Monday 23 November 2015

Saint Stephen 26th December Saint Etienne le 26 décembre

It is not you who will be speaking; the Spirit of your Father will be speaking in you."

Ac.6,8-10;7,54-60 Ps.30 Mt.10,17-22

Saint Etienne 26th December

“Be prepared for people to hand you over to the Sanhedrin’s and scourge you in their synagogues.You will be brought before governors and kings for my sake, as evidence tot hem and to the gentiles.”

On the day after Christmas, the Church in her Wisdom has us celebrate Stephen, the first martyr. Thus we understand better how Jesus was born into violent world, and that he comes to deliver us from all types of violence. In the Gift of the Holy Spirit, Stephen, clothed with strength from the Holy Sprit, holds out with gentleness when faced with his adversary’s violence. He obviously identifies himself with Jesus’ life : ’Father into your hands I commend my spirit’ said Jesus. Stephen will say ’Father, I offer up my spirit into your hands’ So he will return to the Father in this way.

In his incredible Love, God comes and joins us in the most intimate parts of being, in our humanity, giving back to us where we come from and our finality. We come from God and we are going to God. Jesus takes on our human nature so that we can live from the Holy Spirit. Filled with the grace and the power of God, Stephen offers himself to Jesus , allowing himself to be invaded by the Divinity of Christ. Stephen has the same feelings, the same attitudes as Christ towards the Father and towards those who persecuted him. The mystery of the Holy Spirit, who covered Mary with his shadow, continues his work of Love in humanity : ’Stephen was filled with the Holy Spirit looking towards heaven.’ It is the Spirit of the Son who speaks in Him, making Him into a witness of Christ.

“But when you are handed over, do not be worried about how to speak or what to say ; what you are to say will be given to you when the time comes, because it is not you who will be speaking; the Spirit of your Father will be speaking in you.”

Stephen , moved by the Holy spirit, has the same experience as Jesus had, in that it is the Sprit of the Father who speaks through him. He lives in Jesus in the daily life of martyrdom. Stephen announces what comes after Christ in a context of radical division and of extreme hatred, described by Jesus Himself

for his disciples at the time of his Passion. Jesus knows when he is journeying towards his Passion in fidelity to God His Father.He also knows what is the heart of man. His true action will be to bear witness to His Father right to the end, under the Action of the Holy Spirit. When Stephen looks towards heaven, he sees the victory of Love brought about in Jesus.

“Look, I can see heaven thrown open ’he said ’and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God.”

Henceforth, Love has acquired Victory for our humanity. Thus the great combat Jesus announced passed through the whole of Stephen’s life. Stephen will let himself be taken away in this Love. The Church prays Stephen configured to Jesus in His Passion. If Jesus was turned to the Father, Stephen is turned towards Jesus.

’Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. Lord, do not hold this sin against them.“The Life of God, His Light and His Love are given to us.”Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will come forward against their parents and have them put to death. You will be universally hated on account of my name ; but anyone who stands firm to the end will be saved."

And so, by delicate touches, the whole of the Mystery of Salvation in expressed in this recital. The disciple’s combat, called to bear witness to the Passion of Jesus, is the Revelation of the life of Jesus whom we are called to love infinitely. This is the place for us to encounter it and to be taught the Christian teaching. What happens to Jesus happens to the disciples. It is also what happens to the prophets. This way of living, amongst men and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, is the way Jesus lived. In the same sort of conflictual combat it can be lived in the same comparable manner by others. It really is the Spirit of the Father who speaks through Jesus and in ourselves. Stephen is a witness of the Action of the Infinite Love of God in our lives. Love has take everything, it has to conquer in everything that is opposed to love in order to push us towards God.

’Lord, teach us Love for our enemies."

On the day after Christmas, we ask for the grace to love our enemies. We cannot manage to do this by ourselves, but, what is impossible for us is not

impossible for God. We ask for the grace to welcome the Saviour of our humanity, He who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

We ask for the grace for the Holy Spirit to take hold of us so that we may die to ourselves.