Fr Mark Sultana replies that there is the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist because the words “in memory of me” in the Hebrew mindset mean more that just “remembering”. It’s about “re-experiencing.”
One must keep in mind that, in Jesus’ Hebrew mindset, to remember is far more than recalling an event; it is a re-presentation of a past event so that it is really lived in the present. When, for example, the Passover is celebrated, it is those who celebrate who are freed, not just their ancestors. The Greek word term used in the Gospel is ‘anamnesis’, which means ‘re-experience’. Jesus is not asking His disciples to merely use symbols to meditate on his death. He is asking his disciples to re-experience the paschal event itself, using the sacraments of His Body and Blood given for us.
We can also notice how the word remember is used later in the crucifixion account in Luke’s Gospel: when one of those crucified with Jesus asked Jesus to “remember me when you come into your kingdom he was not merely asking Jesus to “think about him as we might remember people whom we met in class last spring. He was asking Jesus to remember him in in the sense that he could really be present in heaven with him. Indeed this is how Jesus understands ‘remembering’: he responds, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise (see Luke 23:42-43).
In this light, when we remember Jesus at the Eucharist, we are not simply recalling past events; liturgical remembering makes us present to the event. The living and real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist is also made very clear by Jesus in John 6, 53-56 where Jesus speaks in a very literal manner of “eating the flesh of the Son of Man and “drinking his blood . It is significant that the context is one where Jesus had every opportunity to provide a softer or metaphorical interpretation of what he could have meant by himself being “the living bread that came down from heaven . Instead, he intensifies his language by emphasises the realism of his words. Jesus rather scandalously stated that one must eat (he uses trogein which is a very graphic and almost crude term which has none of the possible nuances of phagein) the flesh of the Son of Man. It is very hard to give a symbolic or metaphorical meaning to these words. Indeed it is very hard to give anything but a realist interpretation to Jesus’ words. When Jesus used the words ‘This is my body’ (which are practically the same words as those Jesus uses in John 6, 51), he was not speaking poetically; he was effecting a creative act that brings about his “real, true and, substantial presence .
Send us your question on email@example.com