Be on your guard with people, for they will hand you over to their courts, and they will ﬂog you in their synagogues. You will be brought to trial before rulers and kings because of me, so that you may witness to them and the pagans.
But when you are arrested, do not worry about what you are to say, or how you are to say it; when the hour comes, you will be given what you are to say. For it will not be you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father, speaking through you.
Brother will hand over his brother to death, and a father his child; children will turn against their parents and have them put to death. Everyone will hate you because of me, but whoever stands ﬁrm to the end will be saved.
In Stephen we focus the fulfillment of the promise of Christ. In the Gospel we read: “Do not worry about how to speak… 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,” and this was exactly the case of Stephen.
We don’t know anything about Stephen’s studies, but evidently he mastered Scriptures. In a short time after the Paschal Mystery he was able to summarize the history of Israel and interpret it in the light of Jesus Christ. Certainly he was supported by the Holy Spirit; his face looked like the face of an angel.
He was aware of the risk of his preaching, but was filled with wisdom and strength, and was encouraged by the vision of Jesus in glory. Paul, the witness of his death, will benefit from a similar vision later.
Stephen’s death is a perfect copy of Jesus’. He entrusts his soul in the hands of God and dies asking for pardon for his murderers.
Our time is particularly fecund in martyrdoms with the same Spirit’s grace. Isn’t this a proof of the incredible presence of Christ among us?
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