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Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time—19 August 2018

In the early 1970s there was an edition of Readers Digest that told how a jet crashed in the Andes. It was a good case study in moral reasoning. The issue was that some of the survivors of that crash resorted to cannibalism to survive. The question the author posed was, ‘Is it ever ethical to eat another human being?’ Whatever the extreme and specific ethical arguments for cannibalism might be, the thought of eating another person is repulsive to most of us. Yet many people outside Catholicism often think that we are Christian cannibals, feasting on Jesus’ flesh and blood. The best traditions in the Church have always been very careful in the language they use about how Jesus is present in the Eucharist. We are not cannibals. We are not eating Jesus’ liver, brain and bones. In the Catechism when it speaks of the Eucharistic real presence, it never refers to ‘Jesus’ but always to ‘Christ’. The distinction matters. The Eucharist is a Sacrament of Easter. It is the glorified, risen Christ who is wholly and truly present under the form of bread and wine at the Eucharist.

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