Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit,
looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God
and Jesus standing at the right hand of God,
and Stephen said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened
and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
But they cried out in a loud voice,
covered their ears, and rushed upon him together.
They threw him out of the city, and began to stone him.
The witnesses laid down their cloaks
at the feet of a young man named Saul.
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.
Now Saul was consenting to his execution. (Acts 7:55-8:1a)
Yesterday we noted that trouble was brewing for St. Stephen. Yet, he did not care about that because he knew that God was on his side.
Stephen spoke with a grace that was above all others. Many hated him for that.
His death, while quite tragic, provided a rich soil for growth. Quintus Septimus Florens Tertullian is noted for writing that “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.”
Stephen’s blood provided a seed.
The seed was planted in Saul.
Saul was present at Stephen’s death. Presumably, he was one who engineered his death since Saul was on a personal mission to rid the world of Christianity. Yet, a short time later, on the road to Damascus, Saul would encounter the Lord.
Saul would realize that his treatment of Christians was wrong and that Jesus wanted him to change.
Saul’s conversion would radically renew the face of Christianity in his world.
We have the opportunity to change the world each time we do what the Lord asks of us.
FAITH ACTION: Ask the Lord to give you the courage needed to do His will this day.