Feast of Saint Stephen, the First Martyr
Acts of the Apostles 6:8-10, 7:54-59; Psalm 31:3-4, 6-8, 17, 21; Matthew 10:17-22
The story of Saint Stephen, a deacon and first martyr of the Catholic Church, taken from the Acts of the Apostles as well as Jesus’ Gospel narrative from Saint Matthew, combine for a powerful and somewhat uncomfortable message. Doing the right thing is difficult. Sometimes it can be dangerous, and as in the case of Stephen and countless other martyrs throughout the centuries, doing the right thing and speaking with the Holy Spirit can be fatal. The Gospel message to the disciples is a grim one, reminiscent of much of what we see, read, and hear happening around the world today. People do inconceivable things to each other in distant places and around the corners of our own neighborhoods. Why does this happen? Who is responsible for letting it happen?
We hear and read about hateful things that happen every day. Perhaps we can’t do much about the world’s problems, but we can do something about our lives. We have to stand up and do the right thing every day of our lives. When another person is demeaning someone, we can ask God, as Jesus teaches us in the Gospel, to give us the wisdom and words we should say and the ability to speak up and stop the tiny bits of hate of people treating others as less than human. We treat people as less than human when we gossip when we let an unkind remark go by, and when we witness a cruel act. While we may not be the ones doing the deed, our roles as silent bystanders help build up those little bits of hate and create a perpetual avalanche of hate.
Friends, we often let ourselves off the hook by thinking these “small things” don’t matter. We may even say to ourselves, “I don’t want to make a scene” or “Let someone else take care of it; I’m too busy.” It’s time to change that message to ourselves and become an example for others to follow. Our response should be more like. I will speak up because it’s the right thing to do. I will ask God for the grace of wisdom, and He will help me.”
Question of the Day: How will you ask God to grant you the strength and wisdom to stand up for injustice?
Prayer: “You are my rock and my fortress; for your name’s sake lead and guide me.”