"Those who listened to his words were stung to the heart." —Acts 7:54
Stephen was an in-your-face, confrontational preacher. He called his Jewish listeners "stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears" (Acts 7:51). Stephen challenged the people by accusing them and even their fathers of always resisting the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:51). He called them "betrayers and murderers" (Acts 7:52). It's no wonder that Stephen became the first martyr.
Stephen was not only confrontational but also forgiving. Like Jesus, he loved and forgave those who murdered him. He prayed: "Lord, do not hold this sin against them" (Acts 7:60).
To love like Jesus, we need to love people enough to challenge them to repentance. Yet we should never challenge them without love. Christians specialize in "tough love" — not in being tough, and not in the fake love of permissiveness, but in love based on the toughness of truth. Like Jesus and Stephen, we should confront people so that we are in danger of being crucified if they do not accept our invitation to give their lives to the crucified Lord.
Do and speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15). Love even though it hurts. Be like Jesus Who loves us so much that He confronts us in the Incarnation and the Crucifixion.
Prayer: Risen Jesus, You are the Truth (Jn 14:6) and You are Love (1 Jn 4:16). Give me truth-love.
Promise: "I Myself am the Bread of Life. No one who comes to Me shall ever be hungry, no one who believes in Me shall ever thirst." —Jn 6:35
Praise: Peter's reward for healing the sick of the island of Futuna and learning its language was to be clubbed to death as a martyr of Christ and to gain eternal life on high with Jesus.
Nihil obstat: Reverend Robert L. Hagedorn, July 26, 1997
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, July 29, 1997
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