Holy Eucharist, What is the Message?

From an official Catholic teaching “The Holy Eucharist (aka, giving thanks to God) is a sacrament and a sacrifice… under the appearances of bread and wine, the Lord Christ is contained, offered, and received.

It is common for Christians to observe this tradition on a daytime every Sunday as others have come to do. Some celebrate this occasion on the night of Nisan 14, while most Jews do this on the night of Nisan 15 of the Jewish calendar on the first day of Unleavened Bread. We were advised by Christ himself to continue as in “do this in remembrance of me”. Notice that the event is to be remembered and that the bread and wine, respectively, represent his body and blood shed for all of us.

A common predicate of this teaching is in

John 6:50-59 This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.  I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever. These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum.

Note that anyone who eats the “manna” as the partriarchs did and died, so will all who eat the “natural bread” that represented the flesh and drink the “blood” will also die. It is not the natural bread and wine, but the “living bread” that should be taken in, as in-dwelling of Jesus by “spiritual in-dwelling in the mind/spirit-of-man”.

 The above “bread/flesh-and-blood” is a “metaphor, an analogy , a figure of speech highlighted in:

Luke 22:9 “And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

It is an occasion to proclaim Jesus’ death, resurrection and his 2nd coming as the apostle Paul recorded in 1 Corinthians 11:23–26:

For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you:The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”

As vital as they are, still, all of these remained symbolic proclamation and nothing else. Any extension beyond that can be controversial .

The tangential question posed, refers to whether there is really “transubstantiation” of Jesus’ actual “blood and body” into the natural bread and wine? Is there “communion” between Christ and bread/wine or, by this teaching, are we missing out on the “real communion? Or, is there another meaning of “transubstantiation” that we need to understand. Did “All Christians, with but few minor exceptions, hold the true doctrine of the Real Presence from the time of Christ until the Protestant Revolution in the sixteenth century? To get to the bottom of that question requires going back in history. And, this is not an exercise to “shame, berate, discredit, minimize” those who believe in transubstantiation or anything similar. Instead this is an honest and respectful quest for what really is the message of this tradition.

History of “Breaking of a Bread

In the Jewish calendar, the day includes the darkness-part when it starts and daylight-part when it ends from “evening to evening or sunset to sunset”. Biblically, the “passover meal” every year occurs on the night or beginning of Nisan 15, the first day of Unleavened Bread, which is in itself commemorated for 7 days. In contrast, the timing of Jesus’ “last supper” was nighttime of Nisan 14, the night of his betrayal by Judas. This was also the night before Jesus was crucified which was on the daytime of Nisan 14, the preparation day of Passover; “preparation” in the sense of preparing the lamb for killing and for people to prepare the meal that night. And, this was done obviously because he could not eat the “passover meal” on the night of Nisan 15, even when he “eagerly desired” as he would be crucified the day before. Jesus said in Luke 15:22 to express his intention:

And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.

Instead of eating the traditional passover lamb on the night or start of Nisan 15, Jesus commanded his disciples to prepare the meal on the night or beginning of Nisan 14.

Since then, his disciples have continued this commemoration of Passover meal on the night of Nisan 15, every year and not on the night of Nisan 14. And, it goes without saying that they commemorated Nisan 14, the “preparation day” as the day of Jesus’ crucifixion when the “true Lamb of God was sacrificed”, as in:

At that time no small controversy arose because all the dioceses of Asia thought it right, as though by more ancient tradition, to observe for the feast of the Saviour’s passover the fourteenth day of the moon, on which the Jews had been commanded to kill the lamb.” (Eusebius, Church History, Ch. XXIII.)

Early church fathers like Ignatius of Antioch, Irenaeus, Tertulian, Origen and Augustine were thought to have taught by other historians to have embraced transubstantiation. In actuality, according to Nathan Busenitz, they may have misinterpreted the meaning of their writings at that time when there were people who rejected the incarnation and humanity of Jesus; they may have believed that the bread and wine as symbols.

Other historians noted absence of transubstantiation teaching since Jesus “broke bread”. When did it start, then?

Berengar of Tours, French theologian rejected the then-current view of transubstantiation credited to the 9th-century abbot of Corbie, St. Paschasius Radbertus, who professed that the bread and wine, after consecration in the mass, became the real body and blood of Christ. 

Most well-known and influential work of St. Paschasius, De Corpore et Sanguine Domini (written between 831 and 833), is an exposition on the nature of the Eucharist. In it, Paschasius agrees with 4th century anti-Arianism Bishop of Milan Ambrose (Aurelius Ambrosius) in affirming that the Eucharist contains the true, historical body of Jesus Christ. He thus believed that the transubstantiation of the bread and wine offered in the Eucharist really occurred. “Only if the Eucharist is the actual body and blood of Christ can a Christian know it is salvific.”

So, it appears that it may have been a teaching of the 4th century, like the teaching of “trinity” at the Council of Nicea. The affirmation of this doctrine was expressed, using the word “transubstantiate”, by the Fourth Council of the Lateran in 1215 and extended through the 9th century to this day.

Altogether, transubstantiation does not appear to be based on original or actual teaching. Rather, it has evolved from perception and interpretation.

What is the truth and message?

It was about the “transubstantiation of Jesus, not into the natural bread and wine, but into the mind/spirit-of-man” by the “spirit- power” given to him by the Father. It was his “in-dwelling in humans” by and through the power of the Holy Spirit. This is “power” unlike any other, e.g., gravity, mechanical, electric, nuclear, wind, solar powers we have learned through centuries and which was given first to man-Jesus at River Jordan and subsequently to his disciples specifically and generally to others at Pentecost and on. Without this power, he would not be able to re-mold and re-create the “marred clay” as in Jeremiah 18:3-6 and Isaiah 64:8 as the “kingdom of God” is being created.

The “breaking of bread” on that night of Nisan 14, is the “breaking of his body and giving his blood at crucifixion to die; it was to proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes back.” to in-dwell in humans. It expressed what was planned from the foundation of the world.

This is a plan for the future in-dwelling of Christ in us but only after his death and resurrection and receiving that power from the Father. This in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit in humans first occurred to our “trailblazer and origin of our faith/salvation“, Jesus Christ, then to his disciples and subsequently to others in a general way, from Pentecost on. It was not about “transubstantiation of Jesus into the natural bread and wine,” which detracts and distracts from his actual plan for mankind.

Summary

The Eucharist is a major teaching of Christianity that must be commemorated. It has to be remembered but as to the day and time, there was no specific mandate to follow for that Nisan 14, except the Passover meal on the beginning or night of Nisan 15. But the message can not be ignored nor sidelined. Transubstantiation of Jesus into natural bread and wine is an interpretation that detracts and distracts from the actual message and process of “in-dwelling” of Christ in humans ( in the real you) through the Holy Spirit of power.

This transubstantiation” is actual “in-dwelling of Jesus by the empowering Holy Spirit in the mind“, the “spirit-of-man”. And, this is an ongoing process from the time of man-Jesus’ receiving the Holy Spirit of power from the Father and subsequently ( ldeclared as Son of God” by the resurrection from the dead)to be given to us. Remember what John said, “He will baptize you in Spirit”. Instead of transubstantiation into natural bread-and-wine, the message of Eucharist is Jesus in-dwelling in humans at predestined time appointed. , with the goal of “oneness” and “ongoing creation”, the “real communion with God“.

God bless 🙏😇

Original post: May 14, 2020

Please tap on hyperlinks for references.

Critique is welcome at foundationacts@yahoo.com

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