Tuesday of the Third Week of Easter
Acts of the Apostles: 7:51-8:1a, Psalm 31:3-4, 6, 7, 8, 17, 21, & John 6:30-35
'The Stoning of St. Stephen' by Adam Elsheimer (photo: Public Domain)
The “trial” of Stephen began in yesterday’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles. Today, we see Stephen willing to die for belief in the person of Jesus. Our Gospel reading from John presents the basis for such courageous behavior. The Lord Jesus had claimed that the true work of God is to believe in Him. The Jews now wanted to disprove that claim.
The Gospel narrative of Saint John refers to the manna in the wilderness. There was a strong belief that the Messiah would again give the manna, the bread of God. Jesus points out that God, not Moses, gave the manna, which was only a symbol of the bread of God. The true bread of God would not simply satisfy hunger but give life. Jesus is that bread sent by God.
Stephen thoroughly believed that Jesus is the bread of life. One does not give up one’s life out of mere speculation. The life that Jesus offered Stephen was a new relationship of trust and obedience, and love.
Saint Stephen’s, the first martyr of the Catholic faith, is inspiring. We will probably not be called to such witness. However, our acceptance of Jesus as the bread of life can sustain us in the small, daily martyrdoms of life and can fulfill every longing of our hearts for God.
Question of the Day: How will you proclaim Jesus as Lord, Son of the Father, and, through the Eucharist, the source and summit of our faith?
Prayer: “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” — Saint Stephen, at the time of his martyrdom.