JESUS, THE BREAD OF LIFE LIVES IN US
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 for ever. Amen!
1 Reading: ACTS 7:51—8:1A
Stephen said to the people, the elders, and the scribes: “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always oppose the Holy Spirit; you are just like your ancestors. Which of the prophets did your ancestors not persecute? They put to death those who foretold the coming of the righteous one, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become. You received the law as transmitted by angels, but you did not observe it.” When they heard this, they were infuriated, and they ground their teeth at him. But Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and Stephen said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out in a loud voice, covered their ears, and rushed upon him together. They threw him out of the city, and began to stone him. The witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul. As they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell to his knees and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them”; and when he said this, he fell asleep. Now Saul was consenting to his execution.
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 31:3,4, 6 AND 7B
R. (6a) Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit. or: Alleluia.
Be my rock of refuge,
a stronghold to give me safety.
You are my rock and my fortress;
for your name’s sake you will lead and guide me. R.
Into your hands I commend my spirit;
you will redeem me, O LORD, O faithful God.
My trust is in the LORD;
I will rejoice and be glad of your mercy. R.
Let your face shine upon your servant;
save me in your kindness.
You hide them in the shelter of your presence
from the plottings of men. R.
Alleluia: JOHN 6:35AB
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I am the bread of life, says the Lord;
whoever comes to me will never hunger.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel: JOHN 6:30-35
The crowd said to Jesus: “What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you? What can you do? Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written: He gave them bread from heaven to eat.” So Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” So they said to Jesus, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”
“Show us miraculous signs, that we may see and believe you.”
It wasn’t that Jesus performed no miracles or signs that would help them believe in him. Rather, people were more interested in signs that would merely confirm their existing beliefs and biases, convenient truths that would not disturb their comfortable ways of living. They would rather have the bread that would feed the habitual ways of their comatose souls. They would conveniently sidestep truths that challenge them. They would close their eyes, cover their ears, and gnash their teeth at signs that question their set beliefs and practices, as is evident in the crowd’s reaction to Stephen’s preaching. Jesus challenges his audience with a statement that would jolt them out of their comfort zones: “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall never be hungry, and whoever believes in me shall never be thirsty.”
How open am I to the revelations of Truth, which may shatter my beliefs and practices?
– For people who search for the meaning of life and who hunger for what is right and good, that they may find Jesus, we pray:
– For those whose faith is tested in persecutions, that the Lord may give them the strength to remain faithful, we pray:
– For our Christian communities, that they may never be deprived of the Eucharist, we pray:
Prayer over the Gifts
Lord God, eternal Father,
in these signs of bread and wine,
you give us your Son, Jesus Christ.
May we eat him and never be hungry,
believe in him, and never thirst.
May he be to us the bread of immortality
that sustains us on the road of life,
until we reach your eternal home
where we can live with you for ever. Amen!
Prayer after Communion
Lord, loving God,
your Son has nourished us
with the bread of life of himself.
Give us this bread always.
Let Jesus still our deepest hungers,
for all that is beautiful, true and good,
that we may be to everyone we touch
bread given for the life of the world,
together with your Son, Jesus Christ
who lives with you and with us for ever. Amen!
“Give us this bread always,” said the crowd. Christ is our bread, our food, our riches, the meaning of our lives, who accompanies us on the journey of life. May he always keep nourishing us with himself. We ask God to bless us, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!