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.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


The name "Judas" is a dark one. Mystery surrounds the enigmatic figure of Judas Iscariot. Here are seven things we can learn from former Pope Benedict concerning a man who was both an apostle of Jesus Christ--and the man who betrayed him!

1. The Name "Iscariot"

"The meaning of the name 'Iscariot' is controversial: The more common explanation considers him as a 'man from Kerioth,' referring to his village of origin situated near Hebron and mentioned twice in Sacred Scripture (Gn. 15:25, Am. 2:2). Others interpret it as a variant of the term 'hired assassin,' as if to allude to a warrior armed with a dagger, in Latin, sica.

Lastly, there are those who see in the label a simple inscription of a Hebrew-Aramaic root meaning: 'the one who is to hand him over.' This designation is found twice in the gospel: after Peter's confession of faith (Jn. 6:71) and then in the course of the anointing at Bethany (Jn. 12:4)."

2. An Apostle Who Betrays Jesus?

"The Evangelists insist on the status as an apostle that Judas held in all regards: He is repeatedly called 'one of the twelve' (Mt. 26:14, 47; Mk. 14:10, 20; Jn. 6:71) or 'of the number of the Twelve" (Lk. 22:3)."

"He is therefore a figure belonging to the group of those whom Jesus had chosen as strict companions and collaborators. This brings with it two questions in the attempt to provide an explanation for what happened. The first consists in asking how is it that Jesus had chosen this man and trusted him. In fact, although Judas is the group's bursar (Jn. 12:6b; 13:29a), in reality he is called a 'thief' (Jn. 12:6a)."

"The mystery of the choice remains, all the more since Jesus pronounces a very severe judgment on him: 'Woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed!' (Mt. 26:24)."

3. His Fate

Jesus' choice to make Judas an apostle "darkens the mystery around his eternal fate, knowing that Judas 'repented and brought back the 30 pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, "I have sinned in betraying innocent blood"' (Mt 27:3-4). Even though he went to hang himself (Mt. 27:5), it is not up to us to judge his gesture, substituting ourselves for the infinitely merciful and just God."
4. Why Judas Chose Evil

"Why does he betray Jesus? The question raises several theories. Some refer to the fact of his greed for money; others hold to an explanation of a messianic order: Judas would have been disappointed at seeing that Jesus did not fit into his program for the political-militaristic liberation of his own nation."

"In fact, the Gospel texts insist on another aspect: John expressly says that 'the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him' (Jn. 13:2). . . . In this way, one moves beyond historical motivations and explanations based on the personal responsibility of Judas, who shamefully ceded to a temptation of the Evil One."

"The betrayal of Judas remains, in any case, a mystery. Jesus treated him as a friend (Mt. 26:50); however, in his invitations to follow him along the way of the beatitudes, he does not force his will or protect it from the temptations of Satan, respecting human freedom."

5. Our Own Fate

We, too, have free will, and we, too, may choose the path of Judas in betraying Christ.

"The possibilities to pervert the human heart are truly many. The only way to prevent it consists in not cultivating an individualistic, autonomous vision of things, but on the contrary, by putting oneself always on the side of Jesus, assuming his point of view. We must daily seek to build full communion with him."

"Let us remember that . . . after his fall Peter repented and found pardon and grace. Judas also repented, but his repentance degenerated into desperation and thus became self-destructive."

"For us it is an invitation to always remember what St. Benedict says at the end of the fundamental Chapter Five of his Rule: 'Never despair of God's mercy.'"

6. Fighting Judas Today!

"We draw from this a final lesson: While there is no lack of unworthy and traitorous Christians in the Church, it is up to each of us to counterbalance the evil done by them with our clear witness to Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior."

7. How You Can Learn More

Pope Benedict has more to say about Judas Iscariot. To drink deeply from his wisdom, be sure to check out the general audience he gave on the subject, from which the above quotations are taken. General Audience on Judas Iscariot and Matthias, Oct. 18,2006.

Pope Benedict also has an awesome book on Judas--and the rest of the apostles. It's called Jesus, the Apostles, and the Early Church. Finally, if I may make my own small contribution, I have a book on the subject of salvation--a subject with which Judas is intimately connected. The title of the book is The Salvation Controversy.


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