Sunday, April 22, 2007

Work for Food for Eternal Life

by Beth De Cristofaro

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…This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent
(Luke 6: 27-29)


My God who gives life, sanctifies life and sustains life in all its brilliance surrounding and enriching me, may I reflect back your love of life. May I reflect your love by my life’s action toward my neighbors – whether I know them or not – whether, by my standards, they are worthy or not. Thank you for the power of your Word in my life. Amen


These readings show the fundamental power of God’s Word. Stephen, as Peter and John have done in recent readings, lays his trust in the truth and supremacy of Jesus’ message over and above threats from earthly authority. Stephen was chosen by the 12 and he preaches with conviction. “…In his account of Stephen's execution (Acts 7:54-60), Luke parallels the martyr-dom of Stephen with the death of Jesus.” False witnesses spoke against Stephen – but their claims are true. For we have heard him claim that this Jesus the Nazorean will destroy this place and change the customs that Moses handed down to us.” (Acts 6: 13-14) Jesus’ message puts into perspective that laws, food, human stuff of all kind perish. Eternal truth is from God.

Jesus’ beautiful words in the Gospel go to the heart of the reality that the people at the sea of Tiberias, Stephen and the apostles, and ultimately we are called to more: Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life. “This is the work of God that you believe in the one he sent.” (Luke 6:27-29) This comes from the teacher who fed the hungry, who guided his friends to better fishing waters, who healed physical hurts. Jesus understood human hunger and want.

In the Old Testament, the psalmist not only accepts the power of God’s word but finds comfort and protection in it your decrees are my delight; they are my counselors. (Ps 119:24) Jesus fulfills that ancient yearning.


Yesterday we saw Peter jump out of the boat when he realized that Jesus stood on the beach waiting for him. Today we see Stephen facing down temporal authorities at risk of his life. What makes us jump out of the boat? Stand up and proclaim? Does anything?

“Do you love me?” Jesus asked Peter. “In the poignant encounter between friends whose relationship has been strained, (from Sunday’s Gospel) Jesus does not scold, rebuke, or chastise Peter; he does not demand an apology or an explanation. Rather, he offers an opportunity for Peter himself to undo his denial and to affirm his love.” (Creighton University)

Last week the Supreme Court upheld the ban on partial birth abortion, recognizing that laws can be passed on moral grounds. This is an answer to many, many prayers. Now what are we doing to uphold the moral obligation to support, not chastise, women who choose life and attempt to raise a child? What is our responsibility as Catholic Christians? If our moral grounds includes protection for fetal life, what about children’s lives and safety? Our country is derelict in this responsibility.

What do we do as Catholics for the single parent struggling to hold down a job and raise children when (again!) that 8 year old is sick and work is missed? What can we offer to the single parent whose teen is acting out and rebelling rather than letting law enforcement take care of the problem? What can we do when a child of a single parent reaches college age but there is no savings left over from a parent’s minimum wage job to help with continued education and/or living?

Health insurance…food…affordable housing…decent pay for decent work…affordable day care...real financial, not theoretical, child support…

Can Catholic Christians influence our culture so that single parents, who choose life, are celebrated and supported?

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