Stephen was the first martyr; he was the first person in recorded history to shed his blood and die for the sake of his faith in Jesus. In the first reading today from Acts 7, we read about how that happened. Be sure to note the last words from the lips of St. Stephen.
In the Gospel reading from John 6, we hear Jesus first utter the words, “I am the bread of life.” Leading up to that, the people asked Jesus what He could do. After all, God sent manna to their ancestors. “He gave them bread from heaven to eat.” Jesus replies, “My Father gives you the true bread from heaven.”
The manna sustained the Israelite people on their sojourn in the desert. God gave it to them for their physical nourishment, and to reassure them that he would take care of their every need. Jesus in essence tells the people that God has sent a new manna – Jesus. But this bread would be for their eternal nourishment. The old manna was given by the Father from heaven. So it is with the new manna.
Father, thank you for sending the new bread from heaven. Strengthen our belief in the Bread of Life. Amen.