PERSECUTION—GIVING THE BREAD OF LIFE
The fervour of the young Church is so contagious, that even in persecution Christians use the occasion of the persecution itself to preach the risen Christ. Indeed, God does not abandon the Church, even in moments of trial. The reading from Acts says that there was even great joy over the signs of the Lord’s presence. There is also a great joy in the Gospel where we hear Jesus says that he is our bread of life: not only will he later give himself as bread to eat, but his word and message are for us real bread of life, something to live by and to live for.
God, our Father,
you are our faithful God,
even in days of trial for the Church
and for each of us personally;
you stay by our side,
even if we are not aware of your presence.
Give us an unlimited trust in you
and make us ever more aware
that your Son Jesus is the meaning of our lives
and that he nourishes us with himself,
today and every day, forever. Amen!
1 Reading: ACTS 8:1B-8
There broke out a severe persecution of the Church in Jerusalem, and all were scattered throughout the countryside of Judea and Samaria, except the Apostles. Devout men buried Stephen and made a loud lament over him. Saul, meanwhile, was trying to destroy the Church; entering house after house and dragging out men and women, he handed them over for imprisonment. Now those who had been scattered went about preaching the word. Thus Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed the Christ to them. With one accord, the crowds paid attention to what was said by Philip when they heard it and saw the signs he was doing. For unclean spirits, crying out in a loud voice, came out of many possessed people, and many paralyzed and crippled people were cured. There was great joy in that city.
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 66:1-3A, 4-5, 6-7A
R. (1) Let all the earth cry out to God with joy. or: Alleluia.
Shout joyfully to God, all the earth,
sing praise to the glory of his name;
proclaim his glorious praise.
Say to God, “How tremendous are your deeds!” R.
“Let all on earth worship and sing praise to you,
sing praise to your name!”
Come and see the works of God,
his tremendous deeds among the children of Adam. R.
He has changed the sea into dry land;
through the river they passed on foot;
therefore let us rejoice in him.
He rules by his might forever. R.
Alleluia: JOHN 6:40
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Everyone who believe in the Son has eternal life,
and I shall raise him on the last day, says the Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel: JOHN 6:35-40
Jesus said to the crowds, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst. But I told you that although you have seen me, you do not believe. Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and I will not reject anyone who comes to me, because I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me. And this is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, but that I should raise it on the last day. 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.”
In the Lord’s Prayer we pray: “Give us this day our daily bread.” What exactly are we praying for? What is this “daily bread”? This particular word “epiousios” (rendered as “daily”) does not occur anywhere else in the New Testament, and thus has a unique reference. In one sense, we are praying for our many material needs, the bread that sustains our physical life. But from yesterday’s gospel reading we know that Jesus wants us to labour for the bread that feeds our soul. Thus, over and above the physical “bread” that meets our physical needs, Jesus wants us to pray for the “daily bread” that sustains our spiritual life. And what is this bread? He tells us today: “I am the bread of life.” Anyone who receives him as his or her daily bread will never be hungry or thirsty. How do we receive him as the bread of life? We do, in the word of God and in the Eucharist that is the sacrament of sacraments. Ideally, we must receive this daily bread on a daily basis—see the double emphasis in the prayer: “Give us this day our daily bread.” How regular is my feeding on the Word and the Eucharist?
– That by the way they live their faith Christians, may show the beauty and joy of the message of Christ to those who seek, we pray:
– That the Church may accept people the way they are and not drive them away because of mistakes, we pray:
– That we may all be open-handed to many who are hungry today for food and love, we pray:
Prayer over the Gifts
Our faithful God,
you are our God of the covenant.
Make us understand the covenant more deeply
as your lasting commitment to us
at your own initiative.
In these signs of bread and wine,
allow us to express that we too,
want to be faithful to you not only
in moments of happiness and joy
but also when we are groping in the dark.
We ask you this through Christ, our Lord. Amen!
Prayer after Communion
Our faithful God,
we rejoice that in your Son, Jesus,
and his message of life,
you have given us something
and someone to live for.
Thank you very much for making him
our bread of life,
who will never drive us away
but will keep accepting us
and making us grow in his life
until it blossoms forth in eternal life.
All thanks through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen!
“I was hungry and you gave me to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me to drink,” says Jesus. May you always keep recognizing Jesus in the needy, with the blessing of Almighty God, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!