Praise be Jesus Christ, Ascended into Heaven!
Now and forever, Amen!
Thanks for your good questions, Homer. I appreciate you carrying on this dialogue with me.
My responses are below…
Your contention that Jesus' body becomes the substance of the bread at some point in the Eucharist is a very puzzling thing to me. I think we likely have a very different understanding of what "substance" means. I suspect yo¬¬¬u are relying on the Latin root of the word rather than our English language.
Though the etymology of the word “substance” is somewhat helpful in understanding the meaning of the word as it is used in theology (for, the word substance comes from two Latin words which mean, “to stand under”; and, in theology, when it is done in English, a “substance” is that which “stands under”, or possesses, the qualities of the substance, such as its color, weight, etc.) Nevertheless, perhaps the best way to understand “substance” is to say that the “substance” of thing is that which answers the question, “What is it?” Thus, if I am holding a piece of bread, and I ask, “What is the substance of this thing?”, that is synonymous with asking, “What IS this thing?” And, the answer to both synonymous questions would be, “Bread”.
On the other hand, in addition to a thing having “substance”, every thing also has “accidents”, that is, qualities contained/possessed by the substance. Such “accidents” include such things as quantity and various qualities. Now, a thing’s “quantity” is that which answers the question, “How much of it is there?” Thus, I might be holding bread, and I might ask, “How much of the thing is there?”, which is the same as saying, “What is the thing’s quantity?”, and I might answer by saying, “2 pounds”, or something like, “48 cubic inches,” or something like that (depending on what measurement of quantity I’m looking for). Likewise, the “quality” of a thing answers the question, “What is the thing like?” Or, “How is the thing?” So, for example, qualities of a piece of bread include its color (white, brown), it’s hardness or softness, etc., for these answer the question, “What is the thing like?” “How is the thing?”
But, in all of this, notice that, underlying, “standing under” the various measurements of quantity and qualities of a thing (and any other accidental characteristics of a thing, such as its position or location, eg., “lying down on the kitchen counter”, “standing up in the pantry”, etc.), is the THING itself; that is, the SUBSTANCE itself.
I hope that makes sense. For, of course, all this is very helpful in understanding the Church’s authentic belief as to what happened to the bread and wine at the Last Supper when Christ said, “This is my Body, this is my Blood,” for, when Christ said that, the substance of those “things” changed from the substance of bread and wine to the substance of Christ’s Body and Blood, while the “accidents” (eg., quality, quantity, position, location) of what used to have the substance of bread and wine remained the same as before.
I will put that aside for the moment and inquire concerning your understanding of a couple relevant scriptures:
Matthew 26:26-29 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
26. While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” 27. And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; 28. for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins. 29. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”
At Jesus' blessing, as I understand your position, the substance of the bread and wine literally became Jesus' body and blood. Why then, after this has taken place, does he refer to the wine as "fruit of the vine" rather than His blood? And if the substance of the wine is literally His blood, will He drink his own blood with them in the future kingdom? Jesus said "this" (Greek toutou, literally "of this one") indicating that He would drink with them what they consumed at the last supper.
While different answers can be given, my opinion is that Jesus was actually NOT referring to the “Eucharistic Cup” in verse 29. Lest you think that is a “cop out”, consider the way Luke gives his account and the CHRONOLOGY of Luke’s account:
SO, in St. Luke’s account, we see Our Lord and the Apostles taking the cup before the Institution of the Eucharist, and Our Lord saying those words, “I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” While debate could be had as to which chronological ordering is correct, Luke’s or Matthew’s, for various reasons (which I could go into later, if need be), I think the chronology of Luke’s is more accurate.14 And when the hour came, he sat at table, and the apostles with him. 15 And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer; 16 for I tell you I shall not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves; 18 for I tell you that from now on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying,
“This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
20 And likewise the cup after supper, saying,
“This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.
21 But behold the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table. 22 For the Son of man goes as it has been determined; but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!” 23 And they began to question one another, which of them it was that would do this.
Nevertheless, even if one were to hold that the chronology of Matthew is correct, AND that verse 29 is referring to the “Eucharistic Cup”, one could still say that such language used by Our Lord is not contradictory to the claim that the wine was changed into His Blood for the simple facts that, in Scripture, things are often referred to by their appearances (eg., Gen. 18:2, 22; 19:1 refers to angels as “men” because they appear as men) or by what they used to be (eg., Aaron’s rod, which turned into a snake, is still called a “rod” after turning into a snake, see Ex. 7:12; and the cured blind man of John 9 is still called “the blind man” even after he was cured of his blindness).
But, like I said, I personally actually think verse 29 is referring to another cup than that of the Eucharistic Cup (though, if one were to argue against that, I still don’t think there is an issue for the reasons given here).
1 Corinthians 11:24-26 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
24. 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.” 25. In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 26. For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.
Again, if the substance of the bread is now His bodily flesh, why doesn't he call it that as in John 6 where you take it literally?
Again, for the same reasons given above—namely, sometimes it is proper (and even helpful) to describe things by their appearances, as opposed to their substance, as well as by their former realities, instead of their current realities. This is what the Apostle Paul is doing here: he is referring to the Eucharistic “bread” as “bread” because that is what it looks like, and that is what it used to be. But, he will go on to describe in more detail what is authentic Christian belief concerning this special “bread” and “cup” when he teaches, “So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves.
In fact, Christ Himself, in John 6, initially simply calls Himself the BREAD of Life; it is only LATER, in explaining Himself more clearly, that He says the “Bread” that He shall give IS His Flesh.
And, thus, even we Catholics today, following both Scripture and just speaking naturally, that is, according to appearances, will, at times, still refer to the Eucharistic “bread” as, just that, “bread” (even though, of course, we believe that it-- the substance of it-- is His Body).
So, when speaking about the Eucharist, it is quite natural, and acceptable, according to both the Scripture, Tradition (including Catholic Tradition), and human nature to, at times, use the terms “bread” and “wine” to refer to the Body and Bloody of Christ, simply because Christ gives His Body and Blood to us under those (humble) appearances of bread and wine, and He gives us His Body and Blood through what used to be bread and wine.
Jesus described Himself figuratively a number of times such as "the door", the good "shepherd", the "vine", "a light". I see these as the same kind of statements as His bread and blood statements, especially in light of His statement that should make the matter clear:
John 6:63 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
63. It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.
Yes, Jesus uses metaphors all the time; which is precisely why John 6 stands out so “oddly” in that, while one might be inclined to, at least at first, think He is using metaphor, as the discourse continues, He makes it clear that He is NOT using mere metaphor (as seen by the fact that He continues to emphasize the reality that the “bread that He shall give IS His flesh”, and that His flesh is “REAL food”, etc.).
With respect to John 6:63, I have already addressed the claim that this verse somehow means that everything Christ said prior to it was symbolic or metaphorical. However, this is simply not the case. I am not familiar of one place in Scripture in which the term, “spirit” means “symbolic” or “metaphorical” (rather, spiritual realities are MORE real than non-spiritual realities). Rather, what Our Lord is saying here, as I have mentioned before, is that to understand properly, and to believe, His words in John 6 takes real FAITH, a SPIRITUAL kind of thinking (given by THE Spirit), not a carnal, natural, “fleshly” kind of thinking devoid of true Faith (the kind of carnal, faith-less thinking that, apparently, Judas fell into HERE, in Christ's teachings over the Eucharist, as most clearly indicated by Our Lord's and the Evangelist's John's words, '"There are some of you that do not believe." For Jesus knew from the first who those were that did not believe, and who it was that should betray him...Jesus answered them, "Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?" He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was to betray him.' (John 6: 64, 70-71))
So it is that the Church, throughout the ages, from the time of the Apostles, the early Church, and on throughout the 2000 years of her history, being guided by the Spirit of Truth Whom Christ promised to send her in order to lead her to all truth, has held fast to this central Mystery of her Faith and Worship, the Mystery of Christ's real, true, and substantial presence in the Most Holy Eucharist. Amen.
In Christ, the Bread of Life, the Eucharistic Lord,