Good News for the Day, December 26, 2017
Feast of Stephen, First Martyr (696)
Jesus says to people inspired by Him: “Watch out for those people who will take you to courts and threaten you in their religion; you will be brought before civilian politicians and courts when you bear witness to the goodness of the divine family—before them and hostile non-believers. When they do bring you there, do not rehearse anxiously about how you are going to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say. In fact, it will not be you who speak but the spiritual power of your Father speaking through you. Brother will turn against brother to the point of death, and a father give up his child; children will revolt against their parents and have them put to death! You will be hated by everybody because you belong in our Family; whoever endures to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 10)
In every age, some humans control secular governments and guide religions. For them, conformity brings peace, security and greatness. What is true is that following Jesus on the Way of the Cross—with humility, repentance, and courage—is what brings peace, security and greatness. Stephen shows us that way lies salvation.
People die for their faith. Stephen did, dying because he did not conform to demands of the Jewish leadership, just as Jesus died because he did not conform to the Jewish leadership of His time, and Rome’s occupying forces. Their ”life” was NOT that they avoided contempt, persecution and even death Their inner life—to the end—was their loving people, forgiving them, and believing that the Way of Jesus leads to Life; mere external obedience leads to death of the spirit, of the soul of the self.
The Acts of the Apostles says Stephen saw the “son of man standing at the right hand of God.” Was he having a vision or an insight; was he trying to convey an inspiration, even to the people executing him? He “sees” the human Jesus—the ‘son of MAN” beside God our Father, the way a Prime Minister stands next to a President.
Stephen is trying to tell everybody that the Human side of Jesus shares the “governing” nature of God. Your lowly, “weak” humanity shares the Creator’s power when you love as Jesus has loved. Real life is not simply in organizations of church or state but in your humble loving—Child in the Manger, servant-girl Mary. You and I share in the majesty, power, and permanent, boundless Life of theirs.