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Today is December 26th, the Feast of Saint Stephen, and so I’m celebrating my Name Day. Here (Acts 6:1) you can read how Stephen was chosen as one of the first deacons of the early Church, to assist the Apostles in their work within the community of disciples. Before the people and the court, Stephen gave a brave discourse on the history and stubbornness of  the Jewish people to see and accept the presence of the Holy Spirit among them.
We know from Scripture, that one of persecutors of Saint Stephen was Saul, who would later be known as Saint Paul.
The power of the Holy Spirit passed from the Apostles to Stephen by the laying on of hands when he was made a deacon. He died at the hands of the mob, his eyes courageously fixed on God and a prayer of happy forgiveness on his lips. Round One: During a time of persecution, two Spanish bishops lapsed in their faith and offered sacrifice to the pagan gods.
Round Two: The bishops of Gaul (France) were up in arms regarding the views of Bishop Marcian of Arles. Round Three: The issue was the validity of the baptisms of those who were baptized by heretics or schismatics. The tension regarding this issue was increasing to the point of producing a crisis in the unity of the Church.
One historical feature is the centrality of Rome as the arbiter of disputes and the primary authority in the Church. You can also read here (Acts 6:8) how Stephen was debated by some of the people in the outer community, falsely accused and eventually brought before the Sanhedrin (the local Jewish court responsible for religious matters), accused of blasphemy. Gregory Gier, rector of Tulsa’s Holy Family Cathedral, made some very interesting points about why Saint Stephen, besides the fact of his martyrdom, is important to the history of the Church. Paul Outside the Walls is one of my favorite places to visit because, with that side chapel of Saint Stephen, you are constantly reminded of the role that he played in Saint Paul’s life and how any life can be redeemed and converted by the Holy Spirit. Stephen is one of my favorites these days because of how he helped to take care of the widows when they were being ignored and marginalized in the new Christian community. Stephen, we see that Our Lord Jesus Christ does great things through His saints and servants, who love Him and serve Him with all their hearts and with all their strength and ability.
Stephen rebuked them for this saying to them, “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! Stephen used the same manner of speech when he rebuked the scribes and high priest, and maybe this is why they hated him more and only wished to lay their hands on him and murder him. Stephen many things and understand that Our Lord Jesus Christ gives us His Holy Spirit in the time of our need and in the time of our hardship He comforts us and sends the Spirit of Comfort!

Stephen the Martyr. Stephen was chosen by the Apostles as the first of seven deacons, and he became the first Christian martyr. Stephen I (254-257) – The reign of Pope Stephen may be characterized as a fight of three rounds.
The two remorseful bishops went before Pope Stephen in Rome and begged to he restored to the bishoprics. The bishops protested against Bishop Marcian's adoption of the antipope Novatian's rigorist view of refusing to reconcile lapsed Catholic even upon their deathbeds. Cyprian and the North African churches generally favored declaring the baptisms to be invalid. If I have kids, I hope I’ll remember to celebrate all their Name Days and Baptism Anniversaries and Communion Anniversaries, and all that. His life is very unique and it shows us how we should be as Christians, and how our lives will be filled with joy and peace when we know God.
For even when he was brought up to the high priest he rebuked them with love and also with strength and courage, because he was filled with the Holy Spirit.
This is why he received the crown of Martyrdom and why he became the first Marty in the Christian faith. He was a man filled with faith and the Holy Spirit, who worked miracles among the people, bringing many to join the followers of Jesus (Acts 6-7).
Pope Stephen backed by the tradition of the Church of Rome and a number of the Eastern church communities held that the baptisms were valid and readmission into communion with the Catholic Church would require absolution and not a rebaptism. By now you are probably saying to yourselves, “but isn’t this all saints,” well in generalization about saints, yes, however this saint is different. I’m sure if we were able to ask him “what did you say that even these people who disputed against you couldn’t speak?” he would reply saying, “I’m not the one who spoke, but it was Christ and the Holy Spirit that spoke through me and for me.” Remember the verse, “But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. But these men who persecuted and charged Stephen with false accusations, didn’t know the Holy Spirit or the Power of the Holy Spirit. Let us then end this journey my beloved by reading about his martyrdom and what he felt, and what he said, and what he did even during the time he was being stoned and killed. Truly we can learn from his life story and learn to be like him; patient, wise, filled with the Holy Spirit and the love of God, and faith and total trust in God.
Stephen and the faith he had and the wisdom and love he had for his service, and for those around him!
Their churches in Spain appealed the decision to Cyprian ho convened a local council of North African bishops. His story is written, even in the Bible and documented in the Book of Acts and the Synaxarium of the Church.

Let us ask God to keep us, comfort us, strengthen us, and grant His grace and His Spirit of Comfort, to comfort us throughout all times in our lives and to keep His land of Egypt safe and guarded by the Holy Spirit. Then, like his Lord Jesus, Stephen was falsely accused of blasphemy and brought before the Sanhedrin. The bishops disagreed with Pope Stephen, but excused his decision because of the superficial knowledge of the case that the pope possessed. The Gallic bishops appealed to Cyprian who urged Pope Stephen to remove Bishop Marcian and set the process in motion of electing his replacement. In fact he was and even in the beginning of his service he was hated for who he was and what he said. Stephen was comforted by this saying and had his faith in God and didn’t fear these evil men. Before his accusers, Stephen spoke eloquently, recalling that God had guided Israel’s history, even despite its disobedience and idolatry.
But lets continue reading about his story and just see how amazing this young man truly is!
Simply put, he is rebuking these priests and scribes because they do not know God or the power of God or the Holy Spirit. Stephen takes place when the number of the disciples was multiplying and they chose him to serve. We can then remember the words Our Lord Jesus Christ said when He was rebuking the Scribes and Pharisees.
In the current events in Egypt, let us not say “I wish I can go to Egypt and fight the enemies and give them a taste of their own medicine.” Let us not have hate for our enemies, but let us have love.
For you are like whitewashed tombs, which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.
Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
Stephen, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin!” Let us always remember to love our enemies, pray for those who persecute us, and bless those who curse us. Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.’ “Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.

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