Loaves and Fishes
As a Catholic it is unbearably hard to think about the Eucharist. I don’t mean that in the sense of it’s a burden to my soul, but rather that is a burden to try and convey its beauty. If there was ever a topic that very much pulled people away from the Catholic Church it would be that we truly believe that the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ. Pause for a moment…That’s right. We believe that we are consuming God’s flesh. What I find so ironic about this is that this very teaching is what becomes a focal point for people to leave the Church. Some Catholics just can’t believe in this doctrine. How odd is that this is the very thing Jesus dealt with two thousand years ago? Imagine if you will that you are sitting on the fields as Jesus performs the Loaves and Fishes miracle in front of your eyes. He has taken the measly gift from the boy and feed thousands. The people surprised and amazed ask what they needed to do to follow Christ. “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.” At hearing this most LEFT! This man has been wandering around Galilee performing all these miracles but they couldn’t accept this fact. I feel that when we choose not to accept this teaching we are being the Jews that left Him on the hillside.
At this point I want to go into Q/A format for things people have asked in the past:
Q: Why do you celebrate communion at every service. Doesn’t that make it more scripted and repetitive?
A: The Last Supper was celebrated between Jesus and His disciples right? So if anyone was to know how this all was suppose to work it would be the 12. In the Bible (Acts2:46) we see that every time they met they performed communion just as Jesus had instructed them too. Also you will note from your further reading that even though the 12 traveled the entire known world, no matter what day they could meet there was communion. As Catholics we simply are following the perfect example Jesus and the disciples gave to us. The Church also teaches that if you are in Mass and you feel that the act of communion is repetitive that week or that it is scripted, STOP! You shouldn’t receive communion if you are not in full awe of the beauty in front of you. I can remember growing up and being an Altar Server. I memorized the entire prayer for communion and would utter the words with the Priest as he spoke. I think that I kind of lost the awe and amazement of the Eucharist. It wasn’t till I was older and was on my knees one Sunday preparing for communion did I slow down and think about the words I was speaking with the Priest. They were beautiful and very deep. As I stood up to hold my Brothers and Sisters hands for the Our Father I realized the fellowship of this “Meal.” Then as I gave peace and received peace from them that I was purifying myself for the meal. I was in tears. My good friend Kris also gave a talk on the topic and lead me to a deeper appreciation for the Eucharist. Even now at Mass I find myself tearing as I approach the altar. I can tell you that it is NOT scripted for me. Nor do I find the act repetitive but rather a blessing. I yearn for the Eucharist. It is the REAL tangible spiritual food that sustains me.
Q: Why can only Catholics receive the Eucharist at mass?
A: Let me take you through the process real quick. Nick walks up the aisle and the Priest says to me “The Body of Christ Nick.” In response I say Amen. The same occurs for the Blood of Christ. You are probably wondering why I tell you that in response to the question. What does amen mean? Amen is a Greek word, which literally means “truly” or “it is as you say.” So why WOULD someone not believing this doctrine take communion? My response of Amen to the Priest is saying that yes Father, this is in fact as you say, the Body of Christ. It is so weird as the Catechism refers to the Eucharist as the uniting sacrament. Yet because of history it now only unites so few of us. If only we could follow the words Jesus said on the cross: “May they be one, as we are one.” (John 17:22)
Q: Jesus often spoke in metaphors and symbolism, how do you know “I AM the Bread of Life” isn’t the same?
A: Lets look at two examples that get brought up all the time!
- John 10:9 – I am the door
- John 15:5 – I am the vine Now did Jesus go into the specifics of this door/vine analogy? With the Bread of Life He further explained in John 6:55 – For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. Apparently this is something we need to understand in great detail. Let’s also look at what happens after Jesus tells us He is the Bread of Life and that we need to eat His flesh. People walk away. Not just the people watching Him perform miracles. No, actually discpiles too. Okay so if the people following you around start dropping out like flies you would think Jesus would have corrected the statement. “Whoops guys! Just a joke, I meant that differently than you think.” Nope. Jesus actually goes on to FURTHER explain the statement. I can just see Jesus yelling with a loud voice as they walk away the further teaching. Since Jesus was ministering, when there were misunderstandings He often would go on to clear up the misconceptions. Just look at Matthew 16:5-12. Jesus actually stops and goes back to help them understand what He really meant. This isn’t the case with the Eucharist and communion teachings.
Since Nick is such a Bible driven dude, lets back this up with some awesome words of God!
Matthew 26:26-32 – While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, from now on I shall not drink this fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it with you new in the kingdom of my Father.” Then, after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus said to them, “This night all of you will have your faith in me shaken, for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be dispersed’; but after I have been raised up, I shall go before you to Galilee.”
Mark 14:22-28 – While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it. He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many. Amen, I say to you, I shall not drink again the fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” Then, after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will have your faith shaken, for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be dispersed.’ But after I have been raised up, I shall go before you to Galilee.”
Luke 22:14-20 – When the hour came, he took his place at table with the apostles. He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer, for, I tell you, I shall not eat it (again) until there is fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and said, “Take this and share it among yourselves; for I tell you (that) from this time on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you.
1 Corinthians 10:16 – The cup of blessing we bless, is it not a communion with the blood of Christ? And the bread that we break, is it not a communion with the body of Christ? The bread is one, and so we, though many, form one body, sharing the one bread.
1 Corinthians 11:23-30 – For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also 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.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes. Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are ill and infirm, and a considerable number are dying.
Luke 28:30-31, 35 – On the Road to Emmaus: “When they were at table, Jesus took the bread, said a blessing, broke it and gave each a piece. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; but he vanished out of their sight… Then the two told what had happened on the road and how Jesus made himself known when he broke the bread”
Acts of the Apostles 2:46 – Each day they met together in the Temple area; they broke the bread in their homes; their shared their food with great joy and simplicity of heart.
Acts of the Apostles 20:7 – On the first day of the week, on Sunday, we were together for the breaking of the bread, and Paul, who intended to leave the following day, spoke at length.