Thanks to good King Wenceslas, I always remember the Feast of Stephen. I like to think I'd do so anyway, for Stephen is one of my favorite saints. I see him as a perfect patron for those of us who strive to view life "through the grille."
Reading Acts 6 and 7, I find a number of things to love about Stephen. He was deeply spiritual and prudent, he spoke with wisdom, and he was called to humbly serve by waiting tables. When he was falsely accused, his face "seemed like that of an angel." He fearlessly spoke the truth of God, and those who listened were stung to the heart (Acts 7:54).
And then, as we know, they stoned him.
What does this have to do with living as a cloistered heart? I would say: pretty much everything.
Stephen was willing to humbly serve by waiting on tables. At the same time, he fed spiritually, freely sharing the truth of Christ.
And if anyone ever "viewed and responded to circumstances 'through the grille,'" it was Stephen. Even as his persecutors were grinding their teeth at him, he boldly exclaimed "'Look!... I see an opening in the sky, and the Son of Man standing at God's right hand."
I am sure this acute view of reality buffered the saint's agony as stones were hurled at him. "As he was being stoned, he could be heard praying, 'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.' He fell to his knees and cried out in a loud voice, 'Lord, do not hold this sin against them.'" (Acts 7:54, 59, 60)
What a way to meet one's Maker.
I have never had stones thrown at me - not physically. But smirks and snubs for living and speaking the truth of God? O course. This has probably happened to all of us. Even Jesus told us to expect nothing less. "You will be hated by all on account of Me." (Matthew 10:22)
When I feel the sting of tiny pebbles, from neighbors or relatives or associates of any kind, I hope to think of Stephen. I hope to remember to ask his intercession.
May he help us find the view through the grille.
Painting: Bernardo Cavallino, Martyrdom of St Stephen
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This is an edited post from our 2012 archives