December 26, 2012
St. Stephen, First Martyr
Acts 6: 8-20, 7: 54-59
Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and others of those from Cilicia and Asia, stood up and argued with Stephen. But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke.
Then they secretly instigated some men to say, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” They stirred up the people as well as the elders and the scribes; then they suddenly confronted him, seized him, and brought him before the council.
They set up false witnesses who said, “This man never stops saying things against this holy place and the law; for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses handed on to us.” And all who sat in the council looked intently at him, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.
When they heard these things, they became enraged and ground their teeth at Stephen. But filled with the Holy Spirit, he gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.“ Look,” he said, “I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”
But they covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against him. Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him; and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
Triumph of Eternal Promise
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 he said, “Behold I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God. [Acts 7: 55-56]
The stones that battered Stephen’s body broke upon the doorways of his soul to reveal to him the eternal promise of God, transcending the very worst that human cruelty can inflict.
—Margaret Silf, 2010: A Book of Grace-Filled Days © 2010 Loyola Press, Chicago IL. For more Ignatian spiritual resources from Loyola Press, please visit www.loyolapress.com
Lord, the men needed but a few minutes to grab their stones. No one person would be responsible for the gruesome killing of Stephen. Since all would contribute, no one would know whose stone ultimately murdered him. Power in the crowd; cowardice in the anonymity of the act. Lord, two things we ask of you. Strengthen our resolve to be true to you. And keep us faithful so we never sell out another because of fear or ambition.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team
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