Edited by Jenna Forestell
It all started from the very beginning. We all know the story from Genesis 22:1-12: God says to Abraham to take his son Isaac and offer him up to the Lord. And Abraham says OK! And as they are going up the mountain we read verse 7-8:
Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied. “The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.
God himself will provide the lamb. In verse 13 Abraham finds a what? A ram. Abraham finds a ram. But God Himself will provide the lamb? Years later John the Baptist sees Jesus walking towards him and he says, “Behold the lamb of God.” God Himself will provide the lamb. What was God telling Abraham? God was telling Abraham not to give up his son to prove his love for God, but that God would give up His Son to prove His love for us! Isn’t that beautiful?
Next, we look into Exodus 12 and we learn about the Passover lamb. So what happens at the Passover? They were told to take an unblemished lamb, kill it, and put its blood over the doorposts. Then they were to eat the flesh of the lamb. Again this was preparing us for the Eucharist. The lamb is sacrificed, Jesus is sacrificed. The lamb is then eaten, we eat His body and drink His blood. And then the blood is poured, and it’s the blood that stopped God from killing the people there. It’s the blood of the lamb that saves us! It’s His body, and His blood poured out for our sins that mass is about! The God of the universe saves us by the blood of His only son.
Going now to the Last Supper, the first mass. Jesus takes the bread and divides it, He takes the cup and divides it and He says,
“This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19)
Jesus says what? “This IS my body.” He didn’t say this is a symbol of me, He said, “This is me,” that what we get at every mass is the God of the universe, body, blood, soul, humanity, and divinity of Jesus Christ who humbles himself before us and gives us his own body and blood. At every mass we go to, Jesus dies and gives us his body and blood.
Now if you have a hard time believing that Jesus is in the Eucharist, we turn to John 6:
v51:”I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, (not like my flesh but IS my flesh) which I will give for the life of the world.”
v53: Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.
v55: “For my flesh is REAL food and my blood is REAL drink.”
He never says symbol, He doesn’t say to remind you of, He says it is! If it is not, then Jesus Christ is a liar, because He said this is my body, and from the beginning of the church, we’ve believed that. So if we’re wrong about the real presence of Jesus, we may as well throw the Bible in the garbage, because the same church that said this is the body and blood of Jesus, said this is the word of the almighty God. The Word of the almighty God (the Bible) didn’t come into being until 1390 AD at the council of Rome and at least for that long we believed in the Eucharist.
Let’s look at what Jesus did after His resurrection, after He appeared to Mary Magdalene. In Luke 24 we have the story, On the Road to Emmaus. After the two disciples are talking to Jesus (not knowing that it is Jesus), they tell Jesus to stay with them. How does Jesus stay with them?:
“When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him,and he disappeared from their sight.” (Luke 24:30-31)
The way Jesus stays with us is the same way he stayed with them, he becomes the sacramental presence in the bread. When their eyes are open, He vanishes. He’s saying to them, “You want me to stay with you? Here I am, in the bread.” And if you need more clarification, in verse 35 they talk about how they came to know Jesus in the breaking of the bread. If you want to know Jesus you have to spend time with him in the breaking of the bread.
Head over to Acts 2:42.
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
They (the early church) devoted themselves to the breaking of the bread. The breaking of the bread is the mass.”
More bible verses!:
“The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.” (1 Corinthians 10:16-17)
So Paul now, he does not say this is a symbol of Jesus, he says, “Is it not the body of Christ which we share?” And he then goes on to say the Eucharist is what makes us one. It’s what brings us together. And we have to know, that’s the purpose of the Eucharist, to make us one with God and make us one with each other. We are the body of Christ.
Next chapter, taking everything we now know,
“So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner (doesn’t break a symbol but) will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 11:27)
If it was just a symbol it wouldn’t be a sin. To receive communion unworthily is sacrilege; you sin again the body and blood of God Himself. That is the reason why you shouldn’t receive communion in the Catholic Church if you are not Catholic or you are not in a state of grace, we are not trying to be mean bullies, we’re trying to save you. Verses 28-30:
“Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.” (1 Corinthians 11:28-30)
Focus on that: eat and drink judgment on themselves. So to receive communion unworthily, it’s no longer the bread of life, it becomes the bread of death. Never receive communion if you are not in a state of grace because you’re not bringing God’s blessing on you, you’re bringing God’s condemnation on you. Honestly, if it was just a symbol, how could it bring condemnation on you? It’s because you are taking the God of the universe, and bringing Him inside you. You better make sure you don’t have any un-confessed sins. Very important.
So now, every Mass costs God His life. We don’t kill Jesus again and again, in Hebrews it says we have the one sacrifice, once and for all. At mass what happens is we participate in that one sacrifice. We are there at the last supper, we are there at the crucifixion and death of Jesus, and we are there at the resurrection. We don’t re-kill Jesus at every mass, we are actually there at Calvary.
Lastly, I want to turn your attention back to John 6 after Jesus explains to the crowds, very clearly, that the bread which came down from heaven is his flesh and his flesh is real food.
“From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
“You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:67-68)
If Jesus was talking in parables, why would he let this large crowd of followers just leave him like that, he could have easily run after them and said, “No, I wasn’t talking literal, it was just a parable.” Instead, Jesus, fully aware they were doubting him repeated himself more strongly. And so they, all but the 12, leave. Jesus asks, “Well, aren’t you going to leave too?” And Simon Peter says, “Lord, where are we going to go?”
Lord, if we can’t receive this Eucharist, if we can’t receive your body and blood, where are we going to go? Jesus says that unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you will not have life in you. So I leave this question with you. If you leave the Catholic Church, leaving the body and blood of Jesus Christ behind, where will you go? What is more important than the body and blood of Jesus Christ, where will you go?
Source: “The Mass Explained” (CD) by Fr. Larry Richards