Stephen is a simple man with real fears and doubts, living in a specific historical context, who responds to the events of his life with faith, love, and compassion. Stephen’s life and example remind us that even the most challenging circumstances do not have the final word on who we are.
Like Stephen, each of us is called to be a “spiritual house,” a temple of the Holy Spirit, a living stone upon which the kingdom of God is built. This does not mean that we have to seek martyrdom or perform any extraordinary acts of faith. When we ache to fulfill some grand life mission, we fail to see the sacred unfolding of our lives in daily, simple, quiet, humble acts of service, love, and kindness. From where we stand, we may find it hard to see the impact and the significance of our own lives because we are not the Master Builder. But our limited vision does not diminish the value of our life.
Whether we realize it or not, we live in a delicate web of relationships and decisions that affect the whole of humanity. The lives of the martyrs and saints mattered then, they matter now, and they will matter tomorrow, as does our own life. When we open ourselves to God’s grace, we can begin to awaken to this different way of seeing and being in the world. These verses remind us that we have an important place in the building of God’s kingdom, and they call us to awaken to the significance and sacredness of our own life.
Lord, help me to live my life awake. Help me to see the value, dignity, and worth of my life and the lives of those around me. Grant me the courage to choose love and compassion in my current circumstances. Amen.
The first three readings for the week contain variations on the imagery of stones or rocks. In Acts, Stephen is killed as the first Christian martyr by being stoned to death, while Saul (Paul) stands by and approves. The psalmist proclaims his confidence in the Lord, whom he describes as his rock and fortress. Peter tells the believers that they have become living stones in the household of God because of their connection to the chief Cornerstone, Christ. In John, Jesus makes an explicit claim to being the only way to God. In our current cultural context, many wonder about the spiritual status of followers of other religions. Jesus’ statement in John 14:6 invites us to deep reflection on this important question.
Read Acts 7:55-60. Recall a time when you have seen God’s power in action. How was God’s power different than you might have expected?
Read Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16. Contemplate your answers to the author’s questions. How do the psalmist’s hope and experiences reflect your own?
Read 1 Peter 2:2-10. When have you experienced God as a loving Mother? When has Christ been your cornerstone?
Read John 14:1-14. How do you experience God’s presence through the life or actions of others?
Respond by posting a prayer.