As we celebrate the 50 days of Easter, the beauty of Spring bursting forth everywhere we look, the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles reminds us that amidst the JOY of Christ’s Resurrection is the reality that we must be ready to sacrifice everything as we witness our love and faith in Jesus to the world. Today we hear the story of Stephen, the first Martyr of the Church.
We have much to learn from St. Stephen. He was a man of great character. No matter what they world tells us, character does count. How we live affects the world in which we live. Sharing our faith, evangelizing, is a matter of character and content. It is not just what we say, it is what we are. St. Stephen was selected to work among the apostles, because of his good reputation, being filled with the Spirit and wisdom. (Acts 6:3)
Stephen was full of the Spirit, full of wisdom and full of faith. The naysayers could not withstand the wisdom and Spirit with which Stephen spoke. Stephen spoke the truth bravely, unafraid of what this might bring to his life. He saw the message of peace and love as far more important than that of “political correctness.” When we invite the Holy Spirit to work through us, we too will speak truth in love, with confidence and conviction.
And when Stephen was seized and taken before an angry council to defend his teachings,“his face was like the face of an angel” (Acts 6:15). He remained calm in the midst of false accusations. This is grace. This is surrender and total trust in God and His plan. Stephen gives us a profound example of what it means to live the words of Scripture: “Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow Me” (Luke 9:23) … unwavering is his patience and peace, he knows that truth will conquer.
Stephen did not need “scientific proof” of God’s existence or the examples of anyone else. Just Christ alone – and what He did for us on the cross. His faith enabled him “to be filled with grace and power, working great wonders and signs among the people.” (Acts 6:8)
In our Gospel today, Jesus is asked, “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?” He replied, “This is the work of God, that you believe in the One He sent.”
Today spend time with the Holy Spirit. Do you believe in the One God sent? Do you trust Him with your life? Do you let His Strength, Wisdom and Spirit flow through you into the world?