Word of the day
Reading of the day
Stephen said to the people, the elders, and the scribes:
"You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears,
you always oppose the Holy Spirit;
you are just like your ancestors.
Which of the prophets did your ancestors not persecute?
They put to death those who foretold the coming of the righteous one,
whose betrayers and murderers you have now become.
You received the law as transmitted by angels,
but you did not observe it."
When they heard this, they were infuriated,
and they ground their teeth at him.
But Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit,
looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God
and Jesus standing at the right hand of God,
and Stephen said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened
and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God."
But they cried out in a loud voice,
covered their ears, and rushed upon him together.
They threw him out of the city, and began to stone him.
The witnesses laid down their cloaks
at the feet of a young man named Saul.
As they were stoning Stephen, he called out,
"Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."
Then he fell to his knees and cried out in a loud voice,
"Lord, do not hold this sin against them";
and when he said this, he fell asleep.
Now Saul was consenting to his execution.
Gospel of the day
The crowd said to Jesus:
"What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you?
What can you do?
Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written:
He gave them bread from heaven to eat."
So Jesus said to them,
"Amen, amen, I say to you,
it was not Moses who gave 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."
So they said to Jesus,
"Sir, give us this bread always."
Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life;
whoever comes to me will never hunger,
and whoever believes in me will never thirst."
Words of the Holy Father
Martyrdom is the translation of a Greek word that also means witness. And so we can say that for a Christian the path follows in the footsteps of this witness, Christ’s footsteps, to bear witness to Him and, many times, this witness ends up in laying down one’s life. You cannot understand a Christian without witness. (…) The central issue, is that Christianity is not a religion only of ideas, of pure theology, of aesthetics, of commandments. We are a people who follow Jesus Christ and bear witness, who want to bear witness to Jesus Christ. And this witness sometimes leads to the giving of one’s life. For bearing witness is always fruitful: it is fruitful when it happens in daily life, but also when it is lived out in time of difficulty or when it leads to death. Indeed, the Church is fruitful and a mother when she bears witness to Jesus Christ. However, when the Church withdraws into herself, when she thinks of herself as a university of religion with many beautiful ideas, with many beautiful places of worship, with many beautiful museums, with many beautiful things, but she does not give testimony, she becomes barren. The same reasoning is valid for individual Christians: if one does not bear witness, one remains sterile, without bearing the life one has received from Jesus Christ. (Santa Marta, 6 May 2014)