This weekend our first reading is from the Book of Acts and it is all about Stephen the martyr. The story which we have today is about the last hours of the life of Stephen. The entire Chapter 7 is about Stephen, but at this Mass we read just a brief section from its end. The speech which is given early in the chapter is created by the followers of Stephen who want to give witness and testimony about Jesus, in a sense; they are the words of Stephen. Notice in the story that the death of Stephen is matched up with references to the Life and Death of Jesus.
We consider Stephen the first recorded martyr of our faith. His life follows the template of the life of Jesus. For your understanding of the story of Stephen, it is important to know at this point that Saint Paul is persecuting Christians and has not yet come to believe and be named Paul.
In our reading from the Book of Revelation, the six visions which have been taking place finally reach a conclusion. We have been reading from Revelations for six weeks and we are now familiar with the words and images of the Book. The images echo our Easter Vigil Mass with the words of “the Alpha and Omega”, the words “the morning star shining bright” are lines from the great Easter hymn of the Exultet. The words are about Christ who comes back from the dead and shines His peaceful light. The passage is about a vision of fullness and completeness. This is clearly about a promise of eternal life, to which the Seer John responds and says, “Amen.” thus most appropriately the Book of Revelation ends with the cry and prayer “Come, Lord Jesus!”
Notice in our Gospel how the very prayer of Jesus looks far into the future, further than the immediate times, beyond the apostles who are with Him and even over the centuries and now down to us. All the apostles are prayed for in the gospel of today. Christ seeks our unity in love that we might dwell in Jesus as God dwells in Him. This is the request of Jesus to His Father.
Jesus directly asked for this. It is clear that He did so. We are used to reading or listening to the Gospel stories as observers who see other people in a bygone time doing things that sometimes are quaint or different. We see that everything in the Gospels happened to them way back in time and not to us in today’s time. Today’s gospel tells us that Jesus prayed for us back then. This certainly is stunning and makes us pause. In this act of praying for us, Jesus places Himself right in front of us today and at this very moment. We get to witness Jesus in prayer and also hear His prayer.
Our personal prayer is often our deepest and most profound prayer. It reveals the depths of our hearts. Note that the personal prayer of Jesus reveals that His heart is all about us. We need to remember in our daily lives that we are deep in the heart of Jesus and need only to call out to Him in prayer for His help.
Fr. BrianBACK TO LIST