Does the Bible support the Catholic belief that, in the Mass, the bread and wine become the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ?
It certainly does! Jesus instituted the Eucharist at the Last Supper when he said of the bread, “Take, eat, this is my body,” and of the wine, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant” (Mt 26:26-27). The bread is His Body, the wine is His Blood. St. Paul reflects this same understanding when he says that the bread and the wine are a participation in the Body and Blood of Christ (cf. 1 Cor 10:16). He goes on to say that whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord, and that anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself (cf. 1 Cor 11:27-29). This can only be so if the bread and wine are the actual Body and Blood of Christ.
In John 6, Jesus unceasingly demands this understanding of the Eucharist:
“…the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.” (vs. 51)”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;” (vs. 53)
“he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (vs. 54)
“For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.” (vs. 55)
“He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.” (vs. 56)
“As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me.” (vs. 57)
The crowd obviously understood him as speaking literally. They disputed among themselves, objecting to such a “hard saying” (cf. vs. 52, 60). Despite their grumbling, Jesus did nothing to correct their understanding or to give them the indication that He was speaking of anything other than His very own Body and Blood. He desired that we consume His very self, that He could come to dwell within us. When he told the Apostles, “Do this in remembrance of me,” He gave to them and to every priest who comes after them the power to make that consumption and that indwelling a reality.
The Eucharist is truly an amazing gift.
Peace of Christ to you,
WIMM Board Member
Director of Religious Education, Blessed Mother Catholic Church
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