Acts of the Apostles 7:51-8:1
Stephen said to the people, the elders and the scribes: ‘You stubborn people, with your pagan hearts and pagan ears. You are always resisting the Holy Spirit, just as your ancestors used to do. Can you name a single prophet your ancestors never persecuted? In the past they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, and now you have become his betrayers, his murderers. You who had the Law brought to you by angels are the very ones who have not kept it.’
They were infuriated when they heard this, and ground their teeth at him.
But Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at God’s right hand. ‘I can see heaven thrown open’ he said ‘and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’ At this all the members of the council shouted out and stopped their ears with their hands; then they all rushed at him, sent him out of the city and stoned him. The witnesses put down their clothes at the feet of a young man called Saul. As they were stoning him, Stephen said in invocation, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he knelt down and said aloud, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them’; and with these words he fell asleep. Saul entirely approved of the killing.
They people said to Jesus, ‘What sign will you give to show us that we should believe in you? What work will you do? Our fathers had manna to eat in the desert; as scripture says: He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ Jesus answered:
‘I tell you most solemnly,
it was not Moses who gave you bread from heaven,
it is my Father who gives you the bread from heaven,
the true bread;
for the bread of God
is that which comes down from heaven
and gives life to the world.’
‘Sir,’ they said ‘give us that bread always.’ Jesus answered:
‘I am the bread of life.
He who comes to me will never be hungry;
he who believes in me will never thirst.’
Pagan hearts and pagan ears
Little do I know that despite my faith and believe in our Lord, I sometimes am stubborn and live a pagan way of thinking. I am guilty of being one who takes our Father’s mercy and love for granted. I feel great at Eucharistic celebrations and the hours, perhaps for the rest of the day after mass. One of the biggest struggle for a lot of us is to be ‘going in peace, and serving the Lord’ for the rest of our week. We have the head knowledge of how we should behave and reach out as a Christian to the other outside of our church community, however we tend to lose that confidence in Spirit and struggle with the prompts of just being indifferent.
In today’s reading, let us be inspired by the Holy Spirit working in Stephen. We know Stephen is not equal to Jesus’ greatness; however, he has become an instrument of God, filled with the Spirit, and speaks out to the people. Similarly to the crucified Christ, Stephen was being struck by the crowd, the same people who did not learn from Jesus’ death and resurrection. He called out to our Father the same way Jesus did before He died on the cross. We do not hear of such martyrdom much these days, though there are existences in specific areas still, as the world has become more tolerant to religious views. We do come across non-believers in our social circle, and their disagreement with us is just a subtle manner in comparison to the period then.
John’s gospel today continues to emphasize about our faith in Jesus Christ, being the strength and food for our soul and that all is provided for in this world by God through the Holy Spirit. Are we filled with conviction to leave our parish every week to make a spiritual difference to the world? We are to have a clear mind of worldly desires and what makes us filled and rich with eternal goodness. Let us pierce those pagan hearts and plug those pagan ears, to rid all temptations that come our way, so that we may be filled with the Holy Spirit, and act according to your will.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Austin Leong)
Prayer: I lift myself up to you O Lord, that I walk out into the streets with little anger and be ready as an instrument for You anytime.
Thanksgiving: You have fed me bread from the ground, but I thank you more for the Bread from heaven.
Wed, 11 May – Acts of the Apostles 8:1-8; John 6:35-40
Thu, 12 May – Acts of the Apostles 8:26-40; John 6:44-51; Memorial for Ss Nereus & Archilleus, Martyrs
Fri, 13 May – Acts of the Apostles 9:1-20; John 6:52-59; Memorial for Our Lady of Fatimah
Sat, 14 May – Acts of the Apostles 1:15-17.20-26; John 15:9-17; Feast of St Matthias, Apostle
Sun, 15 May – Acts of the Apostles 2:14.36-41; 1 Peter 2:20-25; John 10:1-10; Fourth Sunday of Easter