No, it’s not the ultimate hangman word (that would be rhythm). It is a word that was created during the Dark Ages and then solidified into the Catholic church over 1,000 years after Christ had died. It’s also one of the most misguided practices in the Catholic church today. It was also one of the major issues that lead to the Reformation movement as the reformers disagreed with the central authority on this (among other) issues.
Transubstantiation is the belief that during the Eucharist (communion), the bread and wine “physically” turn into the flesh and blood of Christ. They take the words of Jesus to be extremely literal when He established the Lord’s Supper. “Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matt 26:26-28)
The fact is that Jesus very regularly used analogies in His teachings. Every one of His parables is an analogy to help us understand a bigger picture.
- He said “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.” (John 10:9) He was not a physical door, but He is like a door, like a gateway, the only way to pass and receive salvation.
- He said “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12) Again, not a physical light but one who shines light upon darkness. Without that light we are lost like being blind. With the light, our path is lit and the creatures of the darkness scurry away.
- He even said “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” (John 15:1-2) Of course Jesus is not a physical vine in a vineyard, but was using this analogy to speak to people familiar with the process of tending to and caring for grapes.
You see, up to this point, for more than 1,000 years before Christ, Passover had been a celebration of the final plague that caused the Pharaoh to release the Jews from slavery. The Israelites had been instructed to sacrifice their BEST lamb, wipe the blood on their door posts and eat the meat. When the Angel of Death came to take all first born sons from the land, he would “passover” all houses with the ‘blood of the lamb’. Now, every year since then, the Israelites would sacrifice their best lamb and repeat the process. Although it was only symbolic of that first Passover, it was one of the most important celebrations of their history.
Now Jesus was celebrating that meal and pointing out to the people sitting with Him that He was that lamb. No longer did they need to go sacrifice a physical lamb because Jesus Himself is the ultimate and final sacrifice. Paul even quoted Jesus as saying “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” (1 Cor 11:26). This should not be simply when you ‘do communion’ at church, but it should be every time you nourish your body, remember how He is the one to nourish your soul.
So the belief of transubstantiation is one that actually takes away from what Christ had said. Eating of the flesh of the lamb and wiping the blood on the door posts was a “symbol” of the covering of the Messiah but we no longer need a symbol. We simply need to accept Him as that ultimate sacrificial lamb.