Feast of Saint Stephen, first martyr
“As they were stoning Stephen, he called out ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’” (Acts 7:59)
Jesus said to the disciples: “You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 10:22)
Jesus, let me sing your song of resurrection and redemption until the time comes for you to receive my spirit.
The feast of the first martyr. A stoning. Jesus telling his disciples that children will have their parents put to death and fathers will hand over children.
Not exactly cheery material in the readings for the day after Christmas, is it?
And yet, there is hope. Stephen cries out to Jesus, strong to the end. And Christ promises us that if we endure all of this hatred and physical suffering, we will be saved. But ah, the getting there, that can be the difficult part.
You probably get a lot of those often cute and sometimes thoughtful e-mails you’re supposed to forward to ten of your friends. Heck, I’ve received some from Cursillistas who subscribe to the Tripod, and sent them on to some of you too. But the e-mail I received on Christmas Eve that spoke to this concept came from Shirley Stevens, a friend and well-known
Shirley sent on a meditation from Confronting Power and Sex in the Catholic Church: Reclaiming the Spirit of Jesus, a book by
This particular meditation speaks of the “song” of Jesus:
For in everything he did and in everything he said, Jesus Christ sang a song. Sometimes, when he cured a sick person, he sang softly and gently, a song full of love. Sometimes, when he told one of his beautiful stories, he sang a haunting melody, the kind of melody that, once heard, is never forgotten, the sort of melody you hum throughout the day without even knowing that you are doing it. Sometimes, when he defended the rights of the poor, his voice grew strong and powerful, until finally, from the cross, he sang so powerfully that his voice filled the universe.
Bishop Robinson goes on to describe how the song has been passed on through the ages and is now with us:
We must always remember that this song has two special characteristics. The first is that we…sing it badly, but if we sing it to the best of our ability, people do not hear only our voices. Behind us and through us they hear a stronger and surer voice of Jesus. The second is that we always sing it better when we learn to sing it together…all singing the one song in harmony, for it is still the most beautiful song the world has ever known. Compared to this song, there is little else that is of great importance.
Saint Stephen was singing the song as he was stoned. We sing the song every time we help someone in need, make a sacrifice, or attend an Ultreya. It is this song, this belief that will help us endure to the end.
How will you sing the song in the coming year? As a diva? In harmony? Resolve to remember that when you follow Christ, you are always in tune.