If you don't read the daily liturgical readings, do yourself a favor and do it for the Easter season. The Gospels are amazing, but so are the readings from the Acts of the Apostles. Today we get the story of Stephen, our first martyr:

Stephen said to the people, the elders, and the scribes:
"You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears,
you always oppose the Holy Spirit; you are just like your ancestors.
Which of the prophets did your ancestors not persecute?
They put to death those who foretold the coming of the righteous one,
whose betrayers and murderers you have now become.
You received the law as transmitted by angels, but you did not observe it." When they heard this, they were infuriated,
and they ground their teeth at him. (Acts 7)
Not only that, they stoned him to death. Why is it that we don't listen to our prophets? Perhaps the bigger question, for those of us who are trying to live out our faith in our contemporary world, is this: how do they find the strength to keep on keeping on?

I think of people in our own time, in our own Church even, who are speaking truth to power with honesty, love and integrity even in the midst of great opposition. Maybe they're not literally stoned to death, but the are threatened with a stoning of sorts. They might be threatened with losing their livelihood, their position, their support. But true prophets keep speaking the truth, because they speak from a deeper place. Prayer is the key, I think, not just for prophets, but for us all, as we live our Christian faith. It gives us time to be quiet, space to make room for God.
But 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."
Most likely, we won't see visions of Jesus standing at the right hand of God. But I'm sure you've been in a difficult situation where you did the hard (but right) thing. It was probably challenging. You may have suffered for it. But I bet there was that indescribable sense of peace that comes from living with integrity.

My prayer this night is that we as a people are better able to listen to the voice of God in our midst. And that we, too, can be filled with the holy spirit and strengthened to act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with our God. And, when the time comes, may we speak truth to power in love and peace.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The timing of this post is excellent.

I just got an anonymous comment on my post, "On Seeing A Gun at Easter Mass." A full dress cop, with gun and all, was right next to me on my way to communion.

Regardless of why he chose or felt the need to do this, regardless of "on duty requirements," etc. I found this disturbing, to say the least. And I think it was a justified concern on my behalf.

The most recent comment came from someone who knew the cop. Fine. But my concerns are larger.

I am reading Merton's On Peace in a Post Christian Age, and he writes about how much lip service we give to Christ's peace but when it comes down to it, we think it's a joke.

THAT is what I am talking about.

I was feeling a little worked up and I don't want to feel that way. I know I am then only adding to the problem, but I'm not sure WHAT to do with these feelings of frustration that can so easily dissolve into despair.

And then you tell me -- prayer.

Thank you. :)