Like Jesus, Stephen was offering an opportunity for spiritual renewal within the faith of the people of Israel. But the guardians of the faith refused to listen to him: “they covered their ears and ...rushed together against him”. Sadly this difference of opinion led to Steven’s death.
This seems to be a recurring pattern in human history. All too often differences of religious belief result in violence, bloodshed, and even death. A close study of each of these Abrahamic religions will show that at their core they teach love and respect. However, followers of these faiths have perverted their beliefs into the language of war. Christians lead crusades against infidels and heretics, Muslims declare jihad against the kafir, and Jews persecute the pagan gentiles who are called acum.
When you and I are tempted to insult someone of a different faith, let us remember St. Stephen, who was killed because he dared to believe something different. I follow the Jesus-way of peace, which includes giving space to other people to practice their faith in ways that are different from mine. The challenge for today is to commit myself to respecting Muslim and Jew, Heretic, Agnostic and Athiest, as part of my human family.
Fourth Sunday after Trinity35 The Cost of Servanthood
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Reuben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 219.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day.