Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the continuation of the story of the martyrdom of St. Stephen, the first martyr of the Church, who died defending his faith in the Lord. He pointed out just how stubborn the people of God had been throughout time, having disobeyed the Lord and refused to listen to the words and reminders He had given them through His messengers and prophets.
In the same manner, therefore, they had also refused to believe in the Lord Jesus, even though the Lord and Saviour of the world had done all that He could to persuade them to believe, including performing numerous wonders and works among them, casting out demons and healing the sick, feats and works that are impossible in the hands of men, but perfectly possible for God.
In the Gospel passage today, the Lord Jesus told the people yet another blatant truth about Himself, which they refused to believe, even though that was what the Lord truly had done for them. In that, we are reminded of the centre tenet of our faith and Christian belief, that we believe in God, Who has willingly given us His own Body and Blood, given to us freely as food and sustenance, just as much as He has fed His people Israel for forty years during their journey from Egypt to the Promised Land.
Yet, the people of Israel refused to believe in God, and even though He had shown them much love, by providing all that they needed along the way, and protecting them from their enemies, they still became wayward and rebelled against Him, even to the point of worshipping the pagan idols and false gods abhorrent to Him. God has been so kind to them, and yet, they abused His love and rejected Him.
That was what they had done to the Lord Jesus and to His Apostles as well. And what had happened to St. Stephen, had also happened to numerous other followers of the Lord. They have been persecuted, facing arrest and also torture in order to stand up to their faith, defending what they held to be right against all those who refused to believe in God and in His truth. And all of these were due to the stubbornness in the hearts of men, who refused to submit to God.
Now, are we going to go the same way as those rebellious generations who have disobeyed God and His commandments? Are we going to follow in their footsteps? We have to realise that all of these disobediences are caused by our own inability to resist the temptation to follow our desires, our greedy nature and our pride. We refuse to believe in God because we think that we know it better and we want things to go according to our way.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are called to reflect on our lives. Thus far, have we been disobedient and deliquent in our ways? Have we been wayward in our dealings and interactions with one another? These are some of the important questions that we need to ask our lives. However, we must also realise that there is a need for us to take action with our lives, by doing our very best to live in accordance to the Lord’s ways, even if that end up meaning that we have to go against the world.
Remember, brothers and sisters in Christ, that this world offers us many tempting and pleasurable things, that are indeed very tempting for us to follow through. However, we have to be farsighted, looking beyond what is immediately ahead of us. The path that the Lord offers us is more difficult and challenging, and certainly it is not a most enticing and encouraging one. And we must always be mindful that Satan is always out there, actively trying to sway us from finding our path towards God’s salvation.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all keep this in mind as we carry on with our respective lives. Let us all commit ourselves wholeheartedly, devoting our time, effort and attention in order to stand up to our faith, just as St. Stephen and all the other holy saints and martyrs of God had done, all those who had gone before us and showed us how to be truly faithful to God.
Let us all therefore, persevere in our faith, that whatever it is that the devil is trying to do, in order to confuse us and to lure us away from God’s salvation, we will be able to resist them, as we look forward to our true inheritance, which God alone can give, that is the true joy and happiness, glorious together with Him. May God be with us all, and may He guide us all in our journey, that we will be able to overcome the world, and turning back on our sins, we may be made worthy of eternal glory in Him Who loves us all. Amen.