Today is the Feast of St. Stephen and for me, a deacon, it is a special feast day. I make sure to read his account in the Acts of the Apostles. Quite a heroic ‘play’, Stephen out-argues the established intelligentsia, doesn’t fear the outcome (death) and proclaims great words. Usually when I am done I reflect on what he did and whether I could do the same, then I pray for the strength that he had.
All of this is good. But this year I am struck by the idea that his great acts weren’t things he all-of-a-sudden did; his actions are really the result of how he lived his life. That he fearlessly held to the truth regardless of the outcome was the result of his firm understanding of the truth and that God was with him always. His, ability to pray for those who gave false witness and those who stoned him wasn’t some great feat of will that he had to dig deep for but came from the daily love of neighbor that he had. These events in his life were not some heroic self-sacrifice that he rose to, but was the result of another sacrifice that he knew was for him. He was a loving servant of Christ!
C.S. Lewis wrote: ‘Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.’ Brothers and sisters, this is the paradigm of a Christian, we recognize the truth of Jesus Christ in which contains the knowledge that Jesus is within everyone. When we can obtain this paradigm then those ‘great acts of heroism’ we are called to are actually just living our life as always.
St. Stephen pray for us.
 C.S. Lewis, ‘The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses’