"Stephen meanwhile, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked to the sky above and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at God's right hand." —Acts 7:55
Stephen was surrounded by a "stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears" (Acts 7:51). These people had always opposed the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:51) and could not be expected to respond in a godly way to Stephen's challenging speech. Stephen was well aware of this, but he did not tone down or mince his words. Stephen came on strong, and "those who listened to his words were stung to the heart; they ground their teeth in anger at him" (Acts 7:54). "The onlookers were shouting aloud, holding their hands over their ears as they did so. Then they rushed at him as one man, dragged him out of the city, and began to stone him" (Acts 7:57-58). "With that he died" (Acts 7:60).
Stephen, the first martyr, was not stupid. He had an exceptional wisdom (Acts 6:10). Stephen was not a victim of circumstances. He knew what he was getting into. He risked and gave his life to be like Jesus. Stephen was courageous. He knew that Jesus had died violently to give us salvation, and Stephen was willing to imitate Him. Stephen was obedient. Like any human being, Stephen didn't want to die a violent and painful death. Like Jesus, however, Stephen said to God the Father: "Not my will, but Yours be done" (Mt 26:39, our transl.). Stephen was loving. Stephen, like Jesus (Lk 23:34), even forgave His murderers (Acts 7:60).
Stephen was not stupid; he was like Jesus. How about you? "If we have been united with Him through likeness to His death, so shall we be through a like resurrection" (Rm 6:5).
Prayer: "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit" (Acts 7:59).
Promise: "I Myself am the Bread of life. No one who comes to Me shall ever be hungry, no one who believes in Me shall ever thirst." —Jn 6:35
Praise: Maria forgave her husband of his adultery.
Nihil Obstat: Reverend Robert L. Hagedorn, November 9, 1996
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, November 15, 1996