It is commonly said that ‘truth is bitter. It is so not just in uttered words, but also in lived experience. That we know healthy foods does not imply we readily eat them. Good and honest people have fewer friends and are rarely voted into offices, even by their friends and family. We all claim to hate lies, but we secretly admire the glamour of deception. There is no doubt that education is the key to success, but we prefer to work with those we can easily manipulate! Think about another irony: while we worship God as Almighty, we often place our personal needs over His demands on us!
So the Jews preferred signs that would be within their control and manipulation to the signs that Jesus gave, and the ultimate SIGN that is Jesus Himself. They asked Jesus to give them bread as Moses gave their fathers manna in the desert. For them, Moses was the miracle worker who commanded bread down. That means the miracle came from WITHIN but through a powerful man, Moses. And this was the image of a miracle worker they tried to impose on Jesus. And this seems to be the prevalent image of Jesus our present-day miracle seekers continue to impose on Him! Jesus corrected them immediately, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” This response appealed to their desire for bread so they said to Him, “Lord, give us this bread always.”
Then, Jesus drew them to the deeper truth, where the authenticity of their acclamation would be tested and verified. He said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst.” This is that juncture where Truth leads and we follow; it is the point where truth exposes our hidden desires and tests our resolutions. This is where we begin to feel truth as confrontational, and our choices may begin to contradict our profession of faith and popular maxims. It is this point of ‘confrontation of truth’ that led the elders and scribes to stone Deacon Stephen in the first reading of today. But Stephen’s gaze on the Truth, Jesus Christ, remained unshaken: “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of a man standing at the right hand of God.” Yes, the gates of heaven will always remain open upon you as you carry out your affairs in truth and integrity. Amen.
Fr Jude Chinwenwa Nwachukwu, C.Ss.R
Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church,
Tuesday, April 19th, 2021.