peace on a roller coaster
"Throughout, Stephen's face seemed like that of an angel." —Acts 6:15
As the early Church received grace after grace, it received suffering after suffering. The first people to receive the Holy Spirit at Pentecost were falsely accused of being drunk (Acts 2:13). They were not stopped by this injustice, and three thousand were baptized that day (Acts 2:41). After Peter and John healed the man born lame, they led thousands more to Christ (Acts 4:4). Then the Church suffered the arrest of Peter and John (Acts 4:3). After they were released, "through the hands of the apostles, many signs and wonders occurred among the people" (Acts 5:12). Next, all the apostles suffered by being arrested, threatened, and beaten (Acts 5:40). "As the number of disciples grew," there was a serious disagreement between the Jewish Christians and the Gentile Christians (Acts 6:1ff). The first deacons dealt with that problem. After this series of sufferings, the number of the disciples "enormously increased" (Acts 6:7). The Church's next suffering was the martyrdom of Stephen (Acts 7:60).
Luke's insight into the attitude of the Church towards all these sufferings may be expressed when he commented: "Throughout, Stephen's face seemed like that of an angel" (Acts 6:15). In other words, "the Church was at peace" (Acts 9:31). The first word the risen Christ said and says is: "Peace" (Mt 28:9; Jn 20:19, 21).
Prayer: Father, give me the peace "beyond all understanding" (Phil 4:7).
Promise: "This is the work of God: have faith in the One Whom He sent." —Jn 6:29
Praise: Pope St. Pius V accepted his vocational call to priesthood at age fourteen and became one of the most important popes of the Counter-Reformation.
Nihil Obstat: Reverend Ralph J. Lawrence, December 9, 2000
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, December 12, 2000