St. Stephen is honored as the first Christian martyr, and his story is told in Chapters 6-7 in the book of the Acts of the Apostles. He was one of the first deacons of the church, called forth to a ministry of service in the community. In his lifetime, he was admired for being “filled with the Spirit and wisdom” (Acts 6: 3) and “filled with grace and power” (Acts 6:8). The Sanhedrin condemned him for blasphemy when he preached of a vision he had received of Jesus standing next to (as opposed to sitting beside) the glory of God. Among the witnesses to Stephen’s stoning was Saul, who later had a conversion experience, changed his name to Paul, and spread the Good News all over the world. Stephen’s feast day is December 26.
“As they were stoning Stephen, he called out, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he fell to his knees and cried out in a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them’; and when he said this, he fell asleep.” — Acts of the Apostles 7:59-60
Questions for Reflection
Reflect on the things that are filling you up. Are you filled with the Spirit, with wisdom, with grace and power, like Stephen was? Do you need to empty yourself of other things so that you can make room for these graces?