THE MOST CHALLLENGING BELIEF OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH: THE EUCHARIST
Why is it that so many Christian denominations have no problem with belief in the mystery of the Trinity yet fail in faith to accept the words of Jesus regarding the mystery of the Eucharist? It is by far the most challenging belief in Christianity and was so even in Christ's day.
As described in the gospel of St. John "many of His disciples left Jesus when He told the multitude that they would have to eat His Flesh and drink His Blood to have eternal life. Christ wanted to make sure that His own apostles believed in the Real Presence. That is why He asked them if they too, wanted to leave Him." But it was Peter who gave the correct answer. "He told Jesus that the apostles also did not comprehend this mystery, but they relied on Christ's words because they believed that Jesus is the living God who can neither deceive or be deceived." Fr John A. Hardon, S.J. Catechism on the Real Presence.
Christianity needs the authority of Christ's Church because as demonstrated in the last 500 years-- left to itself the human mind goes wild in it's interpretation of God's word. This is seen in the fact that "Martin Luther who had been a priest for fifteen years, broke with the Catholic Church on October 31, 1517. By the year 1600, there were over 200 Protestant interpretations of Christ's words, "this is my body ...this is my blood." ibid .
The wise words of the Saints prove the intense faith required to believe Jesus difficult words on the Eucharist:
St John Chrysostom warned the faithful about questioning the mysteries of the Eucharist: "Let us submit to God in all things and not contradict him, even if what he says seems contrary to our reason and intellect; rather, let his words prevail over our reason and intellect. Let us act in this way with regard to the eucharistic mysteries, looking not to what falls under our senses but holding on to His words. For His words cannot lead us astray."
St Thomas Aquinas also states: This truth "cannot be apprehended by the senses, but only by faith which relies on divine authority."
He also states in the infamous Adore Te: "Sight, touch and taste in thee are each deceived, the ear alone most safely is believed. I believe all the Son of God has spoken --than truth's own word there is no truer token."
St Cyril says: With respect to the Luke 22:19 (This is My Body which is given for you) "Do not doubt whether this is true, but rather receive the words of the Savior in faith, for since he is truth He cannot lie"
St Bonaventure said: "There is no difficulty about Christ's presence in the Eucharist as in a sign, but that He is truly present in the Eucharist as He is in heaven, this is most difficult. Therefore to believe this is especially meritorious."
It is a mystery that God Himself --the creator of the universe, would send His Son, born to a virgin, to die so that we could spend eternal life with Him. Why suspend our faith at this point and deprive our souls of the medicine of immortality? According to the words of Jesus Himself, one is denied eternal salvation for the belief that the Eucharist is a mere symbol-- while one inherits eternal life when one accepts that the flesh and blood of Jesus is food indeed. A strained reading of John chapter 6 which defies 1500 years of understanding of Christ's words is not worth the risk one's eternal salvation.
As Fr Hardon said, we must bend "our minds to the limit by commanding our intellect to submit to the mind of God and accept the revealed truth of Christ's real presence even though our senses tell us there is nothing but bread and wine."
This takes both the grace of humility and the gift of faith.