Sunday, April 10, 2016

Reflections for the 3rd Week of Easter, Part 1

Monday – Wisdom and the Spirit

Stephen was someone special. That was evident to anyone who heard him speak. God's grace shone brightly as he talked about Jesus and how He died and rose again to save the whole world. His words held a power beyond normal human speech, and they attracted many people. Add to them the signs and wonders that Stephen was performing in Jesus' name, and the man was nearly irresistible.

But some resisted. Certain Jews from the Synagogue of Freedmen couldn't bear to listen to Stephen. His words were too challenging. He demanded too much of a change in their way of thinking. He called them to believe things they simply didn't want to believe. Yet they couldn't debate with him. They couldn't meet him on an even field. Although they didn't realize it, his words were filled with wisdom and the Spirit. No one could stand against him. Or rather, no one could stand again God, Who was using Stephen as His instrument. Stephen's face shone like that of an angel as he spoke. He was confident that no matter what happened to him, the Gospel could never be stopped. The truth would always prevail.

Tuesday – I Am the Bread of Life

The crowds were intrigued. They knew all about the manna God had sent to the Israelites to nourish and preserve them for forty years in the desert. Now they expected Jesus to give them a similar sign to prove His claims. Jesus' response was somewhat cryptic: “My Father 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.”

Jesus' hearers didn't understand what He meant, but the idea sounded good to them. “Sir,” they replied, “give us this bread always.”

They didn't really know what they were asking, so they didn't expect Jesus' answer: “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to Me will never hunger, and whoever believes in Me will never thirst.”

The crowds struggled to understand and believe this statement. How could Jesus be the bread of life? How could He be the true bread from Heaven, the new manna?

Do you understand and believe Jesus' claim? Do you appreciate His great gift of Himself in the Eucharist? Do you recognize Him as the bread of life? Do you turn to Him for nourishment? Do you welcome Him with faith and love? Is He your true bread from Heaven?

Wednesday – Great Joy

The deacon Philip was on mission. He had fled Jerusalem due to persecution against the fledgling Church, but that didn't stop him from proclaiming the Gospel.

The people of Samaria were seekers. Long disparaged by the Jews, they tried to worship God in the best way they know how, but they never seemed to get it right. When Philip arrived in the city announcing the good news of Christ, they flocked to listen and soon witnessed miraculous healings. People with unclean spirits were freed. The paralyzed and crippled walked. Clearly something amazing was happening here.

Great joy filled the city. Salvation had come. The people believed and celebrated. They recognized good news when they saw it, and Philip had brought the best news of all.

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