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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Tuesday of the Third Week of Easter
1st Reading (Acts 7:51–8,1): Stephen said to the people, the elders, and the scribes: «You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always oppose the Holy Spirit; you are just like your ancestors. Which of the prophets did your ancestors not persecute? They put to death those who foretold the coming of the righteous one, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become. You received the law as transmitted by angels, but you did not observe it».

When they heard this, they were infuriated, and they ground their teeth at him. But Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and Stephen said: «Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God». But they cried out in a loud voice, covered their ears, and rushed upon him together. They threw him out of the city, and began to stone him. The witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul. As they were stoning Stephen, he called out, «Lord Jesus, receive my spirit». Then he fell to his knees and cried out in a loud voice, «Lord, do not hold this sin against them»; and when he said this, he fell asleep. Now Saul was consenting to his execution.
Responsorial Psalm: 30
R/. Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.
Be my rock of refuge, a stronghold to give me safety. You are my rock and my fortress; for your name's sake you will lead and guide me.

Into your hands I commend my spirit; you will redeem me, o Lord, o faithful God. My trust is in the Lord; I will rejoice and be glad of your mercy.

Let your face shine upon your servant; save me in your kindness. You hide them in the shelter of your presence from the plottings of men.
Versicle before the Gospel (Jn 6:35): Alleluia. I am the bread of life, says the Lord; whoever comes to me will never hunger. Alleluia.
Gospel text (Jn 6:30-35): So they said to him, “What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you? What can you do? Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” So Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; 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.” So 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 hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.

«My Father gives you the true bread from heaven»

Fr. Joaquim MESEGUER García (Rubí, Barcelona, Spain)

Today in Jesus' words we can verify the confronts and the complementarity between the Old and the New Testaments: the Old Testament was an expectation of the New Testament and in the New Testament, God's promises to the fathers of the Old Testament are being fulfilled. Thus, the manna the Israelis ate in the desert was not the authentic bread from Heaven, but an anticipated image of the true bread that God, our Father, has given us in the person of Jesus Christ, whom He has sent to us as Saviour of the world. Moses begs for God to give the Israelis physical food; Jesus Christ, instead, has given Himself for us as that divine aliment yielding life.

“What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you? What can you do?” (Jn 6:30), the Jews ask unbelieving and irreverent. Do they perhaps consider meaningless the sign of the multiplication of the bread and fish Jesus had accomplished the previous day? Why did they want yesterday to proclaim Jesus as a king while today they do not want to believe him anymore? How often can the human heart change! St. Bernard of Clairvaux said: “It is so that these impious ones wander in a circle, longing after something to gratify their yearnings, yet madly rejecting that which alone can bring them to their desired end, not by exhaustion but by attainment.” And so it happened that those Jews, engulfed by a materialistic vision, expected someone who would nourish them and would solve all their problems, but they did not want to believe; this is all they desired out of Jesus. Is not this the idea of he who is only interested in a comfortable religion, tailor-made and without any commitment?

“Sir, give us this bread always.” (Jn 6:34): I wish I could say these words, pronounced by the Jews from their materialistic look at life, with the sincerity faith provides us with; that that these words truly mean a desire to nurture myself with Jesus Christ and to live closely united to Him forever.

Thoughts on Today's Gospel

  • “In the New Testament there is Bread of heaven, and a Cup of salvation, sanctifying soul and body; for as the Bread corresponds to our body, so is the Word appropriate to our soul.” (Saint Cyril of Jerusalem)

  • “But man hungers for more than the Manna in the desert. As the audience still does not understand, Jesus repeats himself even more unambiguously: ‘I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst’ (Jn 6:35).” (Benedict XVI)

  • “The flood and Noah's ark prefigured salvation by Baptism, as did the cloud and the crossing of the Red Sea. Water from the rock was the figure of the spiritual gifts of Christ, and manna in the desert prefigured the Eucharist, ‘the true bread from heaven’ (Jn 6:32).” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, Nº 1094)