Body Language

23 Apr

All those who sat in the Sanhedrin looked intently at him
and saw that his face was like the face of an angel.  (Acts 6:15)

There is a television show that ran from 2009 to 2011 that I have just discovered on Netflix.  It is called, “Lie to Me”, and is about a scientific expert who is called to consult many cases to determine the truth of a situation.  He does this by watching intently all the people involved and making his determination based upon their body language.

There have been many studies about body language done throughout the years.  There is a large body of evidence to point to certain gestures, facial expressions, and the like to determine when someone is being truthful or not.

Body language can determine more than truth.  It can determine whether or not someone is angry, happy, sad, upset, or fearful.  The police know how to key in on certain expressions to forewarn whether or not someone may attempt to run or to lash out.  TSA agents look for signs on passengers’ faces and in passengers’ movements to help them determine who may pose a threat and they pull them aside to screen them.  Customs agents look carefully at facial expressions to determine whether or not someone is overly anxious.

Parents do not need a vast body of scientific data to know that body language is important.  They can determine if a child is lying to them or not by looking at the child and observing his or her mannerisms, the tone and pitch of voice, or the look of the face.

In today’s first reading, we hear the first of a two-part episode about St. Stephen.  St. Stephen was a man who was filled with the Holy Spirit, and it showed.  He spoke with a wisdom that was hard for others to foil and performed a great variety of wondrous signs through the power of the Spirit.  He was a huge stumbling block to those who were trying to suppress the Christians.

When St. Stephen was brought into court, the people could not attack his words.  He spoke so eloquently that they could not undermine what he was saying.

Even faced with possible execution, St. Stephen remained strangely calm.  As we hear at the end of today’s reading, “All those who sat in the Sanhedrin looked intently at him
and saw that his face was like the face of an angel.”  St. Stephen had no reason to worry.

That made his detractors even more angry and determined to do something about him.

People who are eerily calm often do strange things to us as well.  Sometimes, someone who is “too calm” is perceived as a threat.

St. Stephen knew that he had nothing to worry about.  God was his strength, God was his shield, God was the source of his words and actions, and he knew that God would be with him, no matter what.

FAITH ACTION:  Take a moment to reflect upon your day today.  What plans have you made?  What needs to be accomplished?  Are there any worries about anything that may be coming up today?  After examining your plans for the day, take some time for prayer.  Repeat to yourself, over and over again, “God is with me today.  I have no reason to fear.”  Let God provide the calm that you need to face this day — and each day of your life.