Reflection on Today’s Daily Readings by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM
Dec. 26: Feast of St. Stephen, First Martyr ( 32-35 A.D.). Scripture:
Lectionary # 696: Acts 6:8-10; 7:54-59.
Psalm 31:3-4.6.7-8.17.21. Matthew 10: 17-22.
Jesus words in today’s Gospel are a perfect prediction and promise that
help us to understand why St. Stephen is a very devoted person and a
martyr. The Holy Spirit gives him the gift of inspired speech which leads
to his being stoned to death by those who could not stand hearing his
revelatory message from the Holy Scriptures that were so familiar to them.
He lived them out in the Spirit while they studied them and tried to
control their meaning.
Stephen is the first of the seven deacons who are named by the apostles to
help distribute food and provisions to the widows of the Hellenists both
Jew and Gentile and especially from the synagogue to which Stephen belonged
that of the Roman Freedman (that of the Jews from Cyrene, Alexandria,
Cilicia, and Asia)–those who spoke Greek and used the Greek translation of
their Scriptures (the Septuagint version). Stephen’s conversion to Christ
and his devoted service as a deacon made him a leader and many listened to
him. He preached about Jesus as the fulfillment of salvation history which
he outlines from Abraham through the patriarchs down to David and his
successors. He probably was a radical prophet in the eyes of some of the
members of his group and synagogue and this earmarked him for conflict,
controversy, and eventual martyrdom.
Stephen was thoroughly under the influence of the Holy Spirit and
interpreted the Scriptures from the Spiri who guided him. His sermon was
one of the lengthiest in the Scriptures except for Jesus’ Sermon on the
Mount. We are amazed to find his entire life in the seventy lines that Luke
writes sequentially about him from chapter 6:8 of the Acts to chapter 8:3
of the Acts of the Apostles. Seventy lines give us the story of Stephen and
these are what we call a primary source for us. His last words are powerful
in forgiveness and trust in the Lord. “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And
falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Lord, do not
lay this sin against them.” And with these words he fell asleep.” Amen.