During the early days of pandemic, the world waited longingly for a vaccination to eradicate the corona virus. The long awaited vaccine is in situ, but problems exist about type of vaccine, who will receive it, age cohort, frontline workers, and people with underlying health conditions. Many complain saying, one vaccine is better than the next. Then some say that even with two vaccines, a third is essential. Yet others say, the current vaccines will not protect individuals from a variant virus. The talk goes ‘on and on’. That is life as people compromise the truth.
In today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles (6:8-15), the word proclaims Stephen, a good man filled with the grace and power of the Holy Spirit. He was one of the seven men chosen for the service ministry in the early Christian community, when the apostles dedicated their lives to prayer and preaching the word of God. The apostles needed extra help with the distribution of material resources so to continue Jesus’ mission.
At that time, there were two social groups, the Hellenists and the Hebrews. A conflict arose between both groups. The Jews, called the Hebrews never left their land and they spoke Aramaic. The Hellenists lived abroad and usually spoke Greek. They refused to follow the Temple rituals and were uncomfortable with community life and with the liturgy. The apostles decided to give some autonomy to the Hellenists and Stephen was a member of that group. Stephen worked great signs among the people and he responded to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Others contested him and debated with him. They could not get the better of Stephen because of his wisdom. These men tried to turn the people against Stephen, arrested him, and brought him before the Sanhedrin. They accused him of blasphemy. However, the Sanhedrin ‘looked intently at Stephen and his face appeared to them like the face of an angel.’ They knew deep down, he told the truth.
The Gospel (John 6:22-29) proclaims Jesus’ challenge to the people who came looking for him. He worked the miracle by giving them food to eat and showing other signs. Jesus taught them to work for food ‘that endures to eternal life.’ They did not understand what he meant. They asked him, ‘What must we do if we are to do the works that God wants?’ He said ‘You must believe in the one he has sent.’
Today, Jesus’ message is the same. It is post resurrection time. We are an Easter people and God desires that God’s people believe in Jesus. God sent Jesus to proclaim the Good News, to heal the sick and forgive sins. Our faith helps us to believe in Jesus who is present and with us always until the end of time. In life, there will always be forces of opposition to the truth.
The online resources, including the e-books, in the Grow in Love/I nGrá Dé religious education programme explore the resurrection stories in all class standards from Junior Infants/ Naíonáin Shóisearacha to Sixth Class/Rang VI. These accounts help God’s people including the children to understand in faith, Jesus’ appearances to the disciples after the resurrection. The disciples found it difficult to recognise Jesus at first but when he shared bread with them, they recognised him. We too recognise Jesus in the breaking of bread, in prayer, in his word, in others, in the environment and in the Eucharist.
Access the resources on the Grow in Love website.
- From your Bible or from the Grow in Love/I nGrá Dé e-book read the following Scripture passages, Jn 20:1-9, Mt 28:8-15, Jn 20: 11-18, Lk 24: 13-35, Lk 24:35-48, Jn 21:1-14.
- The Church prays ‘Alleluia’ because Jesus is risen. Have you ever heard the word ‘Alleluia’ proclaimed at Mass? When does the assembly of people say the word ‘Alleluia’?
- Grace before Meals/ Altú roimh Bhia and Grace after Meals/ Altú taréis Bia.
- Visit your local parish Church and see the Easter garden. Take a photo and tell your family the symbolism of the garden.
Sr Anne Neylon