Grace to you!
How do you read the story of the models or saints of our faith? Does their story resonate with yours? During today's reflections, I will share with you one of the ways I relate with the saints; those also called the Church Triumphant in our Catholic tradition.
I read the saints' stories as my story. I see them as real human beings with many flaws. Yet, they welcomed the grace of transformation. I see in their lives mine in the making. I tap from them some of the ways to lead a holy life. Take, for instance, Saint Stephen, whose witness to 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 Saint 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 someone invites you to dinner. In many cultures, dinners are the best times for sharing. People engage in stimulating discussions. Hence, it is a sort of fellowship. I am not talking about a kind of forced meals, such as when we were children and our parents, make us eat lots of vegetables. "Vegetables are good for you, child," Mom would persuade. At the time, those were horrible tastes. Or some of the food we have to eat because we are on medication. Many of them aren't enjoyable, either. I mean sharing delicious meals with people you love. Such dinnertimes are refreshing.
You may have noticed the subtle connection between food and word. Food feeds the body. Words (including thoughts and ideas) feed the mind, the soul, and the spirit. One's mind, soul, and spirit are as good as the words and thoughts that settle in. There is one food that feeds body, mind, soul, and spirit—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. Also, the strength of the meal empowers our bearing witnessing to the Risen Lord.
Hear how 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). His testimony about his faith in the Risen Lord through the power of the Holy Spirit cost him his life. However, as I will reflect tomorrow, he remains an incalculable asset of courageous faith.
In effect, I draw from the saints the courage of bearing witness to the Gospel of
Christ, even when it entails martyrdom. The saints teach us how to be real men and women of courage, the 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]
Author and Goal
Father Maurice Emelu Ph.D., provides a daily blog of reflections based on the Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. The goal is to teach, inspire, encourage, and foster healing through the grace of God's word. They are written in a language that is appropriate for a general audience. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration, and developing your thoughts. They may also be useful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.