Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Be Filled with the Bread of Life

By Beth DeCristofaro

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.” (Acts 7:55-56)

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)

Extend your Grace, o gracious God, to your servants who are hurt, lonely, disillusioned, or weighed down with the burdens and cares of the world.  May we believe and be filled.  May we live with the sure knowledge that you are ever at our side and guiding our way.  May the joy of your presence give meaning and sanctify all suffering and want.  Amen.

To be honest, I am not sure that I could perceive and then share a beatific vision if I were in the process of being stoned.  Usually moments of violence and certainly danger leave me more numb and speechless than moved with great ecstasy.  Stephen was filled with the Spirit, inflamed with grace which Fr. Richard Rohr in Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality, says empowers those who really love and trust God, and frankly leaves all others in the realm of missed opportunity.”  Stephen did not miss his opportunity to see God but also to proclaim God even in extremis.  There is a joy in his proclamation which states that he is not thirsty, not hungry.  Rather Stephen was full of the Word, of the Bread of Life and thus not fearful even for his life.

Fr. Richard Martin, Pastor of Nativity Church in Burke who died Saturday May 3, seemed to me to be always full of the joy of the Lord.  His was a welcoming presence at Mass with his simple yet thoughtful and moving homilies.  His belief manifested as generosity, humility and often smiles and laughter.  I wonder if, as he breathed his last, he did not look up and see the glory of God with Jesus standing at the right hand.  Sometimes I forget that a priest’s job can be difficult and lonely.  May each priest know that Jesus stands ever at their side.

What will people say when we die?  That we lived in the sure joy of the Lord?  That we kept a clean house or achieved a career full of esteem?  Are we intent on our own self-interests or are we filled with the Bread of Life and joyfully overflowing with the Holy Spirit?

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