Monday of the Third Week of Easter
(Acts 6:8-15; John 6:22-29)
Saints Peter and Paul seem to dominate the Acts of the Apostles. Yet the story is not primarily about them. Much less does is it dominated by the work of the apostles as a whole. Above all, the Acts of the Apostles features the Holy Spirit. The one whom is to be called the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity is at work throughout the story. He develops the Christian community and moves its center from Jerusalem. The Spirit, not Paul or chance, brings the gospel to Rome. From there it will be dispersed throughout the world.
Stephen has been chosen for the work of the apostles precisely because he has the Spirit. Jesus once promised that the Spirit will enable his disciples to defend themselves (Luke 12:12). In today’s passage the Spirit is seen performing this task. Stephen’s preaching with the Spirit surpasses the arguments of his interlocutors. Resenting his mastery, the defeated debaters go to the authorities to silence Stephen. The Spirit does not spare Stephen martyrdom, but he gives him an unparalleled countenance. No other person in Scripture is said to have “the face of an angel.”
We have received the same Spirit. He moves us to speak the truth to power and to recognize our own falsities. The Spirit, most of all, enables us to make sacrifices for the benefit of others out of love. In doing the latter, we too will have - to some extent at least - “the face of an angel.”