, that by the consecration of the bread and wine a change is brought about of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord, and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of His blood. This change the holy Catholic Church properly and appropriately calls transubstantiation...There is, therefore, no room for doubt that all the faithful of Christ may, in accordance with a custom always received in the Catholic Church, give to this most holy sacrament in veneration the worship of [latria], which is due to the true God. Neither is it to be less adored for the reason that it was instituted by Christ the Lord in order to be received. For we believe that in it the same God is present of whom the eternal Father, when introducing Him into the world, says: And let all the angels of God adore him; whom the Magi, falling down, adored; who, finally, as the Scriptures testify, was adored by the Apostles in Galilee.

From The Inside Out - by Hillsong united

...Everlasting, Your light will shine when all else fades,

Never ending, Your glory goes beyond all fame,
In my heart, in my soul, Lord I give you control,
Consume me from the inside out Lord,
Let justice and praise become my embrace,
To love You from the inside out...


aeisiel said...

An important part of the Jewish understanding of Passover during the time of Jesus is that the Passover is a covenant formed by a sacred flesh-and-blood bond between Yahweh and Israel, making them one family. Jesus deliberately used the strongest language to convey the connection between His sacrifice as the Passover Lamb and the Eucharist (Jn 6:53-56). Jesus’ followers knew what He was getting at. They knew that killing the lamb was only one aspect of the sacrifice and in order for a covenant to be established they have to eat the lamb (Ex 12:8). That’s why they said "...who can accept it?"

Sadly, nowadays it’s the other way around, many Catholics just line-in at Mass and accept the Holy Eucharist but very few really appreciate the significance of the receiving aspect in terms with our relation to our Lord as partakers of the Divine.

WillyJ said...

Why yes, that certainly reinforces why they turned back! In the book "A Biblical Defense of Catholicism" - you are of course familiar with that book - (thanks!) :-),
it says in Chapter IV that the Greek word used was trogo, which literally means "gnaws" or "chews". Jesus put them in a spot (this is nothing unusual) which demanded decisive, self-denying allegiance. Sadly, it was lacking. I picture them squirming eeew! even as they turned away.

On that part about receiving the Eucharist, sadly I also observe that the reverence is now lacking. More effort must be put into proper cathechesis.

aeisiel said...

Hi Willy, I’m glad you liked the book… I agree that a lot of Catholics are just going with the motions and show lack of or little interest in their faith. It also saddens me deeply at Mass when I see people sitting during the institution narrative and consecration of the bread and wine when everyone is required to kneel (if for some good reason one cannot kneel at least he or she should remain standing and should bow when the priest genuflects after the consecration). This is where I truly admire Chinese Catholics in Hong Kong and Macau, everybody kneel even the oldies when required and during communion they bow, some even genuflect in front of the host before receiving. They know how to act and pay homage as faithful and royal subjects in the real presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of Kings.

John-D Borra said...

Willy, while I normally strive for a certain erudition in my comments, or to at least offer some insight into what is being discussed, allow me to simply say: I love this song!

Thanks for sharing the clip!