Monday Acts 6,8-15; John 6,22-29
Tuesday Acts 7,58-8,1; John 6,30=35
Wednesday Acts 8,1-8; John 6,35-40
Thursday Acts 8,26-40; John 6,44-51
Friday Acts 9,1-20; John 6,52-59
Saturday Acts 9,31-42; John 6,60-69
The story of Stephen, the Greek-speaking Christian deacon, begins this week’s readings from the Acts of the Apostles. His fiery preaching against temple worship and “stiff-necked” Jewish opposition to Jesus results in his death and a persecution that drives Hellenist Christians out of Jerusalem. (Monday and Tuesday) But Stephen’s death, like the death of Jesus, brings about greater life. A new growth of the church occurs. “The death of Christians is the seed of Christianity.” (Tertullian )
Philip the Deacon, one of the displaced Christians, brings the gospel to the Samaritans, the marginalized neighbors of the Jerusalem Jews. Then, Philip led by the Spirit converts the Ethiopian eunuch returning from pilgrimage in Jerusalem. (Wednesday and Thursday} Philip’s activity will be followed by the ministry of Paul, the persecutor who is converted by Jesus himself. (Friday)
Before Paul appears, Peter leaves Jerusalem to bless the new Christian communities near the coast. At Joppa he’s invited to meet the Roman centurion in Caesarea Maritima. The mission to the gentile world begins with that meeting. (Saturday)
Luke sees these events as the work of God guided by the Holy Spirit. Stephen, Philip, Peter and Paul serve God’s mysterious plan. It’s not human planning.
The gospel readings this week are from St. John’s gospel, segments of Jesus’ long discourse on the Bread of Life with the crowd at Capernaum after the miracle of the loaves. (John 6) Rather than read them from an historical perspective, we can see ourselves in those to whom Jesus spoke that day.
In the Eucharist we meet the Risen Jesus. What he says is meant for us too.