First, sorry for the lapse in recents posts; I had technical difficulties – I couldn’t get up early enough!
So what is it that grounds you in the faith you profess? I was raised a Catholic (I am by popular terms a Cradle Catholic) and the older I get, the more my profession of this faith grows stronger. The readings from Monday and this morning only bolster my faith in the Roman Catholic tradition.
Traditionally in the Catholic faith, when one is confirmed, they choose a saint whose life was nourished by the Holy Spirit and inspired them to do great things in the name of the Father and the Son so that they too will do great works. The saint I chose to emulate was St. Stephan – the first martyr for Christ.
From yesterday: Stephen, filled with grace and power,
was working great wonders and signs among the people.
Certain members of the so-called Synagogue of Freedmen,
Cyreneans, and Alexandrians,
and people from Cilicia and Asia,
came forward and debated with Stephen,
but they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke.
From Today: 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.
In the Gospels from these two days, we hear Jesus tell the crowds that He IS the bread of life. If we eat His flesh and drink His blood, we will have eternal life.
There is so much going on here between the readings, the psalms and the gospels that strengthen my resolve in the Catholic faith. I will highlight a few of the verses here, but I would ask that you spend some time reflecting on these and call upon the Holy Spirit to guide your thoughts. At the end of these verses, I will offer one thought of mine that is just SHOUTING out to me this morning.
Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!
Though princes meet and talk against me,
your servant meditates on your statutes.
Yes, your decrees are my delight;
they are my counselors.
One does not live on bread alone
but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.
“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.”
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.”
Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.
Be my rock of refuge,
a stronghold to give me safety.
You are my rock and my fortress;
for your name’s sake you will lead and guide me.
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.”
So what is it that grabbed my attention this morning? At my first read, it didn’t hit me. It wasn’t until I started typing this post that the words jumped off the page. We are told in the 51st verse of John 6 the following:
I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”
The Apostles were witnesses to this. Our 1st reading is from the Acts of the Apostles. It was simply three words (from this reading this morning) that brought this truth of John 6:51 to life for me this morning. 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. I know this is more than three words, but look again at the last three words of this witness statement…he fell asleep. HE FELL ASLEEP. By the witnesses account, Stephan did not die but simply fell asleep. How can that be? It is a simple truth revealed to us…Stephan believed in Christ; Stephan ate His flesh and drank His blood and did not die but found eternal life as promised to him. I am strengthened in my faith reading this because I too choose to eat His flesh and drink His blood everytime I am blessed to go Mass. I too hope to fall asleep one day and find myself experiencing all the joys promised to me in eternal life.
Do something great for our Lord today – profess your faith in God, in Jesus and in the Holy Spirit. Eat His flesh; drink His blood. Amen. Alleluia.
I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy Grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin.
God’s will, not mine, be done.
Be not afraid; just have faith.
Jesus, I trust in You.
He must increase; I must decrease.
Lord, if You wish, You can make me clean.
But you man of God chose righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience and gentleness. Compete well for the faith.