Sunday, December 26, 2010

St. Stephen's Christ-like Holiness

Happy Feast of St. Stephen! Since Stephen is one of my favorite saints I couldn't let the day go by without posting something in his honor. In fact, we named our second son after him: Matthew Stephen. This is from my earlier series of posts (Part 1Part 2, Part 3) on the book of Acts:
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One of the most striking similarities between the narrative of Luke and the story of Acts is found in the account of what happens to one of the seven deacons appointed by the apostles, St. Stephen. Jesus had been arrested, made to stand trial, and was questioned by the high priest. He was accused by false witnesses who claimed that he had said he would destroy the temple. In then end, Jesus was of course executed. All of this also occurs to Stephen who is arrested, made to stand before the council, accused by false witnesses of claiming Jesus would destroy the temple, questioned by the high priest, and executed.

The climactic moment of Jesus’ trial comes as Jesus tells the high priest he will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven and reveals his identity as the Son of God (Luke 22:69–70). After this he is condemned to death (Luke 22:71). Likewise, Stephen’s trial climaxes with his statement: “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56). After this, he is killed.

Moreover, Stephen is even described like Jesus in death. Just before dying Jesus prays, “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit!” (Luke 23:46). Stephen likewise prays, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (Acts 7:59). Moreover, when Jesus is crucified he prays, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Similarly, Stephen prays for his accusers: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” (Acts 7:60). In fact, here I have to mention St. Augustine’s line: “Had Stephen not prayed, the Church today would have no Paul” (Sermon on the Nativity of St. Stephen 6, 5).

5 comments:

Nick said...

Saint Stephan is the proto-martyr, just as Emperor Nero is the proto-antichrist and Genesis 3:16 is the proto-evangelium.

Nick said...

3:15*

Victor said...

We're still waiting for Part 4 of the Acts series!

John said...

You wonder why trinitarians are accused of polytheism? Just look at that painting. Wow! It's hard to imagine anyone really thinks that's what Stephen saw, and it's even harder to think that such learned men as yourself aren't more careful to propogate such an error. :(

Psuedonym said...

My favorite painting of St. Stephen is by Peter Paul Ruebens, but just like that one, you see the crown of marytyrdom already awaiting for him in Heaven.

FUN FACT: Stephen comes from the the Greek word Stephanous which means "crown".