How can the Eucharist be God? Jesus says in the Gospels that everything that passes through the mouth (in humans) reaches the stomach and is then expelled again. How can you call something that you eat and drink as God? And do only 2 Gods from 3 remain after you have eaten the Eucharist?
Answer: Catholic teaching does not say God is the Eucharist. The reader should read once more openly and critically sections III and IV in the book.
The Eucharist is one of the seven sacraments of the Catholic faith.
1. What are the sacraments and what does it mean to receive them?
Sacraments are signs in which we Christians experience in a special way Gods devotion to us through Jesus Christ. In them finds expression what we really receive: we encounter Christ. The Catholic Church knows seven sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, the Eucharist, Penance and Reconciliation, the Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders, and Matrimony. They accompany humans throughout their entire lives, from birth to death: in Baptism we receive new life through Jesus Christ; it integrates us into the community of the Church. In Confirmation Christ strengthens us with the Holy Spirit so that we can live, no longer as children, but as responsible Christians in the world and can witness our faith. In the Eucharist we become one with Christ and with one another. In Penance and Reconciliation, Christ grants us anew, and again and again, forgiveness for our sins and our guilt. In the Anointing of the Sick, Christ stands by us in serious illness and mortal danger. In the Sacrament of Holy Orders, he confers to the beneficiary the full power to proclaim his word and to dispense the sacraments. In Matrimony, when two people say yes to each other Christ binds them to an indissoluble bond until they are parted in death.
Baptism and the Eucharist are the fundamental sacraments. Their practice is frequently testified in the NT. With the seven number of sacraments, the Catholic Church stands in continuity with a long tradition whose origins date back already to the life of the early Church but which was roughly finalised only in the 12th C. During the 16th C, the sacraments became a point of argument between the religious denominations. Since then, the Reformation Churches usually maintain only the two sacraments of Baptism and the Last Supper (Eucharist). However, a certain convergence over the past few years can be noted.
Receiving the sacraments belongs to those conditions that one must fulfil in order to be a Christian: Baptism first enables entry into the community of the Church, it is the basic requirement. Later in life, the Eucharist ensures the bond to Christ promised by him. Only by receiving these sacraments is Christian life really possible. Only someone who is in relationship with Christ can honour his or her vocation as a Christian.
The Eucharist is the breaking of bread with, in other words, being at table with, Jesus Christ and is thus an expression of unity with him and with God.
The Eucharist makes visible unity with Christ because all participants in the holy supper take part in the body of Christ. The bread that we break, is it not sharing in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body for we all partake in the one bread. (1 Cor 10:16b-17).
The Last Supper that Jesus shares with his disciples, which is handed down many times in the New Testament (1 Cor 11:23-25; Mk 14:22-25; Mt 26:26-29; Lk 22:15-20), is the last supper in what may have been a long series of daily meals with his disciples. The breaking of bread has always been the identifying mark of kinship and living together which found expression in sharing a meal.
Jesus presumably resorted to this religiously significant form of the ritually determined Jewish meal: At the beginning of a meal, the head of the household gave praise to God, the giver of the bread, over the flatbread, broke off a piece for everyone (breaking bread) and portioned it out. Following the shared meal, the ritual was repeated over the cup of wine.
Given this background, what Jesus did and said at the Last Supper was unmistakably clear to his disciples. With his words, Take; this is my body, this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many (Mk 14:22b-23), he went beyond the usual meal ceremony, gave it a new significance, a new meaning in that he referred to himself, to his person in the bread and wine. In the light of the impending fate of death, which he accepted, he was speaking of himself as the sacrifice: Like the flatbread, so my body will be broken; like the wine that is poured out, so will my blood be poured out. Accordingly, Jesus’s suffering and dying is then signified as sacrifice and expiation for sins.
In remembrance of this Last Supper Christians celebrated and celebrate again and again this meal with one another: For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lords death until he comes. (1 Cor 11:26), writes Paul. However, this meal of remembrance is no funeral meal, but always a meal of joy due to Jesus’s resurrection (1 Cor 15), to give thanks (compare particularly Acts 2:46) for: 1. Jesus’s sacrifice, his life and death for us; 2. His solidarity with us, after all the bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ? (1 Cor 10:16b) and 3. The hope given for his coming in glory (compare: Mk 14:25; 26:29; 22:18).
To give thanks is called eucharistia in Greek. This is why this meal of thanksgiving is called the Eucharist. It is the centre of each Christian community, the heart of the Church, the bread which nourishes the Christian believer.
In this way, the Church is the new people of God, an egalitarian community from the body of Christ, bound together by the bond of love: Love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honour. Do not lag in zeal, but be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers (Rom 12:10-13).
The Christian bond of unity and the basis of mutual Christian brotherliness and solidarity are no longer blood relations and membership of the same tribe, but the common faith, ultimately the risen Christ, who unites Christians to and with one another through the Sacrament of the Eucharist in the Holy Spirit.