Catechetical Corner – “This Is MY Body”

A recent survey in the USA found up to 70% of Roman Catholics do not believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist – Holy Communion. Many hold the protestant view that it is merely a symbolic presence and not the actual Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus in the smallest fragment of the Host.
The Church has held the teaching on the real presence from the time of Christ, a teaching that was passed on from the Apostles and solidified in the Scriptures, especially in the 6th chapter of the Gospel of St John. In verse 35, Jesus says: “I am the bread of life.” In v. 41 HE says: “I am the bread that has come down from Heaven.” in v.51: “I am the living bread … . Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I shall give is my flesh, for the life of the world.’
Now even in Jesus’ own time many doubted this teaching; v. 52 says: “The Jews started arguing…How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ But interestingly Jesus doesn’t back down, HE doesn’t modify HIS teaching in order to mollify them In fact, HE goes further, in v. 53: “…In all truth I tell you, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” And in v.55 HE says: “my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.” But v.57 is perhaps the most direct of all when HE says: “whoever eats me will also draw life from me.”
At the time, many of HIS own disciples found this teaching so hard to take that they left HIM (See v. 66). But again, Jesus didn’t back down, HE didn’t run after them and beg them to stay, in fact HE turned to the 12 Apostles and said: “ ‘What about you, do you want to go away too?’ “
This teaching on the Eucharistic Presence of Christ, on the Real Presence of Christ in Holy Communion, is the very heart of Catholicism. It is what we are all about: “I am with you always…” There have been many Eucharistic miracles attesting to this down through the centuries.
Even today, the question of Jesus to the Apostles resonates in our own time: “…do you want to go away too?” Do you find it “intolerable language” (v. 60). Or can we say with St Thomas when he met Jesus after HE had risen form the dead: “My Lord and my GOD.” (Jn.20:28). And if we believe, then what? Does it change how we behave? Does it change how we receive Holy Communion? If Jesus is really, fully and substantially present in the Eucharist, then what?