Homily (Reflection) for the Memorial of Saint Athanasius (2nd May, 2017) on the Gospel and the Memorial
Acts 7:51–8:1;Ps 30:3-4.6-8.17.21. (R. v. 6);
Saint Athanasius was born at Alexandria about the year 296 of Christian parents and was educated under the eye of Alexander who later became his Bishop. He spent some time in the desert with St. Anthony. Athanasius was ordained a deacon in 319. He assisted his Bishop at the Council of Nicaea in 325, where his influence began to be felt. On Alexander’s death bed, he recommended St. Athanasius as his successor which paved way to his unanimous election as Patriarch in 326.
His refusal to tolerate the Arian heresy was the cause of many trials and persecutions for St. Athanasius. He spent seventeen of the forty-six years of his episcopate in exile. St. Athanasius died on May 2, 373.
Topic: Perennial crisis.
Today’s gospel is a continuation of that of yesterday. The people who had more than they wanted are asking Jesus for a sign for them to believe. Feeding five thousand people with five loaves and two fish was no sign? It is clearer why Jesus said, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw a sign, but because you ate your fill of the loaves” (Jn 6:26).
They even made reference to the manna their ancestors ate in the wilderness. And Jesus said to them,
Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who 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.
Quest for signs and wonders is a serious perennial crisis. The life of the Israelites especially in the desert is a very good example. In the Psalm we read, “they had a wanton craving in the wilderness, and put God to the test in the desert” (Ps 106:14).
There is only one way out of this crisis. And that is Jesus. He rightly said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” Saint Athanasius understood this very. Hence, he followed him with all his being. Unless one comes to Him and believes in Him, the problem will surely continue.
Bible Reading: Ps 78.
Thought for today: Sign is not synonymous with reality (God).
Let us pray: Lord, help us to understand you better so as to crave for you alone – Amen.
Saint Athanasius – Pray for us.
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