Saturday, June 25, 2011

Four reasons why the Bread of Life Discourse cannot be a metaphor

Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, John 6:51-58
I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world. […] Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life. […] Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.
Most, though not all, Protestants wiggle and fidget as they come to the Bread of Life Discourse in the sixth chapter of the Gospel according to St. John; and they have good reason to be disturbed! Our Savior speaks quite plainly of the Eucharist when he states, For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed (John 6:56).
The common solution for many modern Protestants (following the path set out by Zwingli) is to call upon the words which follow toward the end of the discourse: It is the spirit that quickeneth: the flesh profiteth nothing. The words that I have spoken to you, are spirit and life (John 6:64). Appealing to these words, which reference the spirit as opposed to the flesh, these Protestants will claim that the Bread of Life Discourse is an extended metaphor.
There are four reasons why our Savior’s words in John 6:26-72 cannot be understood as an analogy or a metaphor. Among these, the second is perhaps rather unknown. [all four reasons come from Ludwig Ott’s Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma]

1) From the nature of the words used
One specially notes the realistic expressions “true” and “real” referring to the “food” and “drink” which is our Savior’s body and blood. Likewise, we note the concrete expressions employed to denote the reception of this Sacrament: the Greek word commonly translated as “to eat” is more literally “to gnaw upon” or “to chew”.
The bread that I will give, is my flesh, for the life of the world. […] For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed (John 6:52,56).
2) From the biblical usage of the figure “to eat one’s flesh”
In the language of the Bible, to eat another’s flesh or to drink his blood in the metaphorical sense is to persecute him, to bring him to ruin and to destroy him. Thus, if Christ tells the Jews that we all must eat his flesh and drink his blood, and if he means this metaphorically, we would be led to conclude (following the witness of Sacred Scripture) that our Savior intends us to reject him.
Consider how the metaphor of eating flesh and drinking blood functions in the Scriptures:
Whilst the wicked draw near against me, to eat my flesh. My enemies that trouble me, have themselves been weakened, and have fallen. (Psalm 26:2)
By the wrath of the Lord of hosts the land is troubled, and the people shall be as fuel for the fire: no man shall spare his brother. And he shall turn to the right hand, and shall be hungry: and shall eat on the left hand, and shall not be filled: every one shall eat the flesh of his own arm: Manasses Ephraim, and Ephraim Manasses, and they together shall be against Juda. (Isaiah 9:19-20)
And I will feed thy enemies with their own flesh: and they shall be made drunk with their own blood, as with new wine. (Isaiah 49:26)
You that hate good, and love evil: that violently pluck off their skins from them, and their flesh from their bones? Who have eaten the flesh of my people, and have flayed their skin from off them: and have broken, and chopped their bones as for the kettle, and as flesh in the midst of the pot. (Micah 3:2-3)
Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl in your miseries, which shall come upon you. […] Your gold and silver is cankered: and the rust of them shall be for a testimony against you, and shall eat your flesh like fire. (James 5:1,3)
And the ten horns which thou sawest in the beast: these shall hate the harlot, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and shall burn her with fire. (Revelation 17:16)
3) From the reactions of the listeners
The listeners understand Jesus to be speaking in literal truth – How can this man give us his flesh to eat? (John 6:53) – and Jesus does not correct them, as he had done previously in the case of misunderstandings (cf. John 3,3; 4:32; Matthew 16:6). In this case, on the contrary, he confirms their literal acceptance of his words at the rist that his disciples and his apostles might desert him. Indeed, our Savior is willing to test his apostles on this point: Then Jesus said to the twelve: Will you also go away? (John 6:68)
4) From the interpretation of the Fathers and the Magisterium
Finally, we can recognize that this text is not to be understood as a metaphor from the interpretation of the Fathers, who ordinarily take the last section of the Bread of Life Discourse as referring to the Eucharist (e.g. St. John Chrysostom, St. Cyril of Alexander, St. Augustine, et al.). Moreover, the interpretation of the Council of Trent confirms this.
The words that I have spoken to you, are spirit and life
In John 6:64, Jesus does not reject the literal interpretation, but only the grossly sensual interpretation. Our Savior insists that the Eucharist is spirit and life insofar as it gives life. For the body we receive in the Eucharist is not dead flesh, but profits us unto eternal life.
So St. Augustine says, “This Flesh alone profiteth not, but let the Spirit be joined to the Flesh, and It profiteth greatly. For if the Flesh profiteth nothing, the Word would not have become Flesh.” The same (lib. 10, de. Civit. Dei) says, “The Flesh of itself cleanseth not, but through the Word by which it hath been assumed.” And S. Cyril, “If the Flesh be understood alone, it is by no means able to quicken, forasmuch as it needs a Quickener, but because it is conjoined with the life-giving Word, the whole is made life-giving. For the Word of God being joined to the corruptible nature does not lose Its virtue, but the Flesh itself is lifted up to the power of the higher nature. Therefore, although the nature of flesh as flesh cannot quicken; still it doth this because it hath received the whole operation of the Word.”
Hence, we do well to pray: May the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ guard my soul unto everlasting life. Amen.


kkollwitz said...

Of course "my flesh" is not the same as "the flesh."

BTW, the "indeed, truly" in Greek is ἀληθῶς, alithos, the same word used in the Orthodox Easter greeting:

Christos anesti/ Christ is risen!
Alithos anesti/ Truly is risen!

If your faith can finesee this:

"For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed"

into symbolism or metaphor, it can finesse any Scripture into whatever you want it to be.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this, very handy.

Tito Edwards said...

Excellent insight!

What has also struck me in the Sixth Chapter of Saint John is how the words "Truly, Truly" (RSV CE) are repeated. Further enhancing this is that it is rarely (if at all) said (Truly, truly) in the Bible.

Emphasizing how important this particular teaching is.

Thus exemplifying the importance of what Jesus is saying.

Anonymous said...

There is the fifth one:

Luke 22:19-20 Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me." And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you.

If his the bread is only metaphorically His Body and the blood is only symbolically His Blood then he only metaphorically gave His Body, and only symbolically shed His Blood for us.


Unknown said...

Thanks for this article. I am not Christian period, but since I have seen the Eucharist, I sense the Real Presence, and I associate this with when God sensed me when I was lost in my life prior to turning to Him. At that moment, nature never seemed more beautiful and real, and my senses were heightened as if sensing nature for the first time. I did not realize of course God was 'talking' to me. I have searched for that same presence ever since and I found it in the Eucharist.

Lagniappe said...

I am still amazed at how some parts of the Bible are "literal" and some are allegorical/metaphor, etc., whenever it is convenient for a theology to sustain itself. RCC books and official statements are quick to dismiss some characters in the Bible as "types" or that they convey a "situation" for us to understand, ah, but here it is literal. Literal--hmmm, but you modify the real substance of wafers and wine with words so the faithful believe it is the body and blood of Christ. How powerful for it is now necessary to take communion or the conduit of grace will be shut off.
Short version: John 6 is all about believing. When RCC presses the literalness of the Eucharist by these verses, it leaves a void in the context and other verses as apropos.
For example, John 4:11-13 speaks of "living water." Is that literal? We shall pass on Nicodemus because RCC has already figured that one out [not]. But John 6:47- "believing" parallels verse 51 "eating." Consider verse 51 where our Lord states "And the bread that I give for the life of the world [see vs 37 and 44 for understanding of "kosmos"] is my flesh." (ESV). This is all about His propitiation at Calvary. Look at all the Jewish history mentioned (Moses and manna twice mentioned). Personally, I think He is dumbing it down and yet they cannot perceive nor understand that which is spiritual (see 6:64).
Name droppers were a "no-no" when I studied graduate historiography!! But who has the fortitude to contest the words of revered ancients? This comment is only to be taken as an example of making a text(s) fit the current sacrament or whatever. I respect your position but not the Biblical nor ancients justification for an act [mass] which is not needed -- please read Hebrews 10:8-19 (but give pause and reflection at verse 12). I guess "...when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins,..." that it is not literal. Peace

Justin Geldart said...

Very good blog...thanks for sharing. If you're interested, I posted a blog touching the same topic, but from a slightly different perspective:

God bless you all on this Feast of Corpus Christi.

drewskibrewski said...

Thanks for writing on this. Let me first apologize for this longer-than-intended post. As a Protestant who's been thinking on the Catholic Church for a long time, the Eucharist is of obvious weight in the matter, and I've read and re-read John's Gospel and various explanations of the situation in chapter 6. Form St. Paul's writings and the testimony of the Fathers, it seems that Christ's words here should be taken as the Catholic Church teaches (though we think Paul wrote before John, right?), but I find myself uncomfortable with the assertion that John 6 is clearly literal given the other unclear statements Jesus makes elsewhere and a few things He says in the Bread of Life discourse, itself.

First, within the chapter, the dialog in v. 25-34 shows that, in order to labor for the "food that endures to eternal life", the Jews must believe in Jesus. They demand a sign, and Jesus refers to Himself as the bread that gives life. At this point, the Jews are enthusiastic.

Jesus adds that those that come to Him will not hunger, and those that believe in Him won't thirst (v. 35), but He is speaking in spiritual terms here, since even those eating the Eucharist physically hunger and thirst. And Jesus' comparison of coming and believing with hungering and thirsting further reinforces what He said earlier about believing being required to labor for the bread from heaven. He then chastises the Jews for not believing in Him (v. 36) and declares that the Father gives people to the Son and the Son does not cast them out. These are more spiritual terms, I think, and they continue through the end of v. 40 with Jesus promising eternal life for those who look to Him and believe in Him.

In v. 41-42, the Jews do not grumble about Jesus' claim to be the bread of life but rather that He said He came down from heaven, noting His human mother and alleged human father, effectively denying His divinity and giving a first glimpse at what I think is the main problem for the Jews. More spiritual language follows, and in v. 50 Jesus says that one may eat of the bread that comes down from heaven and not die, in contrast to the Jews who ate the manna in the wilderness and died. The manna was literal food, and the Israelites literally died, and Jesus contrasts their literal death with the bread-eater's spiritual not-death, so it makes sense that He would, likewise, be contrasting their literal bread with His spiritual bread, or belief, as He has been expounding upon.

Now, Jesus offers that this bread, given for the life of the world is His flesh (v. 58), and so begins the difficult part of the dialog. Jesus is certainly pouring on the "eat my flesh" language, but if that is to be taken literally, then why is the warning of v. 53 not to be taken literally, as well? Certainly, it is written in the Catechism that non-Catholic Christians can be saved, so Jesus' warning is not considered serious, here. Likewise, v. 54's promise of eternal life and resurrection for eating His flesh and drinking His blood is not held with a literal understanding of eating and drinking, since Christians of all sorts do not agree that simply taking Communion amounts to salvation, as Judas eats the Lord’s Supper with Jesus (Luke 22:21), and many non-Christians eat the Lord’s Supper every week. Verses 56-57 continue with promises of life for the one who eats and drinks Jesus’ flesh, and for these to be true promises, a literal understanding of the act of eating and drinking the elements of Communion must be avoided since the act of eating and drinking apart from faith is not sacramental (CCC 1123). Jesus must be speaking about more than physically eating and drinking for these promises and warnings to be taken seriously in light of the rest of Christian theology.


drewskibrewski said...

The Jews are now grumbling about a “hard saying” that may be the explicit command of eating flesh and drinking blood, or it could be about the outrageous claims of Jesus about His authority to give eternal life, both heavily emphasized in the preceding verses. What Jesus says next suggests their grumbles are for the latter, when He increases His offense of the Jews, as He often does. In order to do this, He emphasizes not the eating of flesh but His authority as divine by claiming that by ascending, He would be returning to where He was before. Jesus was driving the grumbling of the Jews by claiming to be God (v. 60-62), addressing a deeper resentment for His claims of giving life than for His suggestions of eating flesh and drinking blood. I won’t make the typical objection about “spirit and life” here. Jesus then condemns the disbelief of many of their hearers, and finishes saying that the Father must grant it to any that would come to Jesus (v. 65).

The Jews, of course, leave, and Judas decides to betray Jesus, but these fateful decisions are made after Jesus makes claims He considers to be more extreme than those of eating flesh and drinking blood, and it seems that this is what the Jews were reacting to. Had the flesh and blood speech been enough to drive them away, they would have left after verse 59, since there is no more mention of it afterwards, so it seems that their major trouble was with what He claimed about His unique authority to give life, His eternal place in heaven as God, and the cause of their unbelief (“This is why I told you…” v. 65) being the Father’s not granting that they come to the Son.

The author is good to point out a time when Jesus corrects an over-literal misunderstanding in John 4:32 and Matthew 16:6, but in two earlier instances in John, Jesus is misunderstood as speaking literally, and He does not clarify the misunderstanding. The author references the Nicodemus passage where the Pharisee thinks someone needs to be literally born again from their mother (John 3:4), but I do not think that Jesus explicitly clarifies that He is talking about Baptism rather than a return to a mother’s womb, though a Catholic reading of the passage referring to Baptism is probably more coherent (though Baptismal Regeneration regarding John 3:8 is tough for me). It is worth noting that Jesus uses “Truly, truly” in this dialog, as well. And when Nicodemus claims he cannot understand Jesus in v. 9, Jesus does not offer the sort of clarification the author expects He would when misunderstood, if indeed He was, by the Jews in chapter 6. The Samaritan woman at the well in John 4 is another clear example of someone taking Jesus literally (cf. 4:15), but again, Jesus does not correct the woman about her misunderstanding but simply proceeds to continue teaching her about Himself as Lord and Savior, as He does with Nicodemus in chapter 3 and, I am suggesting, with the Jews in chapter 6. The difference is that Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman were granted by the Father to come the Son while the Jews were not and left Him because of it (6:64-6:66).

Additionally, when you read what Jesus said were His reasons for speaking in parables to the crowds, we see that He intends to be misunderstood by some and understood by others (Matt. 13:10-17), perhaps for the same reason He said some of His audience in the Bread of Life discourse were not drawn by the Father.

Finally, it is commonly known that John does not include a reference to the institution of the Eucharist in his Gospel, but the case that is commonly made that he did not feel the need to after the writings and teachings of the other apostles had disseminated is valid, in my opinion.


drewskibrewski said...

Thank you for your attention. These thoughts have been years in the making, and, if the truth be told, I would rather that my exegesis of John 6 swing more favorably in the Roman direction. Indeed, much more makes sense within the Catholic Church, but I do not think John 6 is a knock-down case of the Protestant position. I am aware that I am making the typical Protestant mistake of standing on my exegesis of a particular passage of Scripture over and against centuries of Catholic Church teaching and fairly consistent teaching of the Fathers (there’s a good Called to Communion article on this) and even some Protestant brothers and sisters, but the Scriptures bind my conscience, still, and I read them as I do as the words of eternal life (John 6:68).

Peace and hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

RJ said...

I would like to see more in depth commentaries like this on The true Meaning of The Eucharist since you can look on You Tube and see Lutherans scoffing at Catholic's Beliefs as does Pastor Lassman on his You Tube Channel. I hope you folks join me there in defending The Catholic Church's Teaching as It is greatly maligned and laughed at (Transubstantiation). Just go to You Tube and look up Pastor Lassman and you will see many subjects which one is called "The Lord's Supper". I feel quite often alone defending The Faith there. Thanks!

Charles said...

Colossians 1:15
15He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.
17He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

According to this scriptures,it is quite clear that there's nothing absolutely nothing which contain life,without Jesus' spirit in it.

Therefore,His words: For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed,

I believe that He meant it literally,so when we eat our food and drink our drinks, and do it in His name and in His memory we definitely purify our blood, as long as we are living in His word according to His gospel


drewskibrewski said...

And I have a couple of additional thoughts after a night’s sleep and some rain. I’m not usually a commenter, but it seems that I’m a comment-box hog, nonetheless. I first want to commend the tremendous Eucharist piety of my dear Catholic friends. That the doctrines concerning the Eucharist are not winked and shrugged at by these brilliant, faithful people is a powerful testimony to the truth of what they believe. As the center of their faith, the Eucharist is also an actual, present source of grace for them in times of struggle, requiring only that they come into the Presence with faith to be nourished.

And I want to clarify a few statements I made earlier, as well. With regards to John omitting a Lord’s Supper account, I happily note that it would be a fool’s errand to suggest that this passage is not intended to evoke the imagery of that night for John’s readers. Also, I need to correct a verse reference above from v. 58 to v. 51, and note, too, that, in Greek, what Jesus is giving up for the life of the world is bread, not His flesh, according to word gender, giving further credence to the bread-as-sacrifice reading.

But the spiritual connection sticks. “Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever,” is a statement (v. 58) about spiritual life, and the bread is again contrasted with the physical bread and physical death of the Israelites in the preceding verse.

It should be pointed out that the Passover Lamb was eaten to save the Israelites before their Exodus – that both the sacrifice of the Lamb and the eating of its cooked (read crucified) flesh were both commanded by the LORD, though the blood of the Lamb was not drunk. Perhaps this foreshadows the whole Christ under the element of the bread, but that the drinking of wine is not required (nor was popular at a point in time) at the Eucharist weakens the words of Jesus, if taken literally, since drinking His blood is not considered as necessary as He said it was.

With regards to the portion of my argument on v. 53-58, what I was trying to say is that, to people that believe that Jesus is talking about actually eating and drinking of flesh and blood at the Eucharist, only half-sentences can be believed. The propositional portions of Jesus’ sentences are taken at face value, but the concluding points, where He speaks of His authority to give life, must be qualified to allow that partakers of the Eucharist may not have eternal life, and those that do not take the Eucharist may have it. Rather, if we take eating and drinking as coming and believing (v. 29, 35, 40, 47), we can rejoice in the glorious promises of Jesus, that He gives life to those who come and believe, and that He will not lose any that the Father gives to Him (v. 39). Belief plays strongly in the other passages of over-literal misinterpretation, as well (cf. John 3:15, 16, 18; 4:21, 39-41).

Last, it should be noted that in Jesus’ clarifications of over-literal misunderstandings (John 4:32; Matt. 16:6), Jesus is clarifying His teaching to His disciples in contrast to a large audience whom He was addressing with the difficult literal imagery. This corroborates His words in Matt. 13 I referenced earlier. He offers no explicit correction for the as yet non-disciples (John 3 – Nicodemus, John 4 – Samaritan woman), but, like John 6, teaches about belief in Himself after the misunderstanding, which is accepted in chapters 3 and 4 but rejected in chapter 6. That Jesus made no qualifying remarks to the Twelve in John 6 suggests they understood Him well enough (again, what they understood is the topic of discussion) but remained faithful, while the crowds perhaps took His words over-literally and left because of His hard teachings on eating and drinking Him or on His divinity. That 6:60 distinguishes disciples from Jews is, of course, a point of discord in my arguments.

Thank you for reading this charitably and patiently. I would appreciate any thoughts you have, and enjoy the Feast of Corpus Christi.

Peace and hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Charles said...

Apart from John 6:51:58,which is the most powerful regarding Jesus flesh must be eaten.I reflected quite a bit,and asked myself,why Jesus insisted that both food and drink in our life is to be taken in his name and in his memory,and also not bread only, but He made it clear that His flesh is meat.and His blood is drink, not wine!So I believe that all food and all drink contain Jesus spirit,since created all in Him, all for Him, and all with Him,So Jesus spirit is definitely within the entire of all creation.So His presence is everywhere!


It could be interpreted that when a person is eating,he will not be just eating food,but also the spirit of God through Jesus,since He was sacrificed spiritually to create the world.


Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Dear Lagniappe.

If Catholics are untrustworthy, maybe the observation of Luther will do. From "Luther''s Works":

...of all the early fathers, as many as you can name, not one has ever spoken about the sacraments as these fanatics do. None of them uses such an expressions as "It is simply bread and wine," or "Christ's body and blood are not present." Yet this subject is so frequently discussed by them, it is impossible that they should not at some time have let slip such an expression as "It is simply bread" or "Not that the body of Christ is physically present" or the like; since they are greatly concerned not to mislead the people; actually, they simply proceed to speak as if no one doubted that Christ's body and blood are present. Certainly among so many fathers and so many writings a negative arguement should have turned up at least once, as it happens in other articles; but actually they all stand uniformly and consistently on the affirmative side."

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Dear Drewskibrewski. Amongst the criteria for the inclusion of any book in the Sacred Canon is that it had to have been regularly read at Mass.

Because it is we Catholics who wrote every single word of the New Testament, its is the plain and simple truth that it is exclusively a possession of The Catholic Church. It is we who wrote it; it is we who have protected it; and it is we who explain its meaning.

Of course you are free to have your own opinions about thus and such a passage but if your opinion differs from what The Catholic Church teaches, then your opinion is not only contrary to the teaching of The Catholic Church (He who hears you, hears me, as Jesus taught), it is contrary to the teaching of Jesus Himself.

It is always the case that one must be humble enough to be taught by the Catholic Church Jesus established and upon which He sent The Holy Ghost to teach it all truth.

Apart from His Church, we are doomed to fall into errors in exegesis no matter how intelligent we may be.

Worse, apart from the Church we frequently fall into the error of eisegesis - reading into the text our own ideas or ideology

RJ said...

@Anonymous Very good point!!! Gotta use that one cuz you can't get away from that line of Christ and chop it in half...LOL...EXCELLENT!!

Anonymous said...

John is very explicit later in his Gospel when Jesus is merely speaking symbolically:

John 10:1-4

"Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber.

But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.

The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.

When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice.

But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers."

Although Jesus used this figure of speech, they did not realize what he was trying to tell them."

Anonymous said...

As I've said on other posts on this topic, it is written: "Not one of His bones shall be broken." Now if the eucharist is the literal body, blood, soul, and divinity, then His bones are broken every time your teeth crush the host. The Lord's Supper MUST be symbolic. Plus, He also stated that He was the door, vine, etc. I'm not suppose to take that literally, am I?

pmack said...

Actually, Lagniappe, there are four interpretative modes (senses) to scripture: literal, spiritual, allegorical, and moral. Regardless, the Church does not say "oh, well this is our made up teaching and so we'll have to interpret the scripture this way". The scriptures were birthed and canonized from the Church's living tradition. Much of it from the result of their liturgy i.e. "lex orandi, lex credendi". This is the same argument for drewskibrewski's comments. Of course his argument is not nearly as black and white as yours. The real issue is your difficulty to believe how Jesus' words that the Holy Spirit would lead the Church, his followers, in all truth (John 16:13) would possibly come to fruition. I myself found this verse to be unattainable while I was a protestant. I now thank God for Him bringing me back to the Church that can claim succession from the apostles who were given that promise.
grace and peace

Anonymous said...

"The manna was literal food, and the Israelites literally died, and Jesus contrasts their literal death with the bread-eater's spiritual not-death, so it makes sense that He would, likewise, be contrasting their literal bread with His spiritual bread, or belief, as He has been expounding upon."
Literal is incorrect. The manna was actual food AND it was SUPERNATURAL FOOD.
Are you equating belief with the Spiritual Bread? Christ is the The Spiritual Bread. Belief is OBEDIENCE. OBEDIENCE is Belief. We "eat" the Spiritual Bread by physically actually eating Christ Himself because He said it was Himself and He commanded us to do it. We must BELIEVE it really and substantially IS Christ that out of OBEDIENCE we are eating It is that simple. The Eucharist JUST LIKE THE MANNA is actual food AND supernatural food. BUT IT IS MORE than the manna because it sustains our eternal life (Spirit) not just our physical life.

Michelle said...

"The manna was literal food, and the Israelites literally died, and Jesus contrasts their literal death with the bread-eater's spiritual not-death, so it makes sense that He would, likewise, be contrasting their literal bread with His spiritual bread, or belief, as He has been expounding upon."
Literal is not the correct description of the manna. The manna was actual food AND it was supernatural food. The Eucharist is actual food and supernatural food just like the manna, BUT IT IS MORE because it sustains our eternal life (Spirit) not just our physical or temporal life.
Are you equating The Spiritual Bread with belief? The Spiritual Bread is Christ. First, belief is obedience, obedience is belief. In order to properly consume the Spiritual Bread, we BELIEVE it is really and substantially Christ that in OBEDIENCE we actually eat. He said it was so and commanded us to do it. It is that simple. This is a matter of "the obedience of faith" as Paul taught: 1 Corinthians 10:16 NRSA "The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ ?"

Anonymous said...

Name droppers were a "no-no" when I studied graduate historiography!!

That all depends upon the purpose for dropping the name, wouldn't you agree? If you are trying to show the beliefs of early Christians wrt the nature of the eucharist, it would seem silly to ignore what early Christians thought. If you are trying to show how the understanding developed among Christians through different ages, again, silly not to actually look at what Christians said over the ages.

If you are just trying to give your own opinion on what you think a particular passage means, then, yes, you are correct. No "name dropping" would be necessary.

Michelle said...

"Plus, He also stated that He was the door, vine, etc. I'm not suppose to take that literally, am I?" Jesus is THE REAL TRUTH that doors and and vines in the material world ARE LIKE. He is not like them, they are like Him. Similiarly, we are MADE in His image, He is THE reality, creation is the reflection. Once you can reach for and grasp this, you will be on The Way. Christ in the Eucharist is the glorified Christ, therefore he cannot be broken or feel pain. This a mystery but still THE TRUTH. The Eucharist makes present SACRAMENTALLY Christ's one true sacrifce. It is a sacrifice because Jesus said "Blood shed for the forgiveness of sins" NOT just His blood but His blood shed for a PURPOSE. That is a sacrifice. Flesh in John 6 means more than just the physical body. It is the whole person, their whole life(see OT) and the blood here means more than just blood, it suggests death. Why? Because of the two forms: the blood is seperate from the body, even though they both contain the whole Christ.

RJ said...

@Anonymous @Michelle You both are good. Plain and simple.. !!

Michelle said...

There is only ONE Word of God that we must eat for our salvation. It is no mistake that John starts his gospel explaining this to us. Read John 1, then in see John 6, you have God's ONE Word commanding us to eat Him. Your scripture proves the point.

Anonymous said...

First, The Scripture didn't fell from the sky.
The Catholic Church does not interpret Eucharist from the Scripture.
The Eucharist was before the New Testament. We simply refer to the Scripture as a 'sword' to cut through the hearts of unbelievers.
Check the Church Fathers - you should easily find them. St Augustine, St Cyril of Alexandria, St Ignatius of Antioch, etc. You can ask them why they did not get it right...

Second. When we die - all of us, Christians, Muslim, Atheists, you name it, we all learn the Truth. We all meet Jesus Christ. And that is what Jesus Christ is telling us that He is the door, the gate, etc... No one will come to the Father except through Him, for He is the Truth. The Truth is not an idea. It is a person.

Third. He IS the living water. The water (and blood) that gushed from His side created the Church. The same way as Adam's side was opened and a women has been created from his rib, a woman - Church has been created from the side of Jesus (that is why the priest cannot have a human wife, and has to be a male - he gets married to the Church.) That Church gives us the Word of God that proceeds out of the mouth of God (spiritual food) and Body and Blood of Christ (physical food.)

Now, Jesus was telling through parables to create a razor sharp division between those who did not understand but wanted to know, and those who did not care to know or thought they will figure things out on their own. When, after the Bread of Life Discourse, many of His disciples returned to their former way of life (worshiping the way they felt comfortable with,) and no longer accompanied Him (John 6:66) Jesus turned back to the Twelve and instead of telling "wow, I blew it this time big time," He asked - "Do you also want to leave?" As a Teacher He was obligated to stop those leaving him, and explain them that they did not understand Him(, as it is shown in other places in the Scripture.) The Twelve wanted to be with Jesus, did not understand Him, but did not want to guess on their own. Simon Peter answered him, "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." (John 6:68)

So my question is - do you want to guess what Jesus really meant or you are going to ask the Catholic Church who wrote the Scripture to use it as a 'sword'? It is your choice. You can follow Him or you can go back to your former way of life. But before you leave, please ask yourself "to whom shall you go?"

Now, I don't want anyone to go and take the Eucharist because you think all these explanations in this blog sounds 'logical.' If you do that then you will become idolaters worshiping a wafer. We are nobody worth believing. You need to ask the Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, to let you know if this is true or not. And wait for the answer. Only when you _know_ it is Jesus you can become Catholics. There is no other way.


PS. People standing at the foot of the Cross saw just a man there. The eyes of all of us here saw God. Many are seeing a 'wafer' and a 'grape juice'. But every cell of my body _knows_ this is Him. I would not die for a 'wafer'. I would die refusing to tell that this is not His Body and His Blood. For I don't believe in it any more. I know it. AMEN.

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

The plain and simple truth is that were any protestant to become an expert in New Testament Biblical Exegesis he would cease to be a protestant because to be an expert in New Testament Exegesis would mean that he would become a happy convert to Catholicism and cease to be in opposition to the very Church which wrote the New Testament

I know this must read like a bold and boastful claim but, think about it, how could one become a New Testament Biblical Expert and yet remain outside the Catholic Church which alone ('cept for the Orthodox Church) offers the Holy Sacrifice of The New Covenant and Confects the Sacred Banquet of the New Covenant?

Now, that does not mean that all Catholics are experts in the New Testament, for that surely is not the case, but it is ineluctable that one can not be considered a New Testament expert if one chooses to remain outside of the Catholic Church Jesus established.

He may be highly intelligent; he may be well-educated;he may be well read; but if he remains outside the Catholic Church, by that refusal to join the Catholic Church Jesus established, he is exhibiting severe weaknesses and major faults in his exegetical interpretations of Holy Scripture.

I have no doubt that those who oppose the Teaching of Holy Mother Church on The Eucharist are acting out of an honest and sincere motive but they can not possibly think they will convince us that Holy Mother Church, and all of the Saints, and all of the Doctors of the Church, and all of the Popes of the Church, and all of The Early Church Fathers and over 2000+ years of Ecclesiastical Orthopraxis are wrong about the Eucharist and The sixth Chapter of John.

Michelle said...

"So Jesus spirit is definitely within the entire of all creation.So His presence is everywhere!"

Yes. But only in the Eucharist is Jesus BODILY present.

God bless!

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

TO ALL: This weekend I will try to get caught up on comments from the week.
[I have been away from a computer for the last several days]

Thank you for your patience!

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

Regrading the possibility of metaphor:

What strikes me as most interesting is that those arguing in favor of a metaphorical interpretation have completely ignored the second point of the article -- the metaphor "to eat flesh" means to destroy, tear down, reject, and hate.
If Jesus means it as a metaphor, we would be forced to think that he wants us to reject him and hate him ...

The so-called "Bible-based" protestants have missed this point: The biblical metaphor simply cannot apply to John 6.

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

@Anonymous 4:22pm,
I find it quite ironic that you take the prophecy regrading Christ's bones to be certain and true and absolutely literal, but then you take Christ's own words (including the words "flesh indeed" and "drink indeed" and the words, "This is my body" and "This is my blood") to be mere metaphor!

In any case, the Church has always believed that the Eucharistic presence is sacramental -- thus the bones of Christ are not broken when we consume the Host. The presence is sacramental, as opposed to the natural presence which he had during his life on earth.

You are attacking a straw man ... and even then attack poorly!

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

@Michelle and I am not Spartacus (et al.),
Thank you for your comments and your defense of the truth, especially while I was away and unable to respond to comments.
Peace to you!

Michelle said...


Anonymous said...

Please, allow me reiterating one fundamental fact. The Eucharist was *before* the Bible. The Catholic Church *did not* find the Eucharist in the Bible through incorrect understanding, and has no need in defending proper interpretation.
The *reality* of Eucharist was described in the Bible. If you say that it wasn't explained clearly enough then you say that "this is my Body" is not clear enough. It is not clear enough for you search the Scriptures in seeking eternal life. It is Jesus who is Life. Please read carefuly John 5:39 - "You search the scriptures, because you think you have eternal life through them; even they testify on my behalf."
The Scripture testifies to the Truth. It is your choice where you want to find the Truth - in the Scripture or in Jesus. If you seek Jesus then, please, come Home, for He is here for two thousand of years waiting for your, and humiliating Himself to come to the bread and wine on a call of any priest - even the worst ones. How great His love is for us!


Brian Culliton said...

Jesus said, “Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, you have no life in you.” Since the Catholic Church teaches that this is to be interpreted literally, then Catholics ought to believe that salvation cannot exist for anyone that does not receive communion in a Catholic or Orthodox mass. But that is not what the Catholic Church teaches about salvation. So how can you interpret this literally? If you compare this to Catholic doctrine there can only be two possibilities: either Jesus wasn’t telling the truth, or He was speaking metaphorically.

The “obvious” answer is that He was speaking metaphorically, because, indecently, the bread of life discourse does not begin at verse 51, it begins at verse 25. And if you read the entire discourse you will find that He clearly stated His message without the metaphor no less than seven times.

“This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” (v29)

“I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst.” (v35)

“All that the Father gives me will come to me; and him who comes to me I will not cast out.” (v37)

“And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up at the last day.” (v39)

“For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” (v40)

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.” (v44)

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.” (v47)

After all that, the Jews and unbelieving disciples didn’t get it because they couldn’t get it. That is when Jesus purposely offended them by using the metaphor of eating His flesh and drinking His blood. He knew they didn’t believe in Him, and He knew they would be offended and leave, which is what He wanted them to do.

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

You have failed to address the central claim of my article:
The Biblical metaphor of "eating flesh" means to reject, destroy, undermine, or kill.
It is never used, metaphorically, to mean "believe in me" ... but always has a negative connotation.

Hence, either you think that Jesus is telling us to destroy/hate/reject him, or you think that Jesus did not know the Bible well and was misusing this common metaphor.

The Catholic faith, on the other hand, recognizes that it is not a metaphor ... indeed, unless a man has at least the implicit desire to receive the Eucharist (implicit, i.e. he may not even recognize this desire or be able to express it in words), that man cannot be saved.
This is the belief at least of the Catholic Church -- and I am quite certain that the Orthodox hold it as well.

[remember, our Savior even challenged his Apostles with this message; so he wasn't simply trying to scandalize the Jewish authorities (as you would have it)]

Brian Culliton said...

Why did you avoid the context?? Verses 25-58? I know of no Protestants that “wiggle and fidget as they come to the bread of life discourse.” Of course, Protestants understand where the discourse begins.

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

Twice now you have refused to respond to the points of my article.
If you want to discuss vv 25-58, start your own blog and write a post [and, if your thoughts are of any worth, perhaps a Catholic will come and debate with you there].

In the meantime, please do not comment unless you plan on first answering the 4 points I made in the original article ... esp. the second point about the Biblical METAPHOR of "eating another's flesh" meaning to reject, hate, destroy another.

It is this type of refusal to discuss the particular points of the debate which I call "wiggling and fidgeting".

Michelle said...

Actually the context begins a little further back, John 3:31-36 which is titled in my bible "He who comes from Heaven." Compare 3:34 with 6:68-69 which are "bookends". I suggest you meditate especially on John 3:36. "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests on him." This little paragraph is the key.
Father, your Son is above all. Amen.
God is True
Peace in Christ

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

Very good! And, just to make it clear (and please do correct me if I am misunderstanding your point) -- John 3:36 tells us that we must obey and believe in the Son of God when he tells us "This is my Body", "This is the cup of my Blood".
Peace and blessings to you! +

Michelle said...

Yes, that's it exactly.

Anonymous said...

Dear Brian:

I understand your questioning and I was wondering about it too. Adam and Eve was also questioning it after satan told them "You certainly will not die!" There is life and there is life. When you eat His Body and drink His Cup you *do* have Life within you for Jesus is Life!
That rquires *faith* though. We are not 'saved' by receiving Body and Blood of Christ when we do not believe in His presence in the Sacrament. It requires *faith* which is needed for justification. The same as with the confession - we are not forgiven because we confess (for God knows very well what we have done without us telling Him about it.) We are forgiven when we confess and repent for repentance proves our *faith*!


Anonymous said...

While waiting for today's morning mass I have realized that I haven't really responded to your question.
Let me first say: We are not being blessed by God because we are good. We are good because God is blessing us.
We cannot save ourselves. Membership does not save us. Even knowledge does not save us (satan knows Jesus, and knows scripture which he proved it.)
So why are we receiving Body and Blood of Christ?
Not to save ourselves. We are doing it out of Love for Him.
Why are we doing it then?
To be transformed through all Sacraments to die to ourselves so Christ can live in us.
Why? Because we don't know how to love others. But Christ knows.
So we, out of Love for Him, die to ourselves, and receive His Body and Blood, so He could live in us, and Love others through us.
That is the reason for confession as well. We are going there not to feel good about ourselves. We go for help - to restore broken relationship with God, and to know how we are obstructing Jesus in His Love.
The best example is to see all the missions, hospitals and schools - lives of Saints. The fruit is not ours. The fruit is God's who worked through those who decided really be His hands.
I was writing about justification before. You cannot, as a Protestant, go and receive His Body and Blood without having faith in it. If you do you will be idolater. Also Catholics who do not believe in the presence of Christ in the Eucharist are idolaters and they are not justified.
How can you test (not to ask you to do any tests) if someone is really having faith in His Presence?
Contest his/her belief in an outright and uncomfortable way.
If he/she backs off, the works (or rather lack of thereof) through not defending his/her faith will show that his/her faith is dead.


Unknown said...

If Protestants are so sure that Jesus was talking symbolically, why don't they cite anybody prior to the Reformation that taught what Protestants believe about the Eucharist?

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