I was reflecting on my name Stefan Paul, and the relationship between the two men in scripture. We read in the first reading, “Stephen, filled with grace and power was working great wonders and signs among the people…But they threw him out of the city, and began to stone him. The witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet if a young man named Saul. As they were stoning Stephen, he called out, ‘Lord Jesus. receive my spirit.'”
Saul ordered the death of Stephen. However, Saul must have been moved by the holiness of this man. Stephen prayed for Saul, “And he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord do not hold this sin against them.'”
Whenever there is a conversion there is someone praying. It is not hard to imagine that Saul’s conversion came through the prayers of Saint Stephen. Saul who hated Paul, now rejoices with him in heaven.
We read this morning in the Liturgy of the Hours for Saint Stephen, “Now at last, Paul rejoices with Stephen he delights in the glory of Christ, with Stephen he exults, with Stephen he reigns. Stephen went first, slain by the stone thrown by Paul, but Paul followed after, helped by the prayers of Stephen. This surely, is the true life, my brothers, a life in which Paul feels no shame because of Stephen’s death, and Stephen delights in Paul’s companionship, for love fills them both with joy.”
In closing, here is a Novena that I wrote in honor of Saint Stephen.
Stephen, filled with grace and power, was working great wonders and signs among the people. Certain members of the so-called Synagogue of Freedman, Cyrenians, and Alexandrians and people from Cilicia and Asia, came forward and debated with Stephen, but they could not withstand the wisdom and spirit with which he spoke.(Act 6:8-10)
Saint Stephen, you who worked great wonders and signs I place this intention into your hands.
Matthew says, For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of the Father speaking through you. (Mat 10:20)