1st Reading: Acts 7:51-8:1a: Lord Jesus receive my spirit.
Resp Psalm : Ps.31: Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.
Gospel: John 6:30-35: It is my Father who gives you bread from heaven.
Why was Stephen stoned to death? If we can recall vividly, he was one of the seven deacons ordained by the apostles to help in the distribution of food. In a short amount of time Stephen began to do great wonders and produce signs among the people. Once he stepped into the limelight of the early church, he rested under the microscope of many leaders and elders of the synagogues who argued with him. The leaders instigated some others to raise charges of heresy against Stephen and he soon found himself standing before the high-priest in order to defend his words and actions.
In a very descriptive way, Stephen perfectly encompassed the Old Testament for the high priest in just a few short paragraphs. He never committed blasphemy in his speech. He fairly repeated that which we have detailed for us in the scriptures, but before he finished speaking he had one final message to deliver: “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 have received the law as ordained by angels, and yet you have not kept it.”(Acts 7:51)
Read More: Live By The Spirit; Crucify The Fleshhttps://www.angieisika.org/live-by-the-spirit-crucify-the-flesh/
It was only after hearing these words that the people became enraged and ground their teeth at Stephen. In his torment he saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right side, and he declared this triumphantly to the people. But instead of listening, instead of looking up to see what he could see, they covered their own ears and with a loud shout rushed forward to grab him and take him out of the city. They began to stone him, stoning was the punishment for blasphemy (Deut.24:16). While they stoned him, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And with his final breath he cried out in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he died. Saul was the witness. Deut. 17:7 states that “The hands of the witnesses shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterward the hands of all the people”. That what was needed by Law to stone a person. The words of Stephen before his death shows that Christ lives in him and he was Christ-like. He asked for forgiveness and he rested his spirit in the hands of God. Today’s responsorial psalm is summarizes the words and actions of Jesus and Stephen before they died. It is a psalm of surrendering our lives to God . From that very day, the intercessory role of the saints after death will soon be established. He became the first martyr.
Stephen faced evil and death and won the victory because he faced it with Jesus. He didn’t return evil for evil, but he faced it with the truth, forgiveness and grace of God. He is a great example for us as Christians. The Apostle Paul said in 1 Co. 11:1 to “Be imitators of me, as I imitate Christ”; we see the example of Stephen as he followed Jesus and he did plant the seed of salvation in one heart that day (8:1a), Saul. From Stephen’s uncomprising stand and death came Paul. St. Augustine said, “The church owes Paul to the prayer of Stephen. From Stephen came Paul, and from Paul came the world. What will come from us, what will we do for God? Let us continue to believe and trust Jesus who tells us in today’s gospel I am the bread of life. He who comes shall not be hungry, he who believes in me shall never thirst.
My soul is thirsty for your peace, nearer to my God.
Best wishes of the day.