Pages

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A review of John 6 and the Eucharist for Candy.

In light of Candy's look at John 6 today, Kelly and I thought it was important to bring this article forward from last fall.  

John 6:51-55

A There is good news here. I don't have to have a "take" on it, I just need to read the Bible, and see what it says about said passage. Roman Catholics take these verses and try to use them to prove that their IHS cracker in each mass is Jesus Christ Himself. However, that is NOT at all what said passage says. RCs are stopping at verse 55 or earlier, and are therefore interpreting the scripture incorrectly. Lets follow the biblical principle of scripture interpreting scripture, shall we? Is it okay to drink blood? NO:

Well let's look at the entire passage then.


Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.
48
I am the bread of life.
49
Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died;
50
this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die.
51
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."
52
The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us (his) flesh to eat?"
53
Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.
54
Whoever eats 19 my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.
55
For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.
Remember this is where Candy says we Catholics stop and therefore misinterpret the passage.
56
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.
57
Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.
58
This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever."
59
These things he said while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
60
20 Then many of his disciples who were listening said, "This saying is hard; who can accept it?"
61
Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, "Does this shock you?
62
What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 21
63
It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh 22 is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.
64
But there are some of you who do not believe." Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him.
65
And he said, "For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father."
66
As a result of this, many (of) his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.

I find this quite stunning. The disciples reject Christ's teaching of the Eucharist at John 6:66. 666!

"
67
Jesus then said to the Twelve, "Do you also want to leave?"
68
Simon Peter answered him, "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.
69
We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God."
70



Now back to Candy Brauer's comments.

"Whatsoever soul it be that eateth any manner of blood, even that soul shall be cut off from his people." -Leviticus 7:27

"That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood." -Acts 15:29a

It is clear that it is a both Old and New Testament command that we are not to drink or eat blood. God is consistent, and He does not contradict Himself.

Since the Bible is the Word of God, it cannot contradict itself, thus, Jesus can't literally mean that we are going to eat his flesh and drink his blood, and he didn't mean that. He explains to the disciples that what he said was not literal. Read further in the same chapter:



If Candy has such a love for the Old Testament, she might learn something THE EUCHARIST’S LONG SHADOW ACROSS THE BIBLE (This Rock: January 1999)"from this article.


In the sacrifice of Isaac and the offering of Melchizedek there is a Eucharistic imprint that deserves serious consideration and prayerful meditation. In fact, the Eucharist is present in the three distinct stages of salvation history: In the Old Testament it is present as a type; with the arrival of the Messiah it is present as the event; and in the age of the Church it is present as a sacrament. The purpose of the figure or type was to prepare for the event, and the purpose of the sacrament is to continue the event by actualizing it in Jesus’ mystical body, the Church.

From the marital-covenantal theme that the Holy Spirit inaugurates in Genesis and develops in the succeeding books of the Bible until its culmination in the marriage feast of the Lamb (Rev. 21), the Eucharist is seen as the sublime consummation of Christ’s marital oneness with his bride. This union is anticipated in the covenants God established with the human race through Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Esra, and Nehemiah, all of which find their fulfillment in the marital covenant that Christ established with his church: "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood" (Lk. 22:20).

In a profound sense, as Raniero Cantalamessa points out in his book The Eucharist, Our Sanctification, the "entire Old Testament was a preparation for the Lord’s Supper" (p. 6). In Matthew’s Gospel Jesus proclaims the parable of the "king who gave a marriage feast for his son and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the marriage feast" (Mt. 22:2–3). In this light, those servants can be seen as the Old Testament prophets.

The first of these was Melchizedek. St. Paul declares that Jesus is "a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek" (Heb. 6:20) who, in offering bread and wine, is clearly a type of Christ (Heb. 7:1 ff; Ps. 110:4; Gen. 14:18). John’s Gospel (6:31) makes the connection between the Eucharist and the manna Yahweh sent to feed the Israelites in the desert (Ex. 16:4 ff), but it is Jesus who shows that the manna is a mere foreshadowing of the "true bread from heaven" (Jn. 6:32–33).

The greatest Old Testament figure of the Eucharist is the Passover (Ex. 12:23). That night when God smote all the first-born of the Egyptians, he spared the first-born of Israel. Why? "The blood shall be a sign for you upon the houses where you are; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague shall fall upon you to destroy you (Ex. 12:13). But was it the blood of the Passover lamb alone, into which a hyssop was dipped to sprinkle blood on their doorposts, that saved the Israelites? No. This was a type: What God foreshadowed by it was the blood of the Lamb of God—the Eucharist.


Catholics understand that we are not eating Christ's earthly mortal body the same as when he lived on earth 2000 years ago. We instead are partaking of his mystical body that, the resurrected body.


The word "mystery" is commonly used to refer to something that escapes the full comprehension of the human mind. In the Bible, however, the word has a deeper and more specific meaning, for it refers to aspects of God's plan of salvation for humanity, which has already begun but will be completed only with the end of time. The Eucharist is a mystery because it participates in the mystery of Jesus Christ and God's plan to save humanity through Christ. We should not be surprised if there are aspects of the Eucharist that are not easy to understand, for God's plan for the world has repeatedly surpassed human expectations and human understanding. For example, even the disciples did not at first understand that it was necessary for the Messiah to be put to death and then to rise from the dead. Furthermore, any time that we are speaking of God we need to keep in mind that our human concepts never entirely grasp God. We must not try to limit God to our understanding, but allow our understanding to be stretched beyond its normal limitations by God's revelation.

By his real presence in the Eucharist Christ fulfills his promise to be with us "always, until the end of the age" (Mt. 28:20). St. Thomas Aquinas wrote, "It is the law of friendship that friends should live together...Christ has not left us without his bodily presence in this our pilgrimage, but he joins us to himself in this sacrament in the reality of his body and blood". With this gift of Christ's presence in our midst, the church is truly blessed. As Jesus told his disciples, referring to his presence among them, "Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it" (Mt. 13:17). In the Eucharist the church both receives the gift of Jesus Christ and gives grateful thanks to God for such a blessing. This thanksgiving is the only proper response, for through this gift of himself in the celebration of the Eucharist under the appearances of bread and wine Christ gives us the gift of eternal life.


We refer to this as the true presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, in the host.

Back to Candy Brauer:


"When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? (The disciples made the same mistake Roman Catholics do. They thought Jesus literally meant that he should be cannibalized and vamparized)


Catholics don't make that mistake at all. We understand that we are partaking of Jesus Christ's true presence in the Eucharist in a divine in a holy mystical way. We understand that we are not cannibals or vampires.

But Candy is missing the point. What the disciples did not understand was that Jesus was speaking of his mystical body/true presence in the Eucharist, but he was very clear that it was himself that would be consumed and because the disciples did not understand it, they left.

And Jesus did not change his story
.


Here is what This Rock Magazine had to say on this part of the chapter:
This Is a Hard Teaching (This Rock: September 1999): "Eucharist: Forceful Repetitions To many non-Catholics, the Eucharist is a thing to do occasionally as a remembrance of the Last Supper, but it is not the body and blood of Christ. They argue that passages such as John 6 are to be read symbolically.

So when Christ said, 'Eat my flesh,' he did not really mean, 'Eat my flesh' but 'Believe in me.' In defending the Eucharist to a Protestant, we can ask the same question we used in defending Christianity to a non-Christian: What did the people who saw and spoke with Jesus think he was saying? Did they think he was using symbolic language?
If they misunderstood him, why didn't he correct them? Christ repeats himself to three different groups to emphasize his point. He does not withdraw it. When Jesus first made his claim, his hearers began to argue with one another. 'How can this man give us his flesh to eat?' They thought he was saying to literally eat his flesh and drink his blood. And so they rejected this teaching and left. Did Christ change his teaching? Did he tell his hearers, 'No, no, you've misunderstood, here is what I really meant'? He did not. Many of the disciples who followed Christ-like many people of today-had this to say about the Eucharist: 'This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?' When they left Christ, did he try to correct their thinking? It is unlikely that he would have allowed them to remain in error. Unlike the Jewish leaders he would later stand before, these were his followers, the ones favorably disposed to him. But even to them he repeated rather than retracted this hard teaching (John 6:60-66).

Next, he challenged the Twelve Apostles on the issue: "Do you also wish to go away?" He did not correct the "misconception" of his audience or the Twelve. Why? Because their understanding was true. They had not heard him wrong. There was no misconception. Just like he didn't correct the members of the Sanhedrain when confronted over his Messiah-ship, he did not correct even the thinking of those who loved him most because there was nothing to correct. There was no misunderstanding; the teaching was true and to be accepted. The disciples responded, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the holy one of God" (John 6:67-69). They were saying in essence, "Yes, this is a hard teaching, but we will take it on faith, for you are the Christ."


When we look at how his audience, disciples, and the Twelve interpreted the teaching of Christ, we soon discover that there was no other option left open to them other than the literal teaching of eating his flesh and drinking his blood. The merely symbolic reading wasn't left open to them, and it isn't left open to us.





And why did they leave?



Christ in the Eucharist: "He continues: 'As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me' (John 6:57). The Greek word used for 'eats' (trogon) is very blunt and has the sense of 'chewing' or 'gnawing.' This is not the language of metaphor.

Mrs. Brauer:

What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: (Here Jesus is giving us a distinction between spirit and flesh) the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit Jesus just said here that we are not to literally eat his flesh and blood, but spiritually), and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not." -John 6:61-64a


Candy makes the classic Fundamentalist error:

For Fundamentalist writers, the scriptural argument is capped by an appeal to John 6:63: "It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life." They say this means that eating real flesh is a waste. But does this make sense?

Are we to understand that Christ had just commanded his disciples to eat his flesh, then said their doing so would be pointless? Is that what "the flesh is of no avail" means? "Eat my flesh, but you’ll find it’s a waste of time"—is that what he was saying? Hardly.

The fact is that Christ’s flesh avails much! If it were of no avail, then the Son of God incarnated for no reason, he died for no reason, and he rose from the dead for no reason. Christ’s flesh profits us more than anyone else’s in the world. If it profits us nothing, so that the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Christ are of no avail, then "your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished" (1 Cor. 15:17b–18).

In John 6:63 "flesh profits nothing" refers to mankind’s inclination to think using only what their natural human reason would tell them rather than what God would tell them. Thus in John 8:15–16 Jesus tells his opponents: "You judge according to the flesh, I judge no one. Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is true, for it is not I alone that judge, but I and he who sent me." So natural human judgment, unaided by God’s grace, is unreliable; but God’s judgment is always true.

And were the disciples to understand the line "The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life" as nothing but a circumlocution (and a very clumsy one at that) for "symbolic"? No one can come up with such interpretations unless he first holds to the Fundamentalist position and thinks it necessary to find a rationale, no matter how forced, for evading the Catholic interpretation. In John 6:63 "flesh" does not refer to Christ’s own flesh—the context makes this clear—but to mankind’s inclination to think on a natural, human level. "The words I have spoken to you are spirit" does not mean "What I have just said is symbolic." The word "spirit" is never used that way in the Bible. The line means that what Christ has said will be understood only through faith; only by the power of the Spirit and the drawing of the Father (cf. John 6:37, 44–45, 65).


Read ALL of chapter 6, and you'll see that there is no way that Jesus is saying that we are to literally eat and drink Him.

Yes, do read all of Chapter 6 and I think it's clear that Candy Brauer's take on the Eucharist is severely flawed. She may live to regret all the disrespectful times she referred to our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament as a "cracker."

I could not believe my good fortune then for Candy calling on the early church as testimony for her stand!!

Paul wrote to the Corinthians: "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?" (1 Cor. 10:16). So when we receive Communion, we actually participate in the body and blood of Christ, not just eat symbols of them. Paul also said, "Therefore whoever eats the bread and drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. . . . For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself" (1 Cor. 11:27, 29). "To answer for the body and blood" of someone meant to be guilty of a crime as serious as homicide. How could eating mere bread and wine "unworthily" be so serious? Paul’s comment makes sense only if the bread and wine became the real body and blood of Christ.



Jesus clearly tells us that to "spiritually" eat His flesh and drink His blood is to BELIEVE ON HIM. Hence, saved by grace through faith (see Ephesians 2:8-9), you do not receive Christ by physically eating and drinking something or someone. Believe to Receive. See Romans 10:9-11 and Mark 16:16.

Meanwhile, in regards to communion...

The IHS cracker is not Jesus Himself. The Bible nowhere states this. Communion is done in remembrance of Jesus, and is modeled off of the Last Supper. Did the disciples cannibalize and vampirize Jesus at the Last Supper? Certainly not.

What Did the First Christians Say?


Anti-Catholics also claim the early Church took this chapter symbolically. Is that so? Let’s see what some early Christians thought, keeping in mind that we can learn much about how Scripture should be interpreted by examining the writings of early Christians.

Ignatius of Antioch, who had been a disciple of the apostle John and who wrote a letter to the Smyrnaeans about A.D. 110, said, referring to "those who hold heterodox opinions," that "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).

Forty years later, Justin Martyr, 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).

Origen, in a homily written about A.D. 244, attested to belief in the Real Presence. "I wish to admonish you with examples from your religion. You are accustomed to take part in the divine mysteries, so you know how, when you have received the Body of the Lord, you reverently exercise every care lest a particle of it fall and lest anything of the consecrated gift perish. You account yourselves guilty, and rightly do you so believe, if any of it be lost through negligence" (Homilies on Exodus 13:3).

Cyril of Jerusalem, in a catechetical lecture presented in the mid-300s, 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).

In a fifth-century homily, Theodore of Mopsuestia seemed to be speaking to today’s Evangelicals and Fundamentalists: "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).



I think it's clear that there is a little bit more to the Catholic Eucharist that Candy Brauer's assessment. Candy's readers would do well to remember that she is no way a bible authority or scholar.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

1 comment:

Perplexity said...

Awesome, intelligent, clear rebuttal, Elena.