Bread of Life

 this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. (john 6: 50)
The miracle of God’s physical presence to us at every Mass is the truest testament to Christ’s love for us and His desire for each of us to have a personal relationship with Him. Jesus Christ celebrated the first Mass with His disciples at the Last Supper, the night before He died. He commanded His disciples, “Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19). The celebration of the Mass then became the main form of worship in the early Church, as a reenactment of the Last Supper, as Christ had commanded. Each and every Mass since commemorates Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross through the Holy Eucharist. Because the Mass “re-presents” (makes present) the sacrifice on Calvary, Catholics all around the world join together to be made present in Christ’s timeless sacrifice for our sins. There is something fascinating about continuing to celebrate the same Mass—instituted by Christ and practiced by the early Church—with the whole community of Catholics around the world…and in heaven.


Why does the Catholic Church believe Christ is really present in the Eucharist?
The Catholic doctrine of the Real Presence is the belief that Jesus Christ is literally, not symbolically, present in the Holy Eucharist—body, blood, soul and divinity. Catholics believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist because Jesus tells us this is true in the Bible:

“I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh." The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ 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; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him” - John 6:48-56
Furthermore, the early Church Fathers either imply or directly state that the bread and wine offered in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper is really the body and blood of Jesus Christ. In other words, the doctrine of the Real Presence that Catholics believe today was believed by the earliest Christians 2,000 years ago!

This miracle of God’s physical presence to us at every Mass is the truest testament to Christ’s love for us and His desire for each of us to have a personal relationship with Him.

Thursday, December 20, 2012


How can I forgive someone when they do not repent? – Part I of II

June 25, 2012 by Father John Bartunek Filed under Forgiveness, Q and A

Q: Dear Father John, I have had this question regarding forgiveness ever since my husband filed for divorce and treated me terribly during the process. He never acknowledged his treatment of me nor repented and asked for forgiveness, yet, in confession I was always told that I still must forgive him. Fortunately, eventually God gave me the grace to forgive him, as He made me see that, sinner that I am, in God’s eyes who am I to feel so self-righteous over the hurt my ex inflicted, when I myself am guilty of many hurts also.

Yet, when I read the first part of Luke Chapter 17, Our Lord says that if our brother sins against us 7 times, and repents and asks our forgiveness 7 times, we must forgive him. I understand that. So, why are we expected to forgive someone when they do not ask for our forgiveness? Also, it is my understanding that, while God still loves us, when we sin against Him, we must turn back to him and repent before we receive His forgiveness. If that is correct, then why are we told by so many priests that regardless of how much someone hurt us, if they do not ask for our forgiveness we still must forgive them?

A: Forgiveness is central to Christianity. So central, that Jesus made it part of the prayer he taught us: “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” And that is the first answer to your question. The passage from Luke 17 is not the only passage in the New Testament on forgiveness. We need to read it in context of the whole New Testament, and of all the Gospels. When we do that, we see that Jesus never meant for us to hold a grudge until someone asks us for forgiveness.

Forgiving without Limits

The core of Our Lord’s teaching in this area is that God’s mercy is unconditional and unlimited, and so our mercy must be the same. This is clear from the parable Jesus uses to explain the passage in Matthew that is parallel to the Luke 17 passage you refer to. This is the parable of the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18). The King calls him in to pay a huge debt, but the servant can’t pay it. So the King orders him and his family to be sold into slavery. Then the servant begs for clemency and the king mercifully forgives the debt. Then that same servant runs across someone who owes him a much, much smaller debt, and treats him without any mercy at all. The King, infuriated , calls the servant back, reinstates his original debt, and sentences him to be tortured until he pays it back in full. Jesus then explains the moral of the story: “So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart” (Matthew 18:35).

When Jesus explains the Our Father, he makes the same point: “If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions” (Matthew 6:14-15). Dying on the Cross, Jesus didn’t wait for his enemies to ask for forgiveness before forgiving them; while they crucified him he prayed for them: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). If he hadn’t forgiven them himself, he could not have pleaded so mercifully on their behalf with the Father. And this unconditional forgiveness, which we receive from Jesus, is the model for how we are to forgive others: “…be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ” (Ephesians 4:32).

Forgiving and Being Forgiven

We still have to face two related questions. The first has to do with what you mention about the difference between forgiving someone and that same someone receiving the forgiveness. We can never force someone to receive our forgiveness, but we can still forgive them. If we forgive them, they are forgiven – from our perspective. But if they refuse to repent and take responsibility for their offenses, it is impossible for them to receive that forgiveness. In that case, they are not forgiven – from their perspective.

This helps us understand how God’s mercy can be unlimited, but some people don’t experience it. It’s not that God is holding it back; it’s just that they are not open to receive it. I can offer you a glass of water, but if you don’t take the offer, you won’t quench your thirst. Forgiveness is like that. God doesn’t wait for us to repent before he forgives us – his mercy is constant, overflowing, and limitless. But unless we repent, we will not receive that mercy, and we will remain unforgiven – just as someone who refuses to open their eyes remains in the dark.

In our next post on this topic, we will talk about that in order to grow in our spiritual life we need to know the importance of forgiveness and that forgiveness is more than just feelings.

About John Bartunek

Fr John Bartunek, LC, S.Th.D, received his BA in History from Stanford University in 1990. He comes from an evangelical Christian background and became a member of the Catholic Church in 1991. After college he worked as a high school history teacher, drama director, and baseball coach. He then spent a year as a professional actor in Chicago before entering the religious Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ in 1993. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 2003 and earned his doctorate in moral theology in 2010. He provided spiritual support on the set of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ while researching the 2005 Catholic best seller, Inside the Passion, the only authorized, behind-the-scene explanation of the film. Fr John has contributed news commentary regarding religious issues on CNN, Fox, and the BBC. He has appeared on Larry King Live, Hannity, and the Laura Ingraham radio show. He also served as the English-language press liaison for the Vatican’s 2005 Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist. His most widely known book is called: The Better Part: A Christ-Centered Resource for Personal Prayer. He has also published two other titles: Meditations for Mothers and A Guide to Christian Meditation. Fr John currently resides in his Order’s General Directorate in Rome, where he is continuing his writing apostolate. His blog contains Q&A on the spiritual life at

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"...In this world I cannot see the Most High Son of God with my own eyes, except for His Most Holy Body and Blood." - St. Francis of Assisi