Grace to you and Happy Easter!
Are you wondering why I still greet you with Happy Easter though we have passed eight days after Easter (what we call Easter Octave)? It is because, as I have hinted in my reflection on Monday of Easter Octave, every day during the fifty days of Easter is like Easter—“The Great Sunday” as St. Athanasius said.
We return to the story of Saint Stephen, the first Christian Martyr, which I started discussing yesterday. Acts of the Apostles Chapter 7:51, is a powerful read about the last words of Stephen before he died. Please read that story, it has many things to teach us about bold witnessing. Let me share a portion of it.
“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” (Act 7:55).
Watch the pattern in this story. Stephen filled with the Holy Spirit looked up and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at His right hand.
Many times we fail to see the Risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, because we look down, like the women who came to the tomb to anoint Jesus and were told by the angel, “He is not here.” We fail to look up when we are engrossed with worries that we can’t seem to put behind us. All our gazes are downward instead of upward. We fail to see, as the Book of Psalms says, that our help is in the name of the Lord the maker of heaven and earth (Psalm 124:8).
When we look up, up to heaven or up to Jesus, we can see the glory of the risen Lord. We can be bold, like Stephen, to announce what we see. We are messengers of the good news we see when we look up.
Though, as always, this may cost us a lot, but it will not take away the hope and joy that we share in the Risen Lord. Martyrdom, Stephen’s martyrdom, isn’t the end of the story, but the beginning of a new chapter of grace. The witness of the saints is the spice of the earth, bringing life and hope to many who are bowed down and constantly looking downward.
So, do you want to have the courage of the apostles to bear witness to the Lord? Look up! Your inspiration is from God and He will inspire you to inspire His people.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Tuesday, Easter Week 3: Act 7:51-8:19; Jn 6:30-35]
Father Maurice Emelu PhD., 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.