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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Why do Catholics believe Jesus is literally bread yet don't believe Jesus is literally a gate or a door or a vine?

“Love the Lord with all your heart, and with all your soul,
and with all your MIND”--Matt 22:37

He is risen!  Alleluia!

Question:   Why do Catholics believe Jesus is literally bread yet don't believe Jesus is literally a gate or a door or a vine?
So Jesus said again, “Amen, amen, I say to you,
I am the gate for the sheep.--John 10

Firstly, the question as posed above is a little incorrect theologically.  Catholics don't profess that Jesus is literally bread, but that the bread is literally Jesus.  An important distinction! 

The Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith.  It is the central doctrine of Christian life, and that to which every other Christian concept is oriented.  We believe and profess this truth by virtue of our faith in the Scriptures, the Sacred Tradition which has proclaimed this from the earliest days of Christianity, and our faith in the Church which has affirmed and echoed this dogma throughout its 2000 year history.

The Scriptures proclaim that Jesus is the Bread of Life in John 6.  (Actually, it is on every single page of Scripture, but we look to John 6 specifically, starting with v42, today.)  The Jews understood Jesus to be speaking literally and were scandalized. He
"knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, "Does this shock you?"  Yet he does not clarify that he was only speaking metaphorically or symbolically.  He continues with "But there are some of you who do not believe". 
Contrast this "Bread of Life" discourse with John 10 and John 15  in which Jesus uses metaphors to describe himself.  In fact, the Scriptures specifically state that "J
esus used this figure of speech" (John 10:6) to describe himself as a gate.  No one left him because they thought he was saying he was literally a gate, in contrast to the previous command Jesus gave to eat his flesh, where they understood him perfectly as being literal--and many left him because of this, including Judas. "At this point, we witness the only place in Scripture where anyone leaves Jesus for a doctrinal reason. Had Jesus been speaking metaphorically, what would have been so hard for the disciples to accept?

One last passage worth considering is John 10:9, where Jesus says, "I am the door." Some say that this is the sense in which Jesus’ words in John 6 should be taken. However, no one understood Jesus to be speaking literally when he said that he was a door. The narrative does not continue, "And his disciples murmured about this, saying, ‘How can he be a door? Where are his hinges? We do not see a doorknob.’ Jesus answered them, ‘Amen, Amen, I say to you, I am a door, and my chest is real wood, and my hips are real hinges.’" This is absurd, but it illustrates how shocking Jesus’ words were when he said that his flesh was real food and his blood real drink." source.

Finally, this passage in John 6 speaks, in my opinion, volumes: “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”
It speaks to not only those who left Him because they could not accept this Eucharistic command, but it also addresses those who "pick and choose" the teachings of Christ and His Church and reject those "hard teachings."  If our faith consists only of those teachings that are palatable and acceptable to our own tastes, then I suggest that we are following in the tradition of those in John 6 who want to create a messiah in their own image/principles rather than conform their beliefs to that which God has revealed.

For more in-depth study visit these websites:
"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect" - 1 Peter 3:15

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