“Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life.” (John 6:26-27)
Jesus tells us today: “Do not labour for the food which perishes” Am I working to achieve something that can perish? Am I expending all my energies on something that can be exhausted, lose its value, change, decay, go out of fashion, spoil or die? On the other hand, do I pray for things that are perishable?
The great multitudes in today’s Gospel passage obviously were looking for Jesus because they wanted their fill of bread but Jesus wanted them to have something more than bread. Jesus desires to bless us but His blessings are not limited to things of this world alone.
In his conversation with the Samaritan woman, Jesus said: “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14).
The bread that we should labour for is not the type that only fills us momentarily. It is the bread that lasts forever, the bread that never expires, it is the bread of which St. Augustine writes: “Our hearts are restless, O Lord until they rest in you.”
Our first reading today contains the story of St. Stephen, the first martyr. Seen from a purely earthly perspective, our first reading today is a very sad one; but it is the story of our world, the story of injustice perpetrated daily by the high and mighty against the innocent and holy; the story of envy and false accusation.
In case you are wondering why would God allow one of His own to be stoned to death, remember the words of Jesus: “Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven.” (Matthew 5:11-12). God did not stop the stones from hitting Stephen because He had a better place for him in heaven.
Stephen had the right attitude to Christianity. He was prepared to deny himself and carry his cross after Jesus. He was not simply there for material prosperity, he did not set out to work for bread that perishes. He set his gaze on heaven. Stephen had the chance to compromise, he had the chance to deny Jesus or run for his life but he stood his ground to the end. Do not only ask what God is doing for you but also ask what you are doing for God.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, fill me with the courage to proclaim you to the world by my thoughts, words, and deeds. Amen.
Bible Study: Acts 6:8-15, Ps. 119:23-24,26-27,29-30, John 6:22-29)
© Rev. Fr. Evaristus Abu