Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, it is sad today to witness the persecution and death of the first martyr of the Church and our faith, St. Stephen the Protomartyr, one of the original seven deacons who have been selected to be those who would serve the people of God and distribute the goods they share with one another, and minister to them in love.
But St. Stephen did not fear the persecution by the world or the threats and pressures laid upon him. He made a long and passionate speech to the Council, reiterating the truth of God, and how God has worked to bring salvation to mankind throughout history, how mankind have rejected Him, and how God Who still loved men, sent to us the Saviour in Jesus Christ.
St. Stephen courageously defended his faith and spoke the truth. He did not mince his words or held back the truth, even though doing so certainly would have brought about the anger and wrath of the Council members, and which means his own death and suffering at their hands. But he faced it all with grace, knowing that God would be with His faithful ones.
The Council members, made up of the high priests, the elders, Pharisees and Sadducees, and the teachers of the Law refused to listen to the truth that St. Stephen had spoken. These people were seeking the bread of this world, that is trying to satisfy their earthly needs. But in doing so, they lost sight of what they truly should have looked for, that is for the eternal Bread of Life.
And the Living Bread of God had come upon them, Jesus, the Saviour of the world, the Divine Word Incarnate into flesh, Who walked among us as we are, dwelling among us and showing to us the way to salvation and eternal life. And He was the One Whom St. Stephen had been standing up for, defending his faith and belief in Him, even though many others refused to believe.
Thus, this is the same challenge that our Lord Jesus Christ is presenting to all of us, as we continue to walk through this life in this world. Are we doing things so far merely in order to satisfy our needs, desires and wants, or are we looking for and seeking for something greater and beyond our mere needs and wants? The essence of being Christians is that we should take up the challenge and seek for the greater glory and true satisfaction that we can find in God alone.
Let us all therefore work together and strive to find the true happiness in God, by committing ourselves to obey the Lord and His laws, and to follow Him in all of His ways. We have no need to worry if we are not capable of doing it, as God did not call the great and the mighty to do His will, but instead He called on the weak and those who are struggling, and to them, if they are faithful, God will bestow great blessings and graces, as He had shown with St. Stephen.
Let us all reflect on our own actions and practices. Have we been truly faithful to God in all the things we say and do? Have we been insincere in our faith, or indifferent? If we want to be truly faithful to God, then we should really show it through our words and actions. St. Stephen had shown us the example, and we ought to learn from it. We do not have to do the same thing as he had done, but what we need to do is to change our lives for the better, and serve God with greater commitment from now on.
May God help us and strengthen our resolve in this journey, and may He help us to find our way to Him, and attain eternal life and redemption that can be found in Him alone. God bless us all. Amen.