1st reading: Acts 6:8-15: They could not get the better of Stephen because the spirit prompted what he said. Jesus teaches his people that there is more to life than food.
Resp. Psalm.118(119):23-24,26-27,29-30: They are happy whose life is blameless.
Gospel: John 6:22-26: Do not work for the food that cannot last, but for food that endures to eternal life.
In the gospel of today, we hear the story about a group of people following Jesus and you would probably think well that is a pretty good thing and that Jesus is excited about that. The problem is they were not necessarily following Jesus to know Him. Imagine people coming to Church without necessarily following Jesus. So, why was the crowds looking for Jesus; they were still wondering how he got there without entering the boat with the disciples. They wanted food to fill their bellies. They think that’s all there is to life is food. They wanted Jesus to make their lives better, simpler, easier, smoother, safer and more enjoyable. They don’t need to go to the market anymore just a couple of prayers from Jesus and everything is done.
Jesus needed to teach them that there is more to life than food. Man does not live on bread but on the word of God. And so, he confronts them and challenges them and us too our motive of following him. Are you searching for right thing or the wrong thing? Are you following Jesus because of human satisfaction instead of satisfying the heart of God? Are we seeking worldly pleasures rather than please the heart of our Heavenly Father? Jesus knows the hearts of men and he is the Word Incarnate. The living bread from heaven. He is the food that does not perish and He is the food that gives eternal life. We often times take Him for granted for the reason that we don’t go to Holy Mass often.
A man was once asked why he attends the celebration of the Holy Mass everyday. He said that he does so because he wants to be nourished by Jesus everyday. Then he said these very profound words: “I don’t have the heart to refuse Jesus who always offers Himself to me during Holy Communion.” If Jesus offers himself everyday for us as the bread of life do we response daily to his invitation? Do we follow Jesus because of Have we come to the point of total fearing God rather than men?
Read More: Update: Rita Edochie Finally Forgives Ada Jesus, Warns Against Defaming Othershttps://www.angieisika.org/update-rita-edochie-finally-forgives-ada-jesus-warns-against-defaming-others/
More importantly, as part of receiving Jesus as the living bread, we must also become a part of the Holy Manna; this is the food for last forever that is; believing in Christ. Stephen a deacon showed that there is more to his life and to the gospel than distribution of bread and the sharing of food. He goes to teach people about Christ which they could not match his wisdom because he was filled with grace and the Holy Spirit. Stephen taught that receiving Jesus for us is gain. With Christ, everything is ours to gain, we will not lose anything except our sinfulness the moment we decide to go to Jesus.
We know God’s grace is a gift, a powerful gift, but also a gratuitous gift; for none of us is worthy of God’s grace. God certainly blessed Stephen with this gift, a gift that literally shone through his face. As Luke describes him:All those who sat in the Sanhedrin looked intently at him and saw that his face was like the face of an angel” [Acts 6:15]
Yes, the Sanhedrin looked intently at this angelic face, but blinded by their hatred of this new and seemingly heretical sect they could not accept the truth. These men, like the crowds in our Gospel passage, could not accept or even see the signs Jesus had wrought in their midst. These signs, of course, pointed to the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Ultimately they pointed to the Risen Christ. Whatever we do today let us do it in the mind of Christ. We must always remember, those great wonders and signs are God’s, not ours, and they will manifest His Presence in ways you and I can never imagine. Jesus says;
“For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him on the last day” [Jn 6:40].
This is our faith. That is the purpose. Heaven is the prize.
Fr. J. OSJ.