The Holy Catholic Church teaches infallibly that in the Holy Eucharist, Jesus Christ is fully and substantially present—body and blood, soul and divinity—under the appearances of bread and wine; but the anti-Catholics frequently attack this doctrine as unbiblical. However, is Christ really present in the Holy Eucharist?
The Ecumenical Council of Trent was very much firm and open in defining this truth that “in the august sacrament of the holy Eucharist, after the consecration of the bread and wine, our Lord Jesus Christ, true God and man, is truly, really, and substantially contained under the species of those sensible things . . . that, by the consecration of the bread and of the wine, a conversion is made of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord, and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of His blood; which conversion is, by the holy Catholic Church, suitably and properly called Transubstantiation.”
Eucharist came from the Greek noun εὐχαριστία (eucharistia), meaning “thanksgiving” (cf.1 Corinthians 11:24) — “kai eucharistēsas eklasen kai eipen Touto mou estin to sōma to hyper hymōn touto poieite eis tēn emēn anamnēsin.”
Yet, despite this sacred conciliar definition, the anti-Catholics are still persistent in their weak argument that Jesus, when speaking about the Last Supper and the Living Bread, was not talking about physical food and drink, but about spiritual food and drink comparing verses like John 10:9 (I am the door) and John 15:1 (I am the true vine). Quoting John 6:35: “Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst,’” they claim that coming to Him is bread, having faith in Him is drink. Thus, eating His flesh and blood merely means believing in Christ. But they forget that Christ takes this teaching far beyond symbolism by saying, “For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed” (John 6:55). 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 or mere symbolism.
Remember that during His public ministry, Christ often and usually talked to people in parables but literal with His disciples. In Matthew 13:10-11, it reads: “The disciples approached Him and said, ‘Why do You speak to them in parables?’ He said to them in reply, ‘Because knowledge of the mysteries of heaven have been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted.'”
Therefore, it is very clear that when Christ taught His disciples about the doctrine of the Living Bread and of Eating His Body and Drinking His Blood, they understood it literally and not metaphorically. In John 6:60, it reads: “Many of His disciples, when they heard it, said, ‘This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?’” These were His disciples, the people who were used to His remarkable ways. But He knew that some would not believe. (It is here, in the rejection of the Eucharist, that Judas fell away; look at John 6:64.) “After this, many of His disciples drew back and no longer went about with Him” (John 6:66). This is the only record of Christ’s followers forsaking Him for purely doctrinal reasons. If it had all been a misunderstanding, if they erred in taking a metaphor in a literal sense, why didn’t He call them back and straighten things out? In fact, He did not correct these protesters. For twelve times He said that He was the bread that came down from heaven; for four times He said they would have “to eat My flesh and drink My blood.” How can that be just a mere symbolism?! Think.
St. Paul confirmed this teaching in his letter to the Corinthians (10:16): “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?” The passage is very clear. It is actually participating in the body and blood of Christ, and not just eating symbolically of them. The same apostle 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 Corinthians 11:27, 29). See? How can that be just symbolism if eating His body and drinking His blood unworthily is tantamount to committing a very serious crime?! Think again.
Lastly, as told by the same apostle Paul: “the Lord Jesus on the night when He was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, He broke it, and said, ‘This is My body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.’ In the same way also He took the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.'” (1 Corinthians 11:23-25). NOTICE that the Lord claimed the bread as HIS BODY and the wine as HIS BLOOD. He never ever said that the bread and wine are the symbols of His body and blood. In fact, the apostle added: “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26).
Bear in mind, therefore, His eternal promise:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him” (John 6:53–56).
WOULD YOU NOW RECEIVE HIM IN THE EUCHARIST OR STILL STAY HARD-HEADED?
The Lord promised, “And remember that I am always with you until the end of time” (Matthew 28:20) — and truly, in the Eucharist, this divine promise has been fulfilled.