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.
This fall I volunteered at a local hospital. Something of a self-confessed germaphobe and directionally challenged in a cavernous building in which one was required to use the unmarked labyrinthine back hallways, I was way out of my comfort zone! Any tendencies toward arrogance or grandiosity quickly fizzled in the face of repeated moments of humility. I was clearly the novice at the tasks assigned to me! A martyrdom of the ego, to be sure!
St. Stephen experienced a violent death that most of us will not have to face. But Stephen can teach us much about the daily martyrdoms we encounter: choosing patience when we feel frustrated, forgiving those we’d rather not, speaking kind words instead of hasty retorts. Each time we choose divine tenderness over human violence we labor with God in a creative way.
What is the martyrdom of the heart asked of me today?
—Susan Kusz, SND serves as Associate Director at the Jesuit Retreat House in Oshkosh, WI.
“Into your hands, Lord, I commend my spirit.”
—Luke 22: 46
Please share the Good Word with your friends!