Acts 6:8-10; 7:54-59 | Ps. 31:3cd-4, 6-8ab, 16bc-17 | Mt. 10:17-22
We celebrate St. Stephen today. He is considered to be the first martyr of the church. The first reading relates the story of his martyrdom by those who refused to listen to him. We see that the mastermind behind this plot is Saul, who will be converted by Christ and turn into one of the greatest disciples of Jesus. Stephen is seen as calling upon the Holy Spirit to guide and direct his words. He is led by the spirit to ask for forgiveness of his persecutors. Truly, Stephen lived out the words from Matthew’s Gospel. Jesus tells the disciples to be aware of those who come against them. He tells it “like it is.” They will be persecuted, flogged, handed over to be tried and condemned. Jesus further instructs the disciples that they should not worry about what to say. The Holy Spirit will teach them what to say and do. This is exactly what Stephen did.
This message is for us today as well as for those of Christ’s day. We are called to spread the kingdom of God to others. We will not always be received well. However, God promises to give us the gifts of the Holy Spirit to tell us what to say and do. Take time to pray with Stephen today. Ask him to intercede for you to obtain the strength, courage, and perseverance to teach God’s Word of love to all.