Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen as it was called, Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and others of those from Cilicia and Asia, stood up and argued with Stephen. But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke. Then they secretly instigated some men to say, "We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God." They stirred up the people as well as the elders and the scribes; then they suddenly confronted him, seized him, and brought him before the council. They set up false witnesses who said, "This man never stops saying things against this holy place and the law; for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses handed on to us." And all who sat in the council looked intently at him, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.
The next day the crowd that had stayed on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there. They also saw that Jesus had not got into the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. Then some boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus.
When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, "Rabbi, when did you come here?" Jesus answered them, "Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. or it is on him that God the Father has set his seal." Then they said to him, "What must we do to perform the works of God?" Jesus answered them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent."
We only see a character in its true nature if we take the trouble to really look . The members of the Sanhedrin looked on the face of Stephen, and it seemed like that of an angel. Jesus tells the crowd: "You are not looking for me because you have seen signs but because you have eaten your fill of the loaves." Each of us looks outward in many different ways: with wide interest or with narrow bias, with a large heart open to goodness everywhere or with a narrow focus limited to our immediate personal needs. Somehow or other, our present world and all the more surely our future existence turn into what we see, at least so far as our own personal life is concerned.
A saint like Stephen, ordained to care for the poor and neglected members of the church, was endowed by God with such a large heart that he overlooked trivia and focussed on the essentials. He reached out to the needs of the helpless and preached the message of Christ without fear of the consequences. Yet he was dragged before the court for seeming to speak against the value of the Jerusalem temple. Important, intelligent people were willing to do away with him, rather than re-examine their own priorities in life. The members of the Sanhedrin looked at a saint and turned him into a sinner. They saw the face of an angel and twisted it into that of a devil.
When Jesus fed the hungry throng in the desert, they were concerned only with getting food between their teeth. They did not ask about the goodness and generosity of God who cares for them; they did not inquire about their ways of sharing with others and so of imitating the goodness of Jesus. They did not stop to listen to the words of Jesus, ponder them prayerfully and ask for their implications in their daily lives. They simply wanted physical, tangible food. Eventually, John's gospel links this miraculous multiplication of bread and fish with the Eucharist, Jesus' very own body and blood given for the life of the world.
Jesus distinguishes between food that grows stale with time and food that endures to eternal life. He has fed the people in the wilderness with bread and fish, aware that hunger must be satisfied; but as people continued looking for more of this physical food, he invites them to look for the food that gives eternal life and satisfies the deepest of our hungers. He came not just to give people physical food but to give them the spiritual food of God's presence, God's life and God's Spirit. The gospel reminds us that, while the physical and material is vital because we are physical and material beings, our searching must not stop at the physical and the material. There is a great deal more to life than the satisfaction of our physical needs. We have deeper, spiritual hungers and thirsts as well that we need to attend to if we are to live a truly balanced life and be at peace within ourselves. In the gospel Jesus offers himself to us as the one who offers us the food that endures to eternal life. He can satisfy the deepest hungers and thirsts in our hearts. Our seeking must ultimately be directed towards him; it cannot stop at or be satisfied with anything less. [MH]
God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.
He came to his hometown and began to teach the people in their synagogue, so that they were astounded and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these deeds of power? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all this?” And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honour except in their own country and in their own house.” And he did not do many deeds of power there, because of their unbelief.