”You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you are forever opposing the Holy Spirit, just as your ancestors used to do.Which of the prophets did your ancestors not persecute? They killed those who foretold the coming of the Righteous One, and now you have become his betrayers and murderers. You are the ones that received the law as ordained by angels, and yet you have not kept it.”
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.
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
Today’s reading from Acts speaks of Stephen, the first martyr of the Church. In his spirit, I’m reminded of two other men who have recently lost their lives amidst the turmoil of political struggle, crises of forgiveness, and lack of understanding.
The first, Fr. Frans van der Lugt, S.J., was dragged outside his home in Syria, beaten severely, and shot twice in the head. The second, death row inmate Clayton Lockett, died in agony from a heart attack caused by improperly administered chemicals that were meant to take his life.
Consider these men. What moves us about their deaths? When we look into their eyes from pictures on the Internet, what do we see?
What is worth dying for? How can the witness of Christ, of the first martyrs of the Church, of Fr. Franz, and even of Clayton Lockett, lead us to consider our mortality, and what our lives represent? What goodness do we seek to bring into the world?
As we carry on, let us live to make sure that those who have gone before us have not died in vain. They still speak to us. We must remember them.
—Eric Immel, S.J., a Jesuit scholastic of the Wisconsin Province is studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.
You are all we have. You give us what we need. Our lives are in your hands, O Lord, our lives are in your hands.
You are near, the God I seek. Nothing can take me from your side. All my days I rest secure; you will show me the path that leads to life.
—Francis Patrick O’Brien, © 1991, GIA Publications, Inc.Please share the Good Word with your friends!