“I don’t know if I can believe that the Eucharist is really Jesus’ Body and Blood,” says a Protestant friend. “Can you show me where He says that in the Bible?”
“Why yes,” you say with confidence. “Please open to…”
Even though we as Catholics do not rely solely on the Bible for our doctrines, it is important to know the supporting Scripture passages when discussing things with our not-yet-Catholic brethren.
Though it might seem like a “hard saying,” the Real Presence is, in fact, a simple doctrine to explain Scripturally.
In Behold, It Is I: Scripture, Tradition, and Science on the Real Presence, authors Dr. Stacy Trasancos and Fr. George Elliott dive into some key passages that clearly state and explain this doctrine. They further support the claims of Scripture through the writings of the Church Fathers and fascinating investigations into Eucharistic miracles.
Here’s just a couple of the passages they cover:
John 6. This one is the classic Real Presence passage, and for good reason. It contains the Bread of Life discourse, wherein Jesus says that His Flesh is meat indeed, and His Blood is drink indeed. He speaks in clear and unambiguous terms, and offers no retraction of His statements when some of His disciples leave Him over this “hard saying.” There are also two miracles—the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, and Jesus’ walking on water—that Jesus performs shortly before this teaching, demonstrating His absolute power to do what He wills with His body and the elements of creation. These offer additional support for the literal interpretation of Jesus’ words.
The Institution narratives. The institution of the Eucharist is found in all three Synoptic Gospels and in St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians. The words of institution are essentially the same in all four, indicating that the wording is very important.
Furthermore, the Old Testament parallels are profoundly informative here: the Last Supper takes place during the feast of Passover, when the Jews were saved from destruction through the eating of the Paschal lamb and the sprinkling of its blood.
Covenants in the Old Testament were always ratified with a real sacrifice and real blood, so it makes sense that the new and everlasting covenant—as it is named by Jesus in the words of institution—should be sealed with a sacrifice of real flesh and blood, too.
Dig deeper into these passages (and many others!), strengthen your understanding of the Real Presence, and learn how to explain it in Behold, It Is I: Scripture, Tradition, and Science on the Real Presence—available today at The Catholic Company!