Sunday, September 30, 2012
Why the strong warning, St. Paul?
I often hear the argument from anti-Catholics that when Jesus was speaking of the bread and wine being his body and blood in John 6 and the Last Supper accounts, that he was not being literal but referring to the bread and the wine as being symbols. Jesus often spoke using hyperbole and at times he was being symbolic (e.g. John 10:9 "I am the door..."), but one or two or even a dozen instances of the use of hyperbole is not indicative of perpetual use of hyperbole. Anyway, John 6 aside, let's line that up with what else is revealed to us about the Eucharist in scripture:
1 Corinthians 10:16 -- the Eucharist is participation in Christ's body and blood
1 Corinthians 11:23-29 -- Receiving the bread and the wine in an unworthy manner is to profane against the body and blood of Christ
Exodus 12:8, 46 -- the Paschal (Passover) lamb had to be eaten
John 1:29 -- Jesus is referred to as "the Lamb of God..." by St. John the Baptist
1 Corinthians 5:7 -- Jesus is called the "paschal lamb who has been sacrificed"
Looking at 1 Corinthians 11:23-29 more closely (bolded for emphasis):
"For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when 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 also the cup, after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.'
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. Whoever, therefore, 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. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgement upon himself."
There's some very strong language in there, i.e. a very strong warning "... drinks judgement upon himself". If the Eucharist is merely a symbol, then why the strong word of warning from St. Paul? What could be so bad about profaning a mere symbol and why would that warrant bringing judgement upon yourself?
Remember: a text without a context is a pretext.
Is St. Paul telling a lie? If the anti-Catholic you're having this debate with truly believes that the Bible is the inspired and inerrant Word of God, then ask them: could it be that Jesus actually meant what his said and was being literal?
I don't think Christ was in the habit of saying things he didn't really mean.
Further reading: The Eucharist is "only symbolic"... say WHAAAT?!?