Monday of the Third Week of Easter
(Acts 6:8-15; John 6:22-29)
Stephen is a Greek-speaking Christian. In the first reading today he debates, no doubt in Greek, Jews from Cyrene, a Greek city in modern Libya, and from Alexandria, the center of Greek wisdom in Egypt. Not being from Jerusalem, Stephen has little allegiance to the Temple, the great institution that dominated Jewish life there. He evidently speaks of the place as useless since Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice outside the city walls. This kind of talk would be grating in the ears of any Jew, and it is especially so with those belonging to the Sanhedrin or ruling body of the city. They will eventually have Stephen stoned to death.
If Jerusalem and its Temple are of little importance, something similar may be said of Rome and St. Peter’s Basilica. True worship is made in Jesus Christ, the feast of whose body and blood can be celebrated anywhere. Certainly Rome has come to signify the Vicar of Christ, but he might reside in another place as happened for most of the fourteenth century. As magnificent as it is, St. Peter’s is destined for collapse. It is the Eucharist that has eternal efficacy in reconciling us to God.