Bread of Life, Food for Witness
Acts 7:51-8:1a; John 6:31-35
Sustained by the Bread of Life, Saints Athanasius and Stephen were each able to remain faithful to and endure their particular calls to martyrdom or witnessing to Christ. For Stephen, it was what some would call the traditional or red form of martyrdom: death by stoning for confessing that Jesus, the one crucified by the religious and secular leaders of his day, was the Son of God. For Athanasius, it was an un-bloody or what some would call a white form of martyrdom: he was exiled five times from his beloved Alexandria for confessing along with the teaching of the Council of Nicea (325 CE) that Jesus was God as well as the Son of God, fully divine and fully human.
Sharing the Bread of Life today—particularly in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist—can give us the courage and strength that we need to be witnesses for Christ today in ways that may not be as dramatic as those of Stephen and Athanasius but are no less real.—JC