07May 07 May, 2019. Tuesday, 3rd Week of Easter

Tuesday of Week 3 of Easter

1st Reading: Acts 7:51-8:1

Stephen’s sermon stirs up the mob, who put him to death by stoning

[Stephen ended his sermon by saying]:

“You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you are forever opposing the Holy Spirit, just as your ancestors used to do. Which of the prophets did your ancestors not persecute? They killed those who foretold the coming of the Righteous One, and now you have become his betrayers and murderers. You are the ones that received the law as ordained by angels, and yet you have not kept it.”

When they heard these things, they became enraged and ground their teeth at Stephen. But filled with the Holy Spirit, he gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” But they covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against him. Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him; and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he died.

And Saul approved of their killing him. That day a severe persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout the countryside of Judea and Samaria.

Responsorial: Psalm 30: 3-4, 6-8, 17, 21

Response: Into your hands, O Lord, I entrust my spirit

Be a rock of refuge for me,
a mighty stronghold to save me.
For you are my rock, my stronghold.
For your name’s sake, lead me and guide me. (R./)

Into your hands I commend my spirit.
It is you who will redeem me, Lord.
As for me, I trust in the Lord:
let me be glad and rejoice in your love. (R./)

Let your face shine on your servant.
Save me in your love.
You hide those who trust you
in the shelter of your presence
from the plotting of men. (R./)

Gospel: John 6:30-35

My Father gives you the true bread from heaven

The people said to Jesus, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? Our ancestors ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, “He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'” Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”


Stephen, the church’s first martyr

Stephen’s martyrdom is descrubed almost like a re-enactment of Jesus’ death on the cross. Both of them, accused of blasphemy, were condemned to death by the Sanhedrin. At the moment of death each prays to God to receive his spirit and boty pray for the forgiveness of the executioners (See Luke 22-23). Stephen becomes the proto-martyr of Christianity. Our faith assures us that when our death is linked to that of Jesus, it opens the gateway to heaven! Stephen’s death felt anything but joyful, to those he left behind. The small Christian community in Jerusalem were overwhelmed with sorrow. Acts adds how it set off a great persecution of the church in that city. All except the apostles scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. And very soon afterwards, Saul began to harass the church.

Even so devout a Jew as Saul of Tarsus gave his full approval to stoning to death a man he considered to be promoting heresy. Amazingly, Stephen accepted his violent death peacefully, “filled with the Holy Spirit.” Although almost deafened by shouts of hatred, he did not answer anger with anger, nor curse those who cursed him. By the grace of God he rose above the violence of the mob. Self-possessed, he reasoned with his judges in the Sanhedrin. He trusted in God’s protection even when his accusers were gathering rocks for his execution. Finally, with his dying breath, Stephen handed himself over to the Lord Jesus.

Living and dying like Jesus

Just as Jesus said, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit,” so Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” The message is that the attitudes of Jesus should be reproduced in his followers. The risen Lord continues living in and through us, who are his followers today. Because He wants us to live by the guidance of his spirit, he invites us to receive him as our bread of life. We hear him say, “I am the bread of life, whoever comes to me will never be hungry.” Our coming to Jesus in the Eucharist helps us to live by his example.