Acts 7: Stephen. the first martyr The theme ot the Acts of the Apostles is that the Church carries on in the world the work done by Christ during his ministry; it lives out the life of Christ. The Disciples preach his message, continue his healing by their own miracles and witness to his risen life by the work of the Spirit in them.
But they also imitate him and witness to him in death, and the death of Stephen, the first martyr, mirrors that of Jesus in several ways.
As Jesus at his trial told the Sanhedrin that they would see the Son of Man, so Stephen tells them that he now sees the Son of Man. As Jesus (in Luke alone) prays for the forgiveness of his executioners, so Stephen here.
Finally, as Jesus commends his soul to God his Father in the words of the psalm, so Stephen with the same allusion commends his spirit
to the Lord Jesus. this is one of the strongest -implicit indications that Jesus is already considered as God, and that "Lord" is here meant strictly in the divine sense.
There is a valuable lesson here not only for the death of martyrs but for all Christian death. As Christians we die with Christ, completing the death with him which we have already died with hint at Baptism. Only by so doing can we join hint in his Resurrection as Lord, at the right hand of God. It is only the process of dying which has its fears; death itself must be a joyful fleeting.
(Acts 7: 55-60) Apocalypse 22: Come, Lord Jesus This final reading from the Apocalypse continues the mood of joyful tranquility in waiting ardently for the end, and for the meeting with Jesus. The final cry of the Apocalypse, and so of the whole Bible is "Come, Lord Jesus."
This is wiy of the very I ew key words preserved in Jesus' original language of Aramaic, embedded in the Greek New Testament as "Maranatha" almost as a magical formula, just as the Aramaic Abba, "Father," is preserved as a reassurance of the unheard-of intimacy of the Christian with the Father.
This longing of the early Christians for the coming of Christ, intensified in times of persecution, prevented them from becoming absorbed in the standards and successes and values of the world around them: they were a people bent on fulfilment of the Covenant.
(Apoc 22: 12-14,16-17,20) John 17: Christ's last prayer: Unity There are some strange leaps of thought in this prayer of Jesus: how can the unity of his followers be a proof that he was sent by God? How is the presence of love among them u related to Christ's work of revealing the Father?
Christ reveals his Father only in so far as he lives in his power, and we accept this revelation and become his followers only in so far as we live in this power. This is to know God not merely intellectually but in a deeper and more fundamental way which embraces the whole being.
, But the power of God is one, and unless all Christ's followers are at one in love we cannot show God's one power. Christ made this his last prayer before the Passion; the Church puts it as the last words of Christ before his Ascension. We must listen in the resolve to heal the continuing scandal of disunity of Christ. (Jn 17: 20-26)
Henry Wansbrough, OSB