The real presence of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist

Posted May 21, 2009

The real presence of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist is great mystery, and we should strive to cultivate our faith in this mystery, which is a basic doctrine of our Catholic faith. Scripture makes numerous references to the fact that Jesus is truly, really, and substantially present in the Eucharist under the outward appearances of bread and wine. As we have already seen, the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John is Jesus’ most explicit and unambiguous teaching on his real presence in the Eucharist. The other Gospel writers all echo John’s account of Jesus’ teaching. When recounting the events at the Last Supper, they all unequivocally affirm that Jesus’ words were, “This is my body … ” and “This is my blood … ” (emphasis added).

Likewise, St. Paul also makes several references to belief in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist in the tenth and eleventh chapters of his First Letter to the Corinthians. In 1 Corinthians 10:16, (NAB) he writes: “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” Later, in 1 Corinthians 11:27-29, (NAB) he admonishes the Christians of Corinth with these words: “Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself”

Clearly, Jesus does not speak about a symbolic presence or merely a memorial presence in Scripture, but a real, physical presence. St. Gregory Nazianzen, a great theologian who lived in the fourth century, once wrote that the Eucharist “is the food that hungers to be eaten.” It is only fitting that reciprocally we should hunger after that food. Without truly believing in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, how can anyone hunger or earnestly seek after the bread from heaven? Without faith in Jesus’ presence in the Eucharist, how can there be any faith in his healing power in the Eucharist? And without any measure of fervor or devotion, how can anyone expect any kind of healing? Regrettably, many people do not even think of healing as available through the Eucharist, or know how Communion can be a source of healing for them. 

“The Healing Power of the Eucharist” Father John Hampsch, C.M.F. – Servant Books