Thursday of the Third Week of Easter
(Acts 8:26-40; John 6:44-51)
In the reading from Acts today we meet the deacon Philip on a mission. Like other Greek-speaking disciples, he has left Jerusalem to take the gospel to other places. On the way, he encounters the Ethiopian court official. The black man characterizes our society today. He is rich and successful, sincere in his desire to believe but not sure what faith is all about. So too are many among whom we live. As we commonly say, they have been “programmed” to seek riches and prestige. They want to love, but often mistake the authentic version seeking union with the beloved for mutual benefit with its cheap imitation desiring self-gratification. Like Philip our mission is to allow them to embrace true faith and love.
Of course, Jesus accompanies us as we go forth. He calls himself in today’s gospel “the bread of life.” These words are deeply meaningful. Bread is one of the most available and portable of foods. We can eat it wherever we find ourselves. Made with care, bread also can provide the body many of essential nutrients for life. Thus, we commonly call it “the staff of life.” The Eucharist – the bread transformed into the body of Christ and the wine changed into his blood – then not only embodies Jesus’ presence but signifies it. Participating in the Eucharist, we become the body of Christ with a mission to the world. We are to demonstrate to all that faith and humility, not riches and prestige, make a person good. We are to show how true love entails not only personal satisfaction but also self-sacrifice for the good of the beloved.