"Those who listened to his words were stung to the heart." —Acts 7:54
St. 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.
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: Father Ron has a marvelous sense of humor, and he uses that gift openly to attract people to the love and warmth of Jesus.
Reference: (For related teaching, order our booklet, The Truth Will Set You Free.)
Rescript: †Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, October 30, 2013
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