Catholic YouTube Singer’s comments need some explaination.
Jose Orlando Ponce is a South Florida Spanish Catholic Singer and Music Minister for his parish. I’ve followed his blog and YouTube Channel and I was quite interested in one of his latest songs particularly since it’s in English. I couldn’t help but notice the comments on his YouTube Channel, especially those from a seperated Protestant brother. So, in an ecumenical attempt to arrive at the truth, here’s my rebuttal.
To begin with, the big bugaboo has to do with our Lord’s words, specifically those found in John 6:53-56 which reads in part:
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. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.
DuhEnlightenedOne states that, “the Greek word for drink is pino which also can be defined as ‘figuratively, to receive into the soul what serves to refresh strengthen, nourish it unto life eternal’…If literally drinking His blood was important, don’t you think He would have mentioned it at some other point in his ministry?” He further adds by saying, “Body = soma (Greek)…the Greek word Soma - a (large or small) number of men closely united into one society, or family as it were; a social, ethical, mystical body so in the NT of the church.”
This is an oft used Protestant rebuttal of an undeniable Catholic truth, indeed, most heresies are. While DuhEnlightenedOne is correct in the words that Jesus used in John 6, he mistakenly (or purposefully) chose not to translate the Greek terms of eat and flesh.
You see, in John 6:23,26,31,50,51,52 and 53, the Greek text has Jesus using the term “phago” (φάγω) which means literally to eat. But, at verse 54 when Jesus says:
“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.”
The verb for eat changes from phago to the verb “trogo” (τρώγω) which means literally to gnaw, chew or to crunch – this word is continuously repeated, instead of phago, in verses 54,56,57 and 58. When this change of wordage is noted, it is easily seen that Jesus doesn’t want us to figuratively or metaphorically “eat his flesh,” quite the contrary; Jesus is commanding us to do the literal action of the word, to actually and physically eat his flesh. An interesting thing should be noted here, Protestants rightly claim that the Holy Spirit inspired fallible men to pen God’s infallible word, why then did the Holy Spirit inspire John to change the verb used from one word to another if not to emphasize the actual meaning of what Jesus was trying to say?
So undeniable is this fact that Jesus IS FORCED to explain the literal sense of what he means after the Jews gathered around Him are dumbfounded by His words in John 6:52, remember, these are Jews and it is wholly against Jewish dietary laws to consume blood or bloody meat (Lev. 7:27 and Lev. 17:10-14). So it is plainly visible that the Jews would quarrel amongst themselves over the meaning of His words but, in order that they might understand, he OVERLY EMPHASISES His words so that there is no confusion. What ensues is some of His disciples rejected His words and returned to their former lives and stopped followed Him (John 6:66), why? Because they knew exactly what he was saying! That being, that as followers, they have to eat his flesh. As Orlando Ponce correctly stated in his rebuttal statement, “…don’t you find it a bit telling that Jesus - throughout most of the Gospels - is quick to interpret the meaning of his words and yet, He failed to tell the Jews in Jn 6:51-56 that he was only speaking figuratively or metaphorically??”
DuhEnlightenedOne, also stated that “Body = Soma” in the Greek. He is correct in saying this BUT, he grossly omits the fact that during the dialogue through John 6:51-58, Jesus never uses the word soma (σῶμά) but, instead, uses the word sarx (σάρξ) which literally means flesh, NOT body. And therein lies the distinction: Jesus isn’t telling us to partake of his figurative body/flesh, He is commanding us to trogon (chew) upon His sarx (flesh).
DuhEnlightenedOne notes, “John 6:63 says point blank the flesh profiteth nothing. It is the spirit that gives life.” Yet again, a misinterpreted verse used to justify a Protestant heresy. What Jesus is referring to is mankind’s inclination to think using only what their natural human reason would tell them rather than what God would tell them. The beauty of John’s Gospel is that it is so theologically deep when compared to the Synoptics Gospels, one interesting thing that runs like a bright red thread through John’s Gospel is the comparison between the earthly flesh and the divine flesh. As Francis J Moloney & Daniel J. Larrington state in their commentary of John’s Gospel:
“…one must distinguish between the sarx of Jesus and the sarx of human beings. Sarx is used thirteen times in the Fourth Gospel, and its use is consistent. The sarx of Jesus tells the story of God (1:14,18), and is essential for life (c.f. 6:51,52,53,54,55,56). But the sarx of human beings is confined to the human sphere, that which is “below” (1:13; 3:6; cf. 8:23), and is the source of judgment limited by the superficial criteria provided by the physically observable (8:15; cf. 7:24). In 17:2 “all flesh” (pases sarkos) is used to render a Hebraism that means “every created thing.” There is no contradiction between the use of sarx in vv. 51-58, where Jesus speaks of his own flesh, and v. 63 where he speaks of the superficiality of the limited human expectations the disciples have of Jesus…”
But, don’t take their or my word or, the Catholic Church’s authority for this interpretation, let’s see what the early Christians believed:
St. Ignatius of Antioch, 100 A.D.
“…have no taste for corruptible food nor for the pleasures of this life. I desire the Bread of God, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, who was of the seed of David; and for drink I desire His blood, which is love incorruptible.” - Letter to Romans 7:3
“They [the Gnostics] abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins and which the Father, in his goodness, raised up again.” - Letter to Smyrnaeans 7:1
St. Justin Martyr, 150 A.D.
“We call this food Eucharist; and no one else is permitted to partake of it, except one who believes our teaching to be true and who has been washed in the washing which is for the remission of sins and for regeneration [being born again in Baptism], and is thereby living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these; but since Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by Him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nourished, is both the flesh and blood of that incarnate Jesus.” - First Apology 66
St. Irenaeus, 180 A.D.
“But what consistency is there in those who hold that the bread over which thanks have been given is the body of their Lord, and the cup His blood, if they do not acknowledge that He is the Son of the Creator… For as the bread from the earth, receiving the invocation of God, is no longer common bread but the Eucharist, consisting of two elements, earthly and heavenly…” - Against Heresies 4:18:4-5
Tertullian, 197 A.D.
“The Sacrament of the Eucharist, which the Lord commanded to be taken at meal times and by all, we take even before daybreak in congregations… We take anxious care lest something of our Cup or Bread should fall upon the ground…” - On the Crown 3:3-4
St. Clement of Alexandria, 189 A.D.
“Calling her children about her, she [the Church] nourishes them with holy milk, that is, with the Infant Word…The Word is everything to a child: both Father and Mother, both Instructor and Nurse. “Eat My flesh,” He says, “and drink My blood.” The Lord supplies us with these intimate nutriments. He delivers over His flesh amd pours out His blood; and nothing is lacking for the growth of His children. O incredible mystery! - Paedagogus 1:6:42,1,3
Bear in mind that these Early Church Fathers were writing all of these things over 300 years before the canonization of Holy Scripture! With that being said, I’ll ask one more time to those who deny the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist: Does your church celebrate in the same manner as these early Christians? Why not? If they were wrong in their belief, how is it that these – distinctly Catholic – Christians, were able to infallibly canonize the Bible by the year 400, especially if they were so gravely mistaken with what they thought was a command from the Lord himself? If these early Christians were mistaken in the Eucharistic belief, how do you know that they weren’t mistaken in the books they put together to form the Bible?