First Called Christians

Those who had been scattered by the persecution
that arose because of Stephen
went as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch,
preaching the word to no one but Jews.
There were some Cypriots and Cyrenians among them, however,
who came to Antioch and began to speak to the Greeks as well,
proclaiming the Lord Jesus.
The hand of the Lord was with them
and a great number who believed turned to the Lord.
The news about them reached the ears of the Church in Jerusalem,
and they sent Barnabas to go to Antioch.
When he arrived and saw the grace of God,
he rejoiced and encouraged them all
to remain faithful to the Lord in firmness of heart,
for he was a good man, filled with the Holy Spirit and faith.
And a large number of people was added to the Lord.
Then he went to Tarsus to look for Saul,
and when he had found him he brought him to Antioch.
For a whole year they met with the Church
and taught a large number of people,
and it was in Antioch that the disciples
were first called Christians.
(Acts 11:19-26)

Scripture Study

11:19 Phoenicia … Cyprus … Antioch: Three centers of Christian presence outside the land of Israel—Phoenicia, a territory northwest of Galilee; Cyprus, an island in the Mediterranean; and Antioch, a prominent city in Syria.

11:20 Cyrene: A city on the northern shore of Africa (in modern Libya).

11:22 Jerusalem: As when the first conversions were reported in Samaria (8:14), Jerusalem sent delegates to Antioch to ensure this new missionary development was the work of God. The enthusiasm of Barnabas confirms that it was (11:23–24).

11:25 look for Saul: He had returned to his home in Tarsus since the Jewish Hellenists in Jerusalem were plotting against his life (9:28–30). He is now summoned to assume teaching responsibilities in the Antioch Church.

11:26 Christians: This new title for the disciples of Jesus Christ is elsewhere used at 26:28 and 1 Pet 4:16 in the NT; “Christians” is first applied to the members of the community at Antioch because the Gentile members of the community enable it to stand out clearly from Judaism.

Scripture Reflection

The acclamation of Jesus as Lord shows that from the very beginning the young Christian communities knew that he had dominion over all mankind and was not just the Messiah of one nation. While we do not exactly know who first began to describe the disciples as “Christians,” the fact that they were given a name shows that everyone recognized them as an identifiable group. The name also suggests that the term Christos—Messiah, Anointed—is no longer regarded simply as a messianic title, but also as a proper name.

Some Fathers of the Church see this name as further indication that people do not become disciples of the Lord through human causes. St Athanasius said: “Although the holy apostles were our teachers and have given us the Gospel of the Savior, it is not from them that we have taken our name: we are Christians through Christ and it is for him that we are called in this way.”

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

Gentiles Too

The Apostles and the brothers who were in Judea
heard that the Gentiles too had accepted the word of God.
So when Peter went up to Jerusalem
the circumcised believers confronted him, saying,
‘You entered the house of uncircumcised people and ate with them.”
Peter began and explained it to them step by step, saying,
“I was at prayer in the city of Joppa
when in a trance I had a vision,
something resembling a large sheet coming down,
lowered from the sky by its four corners, and it came to me.
Looking intently into it,
I observed and saw the four-legged animals of the earth,
the wild beasts, the reptiles, and the birds of the sky.
I also heard a voice say to me, ‘Get up, Peter. Slaughter and eat.’
But I said, ‘Certainly not, sir,
because nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’
But a second time a voice from heaven answered,
‘What God has made clean, you are not to call profane.’
This happened three times,
and then everything was drawn up again into the sky.
Just then three men appeared at the house where we were,
who had been sent to me from Caesarea.
The Spirit told me to accompany them without discriminating.
These six brothers also went with me,
and we entered the man’s house.
He related to us how he had seen the angel standing in his house, saying,
‘Send someone to Joppa and summon Simon, who is called Peter,
who will speak words to you
by which you and all your household will be saved.’
As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them
as it had upon us at the beginning,
and I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said,
‘John baptized with water
but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’
If then God gave them the same gift he gave to us
when we came to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ,
who was I to be able to hinder God?”
When they heard this,
they stopped objecting and glorified God, saying,
“God has then granted life-giving repentance to the Gentiles too.”
(Acts 11:1-18)

Scripture Study

The Jewish Christians of Jerusalem were scandalized to learn of Peter’s sojourn in the house of the Gentile Cornelius. Nonetheless, they had to accept the divine directions given to both Peter and Cornelius. They concluded that the setting aside of the legal barriers between Jew and Gentile was an exceptional ordinance of God to indicate that the apostolic kerygma was also to be directed to the Gentiles. Only in Acts 15 at the “Council” in Jerusalem does the evangelization of the Gentiles become the official position of the church leadership in Jerusalem.

11:2 the circumcision party: Believers from Israel shocked at Peter’s disregard for the Jewish policy of separation from Gentiles (10:28). Some of them stubbornly maintained this policy even after the Gentiles were openly accepted into the Church (Gal 2:12).

11:17 the same gift: The equal footing of Jews and Gentiles before God is shown by their equal reception of the Spirit. Peter appeals to this fact at the Jerusalem Council when he denies that Gentiles must add circumcision to Baptism to become full members of the New Covenant (15:7–11).

11:18 repentance unto life: Involves turning away from sin and leads to Baptism (2:38).

Scripture Reflection

We are in the midst of a leadership transition from Peter to Paul—a leadership transition that mirrors the transition from a Jewish church to a Jewish-Gentile church. Peter was the most prominent apostle in the first part of the book of Acts, but Saul’s conversion in chapter 9 signaled the beginning of a new era. Chapter 10 tells the story of the vision that opened Peter’s mind to the inclusion of Gentiles in the church—and of Gentiles receiving the Holy Spirit and being baptized. Chapter 11 tells of Peter defending his association with Gentiles to the Jerusalem church. Chapter 12 will tell of Peter being imprisoned by Herod and released from prison by an angel. Beginning with chapter 13, Saul (Paul), the great missionary to the Gentiles, takes the lead among the apostles, and we will hear only once more from Peter (15:7-11). Transitions can be challenging for us as they were for the two apostles. Our ability to move effectively through these transitions is very often a result of our ability to remain open to God’s direction in our lives.

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

Hear His Voice

Jesus said:
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate
but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber.
But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.
The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice,
as the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
When he has driven out all his own,
he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him,
because they recognize his voice.
But they will not follow a stranger;
they will run away from him,
because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.”
Although Jesus used this figure of speech,
the Pharisees did not realize what he was trying to tell them.

So Jesus said again, “Amen, amen, I say to you,
I am the gate for the sheep.
All who came before me are thieves and robbers,
but the sheep did not listen to them.
I am the gate.
Whoever enters through me will be saved,
and will come in and go out and find pasture.
A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy;
I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”
(John 10:1-10)

Scripture Study

10:1 the sheepfold: Probably a stone wall enclosure with a single entryway, used to protect flocks at night from thieves and predators. Only the shepherd would be recognized and admitted by the designated gatekeeper (10:3). The whole illustration gives a realistic portrayal of pastoral conditions in ancient Palestine (10:1–16).

10:3 calls … by name: A mark of intimacy and familiarity (Is 43:1; 49:1). leads them out: To graze and find pasture (10:9). The sheep are disciples who hear the voice of Jesus and follow him wherever he goes. ● The expression “to lead out” recalls how Joshua was appointed to lead Israel out of the wilderness (Num 27:17) and how Yahweh promised to recover the lost sheep of Israel by leading them out of their exile among the nations (Ezek 34:13).

10:6 they did not understand: The Pharisees, who are blind to the spiritual dimension of Jesus’ teaching (9:39–41).

10:8 All who came before: Refers to the shepherds of Israel, many of whom were denounced by the prophets as worthless and evil (Jer 23:1–3; Ezek 34:1–10; Zech 11:17). The Pharisees are their spiritual descendants (Mt 23:29–36).

10:10 have life: Divine life.

Scripture Reflection

Today’s Gospel presents one of the most enduring and endearing images of Jesus. He is the Good Shepherd who guides and lays down his life for his sheep. How wonderful and strange that Christianity is not a set of ideas. It’s not a philosophy or an ideology. It’s a relationship with someone who has a voice. The first disciples were privileged to hear the voice of the historical Jesus. They heard its very particular tone and texture.

But we hear his voice too in our own way, especially when we hear the Scriptures proclaimed at Mass. Mind you, we don’t just read the Bible; we hear the Bible. We also hear the voice of Jesus when the bishops and the Popes speak. We can also hear the voice of Jesus in the conscience, which Newman called “the aboriginal vicar of Christ in the soul.” We can hear the voice of Jesus in good spiritual friends as well, in those people who comfort us and challenge us and keep calling us to higher ideals and encourage us when we fall.

We listen to the voice of Jesus because he is leading us to a renewed and transformed life with God.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

Spirit and Life

Many of the disciples of Jesus who were listening said,
“This saying is hard; who can accept it?”
Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this,
he said to them, “Does this shock you?
What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?
It is the Spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail.
The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life.
But there are some of you who do not believe.”
Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe
and the one who would betray him.
And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.”

As a result of this,
many of his disciples returned to their former way of life
and no longer walked with him.
Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go?
You have the words of eternal life.
We have come to believe
and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”
(John 6:60-69)

Scripture Study

6:62 the Son of man: The heavenly figure described in Dan 7:13.

6:63 the Spirit … the flesh: A contrast between the Spirit’s ability to enlighten our minds (14:26) and human reason’s inability to comprehend revealed truths apart from faith (8:15). It is this earthbound perspective that is profitless in the face of divine mysteries. Note that Jesus is not speaking of his own “flesh”, which does in fact give life to the world (6:51; Eph 2:13–16; Heb 10:10) (CCC 737).

6:66 his disciples drew back: This is the only instance in the Gospels where followers of Jesus abandon him in such large numbers. Even so, Jesus still makes no effort to soften his words or clear up potential misunderstandings about his eucharistic teaching (CCC 1336).

6:69 the Holy One: A title for Jesus also in Mk 1:24; Lk 4:34; and Acts 3:14; Here it is a confession of faith by Peter, who believes the words of Christ from the heart, even though his head does not yet understand the mysteries revealed in the discourse (6:35–58).

Scripture Reflection

Friends, we come today to the end of the extraordinary sixth chapter of John’s Gospel. He has told his listeners, “Unless you gnaw on the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” We hear that “many of Jesus’ disciples …said, ‘This saying is hard; who can accept it.’” Knowing their murmuring, Jesus says, “Does this shock you?” Now, if his words were meant in a symbolic sense, they wouldn’t have had this explosive, shocking effect on his listeners. Given every opportunity to clarify his meaning along symbolic lines, Jesus does nothing of the kind.

What follows from these words of the Lord is one of the saddest moments in the New Testament: the Scripture tells us that most of his followers abandoned him. But when Jesus asks whether his disciples will leave, too, Peter speaks for the Twelve: “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

The Church, down through the ages to the present day, has stood with Peter. Jesus is not one interesting teacher among many; he is the only one, the one with the words of eternal life, indeed, the Holy One of God. And he comes to us through the flesh and blood of the Eucharist.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

Divine Life

The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying,
“How can this man give us his Flesh to eat?”
Jesus said to them,
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood,
you do not have life within you.
Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood
has eternal life,
and I will raise him on the last day.
For my Flesh is true food,
and my Blood is true drink.
Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood
remains in me and I in him.
Just as the living Father sent me
and I have life because of the Father,
so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.
This is the bread that came down from heaven.
Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died,
whoever eats this bread will live forever.”
These things he said while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
(John 6:52-59)

Scripture Study

6:52 his flesh to eat?: The crowd is thinking of cannibalism, i.e., the sin of eating a human corpse, an idea thoroughly repugnant to them (Deut 28:53). This is a misunderstanding. Jesus gives us, not his mortal flesh as it was during his earthly ministry, but his glorified humanity as it was after rising from the dead. This is why he calls himself the “living bread” (6:51).

6:53 eat the flesh … drink his blood: Jesus is speaking literally and sacramentally. If he were speaking metaphorically or figuratively, his words would echo a Hebrew idiom where consuming flesh and blood refers to the brutalities of war (Deut 32:42; Ezek 39:17–18). no life in you: i.e., divine life. ● Drinking the blood of animals is forbidden under the Old Covenant (Gen 9:4; Lev 17:10–13; Deut 12:16). To do so is to consume “life” that is merely natural and of a lower order than human life. Jesus’ injunction does not fall under these prohibitions. The “life” he imparts is not natural but supernatural; it does not pull us down to the level of animals; it elevates us to become sharers in his divine nature (2 Pet 1:4) (CCC 1391).

6:58 will live for ever: The expression occurs rarely in the Bible, only twice in John (6:51, 58) and once in the Greek version of Gen 3:22. ● A comparison is thus implied between the Tree of Life, which bore the fruit of immortality, and the Bread of Life, which tradition calls the “medicine of immortality” (CCC 1331).

Scripture Reflection

Friends, today’s Gospel declares that the Word really became flesh. Why has the incarnation been resisted from the very beginning? Why is the extension of the incarnation, which is the Eucharist, still such a source of division?

I think it has to do with flesh. God became one of us, as close to us as blood and muscle and bone. It is no longer correct to say simply that God is in his heaven and we are on the earth. It is not correct to say simply that God is spirit and we are matter. Matter has been invaded by spirit. But in Jesus, God became flesh, and more to the point, he invites us to eat his body and drink his blood. But that means that he wants us to take him into ourselves.

“Now, wait a minute!” many people think. That’s a little too close for comfort, for it means that he wants to be Lord of my flesh and my bones, that he wants to move into every nook and cranny of my life. My work, my recreation, my sexual life, my life of play—all those fleshy things that I do—he wants to be Lord of all of that! And that’s precisely right.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

Telling the Story

The angel of the Lord spoke to Philip,
“Get up and head south on the road
that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza, the desert route.”
So he got up and set out.
Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch,
a court official of the Candace,
that is, the queen of the Ethiopians,
in charge of her entire treasury,
who had come to Jerusalem to worship, and was returning home.
Seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah.
The Spirit said to Philip,
“Go and join up with that chariot.”
Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and said,
“Do you understand what you are reading?”
He replied,
“How can I, unless someone instructs me?”
So he invited Philip to get in and sit with him.
This was the Scripture passage he was reading:

Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter,
and as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
In his humiliation justice was denied him.
Who will tell of his posterity?
For his life is taken from the earth.

Then the eunuch said to Philip in reply,
“I beg you, about whom is the prophet saying this?
About himself, or about someone else?”
Then Philip opened his mouth and, beginning with this Scripture passage,
he proclaimed Jesus to him.
As they traveled along the road
they came to some water,
and the eunuch said, “Look, there is water.
What is to prevent my being baptized?”
Then he ordered the chariot to stop,
and Philip and the eunuch both went down into the water,
and he baptized him.
When they came out of the water,
the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away,
and the eunuch saw him no more,
but continued on his way rejoicing.
Philip came to Azotus, and went about proclaiming the good news
to all the towns until he reached Caesarea.
(Acts 8:26-40)

Scripture Study

8:27 a eunuch: An emasculated court official, here specified as the treasurer of the Ethiopian kingdom in Africa. Candace: Either the name or the title of the queen mother and royal matriarch of Ethiopia. Jerusalem to worship: Judaism drew admirers from many places and nationalities in the ancient world. The eunuch falls into this category, but because of his physical condition he could not be circumcised, enter the Temple, or unite himself fully with the community of the Old Covenant. ● Although castration was an impediment to fellowship and membership in Israel (Deut 23:1), Isaiah envisioned a lifting of this restriction in the messianic age (Is 56:3–5). The dawning of this new age in Christ convinces Philip there is no longer anything to “prevent” the eunuch’s Baptism into the covenant family of God (8:36–38).

8:30 heard him: Reading aloud was customary in antiquity.

8:32–33 The eunuch is puzzled by the prophecy of Is 53:7–8 and the person to whom it refers (8:34). ● The passage comes from the song of the “Suffering Servant” in Is 52:13–53:12, which describes the rejection, humiliation, and murder of the Messiah by his own generation. In the midst of this tragedy, the Servant pours out his life willingly in sacrifice for human sin. Philip interprets the poem christologically, i.e., as a preview of the suffering and sacrifice of Christ (CCC 601).

8:39 caught up Philip: Sudden relocations by the Spirit were also experienced by the prophet Elijah (1 Kings 18:12; 2 Kings 2:16). went on his way: According to the report of Irenaeus (a.d. 180), the eunuch returned home to become the first Christian to evangelize Ethiopia.

8:40 Azotus: Another name for the Philistine city of Ashdod, 20 miles north of Gaza. Nearly 55 miles up the coast from Azotus is Caesarea, the Roman capital of Judea, where Philip presumably stayed for several years (21:8).

Scripture Reflection

The baptism of the Ethiopian official marks an important step in the spread of Christianity. St Luke’s account underlines the importance of Sacred Scripture, and its correct interpretation, in the work of evangelization. This episode encapsulates the various stages in apostolate: Christ’s disciple is moved by the Spirit and readily obeys his instruction; he bases his preaching on Sacred Scripture—as Jesus did in the case of the disciples of Emmaus. Scared Scripture is the living Word of God and a treasure too often tucked away on a rarely visited shelf.

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

We Are One

Jesus said to Thomas, “I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.
If you know me, then you will also know my Father.
From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
Philip said to him,
“Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.”
Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time
and you still do not know me, Philip?
Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.
How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?
The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own.
The Father who dwells in me is doing his works.
Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me,
or else, believe because of the works themselves.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever believes in me will do the works that I do,
and will do greater ones than these,
because I am going to the Father.
And whatever you ask in my name, I will do,
so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it.”
(John 14:6-14)

Scripture Study

14:6 I am the way: A claim to be the sole Savior of the world (Acts 4:12). He is the one mediator chosen by the Father to bring the human family to glory. Earlier Jesus made this claim when he compared himself to Jacob’s ladder (1:51) (CCC 661, 2466).

14:9 has seen the Father: Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God (Col 1:15), his human flesh (1:14) being an icon of divine spirit (4:24). Through faith we see how Christ’s entire life shows us the heart of the Father and his love for the world (3:16; 5:19–23; CCC 516).

14:13 Whatever you ask: The Ascension of Jesus will not be his retirement, since even now he lives to make priestly intercession for the Church on earth (Heb 7:25; 9:24). I will do it: A promise to grant whatever is needed to facilitate our salvation (Mt 7:7–11). To pray in the name of Jesus is to pray that the Father will bless us through him (Jn 16:23–24; CCC 2614, 2615).

Scripture Reflection

Friends, today we read the wonderful and mysterious passage from the fourteenth chapter of John’s Gospel. The disciples are gathered around Jesus at the Last Supper, abiding in intimacy with him, asking questions and seeking wisdom.

Then listen to Jesus’ words: “If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” Paul refers to Jesus as the “icon of the invisible God.” What both Jesus and Paul are saying is that Jesus’ words are the Father’s words and his deeds are the Father’s deeds.

Philip, one of the first disciples chosen, still doesn’t get this. He says, “Master, show us the Father.” What he missed was the humility of the Logos: “The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works.” Neither the words nor the deeds of Jesus are “his own.” They are received from the Father.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

 

Bread of Life

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.”
(John 6:30-35)

Scripture Study

6:31 He gave them bread: A reference to Ex 16:4. ● Jesus is challenged to match the provision of manna by Moses. He responds by stressing that although the manna had a heavenly origin (6:32), it did not bring the Israelites to their heavenly destiny (6:49). Manna is rather a food that perishes, since it melted away every morning (Ex 16:21) and turned foul if it was stored overnight (Ex 16:19–20).

6:32 the true bread: The wilderness manna was not false bread; it was merely a sign of the imperishable eucharistic bread that the Father sends down from heaven in Jesus (6:51; CCC 1094).

6:35–59 The Bread of Life discourse. Interpretations of this sermon often take one of two positions. Some think of the discourse as an extensive invitation to faith, so that eating the bread of life is seen as a metaphor for believing in Jesus. Others interpret the discourse along sacramental lines, so that eating the bread of life means partaking of the Eucharist. Both of these views are true and can be correlated with a natural and symmetrical division of the sermon into two parts. (1) Invitation to Faith (6:35–47). The first half of the discourse opens with the statement “I am the bread of life” (6:35). This is followed by a string of invitations to come to Jesus and believe in him for salvation. The metaphorical import of Jesus’ teaching is so obvious that it stands out in the response of the Jews, who ask him, not why he calls himself bread, but how he can claim to have descended from heaven (6:42). (2) Invitation to the Eucharist (6:48–58). The second half of the discourse likewise opens with the statement “I am the bread of life” (6:48). This is followed by a string of invitations to eat the flesh of Jesus and drink his blood. Here the literal import of Jesus’ teaching is so obvious that it, too, stands out in the response of the Jews, who ask how it is possible to consume his flesh (6:52). In the end, these two halves of the sermon work in tandem, since without faith we can neither be united with Christ nor recognize his presence in the Eucharist. If eating is believing in 6:35–47, then believing leads to eating in 6:48–58 (CCC 161, 1381).

Scripture Reflection

These people know that the manna—food which the Jews collected every day during their journey through the wilderness—symbolized messianic blessings; which was why they asked our Lord for a dramatic sign like the manna. But there was no way they could suspect that the manna was a figure of a great supernatural messianic gift which Christ was bringing to mankind—the Blessed Eucharist. Jesus is trying to bring them to make an act of faith in him, so that he can then openly reveal to them the mystery of the Blessed Eucharist—that he is the bread “which comes down from heaven, and gives life to the world.” St Paul explains that the manna and the other marvels which happened in the wilderness were a clear prefiguring of Jesus Christ. The disbelieving attitude of these Jews prevented them from accepting what Jesus revealed. To accept the mystery of the Eucharist, faith is required. “It this ‘mystery of faith’ that Distinguished Fathers and Doctors of the Church in unbroken succession have taught and professed . . . therefore, we must approach this mystery, above all, with humble reverence, not following human arguments, but in steadfast adherence to divine revelation” (Mysterium fidei).

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

Believe and Act

[After Jesus had fed the five thousand men, his disciples saw him walking on the sea.]
The next day, the crowd that remained across the sea
saw that there had been only one boat there,
and that Jesus had not gone along with his disciples in the boat,
but only his disciples had left.
Other boats came from Tiberias
near the place where they had eaten the bread
when the Lord gave thanks.
When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there,
they themselves got into boats
and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus.
And when they found him across the sea they said to him,
“Rabbi, when did you get here?”
Jesus answered them and said,
“Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me
not because you saw signs
but because you ate the loaves and were filled.
Do not work for food that perishes
but for the food that endures for eternal life,
which the Son of Man will give you.
For on him the Father, God, has set his seal.”
So they said to him,
“What can we do to accomplish the works of God?”
Jesus answered and said to them,
“This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.”
(John 6:22-29)

Scripture Study

6:23 from Tiberias: i.e., from the western shore of the Sea of Galilee.

6:25 Rabbi: A Hebrew title for respected Jewish teachers (1:38).

6:27 food which perishes: Earthly food is necessary to sustain earthly life, but because it is perishable it does not suffice to give us supernatural life or to safeguard against death (6:49). Only Christ can give us food that satisfies our spiritual hunger and gives everlasting life. The subsequent narrative will identify this heavenly food as the Eucharist (6:50–58).

Scripture Reflection

Saint Pope John Paul II, in his Opening Address to the third general conference of Latin American Bishops said, “The Gospels clearly show that for Jesus anything that would alter his mission as the Servant of Yahweh was a temptation. He does not accept the position of those who mixed the things of God with merely political attitudes. The perspective of his mission is much deeper. It consists in complete salvation through transforming, peacemaking, pardoning, and reconciling love. There is no doubt, moreover, that all this makes many demands on the Christian who wishes truly to serve his least brethren, the poor, the needy, the outcast; in a word, all those who in their lives reflect the sorrowing face of the Lord.”

Christianity, therefore, must not be confused with any social or political ideology, however excellent. “I do not approve of committed Christians in the world forming a political-religious movement. That would be madness, even if it were motivated by a desire to spread the spirit of Christ in all the activities of men. What we have to do is put God in the heart of every single person, no matter who he is. Let us try to speak then in such a way that every Christian is able to bear witness to the faith he professes by example and word in his own circumstances, which are determined alike by his place in the Church and in civil life, as well as by ongoing events” (St Josemaría Escrivá, Christ Is Passing By).

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.