3rd Week of Easter, Tuesday, April 20
Acts 7:51 - 8:1 / John 6:30-35
Jesus speaks about the Eucharist; "I am the bread of life. "
There's a story about a poor immigrant family in the 1800s who spent almost their entire life's savings for boat tickets to the United States. To save what little money they had left, they ate cheese and bread in their cabin rather than go to the ship's dining room with its more expensive food.According to the story, it wasn't until they docked in New York that they discovered that the meals on the ship were included in the price of their tickets. Many people journey across the ocean of life in a similar fashion. They sit in their cabin and eat cheese and bread rather than partake of the incredible banquet that is available to them free of charge at each Lord's Supper.
How fully do we appreciate the Eucharist? "The effect of our sharing in the body and blood of Christ is to change us into what we receive." Pope St. Leo the Great
A telescope has two ends. And depending on which end we look into, there will be two images of reverse sizes. Looking into the end from which we would normally look into, what we will see is a magnified image of a distant object. But if we were to look into the other end, we will get this feeling that we are looking at the same object through a tube, and what we get is a tunnel-vision of that object.
In today's two readings, there were two groups of people, and each group was like looking into the two different ends of the telescope. In the 1st reading, there were the elders and scribes who were infuriated with Stephen for what he said about them - that they were a stubborn people with pagan hearts and pagan ears, resisting the Holy Spirit just as their ancestors did, and that they were betrayers and murderers of the prophets right down to Jesus. They looked at Stephen from the other end of the telescope, and to them he was so insignificant that doing away with him was no issue at all. But Stephen, on the other hand, filled with the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing on God's right hand. Stephen saw beyond and much more.
In the gospel, the people saw Jesus as a supplier with an unending flow of bread who will satisfy their own needs. What they couldn't see is that Jesus is the mystical bread of life who came to satisfy our spiritual hunger and thirst. May our eyes be opened to see the spiritual and the mystical dimensions of the Eucharist and come to be filled by Jesus the bread of life so that we will always look for the things of above instead of being too focused on the things of earth.
Stephen and the persecuted Christians of the early Church relive the passion of Christ; they suffer not only for Christ, but also with him and like him; their attitude is also: “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit; Lord, do not hold this against them.” But Stephen and the first Christians are sure that death has not the final say: they will live on with the risen Christ. Christians are sustained in life by the true bread from heaven, Christ, who breaks for them the bread of his word and the bread of himself, for he is “given” bread, sacrificing himself to give life. Christ is the answer to our deepest hungers. We too, should hunger for him and say, “Give us this bread always.”
Lord, our God, generous Father, you have given us your Son Jesus, that we may relive with him his passion and his resurrection. Through Jesus, give us the courage to place ourselves into your hands in the trials of life and in death, that one day, we may see your glory and at your right hand your Son, Jesus Christ, who lives with you forever. Amen.