Jul 14, 2009

What does Jesus taste like?

While Communion is fresh on my mind, I wanted to share some more thoughts on it. Back when I first decided to convert, one of my friends half-jokingly (I assume ... it was an email and it's hard to pick up on sarcasm and seriousness in emails) asked me, "What does Jesus taste like?"

At the time I had no idea how to answer because I had not completed my initiation and Confirmation, so I had never received Communion at a Catholic church. But I really did (no sarcasm) love that question - I love when huge theological topics can be accurately summed up in a few words. (Probably because I tend to ramble and so I'm bad at doing that myself.) And these days I'm much more comfortable with Christian mystery and generally not-knowing things about the Faith. Of course, now I've received Communion. And I have an honest, safe, truthful, and theologically sound answer ...

Jesus tastes like bread and wine.

Yup, you heard me. And no, I'm not a heretic. Underwhelming? Maybe.

There's already a bunch of great material out there on the whole transubstantiation thing. One of my favorites is from Dave Armstrong who even includes a fancy chart in his book! I think the most appealing language I read on it was this:
Indeed, transubstantiation is difficult for the natural mind (especially with its modern excessively skeptical bent) to grasp and clearly requires a great deal of faith. Yet many aspects of Christianity which conservative, evangelical, orthodox Christians have no difficulty believing transcend reason and must ultimately be accepted on faith, such as: the Incarnation (in which a helpless infant in Bethlehem is God!), the Resurrection, ... and the Virgin Birth, among many other beliefs. Transubstantiation may be considered beyond reason, yet it is not opposed to reason; suprarational, but not irrational, much like Christian theology in general.

I think of it like this - the notion that God can be present in bread and wine is no more absurd than the idea that God can be present in a man named Jesus, right? Now of course, even if it's possible that God *can* do it, there's still the whole question as to whether God *does* do it. Again there's a bunch of material out there, but I don't want to get into the whole Scriptural arguments for or against. Instead I want to think of this:
This presence of Christ in the Eucharist is called "real" not to exclude other types of his presence as if they could not be understood as real (cf. Catechism, no. 1374). The risen Christ is present to his Church in many ways, but most especially through the sacrament of his Body and Blood.

I believe God *does* give us His presence in many ways. I believe He loves us enough to try to get into us every way imaginable. I have felt Him in Cathedral Notre Dame de Paris, and also sitting at home on the couch with my wife; during Midnight Mass at Christmas, and playing Flashy Keeper (long story) with family and friends. I know what Jesus sounds like in our Gospel readings at Saint Benedict (which, btw, is why we stand for the Gospel reading during Mass), and in the worship music at Agora. I know what He looks like when I see Him hanging on a cross that should be mine. I smell His prayers in the incense of the Eucharist, and smell His love over a hot meal shared with friends.

I believe if God offers us His real presence in all these ways, He also offers it to us in Communion - the most physical way in which we can receive Him. He changes the substance of the host for us, we receive Him, and He changes our substance when He enters us so that we will share that love with our lives. I think Jesus tastes like Love.


Kristi said...

Oooooh. I likey. Jesus tastes like love. I've never thought of the bread as a way for Jesus to infiltrate us, but I love the image it brings to mind.

I used to think Jesus tasted like a styrofoam wafer and cheap grape juice. I'm learning that he tastes like forgiveness, and love.

Matt said...

so Jesus tastes like bread and wine AND love. Does that mean that bread and wine taste like love too? I always thought so. :)

I really appreciate your efforts to answer some of the more complicated questions in real, human terms. I think you succeeded here just like in the past.

I do feel like transubstantiation, as you describe it, makes a ton of sense and isn't some hokus pokus theology at all.

Thanks, bro.

Saint said...

Hed, bread and wine DO taste like love. Especially the awesome bread and wine I've been kicking back here in Georgia.

And personally, I can't find any Scripture AGAINST transubstantiation, even if one might not buy the Scripture that does support it. But then, i'm biased, as you know.

luke said...

Yeah, I obviously don't think there's any Scriptural or logical prohibitions against transubstantiation. So the question changes from "can" it happen to "does" it happen. In that sense, I've found more Scriptural, logical, and experiential evidence that it *does* happen.