Reflections

Monday in the 3rd Week oF Easter, April 19, 2021

WHY DO WE SEEK JESUS?
Introduction
Today and in the next few days, two unrelated Scripture texts run parallel – Stephen’s martyrdom presented as an imitation of the martyrdom of Christ and the Eucharistic discourse of Jesus, as given in John 6 after the multiplication of bread. Jesus confronts us today with the question: “Why are you looking for me?” Why are we looking for God, for Jesus? Is it merely for the things he gives us? We receive much from God, but do we look for Jesus himself, for what he means in our lives? Let us look to get closer to him and to become more like him. He asks us for faith in his person and mission.
 
Opening Prayer
Our living God,
we hunger for lasting life and happiness and the fulfillment of all our hopes.
Satisfy all our hungers
through your Son, Jesus Christ,
who is our bread of life.
And when he has filled us with himself,
may he lead and strengthen us
to bring to a waiting world the food of reconciliation and joy,
which you alone can give to the full.
We ask this thorough Christ our Lord. Amen!
 
1 Reading: ACTS 6:8-15
Stephen, filled with grace and power, was working great wonders and signs among the people. Certain members of the so-called Synagogue of Freedmen, Cyreneans, and Alexandrians, and people from Cilicia and Asia, came forward and debated with Stephen, but they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke. Then they instigated some men to say, “We have heard him speaking blasphemous words against Moses and God.” They stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes, accosted him, seized him, and brought him before the Sanhedrin. They presented false witnesses who testified, “This man never stops saying things against this holy place and the law. For we have heard him claim that this Jesus the Nazorean will destroy this place and change the customs that Moses handed down to us.” All those who sat in the Sanhedrin looked intently at him and saw that his face was like the face of an angel.
 
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 119:23-24, 26-27, 29-30
R. (1ab) Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord! or: Alleluia.
 
Though princes meet and talk against me,
your servant meditates on your statutes.
Yes, your decrees are my delight;
they are my counselors. R.
 
I declared my ways, and you answered me;
teach me your statutes.
Make me understand the way of your precepts,
and I will meditate on your wondrous deeds. R.
 
Remove from me the way of falsehood,
and favour me with your law.
The way of truth I have chosen;
I have set your ordinances before me. R.
 
Alleluia: MATTHEW 4:4B
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
One does not live on bread alone
but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
 
Gospel: JOHN 6:22-29
After Jesus had fed the five thousand men, his disciples saw him walking on the sea. The next day, the crowd that remained across the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not gone along with his disciples in the boat, but only his disciples had left. Other boats came from Tiberias near the place where they had eaten the bread when the Lord gave thanks. When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into boats and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus. And when they found him across the sea they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” Jesus answered them and said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father, God, has set his seal.” So they said to him, “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.”
 
Commentary
It is often said: “Be careful as to what you pray for. You might receive it.” It might mean that not everything we ask for is good for us. It could also mean that we might ask for a lesser good and miss out on a greater good which was there for the asking. Today Jesus cautions us against missing out what is truly worth asking for. “Work then, not for perishable food, but for the lasting food which gives eternal life.” How often we find people frequenting places of worship for financial benefits and physical healing! Not that they are not worth asking for. But if only we asked more for “higher things,” things that matter for the soul! Let us not be satisfied with the many tangible gifts our God gives us. Instead, let us continuously pray and work for the greatest of gifts: the very person of God as our inheritance.
 
Intercessions
We now pray for all the things that matter, and say, Lord, hear our prayer.
For the Church, that its leaders and ministers may nourish the People of God with the solid food of the Gospel, we pray:
For divided Christians, that soon we may break together the one bread of the one Lord, we pray:
For all Christian communities, that we may learn to appreciate the tremendous value of the Eucharist and draw from it the strength to commit ourselves to the needs of our neighbors far and near, we pray:
 
Prayer over the Gifts
God, our Father,
for this meal of thanksgiving,
we bring before you bread and wine,
the gifts you yourself have given us.
They express our life and our struggles.
Let them become the living signs
of the presence among us of your Son,
that he may sustain us on our journey
to a full and lasting life and joy
and dispose us to give ourselves with him,
for the life and happiness of all your people.
We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen!
 
Prayer after Communion
Our loving Father,
in the bread broken for us here,
we recognize him who is the light of life,
your Son, Jesus Christ.
Give us this bread always,
let him be our daily bread,
which tastes better when it is shared
with those who hunger for it in any way.
Grant this through Christ, our Lord. Amen!
 
Blessing
“Do not work for food that perishes but for the kind of food that gives life,” says Jesus. In life then, let us seek the Lord and the things of lasting value. May the Lord bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!

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