Stephen, Martyr – Acts 6:1-7; 7:51-60
“They said, ‘It wouldn’t be right for us to abandon our responsibilities for preaching and teaching the Word of God to help with the care of the poor. So, friends, choose seven men from among you whom everyone trusts, men full of the Holy Spirit and good sense, and we’ll assign them this task.’” (Acts 6:2-3, TM)
From its beginning, the Church saw that caring for the vulnerable was an important mission. The leaders of the church, the apostles, soon found their hands full with the important ministry of caring for others, and were neglecting their primary ministry of teaching and interpreting Scripture and preaching the good news of God in Jesus Christ. Therefore, seven men were appointed to lead the early Christian community by example by caring for the poor and exhorting others to do the same. These men were known as “deacons.” One of them, Stephen, not only did remarkable things for others, he did some preaching and teaching of his own while doing it. This attracted unfavorable attention by those who didn’t want to see the followers of Christ succeed, and he was stoned to death. He became the first martyr of our faith. We see in Stephen the story of the Church in every age. Being a Christian means physically caring for the vulnerable, telling others of our faith, and being willing to take some risks to do so. Sometimes that can be dangerous.
God of grace, and God of Glory: Grant us the wisdom, and the courage, to care for others, especially the less fortunate, and to proclaim to others our faith in what God has done for all of us in Jesus Christ, even when the risk seems to outweigh the reward. Amen.
– Fr. Larry Parrish