This Sunday we continue our reading from the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John, which is the Bread of Life Discourse. Two weeks ago I spoke about how the Mass as we know it began to evolve very early, with the joining of the Jewish synagogue service with the Lord’s Supper—the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Last Sunday I began to talk about the Catholic belief that in the Eucharist, bread and wine are really and truly changed into the Body and Blood of Christ and that we receive Christ, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity when we go to Communion. It is the same risen, living Lord Jesus Christ whom the Apostles and others encountered, whom we encounter. We are actually touching Jesus Christ Himself.
This week, continuing our meditation on John 6, I will address the difference in our Catholic understanding of the Eucharist and that of most Protestants. Why do we believe that when Jesus said, “This is my Body, This is my Blood,” He meant it literally, when so many Christians reject that teaching, believing that He intended it to be understood symbolically? And how do we know whom to believe on this matter? Does the Bible teach clearly and definitively on the Eucharist, or are we left with a confusing and messy set of opinions?
Here is a hint—The Catholic teaching on the Eucharist is the clear and certain biblical teaching found in the New Testament.
Normally, we would be reading from John 6 again next week, but because the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary falls on that day, we will miss one of the five Sundays normally read. On the Sunday following next, the 21st Sunday of Ordinary Time, we will read the final section of the Bread of Life Discourse.
–Fr. Mike Comer