Meditation for the Day

Tuesday of the Third Week of Easter, May 7

It Is the “Bread of Life” Which Becomes Our Spiritual Nourishment, Strengthening Us Daily As We Journey through This Valley of Tears.

“For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world” – and that “life” which our Lord gives is Divine nourishment for the soul.

In our Gospel Reading today, John the Evangelist is giving us the first instance in which Jesus is calling Himself the “bread of life”. He is responding to the request by the people who had been following Him to feed them with the bread which gives life – to which He replies, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”

It is this “bread of life”, and the effect its importance has on our lives, which we find as the theme in today’s Readings. Stephen’s unwavering faith and belief in Jesus before the Sanhedrin – and his willingness to surrender his very life for his beliefs – give such a strong witness to this “bread of life”, this Jesus of Nazareth who gives to the pure and faithful soul eternal life.

In our First Reading today, Stephen had been giving testimony to the Jewish elders about God’s relationship with His chosen people, and then exclaimed, “…you always oppose the Holy Spirit; you are just like your ancestors. Which of the prophets did your ancestors not persecute?”

And when Stephen finally declared the vision he was experiencing of seeing Jesus “standing at the right hand of God”, he was found guilty of blasphemy, dragged out of the city and stoned to death, but not without first forgiving his executioners.

And it is at this scene wherein the Scriptures first introduce us to the person named Saul. But I will leave Saul for another meditation.

In the very depths of Stephen’s suffering, his words echo that which we find in today’s Responsorial Psalm, a song of lament in which we hear the psalmist praying. And yet, his lament is tempered by his great trust in a faithful and merciful God, when he exclaims, “Into your hands I commend my spirit; you will redeem me, O LORD, O faithful God.”

Our Lord Himself breathed his last breath with this very verse from today’s psalm, and Stephen alludes to these words as he is being attacked by his enemies and lies dying.

It is through Stephen’s martyrdom that we are taught that such an act of supreme sacrifice serves as a heroic model to one’s belief in God’s faithfulness and in His Truth – a Truth which is made known to us through the Scriptures, the teachings of our Church’s Magisterium, and Sacred Tradition.

And it is this Divine Truth which strengthens each of us in the trials and difficulties we oftentimes face in our daily struggles in this valley of tears through which we find ourselves journeying.

Our psalmist says it best when he expresses a faithful trust in the God who saves, “Be my rock of refuge, a stronghold to give me safety” – words which mirror Stephen’s own words when he cries out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”

In the Lord’s Prayer, we find ourselves petitioning God for His help and protection in our daily lives. And in the first verse of petitions and using the words of our Lord, Himself, we ask, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Our Catechism teaches us that this petition pertains not just to those foods which fill and satisfy the stomach, but most especially to those spiritual foods which nourish and sustain the soul.

For this reason, the Christian sense of this petition – this prayer of ours to God for “our daily bread” – concerns the very “bread of life” Himself, which, for our nourishment, becomes twofold: firstly, the Word of God accepted in faith, and, secondly, the Body of Christ received in Sacrament.

In this sense, we can begin to better understand the direct relationship which the “bread of life” has on us, for it is truly the Eternal Bread “which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

It is for this reason, the Catechism teaches us, that “…the Church has always venerated the Scriptures as she venerates the Lord’s Body. She never ceases to present to the faithful the bread of life, taken from the one table of God’s Word and Christ’s Body.”

We see this in how the Holy Mass is structured, first in God’s Word, which is called the Liturgy of the Word, and in Christ’s Body, which is referred to as the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Each part is just as important as the other, for if one of these elements – the Word or the Body – is missing, it is no longer the Mass.

The Liturgy of the Word, together with the Liturgy of the Eucharist, form one single act of worship; the Eucharistic table set for us is the table both of the Word of God and of the Body of the Lord.

And it is through the Holy Mass, the ultimate form of prayer, memorializing our Lord’s ultimate sacrifice on Calvary, which we, as Catholic Christians, enjoy as an intimate part of our spiritual life, from which we receive the fullness of the “bread of life” – through being fed with God’s Word in the Holy Scriptures and being fed with the Body and Blood of the Risen and Glorified Christ in the Holy Eucharist.

No other prayer exists which has the fullness of spiritual nourishment as does the prayer of the Holy Mass!

As we will see in the Scripture Readings in the days ahead, it is God’s wish, His earnest desire out of His Infinite Love for each and every one of us – you, me and even those who do not yet know Him, even those who reject Him – to feed us with the very “bread of life” itself, the spiritual nourishment which feeds the heart and soul, food for our journey through this life, and food for the journey that each one of us must one day make as we cross that final threshold into eternity.

Each and every time we now pray the Lord’s Prayer, let us take a moment to meditate on that petition which we ask of our Heavenly Father – “Give us this day our daily bread.” I pray that we may come to a more profound understanding for that which we are truly asking.

With open hearts and with the spirit of true humility, let us receive and proclaim the “bread of life” as Stephen did – with great faith, with great courage and with great love! †

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Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.

Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.

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Scripture for the Day

  • “And [Stephen] said, ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’” (Acts 7:56)
  • “For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” (John 6:33)
  • “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 6:35)
  • “Be my rock of refuge, a stronghold to save me.” (Psalm 31:3cd)
  • “Into your hands I commend my spirit; you will redeem me, LORD, faithful God.” (Psalm 31:6)
  • “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)
  • “Give us today our daily bread.” (Matthew 6:11)
  • “Let them thank the LORD for his mercy, such wondrous deeds for the children of Adam. For he satisfied the thirsty, filled the hungry with good things.” (Psalm 107:8-9)
  • “All good giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights…” (James 1:17ab)

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Prayer for the Day

“Divine Savior,
we come to Your sacred table to nourish ourselves,
not with bread but with Yourself,
true Bread of eternal life.

“Help us daily to make a good and perfect meal
of this Divine Food.
Let us be continually refreshed
by the perfume of Your kindness and goodness.

“May the Holy Spirit fill us with His Love.
Meanwhile, let us prepare a place
for this Holy Food by emptying our hearts. Amen.”

Saint Francis de Sales

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For your enjoyment – a wonderful tribute to the Eternal Bread of Life, who feeds and strengthens us in our journey through the many ups and downs we experience in life on this side of Heaven:

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