Stephen's fearless witness to Christ even in the face of death speaks volumes about the power of the Holy Spirit sent by the Father and Jesus after the Resurrection, "Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and Stephen said, 'Behold, I see the heavens opened and the son of Man standing at the right hand of God.'"
Sometimes we Christians forget that during the Easter season we celebrate not only Jesus' Resurrection but also our own rebirth -- our redemption -- through the life of the Holy Spirit sent by Jesus and the Father. Paul calls this life a "new creation" and John talks about "being born again."
Surely at Easter we do celebrate Jesus' personal triumph over suffering and death. Because of his obedience the Father raised him from the dead and exalted him to His right hand. During Eastertide we rejoice with the resurrected Jesus.
But equally we celebrate the effects of Jesus' sacrifice for us -- the sending of the Spirit making us members of the Body of Christ on earth and giving us the promise of eternal life with God after death. Jesus is the first-born from the dead; we also will be reborn into the glory of heaven. During Eastertide we rejoice in our assurance of eternal life.
And equally we celebrate the effects of Jesus' redemption present even now in our everyday lives. For in baptism we become members of the Body of Christ alive with a new dimension of life -- the life of the the Spirit of God poured into our hearts.
Today in the Acts of the Apostles we witness how this power transforms Stephen. Stephen -- filled with the Holy Spirit -- audaciously confronts his persecutors and becomes the first disciple to witness to Christ by his death.
And recently the whole Church -- indeed the whole world -- has been celebrating how this power transformed our beloved Pope John Paul II. Indeed through the power of the Spirit our pope has been not only in name but also in fact for our Church and our world the Vicar of Christ on earth.
And this Eastertide let's not forget to celebrate how this power is transforming us daily. We have the same Spirit and the same power in our hearts as Stephen and John Paul II. By our response to the Holy Spirit we also become Christ's presence to our world and fulfill the call of Jesus to become salt of the earth and light to the world.
"This is the day the Lord has made. Let us be glad and rejoice in it!"
Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook