“Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall declare your praise.”

O God, who open wide the gates of the heavenly Kingdom
to those reborn of water and the Holy Spirit,
pour out on your servants
an increase of the grace you have bestowed,
that, having been purged of all sins,
they may lack nothing
that in your kindness you have promised.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. 

Today's Reading

 

Daily Meditation: 

I am the bread of life;
whoever comes to me will never hunger,
and whoever believes in me will never thirst.

Stephen is stoned to death for his witness, faith and Spirit-filled to the end.

Jesus is asked for a "sign," in the sense of "proof," the way we often ask for a guarantee.
As the wonderful Fourth Gospel often does, Jesus turns this mis-understanding into
an opportunity to great depth.

He reveals that he himself is the real food we need for our hunger and thirst.

We can ask for the grace to align our hungering and thirsting, for him,
and the gift of life he offers us.

Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.

 

Intercessions: 

By his own power Christ raised up the temple of his body when it had been destroyed in death. With joy let us ask him:

Lord, share with us the fruits of your victory.

Christ our Savior, when you rose again you brought to the holy women and the apostles the joyful news of a world redeemed,
- make us witnesses to your risen life.

You promised to all people that we would rise up again to newness of life,
- make us heralds of your Gospel.

You showed yourself to your apostles and breathed the Holy Spirit on them,
- renew in us the presence of the same creator Spirit.

You promised to be with your disciples to the end of the world,
- stay with us today, and remain with us always.  

 

Closing Prayer: 

Compassionate and loving God,
How often do I cover my ears 
and rush toward others with stones?
Increase the grace you have already given me
and help me to remember that the bread you offer me
gives life not only to me, but to all of us in the world.

May my own longing for you,
become a hunger for the bread which gives life.
Renew in me an awareness of the presence of your Spirit
and stay with me, as you promised
until the end of time.

May the Lord bless us, 
protect us from all evil 
and bring us to everlasting life. 
Amen.

 
Daily Reflection
Of Creighton University's Online Ministries

“Lord, do not hold this sin against them”

As we continue to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus, these readings give us a one-two punch, lest we forget that Holy Thursday and Good Friday precede Easter.

In the first reading, Stephen does his best to pry open the minds and hearts in this group of elders, scribes and others.  One could argue that he needed a better strategy! Who among us wouldn’t be infuriated when confronted with the harsh truth of our self-righteousness, attitudes of entitlement and victimhood, and other variations of being “stiff-necked.”  It is perplexing that Stephen imagines he will receive a different response from these people than Jesus did!

I imagine Stephen was consoled at the vision he received “Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”  Notice he didn’t hear Jesus saying “Hey, you been livin’ under a rock, Stevie boy? I tried that – it didn’t work.” Such is Divine Patience. “…we know that God causes all things to work together for good for those who love God…” I’m cheered that God has such patience with us.

I am in awe of Stephen’s next words to the Lord, said loud enough for the crowd to hear “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” This is not passivity nor a submission to abuse. It is tragic that this violence was not stopped. But the murder of Stephen was not prevented, and I think there is something else to ponder. How might God have been active in Stephen’s mind and heart? I imagine Stephen saw beyond the rocks, beyond the hateful words… and into the wounded minds and hearts and suffering souls from which they emerged. And knew he was one of them. Stephen did not have to judge, defend or hate. He didn’t take it personally. "The light came into the world, and darkness did not overcome it."

I am not condoning or excusing violence of any sort, and we should prevent it or end it when we are able. Most of us don’t face this kind of violence, but do witness or experience numerous slights, hurts, and insults in the course of any given day. Regardless of how we respond, these are always Good Friday moments… another little death of the “false self,” the ego; another opportunity to allow God to transform our hearts; to let go of anger, hurt, defensiveness. Can we see the wounded and suffering soul from which it arises?

This is not an act of will alone, but does involve our consent. From where do we receive such grace?  “… the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world… I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger and whoever believes in me will never thirst.

Lord, for today, may I desire the Bread of Life.

by Diane Jorgensen
Creighton University's School of Pharmacy and Health Professions
click here for photo and information about the writer

Daily Meditation by(c) 2013 Don Schwager
Bible Story illustrations by publishing.com 

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