Can you imagine being a disciple of Christ at the time of Saint Stephen’s martyrdom? I have a hard time holding it together with life’s daily frustrations . . . but to be alive in the time of the very early Church? They were dealing with life and death. Acts 8 tells us that a severe persecution broke out after the death of Stephen and the Apostles scattered.
I can just see my family looking at one another and deciding it was time to flee. Persecution isn’t something you generally stick around for. I would like to say I would have the courage to wear my cross proudly, but I am not sure I would.
The Apostles not only continued to preach the word, they proclaimed the Messiah. Proclaimed. Have I EVER proclaimed the Messiah?
I will admit the secular world loves to take pot-shots at us crazy Catholics and there are legal battles being fought over religious liberties. But in the United States our very lives are not being threatened. And yet many of us keep our crosses hidden as if peril was around ever corner. We choose to remain silent when others criticize our faith, lest we make someone uncomfortable by our response.
A few weeks ago, I was that silent one. At our neighborhood book club, two of the members got on a rant about the Church—I just let them vent. I was so concerned about not appearing defensive and complacent about past problems in our church that I remained silent. And I left feeling miserable. Really miserable.
At the end of the First Reading is the conclusion “there was a great joy in that city” after the Apostles had come to proclaim the Messiah and great miracles were preformed. (Acts 8:8) What joy could we spread if we proclaimed the Messiah and let the Lord work His miracles today in our everyday lives? If I had spoken up, could I have worked alongside God's grace to soften hearts that night? If I had trusted a little more in God’s love and protection would I have heard inspiration from the Holy Spirit? Would I have walked home that night filled with joy instead of misery?
We are His present-day Apostles. How can you proclaim the Messiah today in what you say or what you do?
Dr. MaryRuth Hackett is Director of Operations for Blessed is She. She loves historical fiction, dark chocolate, watching her children play soccer, a good cup of coffee (decaf please) and the quiet of the early morning. She holds a PhD in Educational Psychology and has a passion for helping parents understand the way their children grow and develop. You can find out more about her here.