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.
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.
“But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke.”
These words leap off the page. What an image! An eloquent orator, St. Stephen was so filled with the Holy Spirit that those gathered could not help but hear the good news he delivered.
If you read this line alone, it’s easy to think that God’s truth easily wins the day. But we know, on this feast of St. Stephen’s martyrdom, that though the crowd heard the words he spoke, they could not bear to listen. And so, Stephen becomes our first martyr, and his words are silenced.
Truth does not triumph all by itself. A quick survey of today’s culture reveals as much. Arriving at truth demands honest dialogue, honest listening, and a resistance to the temptation of shutting down views that make us uncomfortable. On this Feast of Stephen, to whom should we lend a more generous ear?
—Eric Clayton is a senior communications manager at the Jesuit Conference.
Lord Jesus, you gave St. Stephen the strength and courage to speak your truth despite the consequences. Grant that we, too, can be bold in sharing our faith with the world, through our words or actions, so that all may come to a closer relationship with you. Amen.
—The Jesuit Prayer teamPlease share the Good Word with your friends!