There broke out a severe persecution of the Church in Jerusalem,
and all were scattered
throughout the countryside of Judea and Samaria,
except the Apostles.
Devout men buried Stephen and made a loud lament over him.
Saul, meanwhile, was trying to destroy the Church;
entering house after house and dragging out men and women,
he handed them over for imprisonment.
Now those who had been scattered went about preaching the word.
Thus Philip went down to the city of Samaria
and proclaimed the Christ to them.
With one accord, the crowds paid attention to what was said by Philip
when they heard it and saw the signs he was doing.
For unclean spirits, crying out in a loud voice,
came out of many possessed people,
and many paralyzed and crippled people were cured.
There was great joy in that city.
As I pray with this reading from the Acts of Apostles today, I am struck by how complacent we have become in recent times. Stephen gave everything for the sake of Christ. He was buried by “devout men” and they cried over his grave. Then Philip went to the town of Samaria preaching the name of Jesus Christ. “There was great joy in that city.”
In some ways, today we wait for people to come to the Church. We have lost much of the fire that inspired the first apostles who were sent into towns to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ. The Lord is inspiring many young people today to be modern-day apostles. It is an exciting time to be Catholic because there is so much to do. We hear statistics in many places around the world that so very few people are attending Mass. God has become irrelevant in many peoples’ lives.
We have our work cut out for us. God is calling each one of us to be His voice in a darkened world. We are called to be like St. Stephen and St. Philip and St. Paul. But before we can go out and preach, we need to get to know this person of Jesus Christ. Our hearts need to be enflamed with His love and mercy. We need to be convinced that He is the Son of God, who came to this world, suffered, died and rose again. We need to experience the risen Christ in our own hearts to such a degree that we want every person in the world to have the same experience of salvation.
St. Paul went from being a Christian-killer to a great evangelist because his heart was transformed by the love and mercy of Jesus Christ.
Has my heart been captured by Christ?
Do I hear the voice of calling me to spread the Good News?
Am I ready to give everything for the Lord, even my very life blood?
St. Stephen, pray for us.
St. Paul, pray for us.
St. Philip, pray for us.