Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Eucharist


Have you ever read either the bible or a book written by a Christian author and had one of those ah-ha moments? Well, this certainly happened to me this afternoon. In fact, I sat straight up in the bed that I was reclining with my youngest daughter and hubby as they were watching football and shouted, "Oh my goodness! Oh my goodness!" Now they are both pretty used to me being a bit crazy but this struck even them as strange. My husband asked what was wrong. I informed him that nothing was wrong, but a bible verse had just been made clear to me.

I was reading David Currie's book, Born Again, Born Fundamentalist. David Curie, like me, is a convert from Protestantism. Unlike me, he is much better educated, having received a degree from Trinity International University and studied in the Masters of Divinity Program at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

From the very beginning of the book he is respectful of Protestants, a point that wins him accolades from me. Curie writes of his fundamentalist parents: I had no doubts that my parents were following the truth of God in the best way they knew. They taught me that commitment to the truth is always worth the effort, regardless of the sacrifice. Later he writes about the Theologians that were often invited to eat dinner at his childhood home: I found these men to be Christians of the highest character, intense and earnest in the commitment to God. Curie is not embittered by his fundamentalist background or education.

So what had he written that gave me such a jolt? Well, it started with his quoting John 6:26-59 To save room in this post, I will put the exact biblical quote in the next post but you can certainly look it up yourselves. Remember as you read that many of Jesus' students(Not the original 12 disciples) left him over this teaching.

This is what Curie writes about the passage:Let's review the passage. First, Jesus defines what we must do for God: we must believe in Jesus. The Jews then ask for a sign from Jesus to prove he is worthy of belief. Jesus responds by claiming that he is 'the bread of life'. This is an analogy just like "I am the door' or "I am the vine." It could be understood in a multitude of ways, unless Jesus goes on to explain his analogy. He does exactly that: "This bread is my flesh, which I give for the life of the world." Jesus says the bread of life is his flesh. Lest we not understand whether he means flesh in the real, physical, touchable way, he tells us next that it is the same flesh that will be given up on the Cross! He goes on to say that this flesh must be eaten by his followers.This analogy has been clearly explained. There is no doubt about its meaning.If the flesh that we eat for eternal life is meant in only a 'figurative way' or 'spiritually speaking' then so is the flesh of the crucifixion! Jesus equates the two. Either they are both literal, or they are both figurative.

I'll put the biblical passage up in a separate post, Monday. I have to get ready to go to Mass tonight and tomorrow is Sunday. But here is the one verse that you should pay special attention to:John 6:51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.

My own view is that in order to make this whole passage figurative, one must ignore the verse in red, in which case you are doubting that Jesus is predicting his death!


matthew archbold said...

And the fact that a whole bunch of people ran away from Jesus for saying that should also clue people in to his statement's literal truth. If he was just speaking symbolically he likely would've said "no. No. YOu're misunderstanding me. It's a metaphor." He didn't do that. He knew that what he was saying was rough. Thanks. Nice site.

deb said...

With every other parable Jesus would explain the actual meaning to his followers. The words he spoke in John 6 were so controversial that it makes no sense that he wouldn't explain himself.

Christine said...

First, Thank you for reading my blog today and for your prayers.

Next, I have never read the book to which you refer, but I absolutlely love anything by Scott Hahn. I am a cradle Catholic who drifted into non-denominational evangelical/pentecostal style "worship" for a while. I missed the presence of the Lord in the Eucharist and came home. Listening to Scott Hahn tapes had a huge impact on my return to the church. I learned more from him than I learned in many years of CCD.

ignorant redneck said...

Deb--that's why I joined the Church. Rather the first thing. The whole of orthodox Catholic exegesis is much more systematic, much less random, and more consistent than most protestant exegesis. The reformers seem to have spent a lot of time explaining things away, rather than explaining the economy of salvation.

deb said...

Christine, I like Scott Hahn also. He was one of the reasons(although not the sole reason)that I decided to convert. Karl Keating has some great material also.

deb said...

Ignorant Redneck, one of the reasons that I left the Catholic Church was because of the bible. I had a wonderful Baptist pastor but when ever I would ask him about verses that contradicted his views he would just point to other verses that didn't contradict him. He never explained those that disagreed. This bothered me.

Now that I really believe that the Eucharist is the body, blood and divinity of Our Lord, I am often shocked when cradle Catholics tell me that they no longer attend Mass, not because they disbelieve in the Eucharist, but because they are annoyed with their priest or some church teaching. How can anyone deny themselves the Eucharist?