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.”
Abundant life: The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church. With the death of Stephen, the more the Christians were persecuted the more they fled and became oasis of faith in the territories they stepped into. No wonder the Church thrives more during persecution than during peaceful times. All the empires, revolutions and ideologies that tried to destroy the Church – be it the Roman Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the French Revolution or Communism – failed woefully while the Christian faith is still standing tall. When Jesus declares himself the bread of life that satisfies our hunger and thirst in the Gospel today, he assures us of abundant life in this life and the life to come. In him our lives find its fulfillment and peace in this world and the world to come.
PRAYER: Lord, may we constantly accept your invitation to abundant life in you now and forever. Amen!
JESUS THE BREAD: Faith of the apostles continues to be directly challenged by severe persecution. Nevertheless, persecution becomes the start and spread of the Church to the world. The disciples spread the Good News without fear. “Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah to them. Despite persecution, their faith increased that they did a lot of wonders through the name of Jesus Christ. This passage is the continuation of Jesus’ discourse with the crowd about “True Bread,” (Jn 6:30-35). The expression “I am the Bread” is the point of emphasis in this passage. Jesus stresses that the true bread from heaven is not the manna which was once given by Moses in the desert. Jesus who is God’s gift to the world is the life-giving bread. This bread can only be known and accepted through faith in God.