Easter, 3rd Week, Monday, Apr 27

Acts 6:8-15 / John 6:22-29 
Jesus speaks about hunger: “Spiritual hunger demands spiritual food.”

There are over four billion people in the world. About a half billion of these people suffer from chronic physical hunger and malnutrition. We have heard this statistic so often that it no longer makes a great impact on us. But there is a more frightening statistic about hunger that is never mentioned. It’s the statistic that of the four billion people in the world, perhaps three billion or more are suffering from chronic spiritual hunger and malnutrition. This is the point Jesus makes in today’s gospel. That’s why he tells the people to seek not just “body” food but also “soul” food—“food that endures for eternal life.”

To what extent might we be suffering from chronic spiritual hunger and malnutrition? Chronic spiritual hunger and malnutrition is more of a threat to modern society than is chronic physical hunger and malnutrition.
If we use Facebook, we would probably know who Mark Zuckerberg was. The CEO of Facebook at one time testified a sometime ago in two congressional hearings, which lasted nearly ten hours over two days. It is certain not a pleasure to be in his shoes during those two days. Mark Zuckerberg was grilled by the Senators, and at stake was his reputation and the company's future as a tech giant. 

Fundamentalism can be defined as a strict adherence to the fundamental principles of any set of beliefs. Religious fundamentalism can also be defined as such, and often there is the added intolerance of other views, and even opposition to other religions. Religious fundamentalism breeds fanatics who will even use the name of God to oppress, to use force and even to kill.

For the deacon Stephen in the 1st reading, he wasn't quite prepared for what was going to happen when he was taken by surprise and arrested and brought before the Sanhedrin.

The accusations brought against him were serious and it could cost him his life. He would have to decide what to do then. More than just his reputation, it was going to be about his conviction and his beliefs.

It is certainly a distressful situation, but as the members of the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, his face appeared to them like the face of an angel. Alone and surrounded by his enemies, they were probably surprised at his countenance of calmness.

We may not be in such a distressful situation as that of Stephen, or that of Mark Zuckerberg, but stressful and unhappy situations are what we have often in life.

What can we do in such situations then? We can fret and frown and have displeasure written all over our face. Or we can do what God wants of us, and that is to believe that He will help us handle such volatile situations. That must be our conviction and our belief. Only then will our face look like the face of an angel.   

Introduction: Today and in the next few days, two unrelated Scripture texts run parallel—Stephen's martyrdom presented as an imitation of the martyrdom of Christ and the Eucharistic discourse of Jesus, as given in John 6 after the multiplication of bread.  Jesus confronts us today with the question: "Why are you looking for me?" Why are we looking for God, for Jesus? Is it merely for the things he gives us? We receive much from God, but do we look for Jesus himself, for what he means in our lives? Let us look to get closer to him and to become more like him. He asks us for faith in his person and mission.

Penitential Rite:
-When we falsely accuse them even without any proofs
-When we stir up suspicion and doubt about others
-When we look for our convenience and benefit rather than real faith in Jesus

Opening Prayer: Our living God, we hunger for lasting life and happiness and the fulfillment of all our hopes. Satisfy all our hungers through your Son, Jesus Christ, who is our bread of life. And when he has filled us with himself, may he lead and strengthen us to bring to a waiting world the food of reconciliation and joy, which you alone can give to the full. We ask this thorough Christ our Lord. 

General Intercessions:
We now pray for all the things that matter, and say, Lord, hear our prayer.
- People of God with the solid food of the Gospel, we pray: 
– For divided Christians, that soon we may break together the one bread of the one Lord, we pray:
– For all Christian communities, that we may learn to appreciate the tremendous value of the Eucharist and draw from it the strength to commit ourselves to the needs of our neighbors far and near, we pray:

"Do not work for food that perishes but for the kind of food that gives life," says Jesus. In life then, let us seek the Lord and the things of lasting value.

Prayer over the Gifts
God, our Father, for this meal of thanksgiving, we bring before you bread and wine, the gifts you yourself have given us. They express our life and our struggles. Let them become the living signs of the presence among us of your Son, that he may sustain us on our journey to a full and lasting life and joy and dispose us to give ourselves with him, for the life and happiness of all your people. We ask this through Christ, our Lord.

Prayer after Communion
Our loving Father, in the bread broken for us here, we recognize him who is the light of life, your Son, Jesus Christ. Give us this bread always, let him be our daily bread, which tastes better when it is shared with those who hunger for it in any way. Grant this through Christ, our Lord.