Apologetics Part III: Catholic and Proud of it!

Do we realize how much God loves us?! Do we realize that any desire we have for love comes from His outpouring of Love? How tremendous is His love? Let’s take a look…

Exodus 3:7ff. “But the LORD said, ‘I have witnessed the affliction of my people in Egypt and have heard their cry of complaint against their slave drivers, so I know well what they are suffering. Therefore I have come down to rescue them from the hands of the Egyptians and lead them out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey…'”  In a special way, God reveals Himself first as the ONE WHO SAVES. The saving God of the Old Testament reminds us that He is full of power, but in a unique way, God shows His power and might using a weak human population.

Just think, the Israelite community (the Hebrews in Egypt) are low-class slaves working under the god-like pharaoh. God uses Moses (who, at first, objects by saying that he is unfit to speak) to save them and bring them out from the grasp of the mighty Egyptians into a land already settled by other communities far greater than they… a task that emphasizes God’s power. Yet, in all of it, God’s power is revealed in the response of those weak Israelites. (Keep this idea in mind)

Again we hear of God’s saving power, personally united to His beloved people. Deuteronomy 4:37 “For love of your fathers he chose their descendants and personally led you out of Egypt by His great power.”

Then, because of our frailty God broke open our world and tried to crush further doubts by sending us a sign. This sign, however, was to be He Himself. Isaiah 7:14 “Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.” Then… God fulfills His promise. Matthew 1:22 “And all this took place of fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘behold the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,’ which means “god is with us.” Holy smokes… 

Even greater than that, God sent his Son into the world with a mission: John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that whoever believed in Him might have eternal life“!!  John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep”.  We read this in connection with Matthew 16:21 “From that time on, Jesus began to Show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.” Jesus makes it known that He is going to leave them, but, not without sending them an advocate: Matthew 28:20 “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

So, after your patient reading of my less-than-adequate exegesis of Salvation History, you might be thinking, what’s the point? Well, the point is, that Christ, who Loves us, NEVER, EVER leaves us. He is always there.

How great it is to be Catholic, because this saving God continues to be with us as long as we continue to respond to Him. But, because of our human frailty, Jesus took extra precaution and started a church: Matthew 16:17ff.  The most profound and significant manner of God’s presence among us is found in the Eucharist.

We know that the church celebrated the presence of the Lord. For clarification read John 6. Jesus begins the discourse on the Bread of Life in vague, spiritual, high theology but each and every time they start to question His teaching or He senses doubt, Jesus makes Himself more explicit and concrete. Notice He completely switches from saying “bread” to “flesh” and more subtly the word from eat (which can only really be noticed in the greek) switches from eating to a word that means more like “eating audibly” or more loosely, “gnawing”.

If Jesus’ words aren’t specific enough, lets look at the early Church and St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians 11:23. Notice especially verse 27, “Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and the blood of the Lord…without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgement on himself.”  St. Paul doesn’t seem to have a vague symbolic notion of Jesus’ presence here. It is more like God is SO present, because He loves us, that if we receive Him unworthily (that is described in other places) we bring judgement upon ourselves.

Isn’t it great to be Catholic? So many times I think we thwart God’s work in our lives because we fail to see how much God is willing to love us unto death, and remain with us under the appearance of bread and wine. When we let our minds get in the way, maybe we should reconsider what Jesus says to Peter in Matthew 16:23 “You are an obstacle to me. You are not thinking as God does, but as human beings do”. So often we fall into the sin of pride, wishing God to show his power and might, but we forget that His power is realized in His HUMILITY. Might we be so humble as to take Jesus at his word?

I am Catholic and PROUD of it. We have JESUS! He is here among us, and we don’t deny it. Let us remember WHY we are Catholic in the first place.

Peace,

Nick

This entry was posted in Blog. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Apologetics Part III: Catholic and Proud of it!

  1. Betty says:

    Nick..this is so inspiring , God truly loves us SO MUCH..Thanks for sharing these Beautiful words. May God Bless you always.

  2. Janette says:

    Gen 9:4 But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.
    Act 15:20 But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.

    Your position contradicts itself.

    Why would it be necessary to eat his real body?
    This passage 1Co 11:27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
    This means that if we do not take communion in a respectful manner that we sin and crucify him again.

    Jesus refers to the juice as his blood and then refers to it as fruit of the vine again.
    Mat 26:29 But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.

    Can you imagine after Jesus died his apostles getting together to take the Lord’s supper and the juice turns into real blood while they drank! They would have advised the early Church about this phenomenon, but alas we have no record that that happened. And the same apostles told Gentiles in Acts to abstain from blood, shouldn’t they have added an except clause?

    • Nick says:

      Janette,

      First, thank you for taking the time to read this blog post and for sending your own thoughtful reply!

      I would like to take mention of a few things. Firstly we are taking the literal words of Jesus, Himself, the God-man incarnated in Flesh for the life of the world. This alone should give us pause and make us ponder what is truly happening.

      I believe your reply is a common objection to the belief in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. So, let us go to the text itself. I will draw from John 6 reading from the original Greek and translating it.

      Jesus says, “ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ἄρτος τῆς ζωῆς” (6:48) which translates: “I Am the bread of Life”. Firstly, We can take the first two words “ἐγώ εἰμι”. When Greek uses these words together, it is written for the emphasis of pointing to the subject, “I AM”. Translated more literally it could be, “I, myself”. This form is used in a number of instances in Scripture when Jesus wants to make the point more explicit or more clearly. Jesus is trying to really point to Himself here saying that it is He Himself who is the bread of Life.

      Just three verses later Jesus makes an unusual jump. From the beginning of the Bread of Life discourse, he makes reference to the Manna in the Desert, Moses, and the saving power of God in the Old Testament. In verse 51 Jesus brings it together: “ἐγὼ εἰμι ὁ ἄρτος ὀ ζῶν ὁ ἐκ τοῦ ούρανοῦ καταβάς” which translates “I am the living bread which came down from heaven”. In the same verse He says, “if any one eats of this bread, he will live forever. Then Jesus makes the transition: “καὶ ὁ ἄρτος δὲ ὅν ἐγὼ δὼσω ἡ σάρξ μού ἐστιν ὑπέρ τῆς τοῦ κόσμου ζωῆς” – “and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh”.

      Taking the authority of Jesus I want to visit something you stated, “Can you imagine after Jesus died his apostles getting together to take the Lord’s supper and the juice turns into real blood while they drank!”. The Catholic Church believes that Jesus becomes present under the appearance of bread and wine. We know that Christ becomes present under those elements because of the Last supper accounts in all of the Synoptic Gospels. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC §1355) writes:

      “In the communion, preceded by the Lord’s prayer and the breaking of the bread, the faithful receive “the bread of heaven” and “the cup of salvation,” the body and blood of Christ who offered himself “for the life of the world”(Jn 6:51):
      “Because this bread and wine have been made Eucharist (“eucharisted,” according to the ancient expression), “we call this food Eucharist, and no one may take part in it unless he believes that what we teach is true, has received baptism for the forgiveness of sins and new birth, and lives in keeping with what Christ taught.”(Taken from St. Justin, Apol.1, 66, 1-2: PG 6, 428).

      St. Justin Martyr wrote the apologetics in 155 AD, which is quoted above, as a clear indication that the belief of the Church today existed at least as early as 155 AD and indeed much earlier, to the belief of the first disciples and Apostles themselves. St. Justin mentions the species, bread and wine, as the “food” that came down from heaven. In connection with Jesus’ words at the last supper, we can conclude that the bread and wine (not juice) remain in appearance after the prayer of Jesus is pronounced while the full presence of Christ is confected in the sacrament. In short, Christ is made present under the appearance of bread and wine.
      In John 6:51 he makes this point very clear because he brings together the elements of the “bread” and “his flesh” – “for the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” So yes, Jesus is saying you must eat my flesh, and makes this point very clearly in John 6:51ff but under the appearance of bread and wine.
      I think it is important to take the authority of Jesus first, and remember what happens next. Starting in verse 52:”The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat? (53) So Jesus said to them, “truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood you have no life in you; (54) he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. (55) For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.”
      The more the Jews question, the more explicit Jesus gets, the more He is adamant to make His point more and more concrete. Then at the very end of the discourse we read:
      “Then many of his disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, “Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken are spirit and life But there are some of you who do not believe.”…As a result of this, many [of] his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” (John 6:60-70)

      I still get chills when I read this last passage because it is clear that Jesus was more willing to speak the truth than to gain popularity. Jesus lets those who accompanied Him leave because they could not believe what he was saying to them in this discourse. After the early followers he turns to the twelve closest to Him and asks them if they will leave too. What an incredible testament to the truth Jesus was trying to communicate, to the point that He would let them leave rather than make his message more “chewable” to them.

      Thank you again for your reply. I hope you find this helpful to continue the discussion.

      God Bless,
      Nick

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>