Thursday, 1 June 2017

The Promise Of Our Divine Saviour to give to men His very Flesh to eat and His very Blood to drink. part 4


But how could our Divine Savior cause a piece of bread to become His very body and a little wine to become His very blood? Let us recall to mind that our Savior, being God, is almighty. His words are not like our words. Our words go no further than to express our meaning, our thoughts, our intentions. But the words of God not only express His meaning, but, as St. Ambrose declares, they are also operative, that is, His words actually do, effect and perform what they mean. For instance, when God, in the beginning of creation, said: " Let there be light," these His words actually brought light into existence without any further act or effort on His part. Hence St. Paul says: " The word of God is living and effectual" (Hebr. 4: 12). This is evident also from the manner in which Jesus Christ performed miracles, saying, for instance, to the paralytic: " Arise, and walk;" to a blind man: " Be thou seeing;" to the dead Lazarus in the tomb: " Lazarus, come forth." These words produced their effect instantaneously. In like manner, when Jesus said over the bread He held: " This is My body," the bread at once became His true body, and there was no longer any bread in His hands, but only its external appearance. And when He pronounced over the wine in the chalice He held these words: " This is My blood of the New Testament/' the wine had immediately become His true blood, and there was no longer wine in the chalice, but only its appearance. The words our Savior then used were the instrument which effected these most wonderful changes. This can present no difficulty to the Christian who really believes in our Savior's divinity, who believes in the creation, in the miracles of Jesus Christ, and that the word of God is almighty (Wisd. 18:15).

Let us bear in mind that our Divine Savior instituted the Blessed Eucharist on the eve of His death for the salvation of mankind, after He had eaten His last Pasch with His apostles. He began by saying to His apostles: " With desire I have desired to eat this Pasch with you before I suffer" (Luke 22: 15). How could Jesus so ardently desire to eat that Pasch with His apostles if He did not in tend before dying, to give them an extraordinary token of His love? And could that extraordinary token consist only of a little bread and wine, according to the explanation of those who reject the doctrine of the Real Presence? Had He not daily for three years eaten bread with His apostles? Why should eating it once more before dying create such an ardent desire on His part? Moreover, had He not promised a year previous to feed them with His own flesh and blood as the principle of imparting to them life everlasting, that is, eternal salvation? Deny the Real Presence, and you can show no proof that Jesus ever kept His promise of furnishing His disciples with the means of securing life everlasting. And yet He had declared: " Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood, you shall not have life in you " (John 6:54). Jesus could not have said so ardently: " with desire have I desired to eat this Pasch with you before I die," unless He was about to give His apostles, His Church, such a token, such a testimony of His boundless love towards them, as would, beyond all conception, surpass all the marks of love and affection He had hitherto bestowed on them. Let us also recall to mind that Jesus, as the Savior of men, had come on earth to abrogate the Law of Moses, a law of fear, and replace it by the law of love, the law of the children of God, which should last for ever and most intimately unite us with our heavenly Father. To effect this, He wished to make us His brethren and to incorporate us as the adopted children of His Father and render us "partakers of the Divine Nature" (2 Pet. 1:4), and for this purpose He wished to feed us with His own flesh and blood in the Eucharist which He was about to institute as the greatest proof of His love for us.

It was, therefore, at the Last Supper that Jesus Christ, to fulfil the prophecies of the Old Testament, made the New Testament, or Covenant, the New Law for His Church which was to endure till the end of time. Wherefore, He was then about to bequeath to His Church the means of saving man kind, of applying to them the merits and fruits of His passion and death. In short, it was at the Last Supper, which He had so ardently desired, that He made His last will. For the last time before His death He was speaking familiarly with His intimate friends, " to whom it was given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God" (Mark 4: n). To them He spoke plainly, "without parables," for He was then instructing " His successors and representatives, who were to teach all nations " (Mat. 28: 19-20). Wherefore, He must have spoken to them clearly, simply, plainly, intelligibly, literally, without obscurity, without figures. What, then did He, could He mean when He said: " THIS IS MY BODY, WHICH IS GIVEN FOR YOU " (Luke 22: 19) ? If it was NOT His BODY, how could He say " THIS is MY BODY? " And to leave no doubt about His meaning, Jesus says expressly, " WHICH is GIVEN FOR YOU." Was it only a " piece of bread" which Jesus then gave His apostles and which He gave up for them on the cross the next day? No, by no means, for on the following day He really and indeed sacrificed His own true, living body on the cross for the salvation of mankind. Therefore the plain, clear meaning of Jesus when He said: " Take ye and eat, this is My body which is given for you " is this: " This is no longer bread, but My very body, which is to be sacrificed on the cross for you." And the plain meaning of Jesus when He said: " Drink ye all of this, for this is My blood of the New Testament, which shall be shed for many " is: " Drink ye all of this, for this is no longer wine, but My true living blood, which shall be shed for the salvation of mankind." The Real Presence cannot be expressed more clearly, more plainly, more appropriately, or more correctly. And surely our Divine Savior would not have taken all that trouble and used all these clear, simple and plain expressions, in order to give His apostles merely a piece of bread to eat and a little wine to drink, unless He intended to deceive them; and the Evangelists would not have so carefully and so minutely related the actions and words of Jesus, had there been question of only a little bread and wine! Moreover, if Jesus Christ then really intended to give and actually gave His apostles, as He had promised them a year previous, His own flesh to eat and His own blood to drink, could He have done so in words more appropriate or more effective than those He used at the Last Supper, saying: " THIS is MY BODY, THIS is MY BLOOD? "