A Muslim Questions a Bishop


This comes from an old tract on the Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, which I've seen in circulation for many years.  The original title was: "A Mohammedan Questions a Bishop".  The term Mohammedan was once used widely in the West to refer to Muslims, but Muslims themselves consider it erroneous and offensive.

At first I posted this text without changing a word, in the name of faithfully reproducing the original tract.  I even included a brief disclaimer about the term "Mohammedan" on the same page as the tract.  But one day, a Catholic visitor to this site emailed me, complaining about the inaccurate designation "Mohammedan".  She said that her Muslim friends find it offensive, and that she was so offended by the title of the tract (which she saw on the Site Index) that she refused to read the tract!  (Thus she missed my disclaimer, which was on the same page as the tract!)

So I decided that, rather than risk turning off sensitive people from reading the tract, I would replace the word "Mohammedan" with the more acceptable "Muslim" (other than that, the text is unaltered).  It's ironic, really, since my primary reason for posting this didn't have much to do with Islam anyway.  Though the questioner in this story is indeed a Muslim, the arguments therein are very suitable for answering Protestant reservations about the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.  This is why I actually posted the tract in the first place.

Bishop Samonas of Gaza had come to Jerusalem with a party of pilgrims.  A Muslim there requested him, before a large concourse of people, to answer some questions regarding the Blessed Sacrament.  The Bishop acceded to the request, whereupon the Muslim asked: "How is it possible for bread and wine to become the Body and Blood of Christ?"  To this question the Bishop replied: "You have not always been as tall as you are now.  You have grown since childhood and today you have more flesh and blood than you had then.  What is the reason for this? Your body changed the food you ate into flesh and blood.  Now, if the human body changes food and drink into flesh and blood, then indeed God can do it also."

Satisfied with this reply, the Islamite continued: "But how is it possible for Christ to be present in His entirety in the small host?"  "The landscape that you see before you with the blue sky above it," responded the Bishop, "is something immense, while on the other hand your eye is very small.  Yet your tiny eye contains in itself the whole gigantic picture of the landscape.  When you consider this, it will not seem impossible for Christ to be present in His entirety in the little piece of bread."

The Muslim put another question to the Bishop:  "How is it possible then for the same Body of Christ to be simultaneously present in all your churches?"  "To God nothing is impossible," answered the Bishop.  "This answer alone ought to be sufficient.  I will, however, show you something similar in everyday life.  When I speak to a single individual, he hears me and takes to himself what I say.  If I should address the same words to a thousand people, they would all hear the same thing.  Or, look in to a large mirror.  You see your image reflected in it but once.  When you break the mirror into a hundred pieces, you see the same image of yourself in each of the hundred fragments of glass.  If such phenomena occur in everyday life, how should it be impossible for the Body of Our Lord to be present in many places at the same time?"

Astonished at this remarkable analogy, the Muslim made no reply, but went his way deeply engaged in thought.


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