17 Beware of men; for they will deliver you up to councils, and flog you in their synagogues, 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear testimony before them and the Gentiles. 19 When they deliver you up, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour; 20 for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21 Brother will deliver up brother to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; 22 and you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.
We are still with Infant Jesus, wonder struck in joy before this great mystery of Incarnation. How to enter immediately into the martyrdom of Saint Stephan (Etienne) where an innocent man is stoned to death. Many of us may rightly ask where the God was and couldn’t He save this innocent and faithful disciple of Christ? Why God so desired to keep silence and allow the evil to perpetuate in this world? Where is justice and peace which the Incarnation has promised? All these questions have their due value and no reproach can be attributed to the questioner. Why not, we may be too one among them?
There are two way of looking in this history. The first and easy one is to look at the innocent death of Saint Stephan and pray for the conversion of this evil world. Certainly this way of looking at this event will lead us to fix our attention at immediate consequence of death and rejection. It will certainly disappoint anyone to follow Christ and to be His disciple.
There is another way of looking at the same event. If we look very deep in this story, there are three roles to be identified. The first is God and Saint Stephan. The God who is accompanying Stephan through the Holy Spirt actively present these and blesses him with a divine vision of the Glory of God. He is supported with divine intelligence and wisdom. He was filled with joy and feels the deep sense of divine presence. His heart was filled with gratitude and compassion that even in his troubled time, he could pray for the enemies and demand pardon for them. The third aspect was that these people couldn’t win over Stephan. They can apply all their human intelligence and before God, everything will fall.
This way of looking this story will give us the courage to face any king of such event with the confidence that the Lord will surely accompany us. This regard filled with faith, hope, and charity will help us to look everything with inner peace and joy. Certainly such attitude will help us to see God not in disappointment, rather filled with gratitude and happiness. Let us choose the best for us.
Daily Quote from the early church fathers:
Your Father speaks through you in every age, by Augustine of Hippo, 354-430 A.D.
"To be sure, we heard in that reading, 'But when they deliver you up, do not be anxious how or what you are to speak... for it is not you who are speaking but the Spirit of your Father who speaks through you.' And he says in another place: 'Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the world' (Matthew 28:20). Does this mean that the people who heard those words of the Lord would be here until the end of the world? The Lord was referring, rather, not only to those about to depart from this life but also to the others, including us and those who would come after us in this life. He saw everyone in his single body, and the words he spoke, 'I am with you even to the end of the world,' were heard by them and by us too. And if we did not hear them then in our knowledge, we heard them in his foreknowledge. Therefore, safe as sheep among the wolves, let us keep the commandments of him who directs us. And let us be 'innocent as doves but cautious as snakes' (Matthew 10:16). Innocent as doves that we may not harm anyone; cautious as snakes that we may be careful of letting anyone harm us." (excerpt from SERMON 64A.2)