Not in scripture: about real presence

Not in Scripture

Catholics believe in the real presence of our Lord in the Eucharist. Bread and wine literally become the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus. This is the well-documented belief of the Church from the time of Jesus onward.

The Holy Bible itself is also quite clear, requiring something akin to a Herculean effort to explain away. Let’s try anyway! Not in scripture are words shown in strike through. Words shown in bold actually are in scripture.

Bread as a Metaphor?

When Jesus became aware of this he said, “You of great faith, you concluded among yourselves that it is because you have no bread. You understand, and need not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and the many wicker baskets you took up. Nor the seven loaves for the four thousand, and the many baskets you took up. You comprehend that I was speaking only of the ordinary, of simple bread. I had no other point.

When Jesus became aware of this he said, “You of little faith, why do you conclude among yourselves that it is because you have no bread? Do you not yet understand, and do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many wicker baskets you took up? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you took up? How do you not comprehend that I was not speaking to you about bread?

Speaking very, very clearly – or just rhetorical flourishes?

Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am like the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this recalls is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the symbolic living bread that came down from heaven; whoever accepts me eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give represents is my flesh for the life of the world.”

The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us [his] flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you metaphorically eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink wine in his memory his blood, you do not have life within you. Of these things I speak in remembrance, for the law of Moses forbids you to actually drink blood. 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. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who is sent by feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.” These things he said while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.

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? Be not afraid. I am not speaking literally but figuratively. 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 to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who misinterpreted my words do not believe.” Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would be confused not believe and the one who would betray him. And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.”

Jesus knew of the confusion his words had caused and said “I speak to you by analogy, not that you must literally eat my body and drink my blood. That would be cannibalism. Stay with me. As a result of this, many [of] his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.

When time was running out, did Jesus speak in puzzles?

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, “Take and eat; this represents is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you, for this represents is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.

Bringing judgment upon yourself for eating ordinary bread?

Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the false remembrance body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the symbolic meaning body, eats and drinks judgment on himself.

The above verses only touch on this topic. There is much, much more. An excellent resource is They provide many citations.

The specific word of God notwithstanding, sometimes folks read Holy Scripture as if certain words and phrases have been removed – or as if others have been added. I am here to help!

I call this series not in scripture. These are Bible quotes with a twist: words and phrases not actually present are shown with strike-through. Scripture simply does not say that! Conversely, words that are actually in scripture (but sometimes overlooked) are shown in bold.


  1. Thank you so much for this essay.

    This is what the church teaches, but catechism classes are often forgotten for too many as the years pass and “feel good” Christianity gains popularity.

    My priest spoke on the very real presence of Christ in the Eucharist this Easter Sunday and your essay is just a reaffirmation of his message. I believe that when the same message comes to me in such different ways, it means I really need to pay attention and perhaps pass it along to those I love in the church.

    Thank you again.

  2. Great post George! It really helps one see the absurdity using that technique. Bravo.

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