Q. Where in the Bible does it say that Jesus is actually bodily present in the bread and wine of the Eucharist?
A. In John 6, After demonstrating His power to feed 5,000 people with a few loaves and fishes, Jesus tells his listeners seven times that they must eat His flesh and drink His blood in order to have eternal life. The Jewish leaders and even some of Jesus’ followers rejected this teaching as preposterous and left him at this time, precisely because they understood Him to be speaking literally. One year later, Jesus instituted Eucharistic Communion (Mt. 26:26) saying of the bread, “This is my body” and also of the cup, “This is my blood.” From the beginning of Christianity, Church Fathers describe the mystery of the miraculous transformation of the Eucharistic meal into Christ’s Presence under the appearance of bread and wine.
Q. But how do we know for sure Jesus meant this literally?
A. We can ask ourselves, “What did the earliest Christians believe about communion?” The writings of the early Church Fathers tell us what these first century Christians believed about the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. In 110 A.D. St. Ignatius of Antioch, who was taught the Christian faith by the apostle John, wrote about the heretics of his day:
“They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the Flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ. Flesh which suffered for our sins and which the Father, in His goodness raised up again.” Letter to the Smyrneans 6,2