The Bread of Life discourse in the 6th chapter of the gospel of John takes on a new perspective in light of the resurrection. Obviously all the gospels were written after the resurrection. So the sacred author presents a subtle parallel between the resistance of Jesus’ opponents to his teaching on the Bread of Life and their resistance to the truth of the resurrection itself. “The bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” Then, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” It was difficult enough for his listeners to grasp his teaching in the setting of the passage itself. But in light of the resurrection, his disciples clearly understood how holding fast to his teaching and their powerful encounters with him risen from the dead sustained their faith and courage in the face of persecution.
Stephen was on fire with love for Jesus. We don’t read about it anywhere in the scriptures, but the blazing fire of God’s Spirit that fueled his eloquence is undeniable evidence of a personal encounter with Jesus risen from the dead. Where else could it come from? His martyrdom was significant for its witness value and the upheaval it brought upon the religious establishment. But probably more significant, at least for those of us who are not called to be martyrs, were his words and the example of his living.
Only a true personal encounter with the Risen Jesus could give one the courage to lay down one’s life in the face of persecution. But fortunately for us, it also gives one the courage and confidence to live joyfully and convincingly a life consistent with his teaching and example. That is the witness to which we his disciples are called.
This mass was offered for the repose of +Otto Weiss.
Rolo B Castillo © 2020