Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Tuesday of the Third Week of Easter

 

Reading 1 (Acts 7:51-8:1a)

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.

Gospel (Jn 6:30-35)

The crowd said to Jesus:
"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 Jesus,
"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.""


Written by: Fr. Anthony Dinh Minh Tien, O.P.

 

I. THEME: A disciple redraws his master’s life.

             

            In the Last Supper, before leaving the world to come back to his Father, Jesus said these warning words to his disciples: “Remember the word I spoke to you, 'No slave is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (Jn 15:20). However, he also encouraged them: “I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world” (Jn 16:33).

            Today readings rotate around the difficulties which Jesus and his disciples must face from the world. In the first reading, imitating Jesus, his holy master, deacon Stephen was ready to pour out his blood to witness for Jesus. The death of the first martyr redrew Jesus’ death. In the Gospel, people were looking for Jesus, not because they recognized him as their savior, but to have their daily food. Jesus patiently corrected and revealed to them: “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: The first martyr of deacon Stephen

1.1/ The conflict between the truth and the lying: St. Stephen’s preaching was the reason leading him to death because he had courage to speak the truth and to accuse the Sandherin’s wrong works.

            (1) Stephen accused the Sandherin’s members: “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always oppose the Holy Spirit.” Like Jesus’ conflicts with the Pharisees and the scribes, Stephen also accused them of two main things:

            + Killing God’s prophets: Jesus accused them: “Woe to you! You build the memorials of the prophets whom your ancestors killed. Consequently, you bear witness and give consent to the deeds of your ancestors, for they killed them and you do the building” (Lk 11:47-48). Stephen also accused them the same thing: “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.”

            + Contempt and not keeping the law: Jesus accused them: “Did not Moses give you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?” (Jn 7:19). Stephen also accused them: “You received the law as transmitted by angels, but you did not observe it.”

            (2) The Sandherin’s reaction: When people are corrected, they could have two attitudes: either they humbly recognize their sins and correct or they angrily deny and find a way to destroy the accuser. The people of the Sandherin chose the latter attitude: “When they heard this, they were infuriated, and they ground their teeth at him.”

1.2/ Stephen’s martyr: As the author of both the third Gospel and the Acts, St. Luke reported Stephen’s death as the redrawing of Jesus’ death, with the similarities as follows:

            (1) As Jesus said that he will sit on God’s right hand from now on before the Sandherin’ inquiry (Lk 23:69); 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 he said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55-56).

            (2) As Jesus was condemned by the Sandherin not according to the law (Lk 22:71), Stephen was also condemned by the Sandherin and stoned to death without an examination according to the law. His death is the result of the Sandherin’s spontaneous anger: “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” (Acts 7:57-58).

            (3) As Jesus’ last word on the cross, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit" (Lk 23:46); they were stoning Stephen as he called out, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit" (Acts 7:59).

            (4) As Jesus asked his Father to forgive those who condemned and killed him, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do” (Lk 23:34); Stephen fell to his knees and cried out in a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them" (Acts 7:60).

2/ Gospel: “Whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”

2.1/ Jesus corrected people’s wrong understanding, intention, and deed:

            (1) They looked for Jesus with a wrong intention: They had just seen Jesus performed a miracle to feed five thousand people. In stead of being gratitude of Jesus’ feeding and recognizing him as the Savior, they now challenged Jesus: “What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you? What can you do?”

            (2) They misunderstood the historical fact: They said: “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.”

2.2/ Jesus revealed that he is the living bread: “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.”

            People are very wise in looking for and stocking material food; but very fool in stocking spiritual food for their mind and soul. They can spend all their time and effort to look for passing material gains; but have no time to study God’s words and to daily participate in the sacrament of the Eucharist. Although they heard Jesus’ declaration that he is the living bread, whoever eats him shall live and whoever doesn’t eat him shall die, they are still indifferent with his words. It is to no surprise that they are deeply in suffering and find no escape.

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            - When we choose to be Jesus’ disciple, we choose to give up our own will to redraw our life according to God’s will. When we must face worldly persecution, we can’t take evil for evil; but must forgive and pray for those who persecute us.

            - When we are rightly corrected, we need to be humble to recognize our sins and find a way to make our life better. Don’t let our anger take over our mind so that we cried out in loud voice, scold our corrector or kill the righteous.

            - To have power to fight against temptation, we must often receive the sacrament of the Eucharist. We can’t fight against temptation and persecution without the power from this sacrament.

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