As they were stoning Stephen, he called out,
“Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”
Then he fell to his knees and cried out in a loud voice,
“Lord, do not hold this sin against them”;
and when he said this, he fell asleep. (Acts 7:59-60)
Stephen, the first deacon-martyr, really knew Jesus. He had to have since he was able to forgive as Jesus did.
As Jesus was hanging on the cross, He said, “Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.” As Stephen was ready to die, he forgave those who were casting stones, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them”.
We often talk about the values that our faith challenges us to embrace. One of the “forgotten values” is forgiveness.
We are relatively quick to love, quick to help those in need, quick to provide, and quick to protect.
We are not very quick to forgive those who hurt us. As a matter of fact, we often loathe to forgive.
If we are going to call ourselves Christians, we have to do ALL of the above: love, help, provide, protect — and forgive.
St. Stephen, intercede for us that we may be more like the forgiving Christ!
FAITH ACTION: While spending time with the Lord today, say the Prayer for Strength to Forgive:
Faultless Lord, enduring death for me,
You have consummated the debt of my sins:
Your sacrifice of forgiveness was absolute!
Grant me the strength to also forgive others,
To excuse their transgressions against me.
So I may truly reflect this spiritual fruit,
Obliterate any persistent feelings of malice.
Forgive my sins as I hope to forgive others.