While they were eating, He took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it. He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many.” Mark 14:22-24
What is Holy Communion?
Catholics do not believe the Eucharist is a symbol of Jesus.
When Jesus said, “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, he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:53-54) we believe He meant what He said.
Jesus said this after He’d amassed a large following of disciples who’d left their homes, their work and their families to follow him. Here’s how they reacted to this teaching, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” (John 6:60) In other words, they freaked out. Their reaction tells us that they did not believe Jesus was talking about a symbol or teaching metaphorically.
These disciples were so dismayed by this specific teaching that in John 6:66 we read, “After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer walked with him.” Imagine the shaking heads and turned backs. A huge following reduced to a few. “Jesus said to the Twelve, “Will you also go away?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:67-68). Re-read those words He just spoke about eternal life: “he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life“.
It isn’t until the last supper that they learned how they could eat Jesus’s flesh and drink his blood. “And as they were eating, he took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” And he took a chalice, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And she said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.” (Mark 14:22-24)
In Luke 22:19 “This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” The apostles understood this to mean that Jesus established a new priesthood in them and their successors to offer the sacrifice of Jesus to the Father, just as their Jewish brothers and sisters offered a passover lamb to the Father. And just how the Jews eat the flesh of the passover lamb, we eat the flesh of the Lamb of God, which is what John the Baptist called Jesus: The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)
Each Mass the priest offers Jesus to the Father in sacrifice and we receive the bread that has now been transformed into the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ. We recieve Him into our hands. We get to touch Jesus! And even better, we live out that difficult teaching of eating His flesh that drove away many of his disciples. What a gift!
So why does the consecrated host still appear to be bread? Jesus probably knew we would balk at eating raw, chewy human flesh, so He does us a favor by not revealing the host’s true nature. But occasionally He doesn’t hide the reality and the bread does change. Here are a list of Eucharistic & Communion Miracles.
First Communion is offered as part of our second grade sacraments. To register your second grader is a two step process. First, register your child for faith formation classes. Second, register your child for First Reconciliation / First Communion. If you have an older child who needs to be prepared for first reconciliation and first communion, please call our pastoral assistant for faith formation at 360-383-8818. Adults seeking first communion will do so as part of RCIA. Please see our RCIA page for more information.