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Don’t Pull a Peter. Be a Stephen.

First Reading: Romans 4:13, 16-18

Brothers and sisters:
It was not through the law
that the promise was made to Abraham and his descendants
that he would inherit the world,
but through the righteousness that comes from faith.
For this reason, it depends on faith,
so that it may be a gift,
and the promise may be guaranteed to all his descendants,
not to those who only adhere to the law
but to those who follow the faith of Abraham,
who is the father of all of us, as it is written,
I have made you father of many nations.
He is our father in the sight of God,
in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead
and calls into being what does not exist.
He believed, hoping against hope,
that he would become the father of many nations,
according to what was said, Thus shall your descendants be.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 105:6-7, 8-9, 42-43

R. (8a) The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.

You descendants of Abraham, his servants,
sons of Jacob, his chosen ones!
He, the LORD, is our God;
throughout the earth his judgments prevail.

R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.

He remembers forever his covenant
which he made binding for a thousand generations –
Which he entered into with Abraham
and by his oath to Isaac.

R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.

For he remembered his holy word
to his servant Abraham.
And he led forth his people with joy;
with shouts of joy, his chosen ones.

R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.

Gospel: Luke 12:8-12

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I tell you,
everyone who acknowledges me before others
the Son of Man will acknowledge before the angels of God.
But whoever denies me before others
will be denied before the angels of God.

“Everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven,
but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit
will not be forgiven.
When they take you before synagogues and before rulers and authorities,
do not worry about how or what your defense will be
or about what you are to say.
For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you should say.”

NAB

oct 17

Does anybody else shift a little uneasily at Jesus’ words in the Gospel today? You too? Oh good I am not the only one! It’s like when one of your parents gives you “the look” when you’re out in public as a little child, but you still are trying to pretend it was not meant for you. I got that look a lot growing up. (WINK)

Even though it does make me feel highly uncomfortable, deep down I know Jesus is talking to me . . . to each of us.

What does it look like to deny Jesus before others? It can be anything, but deep down if we are honest, we all have. Sometimes it happens so quickly and with such ease I don’t even notice it. Whether it’s not speaking up when someone is criticizing something about Church teaching or not quietly saying grace for fear of being labeled “the religious freak.” Even when I pull a Saint Peter and deny Jesus, I know deep down I want to live a different way.

When I am fully relying and trusting the Holy Spirit, there is less room for me to be like Saint Peter but rather more like Stephen. I always think of Saint Stephen’s martyrdom whenever I hear these words of the second part of today’s Gospel reading: “Do not worry about how or what your defense will be or about what you are to say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you at the moment what you should say.” 

Like Saint Peter, we struggle in denying Jesus because we are so self-reliant on ourselves instead of being totally dependent on the Holy Spirit like Saint Stephen did. When we trust the Spirit more and ourselves less, we allow God to grow more deeply in each of us.

Are there areas of your life right now wherein you are too self-reliant and not fully relying on the Spirit? What would it would look like in your life right now to trust the Spirit more and yourself less? Really think about it. Look up and pray from your heart today the Veni Creator Spiritus prayer. Ask the Spirit for more trust and less of you.

photo by Sara Miller

Patty Hubbard is a wife, writer, and youth minister. When not fundraising for World Youth Day, she is learning to cook more than your average Lean Cuisine and training for her first half marathon. You can find out more about her here.

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