Messianic Jewish leaders within the Catholic church met Thursday to determine the proper status of the Host when celebrating the Eucharist during the first nine days of the month of Av.
As an expression of mourning for the destruction of the Temple, Jews refrain from eating meat or drinking wine for the first nine days of the month of Av on the Jewish calendar. But this raises serious questions about the bread and wine of Holy Communion, particularly for Messianic Jews who feel strongly about maintaining theological unity with the Church.
“The wine, we know, is no problem,” stated Father Izzy Fleischman. “Its substance as wine must entirely give way, so that the whole Christ may be present. While its appearance remains as wine, in the penimiyistic sense it is mamish the Precious Blood of Christ.”
But following the same train of logic raises questions about the wafer. By all appearances it is a grain product, but through trans-substantiation it becomes flesh—that is, meat.
But is human meat kosher in the first place? As Father Fleischman explained, “According to Chazal, because there is no desecration of a corpse involved, and obviously no maris ayin, the only remaining concern is Rambam’s opinion that it is merely an issur aseh.” And he shrugged.
As for its status as meat, one leader pointed out, “Basar v’chalav only applies to the category of behemah, which would exclude humans (and presumably the Divine Son), from being considered fleishik, at least mid’oraisa.”
Another countered by noting that poultry is not behemah either, yet it is nonetheless forbidden during the nine days. Furthermore, the prohibition of meat and wine reflects the cessation of the sacrificial services in the Temple.
“This makes the Eucharist even more shayich to the issur of the nine days, since in the Eucharist the eternal sacrifice of Jesus is made present once again by the power of the Holy Spirit,” Father Fleischman said, adding, “but on the other hand, it’s a seudas mitzvah, so it’s muttar.”
The final recommendation offered by the committee was l’chatchilah to partake of the Eucharist on Shabbos, when the ban on meat is lifted, but if someone partook on another day it is kosher b’dieved.