Psalm 119:23-24, 26-27, 29-30
After the Resurrection Stephen encountered the Risen Lord! This encounter changed his life - "Stephen, filled with grace and power, was working great wonders and signs among the people." This power even transformed him when he was accosted and tried by the Sanhedrin - "All those who sat in the Sanhedrin looked intently at him and saw that his face was like the face of an angel."
A question arises for us Christians today: How do we most typically encounter the Risen Lord? For many it is in the Eucharist! The multiplication of the loaves in John's Gospel is his way of presenting the Eucharist (the Gospel contains no narrative of the Institution of the Eucharist.) And in the Gospel Jesus instructs the crowd, "Do not work for the food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you."
I often wonder whether we expect enough from our celebrations of the Eucharist. Do we allow ourselves to be fully open to the Risen Lord's presence in its differing dimensions -- the community, the ritual, the presider, the scripture, the host and cup? Do we allow ourselves to be present to these signs with a heightened intensity that allows the real presence of Jesus to truly overwhelm us and make our faces radiant? I never know beforehand which presence of the Lord will touch me most deeply during a given Eucharist.
Then, like Stephen, having been touched by our encounter with the Risen Lord, we cannot but allow this energy to renew our dedication to doing the works of the Lord.
Our "Allelulias" during Eastertime makes sense only when we
allow this real presence of the Risen Jesus in the Eucharist to well up
in our hearts and flow out into our works. We become truly the presence
of Christ for our poor, troubled world.
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