Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Wednesday word, 26 Dec 2007

St. Stephen, first martyr (26 Dec 2007) Ac 6. 8-10;7. 54-59; Ps 31; Mt 10. 17-22
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Making More Room

After we celebrate the birth of God on Christmas Day, we celebrate a significant death, that of Stephen, the first martyr after Jesus. Like Jesus Stephen gave clear witness to God and the ways of God. Like Jesus Stephen was falsely accused and unjustly condemned. Like Jesus Stephen trusted totally in God to whom he witnessed.

One might say that like Jesus Stephen witnessed from a position of powerlessness. Yes, if we mean human and worldly power. Yet, no, if we mean that Stephen, like Jesus, allowed God to empower him, which is what the phrase, filled with the Holy Spirit, means.

Christian power points to Jesus, points out Jesus, so that others may know Jesus better and so that some might encounter Jesus for the first time. Christian power is our witness to Jesus.

The selection from Matthew’s gospel under-scores that. In fact, giving witness to Jesus with our lives--moment by moment, well before the moment of death--is our vocation. Before he was handed over Jesus told his disciples others would hand [them] over. They would appear powerless, yet divine power would work through them: do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say. For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

Jesus did not expect disciples to do more than give witness. Stephen was the first to give witness with his life. Jesus invites us to witness to him by how we live long before our deaths. Witness in death happens by the way a person lives, which allows Holy Spirit more room and trusts more in the Power, who is most real.
Wiki-image of St. Stephen is in the public domain.

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