Searching for a Sign

April 20, 2021   Tuesday of the Third Week of Easter (Lectionary: 274)

Reading I   Acts 7:51—8:1a
Stephen said to the people, the elders, and the scribes:
“You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears,
you always oppose the Holy Spirit;
you are just like your ancestors.
Which of the prophets did your ancestors not persecute?
They put to death those who foretold the coming of the righteous one,
whose betrayers and murderers you have now become.
You received the law as transmitted by angels,
but you did not observe it.”

When they heard this, they were infuriated,
and they ground their teeth at him.
But Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit,
looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God
and Jesus standing at the right hand of God,
and Stephen said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened
and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
But they cried out in a loud voice,
covered their ears, and rushed upon him together.
They threw him out of the city, and began to stone him.
The witnesses laid down their cloaks
at the feet of a young man named Saul.
As they were stoning Stephen, he called out,
“Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”
Then he fell to his knees and cried out in a loud voice,
“Lord, do not hold this sin against them”;
and when he said this, he fell asleep.

Now Saul was consenting to his execution.

Responsorial Psalm   31:3cd-4, 6 and 7b and 8a, 17 and 21ab
R. (6a) Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.
R. Alleluia.
Be my rock of refuge,
a stronghold to give me safety.
You are my rock and my fortress;
for your name’s sake you will lead and guide me.
R. Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.
R. Alleluia.
Into your hands I commend my spirit;
you will redeem me, O LORD, O faithful God.
My trust is in the LORD;
I will rejoice and be glad of your mercy.
R. Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.
R. Alleluia.
Let your face shine upon your servant;
save me in your kindness.
You hide them in the shelter of your presence
from the plottings of men.
R. Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.
R. Alleluia.

Alleluia   Jn 6:35ab
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I am the bread of life, says the Lord;
whoever comes to me will never hunger.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel   Jn 6:30-35
The crowd said to Jesus:
“What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you?
What can you do?
Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written:

He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”

So Jesus said to them,
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven;
my Father 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.”

So they said to Jesus,
“Sir, give us this bread always.”
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life;
whoever comes to me will never hunger,
and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”

By Caitlin Matthews 

I have never considered myself to be somebody who believes in the power of “signs”, but lately I have found myself hoping for some sign that everything is going to be alright. This past year has been one of collective grief, uncertainty, and pain. We have lost so much, and these losses will define our lives and society forever. It feels incredibly overwhelming, and like this pain and uncertainty is going to last forever.

As a human being, I long for certainty and clarity in my life, and this past year has ripped it from my fingers.

I have had to sit in pain and discomfort, as well as contemplate the ways that this pandemic has revealed disparities in our culture and called us to make systemic changes.

Throughout all of it, I have been longing for some sense of comfort knowing that this will make me, and hopefully our society as a whole, better in the long term. Essentially, I have been desperately searching for a sign.

In today’s Gospel, the crowd asks Jesus, “What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you?”

It is a testament to something that has been true throughout all of humanity -- the desire for concrete answers, the desire for control. As much as I want to be someone who whole-heartedly believes, no strings attached, I too am asking for a sign.

Some sign that gives me hope that things are going to be okay and that we are going to change for the better as a result of this past year. And while the sign is likely not going to come in the dramatic, grandiose way that I may expect, there are signs around me.

They come in the smell of spring in the air, they come in the laughter of friends gathered together, distanced and outside after a long winter, and they come in my relationships that have sustained me throughout this year. These simple moments are likely things I may have overlooked before this past year.

But something that seems so simple, such as bread, changed the lives of so many and “[gave] life to the world”.

So through slowing down and noticing all that is around me, I am working to open my heart and eyes to all of the simple, life-giving signs that exist all around me, and to trust that all is going to be okay.


Caitlin Matthews believes deeply in the power that connection and radical kinship has to remind us that we belong to each other. A 2019 graduate of John Carroll University, Caitlin moved to Los Angeles, CA post-grad to serve as a Jesuit Volunteer at Homeboy Industries. Her time at Homeboy has shaped how she views the world through a lens of kinship and interconnectedness, and she strives to embody the authentic love and grace that gives people the space to grow into their fullest selves.

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