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The Everyday Prayer

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Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Memorial of Saint Stanislaw, bishop of Krakow and martyr (+1071). He defended the poor, the dignity of men and women, and the freedom of the Gospel and the Church.

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This is the Gospel of the poor,
liberation for the imprisoned,
sight for the blind,
freedom for the oppressed.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Acts 6,8-15

Stephen was filled with grace and power and began to work miracles and great signs among the people. Then certain people came forward to debate with Stephen, some from Cyrene and Alexandria who were members of the synagogue called the Synagogue of Freedmen, and others from Cilicia and Asia. They found they could not stand up against him because of his wisdom, and the Spirit that prompted what he said. So they procured some men to say, 'We heard him using blasphemous language against Moses and against God.' Having turned the people against him as well as the elders and scribes, they took Stephen by surprise, and arrested him and brought him before the Sanhedrin. There they put up false witnesses to say, 'This man is always making speeches against this Holy Place and the Law. We have heard him say that Jesus, this Nazarene, is going to destroy this Place and alter the traditions that Moses handed down to us.' The members of the Sanhedrin all looked intently at Stephen, and his face appeared to them like the face of an angel.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Son of Man came to serve,
whoever wants to be great
should become servant of all.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Stephen was the first of the seven deacons chosen from among the Hellenist Jews. He immediately made himself known for his strong witness: he "did great wonders and signs among the people," Luke writes. And in debates, no one could "withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke." Two entire chapters of Acts tell his story; he was an exemplary figure in the first community. And it is worth noting that the service of "waiting at tables" for which the deacons were chosen was not limited to this. Every believer must serve both tables, the table of the poor and the table of the Word and Eucharist. There are no exclusive specializations, with some preaching and some doing charity. Every Christian must do both. And it is important to note that Luke emphasizes the deeds done by Stephen "among the people." Even the members of the Sanhedrin were amazed at Stephen’s missionary work: "And all who sat in the council looked intently at him, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel." We could say that in that important assembly, Stephen reminded them of Moses, whose ministry was surrounded with such splendour that the children of Israel could not see his face on account of the light that shone from it (Ex 34:29 ff). Like Moses, Stephen was a witness of God’s love, truly an angel sent by the Lord. So should be every disciple. In imitation of the Teacher, Stephen was first arrested and then judged before the Sanhedrin. And during the trial he is condemned by false accusations. The story of the disciples always retraces the Teacher’s. And in this difficult moment of his life, Stephen is sustained by the strength of the Lord’s spirit, which never abandons anyone, especially in the time of trial.

Memory of the Poor