Voce mea ad Dominum

Random thoughts from an amateur theologist.

Monday, December 26, 2005

He had the face of an angel

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.” 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. - Acts 7:55-58a

St. Stephen was among the first group of what we in the Catholic Church refer to as deacons. The role of the deacon is to assist the bishop and priests in service to the Church for the poor and needy, and also to preach the gospel. St. Stephen was a man of great wisdom who was filled with the Holy Spirit and like Jesus, performed many signs and wonders, and like Jesus, his preaching outraged the Jews. His wisdom was such that he became a thorn in the side of the Jews (sound familiar?), and because of his faith in the Gospel, he was accused of blasphemy. Like Jesus, St. Stephen was dragged before the Sanhedrin, and through the use of false witnesses, he was accused of blaspheming the name of Moses and of God, essentially treason against the House of Israel. When St. Stephen points out that the House of Israel even rejected those whom God had sent before, and then he has a vision of Jesus sitting at the right hand of God, they are infuriated to the point of grinding their teeth. At this point, they seize him and begin to stone him, all the while St. Stephen prays for those who murder him. Until the end, St. Stephen lives as Christ, giving even his life for God, the ultimate sacrifice.

Christians today are still faced with similar circumstances for their faith in Christ and his teachings which are put forth through his body, the Church. Although it is not often that Christians are put in a position to be put to death for their faith in Christ, Jesus tells us to be prepared to give all for our faith in him because it may come down to that. More often we find ourselves ridiculed for our devotion to the Lord and his teachings. In this day where people are "enlightened", darkness seems to prevail. People will do like the Jews in the day of St. Stephen and stop their ears and scream and yell to voice their disagreement with the teachings of Christ. Acts of holiness and public piety are frowned upon, such as the example our priest gave during his homily this evening of hesitating when blessing ourselves with the sign of the cross while at a public restaurant in thanksgiving for the food which we are about to eat lest we be frowned upon. What we need to realize is that it is through our acts of piety and devotion to the Lord that the heavens are opened, and we see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of God, and when seen in this light, we will be much less likely to hesitate in proclaiming our devotion to the Lord.

It is at times like this that we can learn from the example of St. Stephen, who was persecuted yet remained angelic in his appearance confident in the knowledge of the saving grace of Jesus. We can learn from St. Stephen the way to proclaim the Truth with peace in our hearts and to pray for the grace of God to sustain us and help us to hold our tempers when we are ridiculed, to have the countenance of an angel. We can know like St. Stephen that no matter what, nothing, not even humiliation and death, will ever separate us from the love of God that is revealed to us through His Son.

Through the intercession of St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, may Christ have mercy on us and save us.


Post a Comment

<< Home