April 21, 2015

April 21

April 21, 2015:  Tuesday, Third Week of Easter

  • 'Holy Spirit' chain:  Stephen was filled with the Holy Spirit (1st reading)
  • 'Hand' tie pin:  "I see Jesus standing at God's right hand" (1st reading); "Into your hands I commend my spirit" (psalm)
  • 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)
  • White socks:  Easter season

Pope Francis homily

The only bread martyrs need is Jesus; Stephen didn't need to negotiate with those who put him to death; his witness was such that his persecutors rushed on him together.  Like Jesus, he had to deal with false witnesses and people's anger.  He reminded the elders and scribes that their ancestors persecuted other prophets, and when he described his vision, they stoned him.  God’s Word is always rejected by some; it's inconvenient when you have a stone heart because it asks you to satisfy your hunger with the bread Jesus spoke of.  Stephen died with the Christian magnanimity of forgiveness, praying for his enemies.
Those who persecuted the prophets believed they were giving glory to God.  The true history of the Church is that of the Saints and martyrs.  How many Stephens are there today?  Those whose throats were slit on the beach in Libya, the boy burnt alive because he was Christian, migrants thrown from their boat because they were Christians, Ethiopians assassinated because they were Christian, the hidden martyrs faithful to the Spirit's voice and seeking new ways to help others love God better....  They're often viewed with suspicion, vilified, and persecuted by modern ‘Sanhedrins’ who think they have the truth.

  • 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.”
    • Creighton:  Jn 6 is mainly about whether people can accept Christ's divinity.   Jesus asked the people he just miraculously fed to take him seriously.  Most can't.  Even the apostles didn't know what he meant, but at least they stuck around.   We need to join them in their trust: “Faith never knows where it's being led, but it loves and knows the One who's leading” (Oswald Chambers [known for My Utmost for His Highest, now appified and Kindled])
    • Passionist:  Stephen, giving witness about Jesus Christ, said he saw the Son of Man standing at God's right hand.  To him it was a sign of God’s working among the Jews, but the Sanhedrin rejected the sign and stoned him.  Jesus' sign of himself (gospel) was also misunderstood, then ultimately rejected.   The people were looking for signs of God's work and of how to proceed; may we find God in the signs that appear to us.
    • DailyScripture.net:  The Jews regarded the manna as the bread of God.  Many believed that when the Messiah came, he'd give manna from heaven.  Jewish leaders demanded Jesus produce manna as proof to his claim to be Messiah; he responded by telling them that God, not Moses, gave the manna, and the Moses-given manna was only a symbol of the bread to come.  He then claimed to be the bread of life.  The bread Jesus offers is the life of God; it alone can satisfy our hunger.  The manna from heaven prefigured the Eucharist Jesus gave his disciples.  The manna sustained the Israelites but couldn't produce eternal life for them, but the bread Jesus offers sustains us now and forever....

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