The Perfect Stephen

Saint Stephen, the First Martyr – Feast - My Catholic Life!

The Bible tells us very little about Stephen, (Acts 6-7). He was one of those martyred for speaking about our Lord Jesus. Let us now look at some of the qualities that the Bible tells us about him.

1. Complete Faith in the Lord: Acts 6:5, This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit;

In Hebrews 11:1, Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. It tells us what is faith.

Hebrews 11:6, And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. It tells us that we cannot please God if we lack faith in Him.

Stephen pleased God through his strong faith. Due to his faith he was strengthened by the Holy Spirit. His faith was so strong that no one could argue with him. Acts 6:10, 10 But they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke. This is one of the qualities that we can see in the Apostles of Christ. The Bible teaches us that those who have faith see the magnificence and glory of God. Stephen was blessed to see this glory with his own eyes. Acts 7: 55-56,  55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

2. He was filled with grace from God: Divine grace( Kripa) means being bestowed with blessing we do not deserve. Those who receive divine grace also receive divine blessings, for eg: Mother Mary. An ordinary girl, she received divine grace and was greeted by Archangel Gabriel as ” Hail, full of grace…”. Those are blessed with divine grace experience physical and mental transformation. Acts 6:15, 15 All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

3. He was full of wisdom: Acts 6: 10, 10 But they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke. He was full of wisdom as he was blessed by the Holy Spirit. When he was brought before the Sanhedrin on charges of blasphemy, he spoke with wisdom about our forefathers. From Abraham to Solomon he spoke to them about the glory of God. He replied in full confidence that they persecuted all those proclaimed about the coming of the Messiah( Lord Jesus). John 1:1,In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

The Bible teaches us that the Word was with God. Stephen proclaimed these words. Divine wisdom does not let us succumb to the traps of emotions and feelings, rather it helps develop wisdom and stature. These people are led by the Holy Spirit. Proverbs 18:15, The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge,
    for the ears of the wise seek it out.

4. Full of Love: Our Heavenly Father loves us so much that He gave up His only Son as sacrifice to pay for our sins. The Son prayed for forgiveness for those who crucified Him at the time of His crucifixion. The Lord taught us to pray for the enemies and to love them. Holy Stephen too followed the path of the Lord. He prayed for those who were stoning Him, Acts 7:60, 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.

1 Corinthians 13:2-7, If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

People like Stephen are lost in families, society and parishes today. Due to this people are not being used with divine grace. This is true since even after 2000 years of Christ’s crucifixion, there are millions who are still unaware of His mercy, Grace and Salvation.

Before the coming of the Messiah, John the Baptist paved way to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. He gave up his life for the truth. Stephen was also martyred for the truth. One who has dedicated himself/herself can only prepare others for the Lord. This was made possible by the strength they received from the Holy Spirit. Acts 7:55, 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.

May the Lord strengthen and bless many with the Holy Spirit before the Second Coming of the Lord. May several be prepared for the Lord.

AMEN

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