3RD WEEK OF EASTER
1st 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.
Gospel: Jn 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.”
What is the Will of God?: Jesus Clearly tells us, what is the will of the Father. “… I should not lose anything of what he gave me, but that I should raise it on the last day.” (Jn 6:39). “… Everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life…” (Jn 6:40). In simple terms the will of the Father is that no one should be lost or every human being should have eternal life (be raised to life on the last day). If that is the will of the Father, as human beings what is our role? We are collaborators with Jesus Christ to bring people to believe in the Son of God. Through our words and deeds and through our prayers we should bring people to Christ. Today’s first reading (Acts 8:1-8), presents an example of how to bring people to Christ. Through the intercession of Philip, let us pray that we become collaborators with Christ to fulfill the will of God the Father.
ETERNAL LIFE IS LIFE IN GOD: Pope Benedict XVI, in his book, Jesus of Nazareth (vol.1) says, “‘Eternal life’ is not – as the modern reader might immediately assume – life after death, in contrast to this present life, which is transient and not eternal. “’Eternal life’ is life itself, real life, which can also be living in the present age and is no longer challenged by physical death… ‘Eternal life’ is thus a relational event… Through relationship with the one who is himself life [God in Jesus], man too comes alive.” Eucharist makes it possible for us to experience life in God here and now. When I receive the Eucharist, God becomes part of my flesh and blood. As long as I am conscious of this, God in me never dies.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for the wonderful gift of the Eucharist.
GOD WILLS THE SALVATION OF ALL: By repeating the same words of yesterday´s Gospel, “I am the bread of life,” we enter, into the main part of the discourse on bread of life. This discourse highlights God´s universal will for salvation. The Lord is God because he can save all. Furthermore, He is Father because he wants to give his own life to all, life to the full (cf. Jn 10:10). The Father has already taken a decision: “He wills that all should find salvation and come to know the truth” (1 Tim 2:4). He does not want the death of the sinner; He does not want to lose any; rather he wishes that all may live. To fulfil this gracious will, He offers his own life to all in Jesus who is bread of life. He is food for all, nobody is excluded, all are welcome to be nourished by this food. The Church, and every Christian, fed by the bread of life is transformed in to God’s own likeness.
ARE YOU ABLE TO STAND FOR YOUR BELIEF? On 4th March 2016, four gunmen attacked the home of the Missionaries of Charity of Mother Teresa in Yemen, killing 16 people including four sisters. Father Tom was the chaplain of the sisters. The attackers were heard going in the chapel. They began to pull down the statues. Father Tom’s reaction was to come out of his hiding and consume the sacred hosts. He was taken a hostage and later released after 18 months on 12th Sept 2017. Father Tom indeed defended what he believed in. Today we celebrate the memorial of a great saint. She was born in 1347 in Italy, and became a Sister of the Penance of St Dominic. She was given great mystical experiences including the stigmata (the five wounds of Christ). Despite being a woman and being young, she travelled widely defending the Pope and negotiating with his enemies. She died in 1380 at the age of 33. She is honoured as a doctor and defender of the church.