Today's first reading tells us about the death of Stephen, the first martyr in faith. It was Saul (later known to be St. Paul) who initiated the stoning of Stephen. We later know Paul to be a leader of faith, a founder of Christianity and even writer in sacred scripture. This shows us how anyone can embrace a life of faith, whether that be taking it to the extreme love in martyrdom, or to do a complete turn around and changing one's perspective and acknowledging the truth of Jesus. God brings us to do great things through Jesus, His Son, even if that means helping us to completely turn our lives around.
Today's Gospel states: So they said to him, "Then what sign do you do, that we may see, and believe you? What work do you perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, `He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'" Jesus then said to them, "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." They said to him, "Lord, give us this bread always." Jesus 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' (John 6:30-35).
The song 'Bread of Life', which we sing at Church starts off with Jesus' teaching to the disciples, showing just how vital it is. They key is the paschal mystery, Christ becoming the bread, the wine, through transubstantiation. When we accept this, God will work in us, and through us. We will be able to take the stand in our faith and become martyrs, or come to acceptance like Paul. In this song, at the choras, we sing "And I will raise you up on the last day". In accepting Jesus as our saviour, we are able to move forward with a faith-filled life. In moving forward, God raises us up. Even when it feels like we are ordinary and struggling in life, God is always working in us and using us to represent Him, and the paschal mystery.
Today's prayer comes from 'The Road to the Cross' a prayer for rising up:
You’ve done it again, Lord. You’ve done it again.
You are good, and You are mighty, and You are merciful! And You keep taking care of me when I don’t deserve it.
Praise You, Jesus! You are Lord….
Raise up more that will call upon Your name.
Raise up those that love You, and seek You, and trust You.
Raise ‘em up, Lord!
Raise 'em up!
Lord, we need a generation of believers who are not ashamed of the gospel!
We need an army of believers, Lord, that hate to be lukewarm, and will stand on Your Word above all else!
Raise 'em up, Lord!
Raise 'em up!
I pray for unity among those that love You.
I pray that You open their eyes so that they can see Your truth, Lord.
I pray for Your hand of protection and guidance.
Raise up a generation, Lord, that will take light into this world; that will not compromise when under pressure; that will not cower, Lord, when others fall away!
Raise 'em up, Lord, that they will proclaim that there is salvation in the name of Jesus Christ!
Raise up warriors, Lord, who will fight on their knees, who will worship you with their whole hearts, Lord!
Lord, call us to battle, that we may proclaim King of Kings, and Lord of Lords!
I pray these things with all my heart.
Raise 'em up, Lord!
Raise 'em up! Amen.