Acts 8:1b-8; Ps 66:1-3a,4,5, 6,7a; Jn 6:35-40
The People of God are the heralds of his tremendous deeds. All people on earth are welcome to behold his mighty deeds for Israel, and they are to join His People in glorious praise. This plan did not work out in the history of a divided Judea, Israel, and Samaria. Great divisions among the people prevented them from attracting the worship of all the nations. Saint Philip brought the good news of the Lord Jesus to the most rejected Samaritans, and “the rejoicing in that town rose to fever pitch.” The Lord Jesus again explains to the demanding crowd that “I myself as the bread of life.” The Lord Jesus has come down from the Father to unite all people by nourishing all with himself. Now all the earth has reason to cry out to God with joy!
After the martyrdom of Saint Stephen, on a certain day great persecution began to send the disciples forth from Jerusalem. Persecution is ugly and brutal, just like crucifixion is cruel and savage, but it scatters all except the Apostles to the countryside. Suffering again gives birth to blessing. The blessed news of Jesus’ death and resurrection came to those who were not welcome among the People of God in Israel and Judea, the Samaritans. All the outcast people of Samaria welcomed Saint Philip who himself was an outcast. Saul and his fellow leaders of the People “entered house after house, dragged men and women out and threw them in jail.” Rejection from Jerusalem will not thwart the will of God to bring all together on his holy mountain. The many will come to answer the divine summons, “come and see the works of God, his tremendous deeds among men.” Saint Philip preached the gospel and performed the miracles; his mission to the outcasts is our mission, all of us who have seen the Lord Jesus.
The Lord Jesus knows the tradition of his people that over the generations they have come to rely on the continuing gift of manna in the Torah. It is this faith to which he appeals, and it is this faith which he prefects. Just as the Israelites have come to know the abiding presence of the LORD God through is prophets and teachers so too the Lord Jesus provides the wisdom-bread come down from heaven. All who come to the Lord Jesus for this eternal nourishment never hunger of thirst again. Some, however, who have seen still do not believe. Yet all who do see and do believe will never be lost. Rather, they shall have eternal life and they will be raised up on the last day. The eternal life of future glory begins in time and is fulfilled on the last day of time. Great comfort belongs to the crowd who receives Jesus, the bread of life, and the same comfort is ours. Even though persecution and rejection may be our lot on earth, we are not lost. The Lord Jesus protects us and gathers us because this is why he came down from heaven—this is the will of the Father who sent him. Likewise, great challenge belongs to the crowd who receive Jesus, the bread of life, and the same challenge is ours. We too must never reject anyone who comes to us. We too must never lose anyone the Father brings us—no matter how persecuted or rejected they may be. Indeed in the Lord Jesus, the bread of life, we are made one with all who see him and believe in him—the LORD who has done tremendous deeds among us.