The First Reading tells us Stephen was murdered by the crowd without any trail. He rebuked his accusers and what triggered them was when Stephen told them: Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God. Stephen equated Jesus to the Son of Man and this was what they could not accept. To use today’s phrase, Stephen was literally canceled by the mob that would not accept what he said. Stephen spoke of what he saw which went against what the crowd believed. And he paid the ultimate price. When he died, Stephen said Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice “Lord, do not hold this sin against them”.
Stephen called on the Lord Jesus to receive his spirit and not to hold this sin against them. With this, Stephen became the first Christian martyr. Stephen did not die helping the poor. He did not die doing some good work. Stephen died proclaiming the name of the Lord, because those who heard him cannot accept Jesus is the Messiah and Lord. Many people have their own idea of God and many would rather God change his laws to keep up with the times. Many insist on changing the natural laws because they want things done their way.
We see this in the Gospel where the people demanded a sign from Jesus so they may believe, such as giving them bread from heaven. To think Jesus just fed them the day before, from five loaves of bread, they now want the sign Moses gave, the bread from heaven. In response, Jesus told them it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. Look at the tenses. It WAS not Moses, meaning past tense. The manna was given once, and not by Moses. But it IS my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. This is present tense, meaning, the Father gives and continues to give the true bread from heaven.
The bread from heaven is given even now! So the people ask Sir, give us this bread always. To which Jesus replied I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. The bread the Father gives today is Jesus. To eat the Bread of life is to come to Jesus. To drink his Blood is to believe in him. We come to Jesus to have life.
During this lockdown, many have treated government leaders, the provincial medical officers, the vaccine as those who can save their lives. They have created idols out of these people. But the truth is, only Jesus can save. This lockdown, especially the restriction of worship, has shown that human plans are nothing. The more they lockdown, the more cases there are. The more people are vaccinated, the more cases there are. They have done they can to control the pandemic yet, nothing happens. Why? They have forgotten who gives life! I understand and commend those who work so hard to save people’s lives. But in the end, it is God who has control of life. Let us pray that those decision makers will realize who holds the lives of everyone.
Lord, you are the Bread of Life, the one who gives life. I pray for government officials, those making these decisions, to realize that life comes from you and all human efforts are nothing without you.