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Friday, 26 December 2014

Thoughts on St. Stephen Part Two

Two more thoughts for today's feast of St. Stephen.

The first connects St. Stephen's vision of heaven "opening up" and the martyr seeing Christ in glory.

This reality of heaven was not only a gift of consolation for the soon-to-be-stoned man, but part of the saint's witness. He was telling those around him that Christ was indeed in heaven, resurrected, in body as well as in soul.

This statement was a reference to everlasting life, which the Sadducees did not hold as a truth of their sect of Judaism. Already, we see, in this fact, a corruption of the Revelation from God in the Old Testament, as David and other prophets referred to heaven and hell, and in the Book of Maccabees, we see the Jews praying for the dead to enter into their reward, after having their sins forgiven.

That the Sadducees would have responded violently to St. Stephen's account of seeing heaven indicates that God's effort to correct the members of this sect, through this holy man, was refused.

Not all people want to hear the truth, especially it is will change their status and lifestyles.

Second, St. Stephen was a deacon. In Morning Prayer, we read this today:

Acts 6:2-5New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition 

And the twelve called together the whole community of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should neglect the word of God in order to wait on tables.[a] Therefore, friends,[b] select from among yourselves seven men of good standing, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this task, while we, for our part, will devote ourselves to prayer and to serving the word.” What they said pleased the whole community, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, together with Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch.
I have known many, many permanent deacons in my long life and I can say that only two have struck me as holy. Some of the deacons I have met and with whom I have worked were actually in disobedience to the Church regarding the female priesthood, homosexual acts and liturgical practices, On the other hand, the two men I want to praise work with the poor, in the food banks, quietly personally, helping those who are poor to have some dignity of lifestyle.
Today, I want to salute two deacons who have revealed the true role of the deacon to me.
Good bless Deacon Bob and Deacon Tony.