The sixth chapter of John’s Gospel is a discourse by Christ about the Living Bread . Jesus will teach his disciples and us that He is the Living Bread come from the Father. The discussion will move from the Manna that Moses gave the people to Jesus being their food. Many of them will walk away, because they are sickened at the thought of eating His flesh and drinking His blood. But Jesus does not correct them or say that he is speaking metaphorically. He says that His flesh is true food and His blood is true drink. At the last Supper, He will give His disciples the first Eucharist and tell them to repeat this action.
Today, most Protestant faiths believe that Eucharist is symbolic and not really Jesus’ Body and Blood. In fact, 60% of Catholics who are questioned do not believe that they really receive Jesus in Communion. Christ’s real presence is a core belief of our Catholic faith and it is not open to debate. The Eucharist has been passed down to us from the Apostles. Saint Paul often referred to the true presence of Christ in his letters to the Churches as early as 40 years after Christ’s death. For example in his letter to the Corinthians St Paul said: “Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ?” (1 Cor. 10:16)
Have you ever been an eyewitness to a miracle?
A miracle is: a wonder; marvel; extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is attributed to a supernatural cause; such an effect or event manifesting or considered as a work of God.
In 750 AD at the Church of St. Francis “A monastic priest doubted whether the Body of Our Lord was truly present in the consecrated Host. He celebrated Mass and when he said the words of consecration, he saw the host turn into Flesh and the wine turn into Blood. Everything was visible to those in attendance. The Flesh is still intact and the Blood is divided into five unequal parts and held in a Monstrance in Lanciano, Italy.
In 1970, the Archbishop of Lanciano. Italy and the Provincial Superior of the Conventual Franciscans at Abruzzo, with Rome’s approval, requested Dr. Edward Linoli, director of the hospital in Arezzo and professor of anatomy, histology, chemistry, and clinical microscopy, to perform a thorough scientific examination on the relics of the miracle which had occurred twelve centuries earlier. On March 4, 1971, the professor presented a detailed report of the various studies carried out. Here are the basic results:
1. The “miraculous Flesh" is authentic flesh consisting of muscular tissue of the heart.
2. The “miraculous Blood" is truly human blood A-B – the same blood type as that of the man of the Shroud and the type most characteristic of Middle Eastern populations.
3. The immunological study shows with certitude that the flesh and the blood are human.
Also, in 1973, the chief Advisory Board of the World Health Organization of the UN appointed a scientific commission to corroborate Linoli’s findings. Their work lasted 15 months and included 500 tests. It was verified that the 1200 year old fragments taken from Lanciano could in no way be likened to embalmed tissue. As to the nature of the fragment of flesh, the commission declared it to be living tissue. Their reply fully corroborated Professor Linoli’s conclusions. In the extract summarizing the scientific work of the Medical Commission of the WHO and the UN, published in Dec. 1976 in New York and Geneva, declared that science has come to a halt, face to face with the impossibility of explaining the miracle.
Every Sunday we all witness a miracle taking place at Mass. In fact miracles occur on a regular basis each day that Mass is celebated. The priest takes the bread and wine which are offered in our name and says the words of consecration, just as Jesus did at the Last Supper. The bread and wine retain all of their appearances but they are turned into the living Body and Blood of Christ in what is called transubstantiation.
When you and I receive Christ in Holy Communion, may we recognize the miracle that we participate in, receive Him with the awe, respect and humility that is due to the Son of God. After receiving, let us take time to give Him thanks and praise for choosing us to share His life.