FROM JESUS IN THE EUCHARIST BY REV. FERREOL GIRARDEY, C.Ss.R.
1 Then they said to Him: Lord, give us always this bread. And Jesus said to them : I am the Bread of life; he that cometh to Me, shall not hunger; and he that believeth in Me, shall never thirst. But I said to you, that you also have seen Me, and you believe not. All that the Father giveth Me, shall come to Me, and him that cometh to Me, I will not cast out; because I am come down from heaven not to do My own will, but the will of Him that sent Me. Now this is the will of Him that sent Me, the Father, that all that He hath given Me, I lose not thereof, but raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of My Father who sent Me, that every one who seeth the Son and believeth in Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day " (John 6: 34-40).
What Jesus said about the true Bread from heaven excited the desires of His hearers; therefore they asked Him to give them always this bread; but they meant only material food; wherefore Jesus, after telling them He was the Bread of life which satiated the hunger and quenched the thirst, He insists so much on the necessity of believing in Him as the Son of God. The fact was that, although the people honored Him greatly, they, nevertheless, lacked faith in Him and, in spite of His unquestionable miracles, they would not admit that He was the Son of God.
'' Then the Jews murmured against Him, because He had said: I am the living Bread which came down from heaven. And they said: Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know ? How then saith He, I came down from heaven? " (John 6: 41, 42).
They who call themselves Christians and, never theless, deny the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Eucharist, resemble the Jews who claimed to believe in the prophecies of Holy Scripture concerning the Messias, and yet would not acknowledge Jesus Christ as the Messias, but looked upon Him merely as the son of Joseph. In like manner, such Christians practically do not believe in the Divinity of the Savior, but believe only what they please of His words. Hence Jesus insists again and again on the obligation of believing in Him as the Son of God, and calls attention to the fact that the true faith in Him is a gift of God granted only to the humble, and not to the proud and conceited.
"Jesus therefore answered and said to them: Murmur not among yourselves. No man can come to Me, except the Father, who hath sent Me, draw him, and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets: And they shall all be taught of God. Every one that hath heard of the Father, and hath learned, cometh to Me. Not that any man hath seen the Father, but He who is of God, He hath seen the Father. Amen, amen I say to you: he that believeth in Me, hath everlasting life'' (John 6: 43-47).
Our Divine Savior further on tells the Jews why it is that those who truly believe in Him have ever lasting life, and how He will raise them gloriously at the last day.
" I am the Bread of life," He continues: " your fathers ate manna in the desert and they died," for they ate only material food, which could not impart immortality. But " this is the Bread descending down from heaven, that, if any one eat of it, he may not die." That is, the Bread which I will give is a spiritual food which imparts spiritual life, which confers immortality and perfect happiness to the soul, and fits the body for a glorious resurrection, by incorporating it in the mystical body of Jesus Christ. " I am the living Bread which came down from heaven. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever; and the Bread which I will give is My flesh for the life of the world" (5:48-52).
Here our Divine Savior speaks in the clearest terms. He tells us that He Himself is the Bread from heaven which it behooves us to eat, that we may possess everlasting life; that the Bread which He will give us to eat, will not be mere material bread, but will be the very flesh which He would later on sacrifice for the salvation of the world. And yet there are men who pretend to believe in Christ's infallible word, and yet flatly contradict His very words, for Jesus promises to give a Bread which is His very flesh, and they maintain that He promised to give merely material bread.
"The Jews, therefore, debated among themselves, saying: How can this man give us His flesh to eat ? " (John 6:53).
The language of the Jews proves that they had understood that Jesus intended to give His very flesh as food. Had they mistaken His meaning, Jesus would, most assuredly, have corrected their mistake, as He did later in another point. But, far from now correcting them and telling them that He did not intend to give His very flesh as food, He confirms them in the meaning they attach to His words, and insists more strongly even than before, that He actually intends His very flesh and blood to be real food and drink.
' Then 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 shall not have life in you. He that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood, hath everlasting life, and I will raise him at the last day. For My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood, abideth in Me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father, so he that eateth Me, the same also shall live by Me. This is the Bread that came down from heaven. Not as your fathers ate manna and died. He that eateth this Bread shall live for ever " (John 6:54-59).
By these words Jesus Christ clearly affirms that His flesh is real food and His blood real drink; that they who eat His flesh and drink His blood, shall have life everlasting. Words cannot be plainer than these. Deny the Real Presence, and you necessarily deny the very words of Jesus Christ, and are no longer a Christian, a believer in Christ, but an unbeliever, for, practically, you deny the veracity and, consequently, the divine mission of Jesus Christ.
"These things Jesus said in the synagogue in Capharnaum. Many, therefore, of His disciples, hearing it, said: This saying is hard, and who can hear it? But Jesus, knowing in Himself that His disciples murmured at this, said to them: Doth this scandalize you? If then you shall see the Son of man ascend where He was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are the spirit and life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that did not believe, and who he was that would be tray Him. And He said: Therefore did I say to you that no man can come to Me, unless it be given by My Father " (John 6: 60-66).
The words of Jesus Christ: " It is the spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing " are alleged by Protestants as an unanswerable argument against the Real Presence. But they are woefully mistaken, for our Divine Savior, being infinite Wisdom and Truth, cannot contradict Himself. He had just said: " My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed "; and " the Bread which I will give is My flesh for the life of the world. " Nothing can be more clear than these words. Deny the Real Presence, and you give the lie to these words of the Son of God. There is no alternative: either admit the Real Presence, or charge the Savior with either telling a lie or with not knowing what He was saying. What He afterwards said about the spirit and the flesh does not and cannot in the least contradict what He had previously expressed so clearly, but only shows that He was not to be understood in the material sense given to His words by the carnal Jews. They said: " This saying is hard, and who can hear it?" Their words indicate that they understood Jesus in a carnal sense, for hearing Him say that His flesh was meat indeed, and His blood drink indeed, they imagined that Jesus intended that they should eat His flesh as they ate the flesh of cattle! Of course, this was not the meaning of our Lord, when He said that " the flesh" not His own body, but the carnal meaning they attached to it, " profiteth nothing "; hence His words must be understood in a more spiritual sense; in other words, He would give them His very flesh to eat, but not in the material manner they attached to His words. Moreover, He called their attention to the fact that the Real Presence would be still harder to believe after He would have returned to heaven. His words are a clear anticipated refutation of the Protestant doctrines on the Blessed Eucharist. Hence our Divine Savior did not at all contradict or take back what He had previously said about the Real Presence. He only insinuated to the Jews that they understood His words in too material a sense. Even after this explanation many would no longer believe in Him, for they remained obstinately attached to their preconceived views and prejudices, and were not, therefore, disposed, like others more humble, to believe firmly all He said.
"After this many of His disciples went back and walked no more with Him. Then Jesus said to the twelve: Will you also go away ? And Simon Peter answered Him: Lord, to whom shall we go ? Thou hast the words of eternal life; and we have believed and have known that Thou art Christ the Son of God" (John 61:67-70).
The doctrine of our Divine Savior concerning the Real Presence so shocked the Jews, even after His explanation, that many of His followers forsook Him. If Jesus did not intend to give to men His very body as their spiritual food, and His very blood as their spiritual beverage, He would, in all truth, have most clearly said so, and thus prevented so many of His followers from abandoning Him and going astray. Their doing so must, certainly, have greatly pained Him, for He turned to His apostles and asked them if they also intended to leave Him. But they remained faithful to their divine Master. Here we have another proof of the Primacy of St. Peter in matters of faith. Whenever there is question of faith, it is always St. Peter who speaks for all, just as it has always occurred in the Church of Jesus Christ, the Pope, who is St. Peter's successor, speaks for the whole Church and the whole Church accepts his decision in all matters pertaining to man's salvation.