By guest writer Victor R. Claveau, MJ.
Let me tell you a story that will illustrate one of the many reasons why the Catholic Church teaches that Jesus instituted the Sacrament of the Eucharist.
Not long ago, I was invited to address the Bible and Philosophy students at a Protestant High School. The teacher and I were to meet a few days before I was to speak to the students, to get to know one another and to discuss the schedule. We met on a Sunday evening at 5:30 pm.
A few minutes after I arrived at his home, the doorbell rang, and four other people entered. As it turned out, these people were the teacher’s pastor, the pastor’s wife, and two other teachers. I was a little taken aback by the circumstances as the teacher did not tell me that he had invited other guests.
After brief introductions, our host invited his friends to ask me questions about the Catholic religion.
As I began to answer their questions, one of the teachers interjected time and again trying to explain the Protestant position. After two or three interruptions, I finally said, ‘Everyone here, including me, knows what you believe, now is your chance to find out what the Catholic Church really teaches and the foundations for those beliefs. I did not come here to argue but am willing to explain and possibly build a bridge between us.’
From then on, we had a worthwhile dialogue.
I had been answering their questions for almost three hours when the Pastor’s wife posed the question: ‘Why do you believe that you are really eating Jesus when you have communion in your church?’
Thank you for the question,” I said. “Let me try to explain by asking you a few questions.
Who created the universe?” I asked.
“God”, she answered.
“And how did God create?” I asked further.
“He spoke,” she answered.
“Right,” I said, “now let’s look at the Book of Genesis, Chapter 1:1-30 and follow along with me as I read.” Then I read the following passages.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light”, (Genesis 1:1-4)
“What happened when God said, ‘Let there be light’,” I asked.
“There was light”, she answered.
“Yes,” I said, “in verse 4 it says that ‘there was light.’ God spoke and there was light”.
And God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” And God made the firmament and separated the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament. And it was so (Genesis 1:6-7).
And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so (Genesis 1:9).
And God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, upon the earth.” And it was so (Genesis 1:11).
And God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years and let them be lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so (Genesis 1:14-15)
And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so (Genesis 1:24).
And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so (Genesis 1-29-30).
In each of these creation accounts,” I said, “God declared something to be and ‘It was so.’”
Let’s go to the Book of Isaiah.” ‘So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and prosper in the thing for which I sent it’ (Isaiah 55:11).
“Doesn’t this passage indicate that whenever God declares something to be, then it becomes a reality at that instant?” I asked.
“Yes,” she agreed.
I went on.
“In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus said to the fig tree ‘May no fruit ever come from you again!’ And the fig tree withered at once (21:19). Isn’t that correct?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said.
“When the hemorrhaging women reached out through the crowd and touched Jesus’ cloak, she was healed by her faith. ‘And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone forth from him, immediately turned about in the crowd, and said, ‘Who touched my garments?’ (Mark 5:30). Jesus had the power to heal.
“When Jesus said to the adulterous woman that her sins were forgiven, were they in fact forgiven?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said.
“Jesus withered the fig tree, healed the hemorrhaging woman, and forgave the adulterous woman. How could he do this?” I asked.
And the Pastor’s wife answered, “Because Jesus is God.”
“Yes, of course,’ I said, “we all believe that Jesus is God and as God He has no limitations.”
Then I went on to further explain:
“And Jesus (God) said, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh” (John 6:51).
“And Jesus (God) said, “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. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever” (John 6:53-58).
“And Jesus (God) said, “Take; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many” (Mark 14:22-24).
During the Last Supper, Jesus held bread in His sacred hands and declared that the bread was in fact His Body.
“Who. Not what, was Jesus holding in his hands at that moment?” I asked.
There was a pregnant silence for a few seconds, before the pastor’s wife said, “Himself”.
I pressed on and asked, “Who. Not what, was Jesus holding in His hands when He declared the contents of the cup to be His Blood?”
“Himself” She answered.
“Yes,” I said, “He actually gave His Body and Blood to the Apostles to eat and drink. Certainly, this is a mystery, one of the greatest mysteries in the history of the world. These elements still looked and tasted like bread and wine, but in fact they had become in reality Jesus’ Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, simply because, as God, He declared them to be so.
“‘Christ held Himself in His hands when He gave His body to His disciples.”
I felt as though I was on a roll, so I said, “Let me explain further”.
“Jesus went on to say, ‘Do this in memory of me’. What did He mean by the word ‘this’?
“He had just changed bread and wine into His Body and Blood, and He commanded His Apostles to do the same. At that moment Jesus instituted the Sacrament of the Priesthood, and during the Mass, when a duly ordained priest says the same words Jesus spoke, the Holy Spirit changes bread and wine into the reality of Jesus’ Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.
“The faith of the Apostolic and early Church in the Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Eucharist is attested by the words of Saint Paul and the Fathers; by the discipline of the Secret: the symbols and illustrations found in the catacombs. The fact that the Church from the very beginning believed in the Real Presence proves that the doctrine must have been delivered to her by her Founder.
Victor R. Claveau, MJ has been a full-time Catholic evangelist since 1989 and is a graduate of the Diocese of Melbourne School of Evangelization. As the Director of Catholic Footsteps “The Evangelization Station” in Angels Camp, California, he has lectured on Catholic belief and evangelization both nationally and internationally.