May 6, 2014

May 6

May 6, 2014:  Tuesday, 3rd week of Easter

Wordle: Readings 5-6-14
  • Acts 7:51-8:1a  Stephen:  “You oppose the Spirit, like your ancestors who killed the prophets.”  They ground their teeth, but he said, “I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at God's right hand.”  They stoned him; witnesses laid their cloaks at Saul's feet.  He called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit....  Don't hold this sin against them,” then fell asleep.  Saul  consented to his execution.
  • Jn 6:30-35  Crowd /  Jesus:  “What sign can you do, that we may believe in you?  Our ancestors ate manna in the desert.” / “My Father, not Moses, gives the true bread from heaven and gives life to the world.” / “Give us this bread always.” / “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”
Pope Francis
  • Homily:  Stephen's death was a replica of Jesus':  he encountered leaders' jealousy, had false witnesses, and died forgiving.  He warned they were resisting the Spirit; they hated him.  The devil who did what he wanted with Jesus did the same with Stephen; when he sees sanctity, he has to do something.  In the Beatitudes Jesus told his disciples to rejoice in persecution.  'Martyr' is Greek for 'witness'; you can't understand Christians without witness.  We're not a religion of ideas, theology, things, and commandments but people who follow Christ and bear witness, laying down our lives. With Stephen's death, a persecution began, the devil provoked people, and Christians scattered and testified to Jesus everywhere; the Church's mission began, and many converted.  "The blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians" [see Tertullian, Apologeticus, 50].  Witness bears fruit; the Church is a fruitful mother when witnessing to Christ but becomes sterile when closed in on itself without witnessing.  So too the Christian:  one who doesn't witness is sterile, not giving the life received from Christ.  Stephen was filled with the Spirit; we can't bear witness without the Spirit in us.  In difficult times, where we have to choose the right path and say no to seductions, pray to the Spirit for strength to witness.
      On Listening, thanks to guest contributor Fr. Chris Bazyouros
      Beloved theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer offers this on the sacred duty of listening:  The first service one owes to others is listening.  Just as loving God begins with listening, so too the beginning of love for others.  Our loving God not only gives us his Word but also his ear, so we're doing God's work when we listen to another.  We often forget listening can be an even greater service than saying something.
      NCCL Weekly, May 5, 2014, p. 13, crediting the OnBeing blog of Trent Gillis
      Many looking for an ear don't find it among Christians, because many Christians talk when they should be listening.  But those who no longer listen to others will soon no longer listen to God either, and their prayer will be mere prattle.  This is the beginning of spiritual death, and nothing remains but spiritual chatter and pious condescension.  One who can't listen long and patiently will soon be talking beside the point and not really speaking to others.  If your time is too valuable to spend in quiet, you'll eventually have no time for God and others but only yourself and your follies. 
      paraphrased from Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community
        • Creighton:  “The glory of God is the person fully alive,” [St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 4.20.7], and only through the Spirit are we fully alive, as Spirit-filled Stephen on the way to martyrdom.  During Easter we celebrate more than Jesus’ resurrection; we celebrate our rebirth through the Spirit.  Risen life begins on earth and culminates in heaven.  Attend to signs of new life in us:  belief in Jesus the Bread of Life, fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23).  Allow the Spirit to transform you to become fully alive!
            •  The manna sustained the Israelites on their journey but didn't give eternal life, but the Bread of Life, God's life, satisfies our deepest hunger. 
              • Passionist:  Why did people walk away from the Bread of Life?  'Takers' wanted the gift, not Giver; handouts, not a relationship.  'Conformists' wanted rules, not a relationship.  'Enthusiasts' wanted signs, not a relationship.

                • "Keyboard with dove" tie pin:  Stephen was filled with the Holy Spirit (1st reading)
                • Red shirt:  Stephen's  martyrdom (1st reading)
                • "Stone/rock" tie pin:  They stoned Stephen (1st reading); "You are my rock" (psalm)
                • "Signs" tie:  "What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you?" (gospel)
                • "Wheat" pin:  Bread of Life discourse (gospel)

                Dress your life!

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