It had been some time since the three of us, my two non-Catholic co-workers and I, had gone to coffee together. Josh and I had held several conversations about Catholicism, the Holy Eucharist and its similarity or not to a variety of Protestant denominations. Then, over the passage of time, we were joined by Steve who went to the same church as Josh and may have been trying to protect him from those weird Catholic cult-types.
Due to any number of events, we had not been able to go to coffee together, and given the dynamics of the company by which we were employed, it was not a real big deal.
It Must be the Same, Right?
After a few minutes of “catching up”, Steve began and made a statement something such as, “You know that our church has a communion service that we do every once and again, so, our faiths must have that in common, making them the same, so, you can come and worship at our church and give us a try.”
My response was that even though that sounded as if it may be true, their communion service and the Catholic Eucharist were nowhere near the same, and I mentioned to them that the two services used two different sources. I reminded them that for the most part, the Protestant communion services used Paul’s letter to the Corinthians as a basis, that is, Paul said ‘Now whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes’ (I Corinthians 11:26).
I indicated that we need to take a brief moment and establish some common beliefs. I asked, “Have you ever heard Jesus, or seen in one of the Epistles where one of the authors said that ‘He lied’ about this or that or the other?”
They both responded, “No, of course not.” Steve continued by saying that as the Son of God it would be impossible for Him to lie.
I said, “Excellent, we have that in common, so, let us go back well before the Last Supper.”
I continued by reminding them that we need to go back to the 6th chapter of the Gospel of John. We can start around verse 29 or 30, Jesus is talking to the crowd which had come looking for Him the day after the feeding of a huge crowd.
The Eucharist is His Flesh and Blood
Jesus told them that they came looking for Him simply because He had fed them, not because they believed who He was. He set the stage by asking them if they remembered that Moses was led through the desert for forty years and the people were given manna from Heaven to keep them alive? He reminded them that it was not Moses who had given them the manna, but it was God the Father, His Dad, who had done that. He told the crowd that He was the bread of life come down from Heaven and that the followers of Moses ate the manna and died anyhow, but whoever eats His flesh and drinks His blood would have everlasting life.
I reminded them that many of the people who had followed Jesus had said, in essence, “Look, Babe, Moses didn’t raise us to be cannibals. Besides, there is one of you and thousands of us, how is that going to be possible anyhow?” Then, many of those who had been following Him left Him since this saying was too hard, and it made no sense to them.
He asked the twelve, “Are you guys going to leave me as well?”
Peter said, “Where are we going to go? You have the words of Everlasting Life.” and no one mentioned it again until the Last Supper.
Fast forward to Matthew 26, versus 26 to 28 or so, and you can hear Jesus tell the disciples after He blessed and broke the bread, to ‘Take and Eat, this is my body. After blessing the cup of wine, He gave it to His disciples and told them to drink it since it was his blood of a new covenant which will be shed for many.
I concluded, “So, no, it isn’t the same at all. The Gospel writers were there, and they connected the dots from the ‘Bread of Life Discourse’ in the 6th chapter of John to the Last Supper.”
“Your church may do a communion service in memory of Christ, but the Catholic Church knows that it is the Body and Blood of Christ Jesus since He told us it was, and we know He cannot lie.”
So That Wafer is Human Flesh?
No, the communion host continues to have the look, feel, taste and nutritional values of a communion host made only of water and wheat. At the point of Consecration, it becomes the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ Jesus. No one knows how that happens, and the Catholic Church calls it transubstantiation, which is just a fancy word meaning while the substance remains the same, that is, water and wheat, the nature of it becomes Christ.
He said it, and we believe it. It is much stronger than a simple belief, however, it is a knowledge that the host, once consecrated, is Christ.
Is It That Simple?
Josh asked, “Is it really that simple?”
I replied, “Yes. He said it, He doesn’t lie, and so, that is all we need to know about that.”
Josh was still a bit uncertain as he asked, “If it is that clear in John 6, why don’t all Christians understand the same thing?”
“Very good question, Josh.”