The Catholic Defender: The Eucharist And the Prophecy of Jeremiah
I will begin by telling of the Promise God made through the Prophet Jeremiah. To understand this promise, it is important to understand something of this time period. Not far from Jerusalem was a place called “Ramah” very close to Bethlehem. Ramah would become the staging area for the Jewish slaves taken into captivity to Babylon. The lamentation of the people was heard from heaven and God made this promise.
Jeremiah 31:31-34 says, "Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant which they broke, though I was their husband, says the LORD. But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each man teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more."
St. Matthew recalls how terrible the lamentation was saying, “A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they were no more” (Matthew 2:18).
King Herod attempted to kill Baby Jesus in Bethlehem and in doing so killed all the baby boys two years old and younger. Bethlehem means “house of bread”. Matthew 26:28 said "This is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting Covenant, it will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven, do this in memory of me". Jesus established the covenant of Jeremiah. When you go to Communion, you renew the Covenant with Him."
Heaven gives a very important picture through the prayer of the Angel of Portugal in 1916: “The Angel held a consecrated Host and the chalice, leaving this suspended in the air, the Angel bowed down low before the Eucharist praying these words, "O most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore you profoundly, I offer you the most precious body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in preparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifference by which he is offended. By the infinite merits of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg the conversion of poor sinners".
I am reminded of some of the Old Testament types: Melchizedek, ”king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was priest of God Most High.” This prefigures Jesus Christ who is the King of Heaven who offers this living Bread which comes down from heaven.
The controversy over ‘the breaking of bread’ begins with Jesus and his early followers during Christ’s ‘bread of life’ discourse. Some of his followers began to fall away (John 5:22-59). The Apostles themselves began to question this amongst themselves (John 6:60-70).
Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day” (John 6:53-54). (According to Robert Sungenis, "The word used in John 6:54, 56-58, when Jesus says to eat his flesh and drink his blood is an important matter to consider when doing exegesis of the passage. The word to eat, trogo, means to gnaw, crunch, so showing the physical reality, and showing the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist".
Jesus often explained his parables to his disciples. In the case of the breaking of bread, Jesus reaffirms and clarifies his teaching (John 6:53-58). Jesus directly asks the Apostles if they too would like to leave (John 6:67).
Every Believer should respond with St. Peter as he states, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life….” (John 6:68).
The Bread of life discourse was given on Passover (John 6:4) which was no accident. The Mass would be the fulfillment of the Jewish Passover.
In the days of Moses, manna was God’s provision for food for the Israelites as they wandered in the wilderness. In John 6, however, Jesus claimed to be the true manna, the bread of heaven. With this statement Jesus claimed to be God’s full provision for salvation.
Manna was God’s provision of deliverance from starvation. Jesus is God’s provision of deliverance from damnation. Just as the manna had to be consumed to preserve the lives of the Israelites, so Jesus has to be consumed (fully received by faith) for salvation to be received.
At the words of Jesus, Judas began to break (John 6:64-71), and he broke the night it was given (John 13:21-30). Judas would be the first to leave Mass early.
The Eucharist is the sign of the Lord's Covenant, is the pure offering spoken of by the Prophet Malachi. It is written, "For from the rising of the sun, even to its setting, my name is great among the nations; and everywhere they bring sacrifice to my name, and a pure offering: For great is my name among the nations, says the Lord of hosts.
The Israelites were commanded by God to eat the unleavened bread for seven days which would become a sign as a memorial between the Lord and his people (Exodus 13:9).
The first Passover was instituted by God as a perpetual feast. The Cup of blessing which we bless was the third cup in the Passover meal.
Exodus 35:10 says, “And let every able man among you come and make all that the Lord has commanded: the tabernacle, its tent and its covering….” Consider Hebrews 13:10-14, “We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat. The bodies of the animals whose blood the high priest brings into the sanctuary as a sin offering are burned outside the camp. Therefore, Jesus also suffered outside the gate, to consecrate the people by his own blood. Let us then go to him outside the camp, bearing the reproach that he bore.”
As the Israelite were saved from the Angel of Death by the blood of innocent spotless lambs blood applied on the lintel and two doorposts using a hyssop branch, the spotless Lamb of God was crucified between two thieves shedding his blood on behalf of all the world.
After receiving the wine off the hyssop branch, Jesus from the cross says ''It is finished" marking the end of the old Covenant and the beginning of the new Covenant.
It was here that Jesus transforms the Passover to the Mass. He received the cup that sealed the end of the Old Covenant, it is finished. The priesthood of Levi is no more. It was destroyed at the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 A.D. Just as Jesus predicted it would. The Catholic Priesthood now serves the tabernacle not holding the burned offering of animals, but the glorified risen Christ, the Eucharist. (Hebrews 13:10-11)
From this point on the Mass have become the center of Christian worship. The means by which Gods people can renew the new and everlasting Covenant. From the earliest times, "They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers" (Acts 2:42).
"On the first day of the week when we gathered to break bread...", St. Paul raised Eutychus from the dead, then returned, "broke the bread, and ate; after a long conversation that lasted until daybreak, he departed" (Acts 20:7,11).
I often refer to this scene as the first recorded Midnight Mass! St. Paul refers to the "breaking of bread" and the cup of the "new covenant" saying, "For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes" (1 Corinthians 11:26).
From the very beginning, the Mass (liturgy of the word and the Eucharist) was the center of Christian worship.
1 Corinthians 10:16-17; “the chalice of benediction, which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? And the bread, which we break, is it not the partaking of the body of the Lord? For we, being many, are one bread, one body, all which partake of one bread.”
St. Paul continues, “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and also the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and of the table of demons”.
It is interesting that St. Paul referred to the cup as the “cup of blessing”! The cup of blessing was the third cup in the Passover meal. The fourth cup Jesus postponed until he was on the cross.
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 answerable for the body and blood of the Lord. Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgment against themselves. For this reason many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.
The New Testament Scripture makes clear that the apostles recognized Jesus in the breaking of bread (Luke 24:35). St. Paul wrote that if you didn't recognize Jesus’ body in the breaking of bread, “you bring judgment to yourself” (I Corinthians 11:29). The other apostles were in unison with this teaching (Acts 2:42-47).
The language ties in perfectly with the aforementioned statement of the apostle Paul: "present your bodies as a living sacrifice; holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship" (Romans 12:1).
Jesus said, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will enter his house and will dine with him, and he with me. I will give the victor the right to sit with me on my throne, as I myself first won the victory and sit with my Father on his throne.”
St. Ignatius of Antioch ordained as Bishop by the Apostle Peter, urged believers to "partake of one Eucharist, for one is the flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one the cup to unite us with His blood.” St. Ignatius also warned the Ephesians that if they “abstain from the Eucharistic Celebration because of their doubts; they will die in their doubts.” During the middle of the second century, St. Justin the Martyr states, “on the day which is called ‘Sunday,’ we have a common assembly….The Eucharistic elements are distributed and consumed.”
This is the teaching of the Catholic Church from the very beginning: In the Eucharist, Jesus Christ is truly present; body, blood, soul and divinity. Jesus instructed the Apostles to proclaim this fact (Matthew 28:16-20).
As the Church grew under persecution during the first three centuries, the pagans thought we were cannibals because of false rumors and misrepresentations that were spread about the Christians. The Mass was done in secret because it was against Roman law.
In the year 258 A. D., , a young boy became the first martyr for the Eucharist. While taking consecrated Hosts to Christians in prison, he was caught and killed by Roman soldiers. They could not open his hands which held the Blessed Sacrament. Our Lord was not desecrated and clearly Tarcisius recognized Jesus in the breaking of bread.
A Eucharistic miracle occurred in early 700 A. D. A priest began to have doubts about the real presence of the Lord in the Eucharist. To show the priest the error of his ways, the Host transformed into flesh and the wine transformed into blood during the moment of consecration.
This act of God is known as ‘The Miracle of Lanciano’ and is kept in the Church of St. Francis, Italy. Millions of pilgrims have traveled to this site to view this now 1300-year old miracle. The Vatican recently ordered an investigation. A number of medical professionals from respected universities such as Turin and Florence spent two years conducting a thorough investigation.
They determined the flesh to be cardiac, i.e., from the heart. Furthermore, rigor mortis had not occurred, implying that the heart tissue was yet living. The examiners called it ‘incorrupt.’ The blood (which had coagulated into five blood clots as the centuries passed) was determined to be in a petrified state, but upon liquefaction of a particle of the blood, tests showed that protein and chemical compounds were wholly present.
The blood type is AB positive, the same type blood discovered on the shroud of Turin, the fabric that served Jesus Christ as His burial cloth. Another unique finding was that the blood revealed it held a feminine characteristic. What is interesting about that point is Jesus had no earthly Father. He got his DNA from His Mother, Mary.
I use to serve as an NCOIC of a Troop Medical Clinic, I was responsible for all the lab, including the drawing of blood for all kinds of testing. I went to our local hospital and ask what happens to the blood when exposed to air.
I found that blood begins to decompose after 15 minutes. Blood in test tubes is only good for a few hours. With refrigeration, blood is good for 30 days. The red blood cells begin to die after this period of time.
The blood and flesh of the ‘Miracle of Lanciano’ has been exposed to the elements for 1300 years, two of those years under intense biochemical observation. There is no natural explanation for ‘The Miracle of Lanciano.’
Some two hundred years after the Lanciano miracle occurred, controversy again appeared. A monk named Ratramnus, in 868 A. D. claimed that the Eucharist could not be the historical Jesus. He believed that it was symbolic rather than corporeal. His teaching was condemned at the Synod of Vercelli.
In 1079, Archdeacon Berenger of Tours favored Ratramnus position, but he later recanted, or repented, to Pope Gregory VII. Other men that would challenge church teaching on the Eucharist prior to the Protestant Reformation were Peter Waldo, founder of the Waldensian heresy, and priests such as John Huss and John Wycliffe.
The latter two were condemned at the Council of Constance in 1415 A. D. During the aftermath of the Protestant Reformation, no one challenged the church on the Eucharist like John Calvin, nor had his impact. Calvin claimed that the Eucharist was merely a memorial and cited Luke 22:19, "do this in memory of me.” His position is held yet today by most fundamental Protestant groups.
The Catholic Church maintains that “in memory” of His death and resurrection, we proclaim the “death of the Lord until He comes” again in glory (I Corinthians 11:26). In our generation, many Catholics appear to have lost faith in the real presence, thus fulfilling the word expressed in I Timothy 4:1-5.
This grieves the Sacred Heart of Jesus as He gave His all for our sake:
"Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, 'Sit here while I go over there and pray'. He took along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to feel sorrow and distress. Then he said to them, 'My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch with me'. He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, 'My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will'. When he returned to his disciples he found them asleep. He said to Peter, 'So you could not keep watch with me for one hour? Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak" (Matthew 26:36-41).
We are living in a time when many are asleep and will unfortunately undergo the test. Many will fail this test because they are asleep. Sin is dominated in their life. Jesus warns "But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth" (Luke 18:8).
St. Paul encourages us saying, "But you, remain faithful to what you have learned and believed, because you know from whom you learned it, and that from infancy you have known the sacred scriptures, which are capable of giving you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 3:14).
Pope St. John Paul II said during his trip to Korea, "It is most fitting that my first stop among the Korean people should be in a church such as this, where the minds and hearts of the faithful are constantly raised up in adoration before Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist" (Seoul Korea, October 7, 1989).
Psalms 119:97-104 states, "How I love your teaching, Lord! I study it all day long. Your command makes me wiser than my foes, for it is always with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, because I ponder your decrees. I have more insight than my elders, because I observe your precepts. I keep my steps from every evil path, that I may obey your word. From your edicts I do not turn, for you have taught them to me. How sweet to my tongue is your promise, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through your precepts I gain insight; therefore I hate all false ways".
Ephesians 5:14 says, "Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light".
Vatican II said, "The Eucharist is the source and summit of all preaching of the Gospel", the Catholic Church has the ability to turn the tide for the good that God wants to bestow upon His people. Jesus wants to bless you with great graces.
Philippians 4:4-9 says, "Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you".
Every Catholic Church has the opportunity to spend time with the tabernacle; the faithful has the direct source where Jesus is truly present.
The Eucharist is the bread that came down from heaven. Jesus is our thanksgiving!
The prayer of the Angel of Portugal given to the Children of Fatima: "My God, I believe, I adore, I trust and I love you! I beg pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not trust and do not love you".
A true Christian is one who believes that Jesus is alive today in the Blessed Sacrament. Jesus is truly there in the tabernacle. I have had the opportunity to go to Mass in Latin America, all over the United States, Europe, Korea, the Middle East and no matter where I have been, the Lord's Mass is totally unified with the Church of Rome. From Jesus through his apostles, it has always been this way.
The Church in the early years had to hold Mass in secret for fear of the Jews and then of the Romans. Mass would be held at homes where people would gather. Catacombs and caves were other places that the Christians held Mass. I was in a 2nd/3rd century Catacomb is located in Salzburg Austria. I had the chance to visit this site where the early Christian celebrated Mass. There is a grave site where the Priest, Father Maximus was martyred by the Romans. They still have original utensils and altar used by the Christians when you go up into the Catacomb. I had the chance to go in there and you can feel the reverence of the praise of voices long ago.
About 140 A.D., a convert to the Catholic Faith would write about his experience of the Mass. St. Justin Martyr wrote the following:
No one may share the Eucharist with us unless he believes that what we teach is true, unless he is washed in the regenerating waters of baptism for the remission of his sins, and unless he lives in accordance with the principles given us by Christ.
We do not consume the Eucharistic bread and wine as if it were ordinary food and drink, for we have been taught that as Jesus Christ our Savior became a man of flesh and blood by the power of the Word of God, so also the food that our flesh and blood assimilates for its nourishment becomes the flesh and blood of the incarnate Jesus by the power of his own words contained in the prayer of thanksgiving.
On Sunday we have a common assembly of all our members, whether they live in the city or the outlying districts.
The recollections of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as there is time. When the reader has finished, the president of the assembly speaks to us; he urges everyone to imitate the examples of virtue we have heard in the readings.
Then we all stand up together and pray.
The wealthy, if they wish, may make a contribution, and they themselves decide the amount. The collection is placed in the custody of the president, who uses it to help the orphans and widows and all who for any reason are in distress, whether because they are sick, in prison, or away from home. In a word, he takes care of all who are in need.
We hold our common assembly on Sunday because it is the first day of the week, the day on which God put darkness and chaos to flight and created the world, and because on that same day our savior Jesus Christ rose from the dead. For he was crucified on Friday and on Sunday he appeared to his apostles and disciples and taught them the things that we have passed on for your consideration”.
Jesus Christ is this "pure offering". The sacrifice is the Mass, Jesus offers himself to the Father in an unbloodied sacrifice, a perpetual Sacrament offered continually. Jesus died only once and for all, but the efficacy of that sacrifice is presented in the Mass.
"Transubstantiation (in Latin, transubstantiation, in Greek μετουσίωσις metousiosis) means the change of the substance of host bread and sacramental wine into the substance of the Body and Blood (respectively) of Jesus in the Eucharist, while all that is accessible to the senses (accidents) remains as before".
From the Didache, "Let no one eat or drink of the Eucharist with you except those who have been baptized in the Name of the Lord," for it was in reference to this that the Lord said, "Do not give that which is holy to dogs." Matthew 7:6
St. Ignatius of Antioch wrote, "I desire the bread of GOD, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ". St. Ignatius of Antioch also wrote (106 A.D.) "stand aloof from such heretics", because, among other reasons, "they abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, of His goodness, raised up again."
St. Justin Martyr wrote (150 A.D.), "Not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Savior, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh."
St. Justin Martyr wrote, "Now it is evident, that in this prophecy to the bread which our Christ gave us to eat, in remembrance of His being made flesh for the sake of His believers, for whom also He suffered; and to the cup which He gave us to drink, in remembrance of His own blood, with giving of thanks."
This is the Catholic Church, this is the Kingdom of God on earth, this is the New Testament based from the New and Everlasting Covenant established by our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Virgin Mary appearing at Fatima Portugal echoes Hebrews 13:18, "Pray for us, for we are confident that we have a clear conscience, wishing to act rightly in every respect. I especially ask for your prayers that I may be restored to you very soon". Mary would warn us not to judge a Priest, but to pray for them. There would be Priests that will displease our Lord. They will face judgment and they need our prayers. As we go forward through the Church year, remember to pray and obey our holy Catholic Faith.
Jeremiah's Covenant prophecy has been revealed through Jesus Christ and the Eucharistic Covenant.