Monday, December 26, 2011
Who stood up for Stephen?
Today is the Feast of St. Stephen, proto-martyr. He is my patron from birth and the patron of this blog. Stephen, along with Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicholas of Antioch, that last of whom Scripture tells us was "a convert to Judaism," is traditionally identified as one of seven men who were set apart by the apostles to serve the earliest Christian community, within which some division had started to take place. The nature of the division was that the Greek-speaking widows felt that they were not being treated fairly in the daily distribution. These men were called to oversee the daily distribution, insuring it was carried out in a more equitable manner. Traditionally, 26 December is a day for deacons.
Of these seven men, we only hear more about Stephen and Philip. Both of whom took to preaching and evangelizing, Stephen in Jerusalem and Philip in Samaria. The boldness of Stephen's preaching about Jesus Christ drew the attention of the Jewish religious authorities. Stephen's martyrdom is recorded in the seventh chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. Of course, it is in this passage that we first encounter one Saul of Tarsus, specifically in verse 58: "They threw him out of the city, and began to stone him. The witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul."
Stephen's plea to God that the sins of those stoning him not be held against them was not enough to move Saul's zealous heart. Nonetheless, I cannot help but think that this was a necessary prelude to his conversion, which is recorded in Acts 9, as well as the apostle's own account in the first chapter of Galatians.
Because today is a day for deacons, I want to draw attention, especially the attention of my brother permanent deacons who are married, to a wonderful post by my friend Deacon Bob Yerhot, whose blog Catholic Faith and Reflections, is well worth reading for everyone. The post is Not Doing Enough, Deacons? Or, Too Much?.
St. Stephen, pray for us, that, like you, we may glorify the Lord by our lives.