Grace to you and Happy Easter!
How do you read the story of the heroes and heroines of our faith? Does their story resonate with yours? During today’s reflections, I will share with you one of the ways I have been able to relate with the saints, those also called the Church Triumphant in our Catholic tradition.
I read the saints’ stories as my story and I try to see in their lives mine in the making. Take for instance Saint Stephen, whose live-witness of the Risen Lord is recorded in Acts of the Apostles, chapters six and seven.
Stephen was one of the seven deacons (the first deacons of the Church) appointed by Peter to serve food in the early Church. In addition to serving food, Stephen served God’s Word as well. He saw the connection between both.
Consider what happens when you are invited for a dinner. Dinners are the best times for sharing, when people engage in refreshing discussions. I am not talking of forced meals, such as when we were children and our mom, sort of, forces us to eat lots of vegetables. “Vegetables are good for you child,” Mom always persuaded. Those taste horrible, though. Or eating some of the food we have to eat because we are on medication. Many of them aren’t enjoyable, either. I mean sharing tantalizing meals with people you love. Such dinnertimes are refreshing.
You may have noticed the subtle connection between food and word. Food feeds the body. Word feeds the mind and the soul. There is one food that feeds both, the Eucharist, the Bread of Life.
The seven deacons’ call was to serve, not only at social gatherings, but also, more importantly, at the breaking of bread, the Eucharist. Thus, immersed in the Eucharistic spirituality, Deacon Stephen shared the Word of God also for others who were not members of the faith.
Eucharistic participation enables us to be at the service of God and His people through words and deeds. In addition, the strength of the meal empowers our witnessing to the Risen Lord.
Hear how the scripture spoke of the testimony of Stephen: “Stephen filled with grace and power, was working great wonders and signs among the people.” (Act 6:8-15). Though his testimony about his faith in the Risen Lord through the power of the Holy Spirit cost him his life (as we shall see tomorrow), he remains an incalculable asset of a courageous faith.
Saint Stephen reminds me of yet another saint, Saint Stanislaus, Bishop of Cracow, who was slain by a heartless king, Boleslaus II of Poland, in 1079 in front of his church for refusing to endorse the immoral life-style of the king.
In effect, I draw from the saints the courage of witnessing even when it entails martyrdom. The saints teach us how to be real men and women of courage, courage of faith in a world where anything goes.
May God grant us the grace of courage. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Monday, Easter Week 3: Act 6:8-15; Jn 6:22-29]
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.