Daily Homily: This Is the Work of God

Monday of the Third Week of Easter

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Acts 6:8-15
Psalm 119:23-24, 26-27, 29-30
John 6:22-29

After the sign of the multiplication of the loaves, Jesus tells the people that they are looking for him, not because they saw the sign and now believe in him, but because they were filled with bread. The people are mistaken because they continue to seek the bread that perishes and not the food that gives eternal life. Signs – like the changing of water to wine, the healing of the official’s son, the healing of the crippled man, the multiplication of the loaves – point to something greater. The sign of the bread points to Jesus as the Bread of Life and to the sacrament of the Eucharist.

When the people ask Jesus what they have to do to accomplish the works of God, Jesus responds that the work of God for them is to believe in him. Later on, John will explain this: «I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father» (John 14:12). The works, signs and wonders accomplished by Jesus will also be done by his disciples. And this is seen clearly in the opening chapters of the Acts of the Apostles: Peter heals a lame beggar (Acts 3:7) and the Apostles themselves work many signs and wonders and heal all who come to them (Acts 5:12-16). Jesus promise goes physical healing. His disciples will do even greater signs and works. These are the Sacraments that give eternal life.

The Eucharist is the Sacrament to which the other six are ordered (CCC, 1211). Saint Thomas Aquinas writes that Holy Orders is ordered to the consecration of the Eucharist, Baptism to the reception of the Eucharist, Confirmation so as not to fear to abstain from this sacrament, Penance and Anointing so that we are prepared to receive the Eucharist worthily, and Matrimony signifies the union of Christ with the Church, of which union the Eucharist is a figure (Summa theologiae, III, q. 65, a. 3).

In the first reading, Stephen is a model of a believer who accomplishes the works of God. He believes in the one whom God the Father has sent to save the world from sin and death. He preaches without fear, because he knows that his message is from the Holy Spirit. Stephen takes up the difficult theme of the freedom from the law of Moses and the end of the Temple worship.The people, the elders and the scribes accuse him of «saying things against this holy place and the law». Something similar happens at Jesus trial, when they accuse him of saying «I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands» (Mark 14:58).

What Jesus actually said was: «Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up» (John2:19). Only after Jesus was raised from the dead did his disciples come to understand that he was speaking about the temple of his body. The risen, glorified body of Jesus is the New Temple, where God is worshiped in spirit and in truth. The Old Testament sacrifices are completed and surpassed by the Eucharist. Here on earth the sacrifice of the New Temple is the Eucharistic sacrifice. In this great sacrament we enter into communion with Jesus, we are separated from sin and filled with grace. In the mass, we are united with the heavenly liturgy and anticipate the heavenly glory of eternal life (CCC, 1326).

Readers may contact Father Jason Mitchell at mitchelljason2011@gmail.com.

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Jason Mitchell

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