3rd Week of Easter
1st 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.
Gospel: Jn 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 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.”
WHY DO YOU LOOK FOR JESUS? : Jesus clearly tell the people that they are looking for him because they have had their fill. In other words, they looked for Jesus because they have seen the miracles and not because they have liked his teaching and want to follow his teaching. In fact, as the conversation progresses, we will find the Jews disagreeing with Jesus and going away from Jesus.
In the last moments of a crucial sports event, it is a common practise that some of the spectators begin to pray. Do they really believe in God? Or they are looking for a miracle though they don’t believe in God. Ask yourselves this simple question, even after consistent prayers over time if you have not received what you are looking for will I still stick to Him?
WHO DO YOU SEEK? Do you seek the consolation of God or the God of consolation? In these days of miracle crusades, there is a great temptation to seek the outcome of our faith in terms of miracles, rather than to focus on our relationship with God. In the encounter that follows the multiplication of loaves, Jesus challenges the attitude of people in seeking the bread given by the Father rather than the Father who gives the bread. Jesus’ mission on earth was not to work miracles; his miracles were only signs. The signs need to be interpreted to recognise the person of God in Jesus. Anything short of that would be misplaced faith.
Prayer: “It is your face, Oh Lord, that I seek. Free me from the temptation for immediate gratification, even in my prayer.”
WHY DO YOU FOLLOW JESUS? You can know someone through the things and works which he does in life. You will know him better and what sort of person he is if you come to know how he does those things. However, you will really and deeply know that person, when you discover why he does them. The motive which drives the person to act, speaks loud about his heart. Deeds are just consequence of the passion with which he mobilizes his energies; and if you do not have a passion in life, we may say that such person is dead in his heart. This is why Jesus addresses to his disciples´ hearts and to their motivations. `Why do you follow me?’ he asks his disciples. John in his Gospel respond with Peter’s confession: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We we know that you are the Holy One of God” (Jn 6:68-69). Peter has rooted Jesus deep in his heart, making him the passion of his 1life.
YOU BELIEVE IN THE ONE HE SENT: We are continuing to listen to Chapter 6 of John, which is about the Eucharist. One of the important invitations in John is to believe in the Son of God, the one sent by the Father. What does it mean to believe? In John, ‘believe’ is never a noun, it is always a verb. If we reduce it to ‘belief’, a noun, it runs the risk of becoming a mere dogma or creed. What is the implication of this? First, to believe is a movement towards God who has revealed himself in His Son. It is a response to the covenant of God: “come and you will see.” It is an experience of God in Jesus. Second, it is also a journey, it is a process. Just as the Samaritan woman comes to recognize Jesus slowly (Jn 4), just as the blind man comes to see Jesus gradually (Jn 9), believing is a gradual process.
PURIFY YOUR INTENTIONS: In the first reading we hear about the accusation of Stephen with his fellow Hellenists. Stephen’s teaching on Christianity meets resistance and provoked opposition. He apparently argued for the Messiaship of Jesus and the fulfillment of the promised salvation. They falsely accused Stephen of attacking the sacred Jewish institutions of temple and law, and stirred up the people, the elders, and scribes against him (6:11–13). Stephen faced the same scenario just as our Lord experienced. Our attitude of worshiping God should not be driven by clouded motives rather we should have proper attitude towards God. In our societies some people look at the Church for its material benefits only. The church should not be reduced to material things as Christ was looked upon as the provider of bread and fish.