Fr. Jose Poch

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Body and Blood of Jesus

This week we will be celebrating Maundy Thursday, according to the liturgical calendar of many Christian churches. Maundy comes from old English for “Mandate” or “Command” and the biblical passage from where it comes is John 13:34-35. It was the night of the Jewish Passover and the last supper Jesus was to spend with His disciples. After He said the customary Jewish blessing, broke the bread and gave it to them to eat and partake of and then did something similar with a cup of wine and gave it to them to drink with the words “This is My body” and “This is My blood,” He gave them these instructions, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes” (1 Cor. 11:26). The intention seems to be that Jesus desired that His disciples, then and now, would celebrate these same acts “often” in remembrance of Him and of His sacrifice for the salvation of all. He then gave them what Jesus called “a new commandment.” John 13:34-35: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” This is what we celebrate and are reminded of on Maundy Thursday.
Different church groups, though we all hold together to the one faith and the important basics of the sound doctrine the Bible teaches, approach the Eucharist, Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion differently from one another. I would like to share in this blog how the Anglican Church normally understands what we call the Real Presence of Christ in the bread/body and the wine/blood in the Eucharist.

We, Anglicans, do not believe in transubstantiation (that the substance of the bread and the wine literally become flesh and blood), nor even what has been called consubstantiation (that the substances are commingled so that what we receive is literally a combination of flesh/bread and blood/wine). On the other end we also do not adhere to the Eucharist simply being a memorial (a celebration and remembrance of a past event). We, Anglicans, adhere to The Real Presence. We do not try to explain away what is clearly a “mystery” but we do affirm without any doubt that Christ is indeed present for us in the Eucharist and that we who receive the bread and the wine are indeed receiving Jesus Christ in the bread and the wine.

When we read the New Testament and in particular those passages which inform and teach us on the Eucharist, one of the first things we need to acknowledge is that Jesus was the One who instituted the Eucharist, or Communion or Lord’s Supper the last evening He spent with His disciples before the crucifixion, but in actuality never fully explained what He meant by it.

However, it takes the Apostle Paul to explain the meaning and significance of the Eucharist instituted by Jesus. It is St. Paul who makes clear for the Church the connection between Passover, the Jewish Sacrificial system, Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world and the Eucharist. Our understanding of the Cross and of the Eucharist is all Pauline. The institution of the Eucharist by Jesus is found in almost all of the Gospels, Matthew 26:26-28, Mark 14:22-24 and Luke 22:19-20. Some also see in John 6:32-58 a reference to the Eucharist, although this is not necessarily so. It is in the First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians where the Apostle clearly develops our understanding of the Eucharistic meal, and in particular 10:16 and 11:23-33. It is to that passage that I want to draw your attention as we discuss our Anglican understanding of the Eucharist.

First, it is clear that in the Eucharist we REMEMBER. We remember what our Lord Jesus Christ did on Maundy Thursday at the Last Supper and even more so what He actually did on Good Friday on the Cross. May we never ever, ever forget for here is the basis of our eternal salvation.

Secondly, the Eucharist is clearly a worship service of PROCLAMATION for all and to all. We proclaim that Jesus died for us, that in His death our sins were paid for (atoned), that Jesus saves from eternal death, that we have been reconciled with God the Father through the death of the Son. May all hear with clarity that Jesus Christ is our Redeemer and Lord and Christ and that there is no salvation or removal of sins other than in Him and through His sacrifice.

Thirdly, it is equally clear that when we receive the bread and the wine we are indeed receiving the Body and the Blood of Jesus our Lord and this not just symbolically but in some “mystery” in actuality. This is where the teaching of the REAL PRESENCE finds its basis. The words of Paul in this passage indicate to us that there is a “worthy” and an “unworthy” manner of receiving the Eucharist. If received “unworthily” “guilt” of Jesus' death is laid upon them and “judgment” is laid upon such a person. Much more can be said about these two conditions. But even more to our point, the Apostle indicates that those who receive the Eucharist in an “unworthy manner” somehow do not receive the blessings that flow from it and therefore “many are weak and sick and even have died.” What is this blessing, or presence in the Eucharist, that leads to “strength”, “healing” and “life” for those who receive it in a “worthy manner?” What is there “in” the Eucharist itself? In accordance with our Anglican heritage we affirm the “mystery” that somehow, which we do not try to explain or it would cease being a “divine mystery”, Jesus Christ is PRESENT in the bread and the wine. We believe from the passage above and from the words of Jesus Himself that it is indeed His Body and His Blood that we receive in the Eucharist.

Is this helpful to you? How so?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

What is Killing Men's Desire for Marriage?

Recently, a number of people have mentioned to me a YouTube video by Russell Brand, yes, that Russell Brand, the ex-husband of singing sensation, Katy Perry, where he discusses the book and film “50 Shades of Grey” and the issue of pornography, whether so called soft porn or hardcore porn. In his video commentary he makes some very excellent points such as the reality that pornography is a disconnecting act from true love and from real intimacy, and it is a commodification and mainstreaming of soft porn. He calls it warped, perverted and a deviation from true love and the act of procreation. “It reduces sex to an extracted physical act, diminishing trust in the couple”, he says, “Introducing a promiscuity in what is natural, and corrupting it.”

He then lists several effects of soft porn, among them: voyeurism, objectification of women as sex objects, the wrong validation of masculinity and fear of true intimacy. If you wish to see the entire video commentary look for Russell Brand, 50 Shades – Has Porn Ruined My Chances of a Happy Marriage?

Recently I read a fantastic article and blog on this subject in a daily blog commentary I receive from, titled “Is Porn Killing Men’s Desire for Marriage?” which I want to recommend we all read, whether you are male or female or whether you are young or older. You can find the article at

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Persecution of Christians in the U.S.

When we think or speak of Christian believers being persecuted, the first thing that would occur to us is persecution in the Middle East, where ISIS has murdered a large number of Christians in the name of Islam, or perhaps in Nigeria, where Boko Haram is abducting young Christian girls, bombing churches and killing Christians, or in Libya where 21 Coptic Christians were recently beheaded, staining the beach with their blood, the blood of martyrs, or perhaps in some other country such as Iran, Cuba or North Korea or even China, where Christianity is persecuted and silenced. In some of these places, we might understand some of the persecution in that missionaries are there attempting to convert some of their citizens to the Christian faith and away from Islam or Communism. I am not excusing any persecution in these countries. News sources are daily telling us of terrorist attacks against foreigners, such as in Tunisia, and many of these attacks are related overtly or covertly against Christianity. But to think of Christian persecution, here, in the U.S. may seem too many as unthinkable and made up. But it is not, it is very real, Christianity and our Christian values are under attack even here in the U.S.

The following two stories have greatly alarmed me and are the reasons why I am writing this blog on Christian Persecution in the U.S.

A judge in Washington State authorized the “personal ruin” of a florist whose Christian faith prevented her from promoting a same-sex wedding and who was sued by both the state and the homosexual couple. Benton County Superior Court Judge Alex Ekstrom granted a summary judgment in the case against Barronelle Stutzman, that is a judgment without the benefit or the judicial right to a trial. It was Ekstrom who said last month that Stutzman personally was liable for the claims against her, placing her business assets, her home and personal savings at risk.

The judge ordered that the state and the homosexual plaintiffs, each of whom filed lawsuits, could collect damages and attorneys’ fees from Stutzman. “The message of these rulings is unmistakable: The government will bring about your personal and professional ruin if you don’t help celebrate same-sex marriage,” said ADF (Alliance Defending Freedom) Senior Counsel Kristen Waggoner.

All that Stutzman, the flower shop owner, wants is the right to live in peace and in accordance with the precepts of her Judeo-Christian values. She declared, “America would be a better place if citizens respected each other’s differences and the government still protected the freedom to have those differences. Instead, the government is coming after me and everything I have just because I won’t live my life the way the state says I should. I just want the freedom to live and work faithfully and according to what God says about marriage without fear of punishment. Others have the freedom to say or not say what they want to about marriage, and that’s all I’m asking for as well.”

You might think that the Constitution of the U.S.A. and the First Amendment of said Constitution would protect this flower shop owner to exercise her religious liberty, but no, not according to this judge. According to arguments in the case, Washington officials believe the state’s statutory protections for homosexuals trump the Constitution’s protection of religious liberty. So even the personal assets of Stutzman can be taken from her. It almost seems as if she had no rights to own anything in this country if she doesn’t abdicate her faith in the Holy Scriptures.

The second story is as follows: Chaplain Wes Modder is a highly decorated, greatly respected and deeply praised officer serving in the Navy's Chaplain Corps. His 19-year career has spanned honored assignments such as serving as chaplain of the Navy SEALs. Just a few months ago, Modder’s commander called him “the best of the best” and a “consummate professional leader” worthy of an early promotion. Then came what appears to be a “set-up” by a homosexual activist to destroy the career of Chaplain Modder because of his biblical view on sexuality and marriage.

In 2014, Modder’s assistant, a “married” homosexual, covertly searched through Chaplain Modder’s confidential counseling files and then forwarded pirated copies of them to the Equal Opportunity reps as evidence of “discrimination.” In those private counseling sessions, Modder had called homosexuality “sin.” As a result, the base commanding officer at Naval Nuclear Power Training Command, Captain J.R. Fahs, removed him from his unit, told him to clean out his desk and forbade him to minister to the spiritual needs of military personnel.

On appeal, Chaplain Modder reminded Captain Fahs that the Navy upholds the rights of conscience of chaplains and service members afforded in the FY13 and FY14 National Defense Authorization Acts to express their sincerely held beliefs. For a second time, Captain Fahs denied Chaplain Modder his right to religious liberty! Read the full story and see the official military documents of this case here.

If the Navy does not reverse this injustice, then every chaplain in the military is at risk for the same punishment for following the religious dictates of their conscience. Congress has passed laws protecting Chaplain Modder and other chaplains from religious discrimination, yet the Navy is ignoring them.

When will these forms of persecution reach our doorsteps? Could your assets be taken from you simply at the whim of the state because you uphold your Christian faith and choose to live in accordance with the Word of God? Could you lose your job simply because you are a Christian and choose to behave in accordance with your Christian values? Could you lose your liberty and end up in prison because you place Jesus ahead of the government and because you choose faithfulness to God above all other allegiances?

I am reminded of the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, at the conclusion of the Beatitudes, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.  Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A "Little Boy" With a Huge Faith

Jesus, in Matthew 17:20, spoke to His disciples, in the hearing of a multitude of witnesses and observers that had gathered around them, after the disciples could not heal a young boy of a disease that constantly and without warning attacked this young lad, and said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” He uses similar words in Luke’s Gospel 17:6 when, after He teaches them through parables, they request “Increase our faith.”

I think we all might occasionally request from God the same thing, “Lord, increase our faith.” We recognize our need to believe more, to trust more, to act in faith and by faith more, to move mountains by the power of prayer and faith, deep faith, growing faith and powerful faith. We usually would feel this need in times of difficult circumstances we or our families might face. Who doesn’t need more faith, the kind of faith that Jesus speaks to His disciples about in these two passages?

A week ago, I was invited to attend a premiere showing of a new film that will be coming out to theaters in April 2015. The title of the film is “Little Boy” and the premise of the film is a little boy who dares to believe in the power of his prayers and in a God who would answer those prayers. He is laughed at by other boys and girls, ridiculed even by his own brother, assisted rationally to understand faith from a well-meaning and caring priest (an adult-kind of faith) while all along the little boy believes with all his heart and might that faith is not just rational but real and practical and that it resided in him and in his believe in God. He believes that he can indeed move mountains and in particular cause his father to return from the war. This is a most wonderful film about family, faith, courage, forgiveness and doing what is right. I highly recommend that we all see this film! Not only to support Christian films, which we must do, but to learn and be encouraged in our faith by this “Little Boy.”

The ultimate teaching I receive from Jesus’ words about faith and that is beautifully portrayed in this film is that the issue of faith is not asking for an increase of it, but rather using the faith we already have in us, in our hearts and in our minds, our assurance of who God is and of how much He loves us. If we dare to believe in an Almighty God that can do all things, we can have the faith that is necessary to deal with all things in our lives, the difficult ones, the easy ones and the extremely hard ones that threaten our peace and our well-being.

Once again, I encourage you and your families to go see this film. It will come out in the theaters on April 24, 2015. Support these types of films and be blessed. Let others know.