The crowd was puzzled. They had eaten their fill of bread and fish the day before thanks to Jesus, but now He was nowhere to be seen. Jesus had not gotten into the boat with the disciples, and there was only one boat missing. It was really quite a mystery. Where could Jesus have gone?
They decided to go looking for Jesus, and when they finally found Him on the other side of the sea, they were more confused than ever. “Rabbi, when did You get here,” they asked.
But Jesus was on to them. He knew the motives deep in their hearts. They may have been looking for Him but not for the right reasons. They were curious certainly, but mostly they wanted more bread. They wanted to eat again, and they liked the miraculous nature of their meal. It was a novelty, something exciting, something interesting. “Amen, amen, I say to you,” Jesus proclaimed, “you are looking for Me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled.”
Jesus pushed the crowd to change their motives. Instead of seeking more physical food, they ought to work for food that never perishes, food that is eternal, food that comes from Jesus on a much deeper level than bread and fish.
So the question arises: What are our motives? Why do we seek Jesus? Are we looking for favors? Do we want Him to solve our worldly problems? Or are we looking for something deeper, something that will last for eternity?
Tuesday – Violent Denial
No. Absolutely not. They would not listen. They couldn't bear it. How could he say such things? What was it he was proclaiming with such confidence? “Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
They didn't want to hear it. It couldn't be true. They had killed Jesus for blasphemy; there was no way He could be Whom Stephen claimed He was. They would not believe. They would cover their ears so they couldn't even listen.
No, they would not listen, and they would not let Stephen speak any more either. They rushed at him, yelling and screaming. Driving him out of the city, they picked up the largest stones they could find and started throwing them at Stephen.
Most of them were so crazed that they never heard Stephen speak his final words: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” Perhaps they didn't even fully grasp that their violent denial had just taken a man's life.
Wednesday – The Kerygma
In today's first reading, St. Paul presents the kerygma, the most basic, most foundational teachings of the Christian faith.
1. Jesus died for us in order to take away our sins.
2. This happened in accordance with the Old Testament Scriptures, which prepared for and pointed to Jesus' coming, dying, and rising.
3. Jesus rose on the third day, truly alive.
4. Jesus appeared to His followers to prove His resurrection.
Here is the heart of Christianity. There is, of course, much more to know and believe, many more essential truths, but they are built upon this kerygma, and the kerygma is built upon God's great love, a love strong enough to die and rise again for us.