April 12, 2016 – Tuesday in the 3rd Week of Easter

Saint for the day: Gregory of Narek (950-1003)


Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

Acts 7:51 – 8:1     –    Psalm 31   –   John 6:30-35

“Sing praise to our God, all you who fear God, … for salvation and strength have come, and the power of his Christ, Alleluia! (Today’s Entrance Antiphon: Revelation 19:5; 12;10) 

We are fortunate to be a part of a Church that had God-fearing people who were careful to record most of the events that happened to Jesus and the early believers. Their writings give us so much encouragement because they were able to see that Jesus and the other earlier followers, like Stephen, were connected to something that was much bigger than any of them individually on their own. Last Sunday, we heard the Holy Gospel account of the Resurrected Jesus giving Peter a chance to make up for his triple denial of Jesus in the courtyard of the house of the High Priest. Today, we are given the account of the martyrdom of Stephen whose connection to Jesus must have been strong enough for him to be able to look directly into heaven and see the resurrected Jesus at the right hand of God the Father. I think that when St. Catherine of Siena said, “It’s Heaven all the way to Heaven” this is what she meant. And Stephen gives us another way to understand this. The saints aren’t made saints just by some decree of the Pope. All the Church does is look at the daily life of a person who claimed to be following Jesus to see what that meant. The scriptural account of Stephen’s death as recorded in the book of the Acts is unique in that the bystanders could hear him speaking of what he was seeing: “… the heaven’s opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God! But it was more than they could deal with and they even closed their ears so they wouldn’t have to listen to what they could not see or understand. Then, Stephen, already having been stoned to the brink of death, is still able to make his final act of faith, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” before he falls to the ground he says, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them;” and when he had said this he fell asleep.”

Most of us won’t be called to such a dramatic death but we will all, one day or another, get to that point of transition where we will only be able to make that like Stephen if we have a deep trust and awareness of God’s infinite mercy and forgiveness. We have to have lived a life of “doing for others” in order to hear Jesus saying, “For when I was hungry (or thirsty, or homeless, or sick, etc.) you took care of me.” And we all know the other part of that quote: “… when you did if for one of these least ones you did it for me.” If we have tried our best to be sensitive to God’s presence in others it will just be an almost unrecognizable easy step into heaven. That, I think, is what St. Catherine meant when she said, “It’s heaven all the way to heaven!” Amen

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *