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.” (John 6:26-27)
Every day, people around the world go down on their knees to pray to God. It is easy to assume that we all want the same thing from God but this is far from the truth. Just as our fingers are different so are our prayers. If God were to give you the grace of listening to people’s prayers, you will be shocked at what you will hear.
In today’s first reading, we come across the story of the first Christian Martyr, Stephen. As a result of the dispute that arose in the Christian community over food, Stephen was one of the seven deacons who was appointed for the daily distribution of food. In Acts 6:5, we read that Stephen was a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit.
Beyond serving meals, Stephen also did great wonders and signs among the people. (Acts 6:8). This did not go down well with some persons who felt that Stephen was doing too much. Out of envy, they sought to bring Stephen down. Whether we like it or not, there are persons like this in the church. They don’t believe anyone other than them should shine. They are not in church to worship God but to make others worship them. They pretend to be nice to people but their hearts are full of devilish intentions.
First, they tried to argue with Stephen. Be careful of those who come to you to argue on matters of doctrine and faith. I once heard of two Christians of different denominations who argued to the point of throwing blows. The question is, are you trying to understand the other person’s point of view or simply trying to prove you are superior to them? Are you arguing because you are interested in the salvation of this person or because you just want to vent your hatred for him or her? Avoid the temptation of becoming a pawn in the hands of the devil in the name of an argument.
Secondly, when they saw that they could not withstand the superior wisdom of Stephen, they secretly instigated men to tell lies against Stephen. They say if you want to kill a dog, give it a bad name. There are people in the church who go about gossiping about others, spreading false tales, half-truths, and unconfirmed rumours about others. Be slow to believe and avoid helping to propagate gossip. As we see in the case of Stephen, there might be hidden agendas to these stories.
In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus addressed the crowd saying: “You are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.” Am I in church just because of bread? Do I only pray for things that do not last? There is nothing wrong in seeking God for material blessings but we must learn to also ask for spiritual blessings.
If we pray to God for our daily bread, we must also remember to pray to God for contentment so that we can learn to count our blessings for the ones He has done in the past. We can pray for a new job, a new car, a new house, etc, but it is good to also pray for wisdom, knowledge, understanding, piety, fear of God, etc. Above all, let us also learn to ask for God Himself like the two disciples on their way to Emmaus who said to Jesus: “Stay with us, Lord.”
Let us pray: Heavenly Father, come into my heart, cleanse me of envy of my neighbour and the love of the passing things of this life. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Bible Study: Acts 6:8-15, Ps. 119:23-24,26-27,29-30, John 6:22-29).*
@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu