Our readings from the Acts of the Apostles this week tell us one thing about the early church: it doesn’t evolve through human planning but from God’s plan. The disciples certainly didn’t expect Stephen.
The church was pretty settled in Jerusalem after Jesus rose from the dead, according to Acts. The followers of Jesus, good Jews, continued to worship in the temple. Yes, there were occasional squabbles with the Jewish leaders, but they worshipped and preached in Jerusalem. It was their world. Besides praying in the temple, they met together, probably on Mount Sion where the Last Supper was celebrated. They broke bread and prayed there.
They were mostly Galileans at first, then others joined them from elsewhere. One of them was Stephen.
Stephen was a new-comer. He may have been a Samaritan, which may explain his polemic against the Judaism of the day. The scriptures see him as one who follows Jesus in his passion. So many of his sufferings are like those Jesus endured. But he was also the cause of the first scattering of believers to other places. He was brash and undiplomatic. I would guess some of the Galileans didn’t like him.
Yes, he was a saint, but a hard-nosed saint.
He brought change, or better, God did.
Morning and evening prayers, 3rd week, here.
I agree about your comment concerning losing our taste for retreats. May we never lose sight of our most natural state—as sons and daughters of the one true God. In this sense I have often thought that “retreats” should be called “returns”. For isn’t it more natural for us to sit quietly, to pray, to love, to praise Him for His glory?
Yes, “return” is a good word. Nobody like to retreat. Wish we had the dedication I see in the training facility for Olympic athletes right across the street from where I’m staying.
Olympians on the move to disciples seems like those first ones who were plain ordinary fishermen, tax collector, or whatever. Their conversion was gradual eventhough they had direct access to the Master Olympian. I do see many person who exhibit extraordinary love in self-sacrificing acts. There is a special segment at the end fo the evening news 7 called “America Strong” which features persons who go beyond to make a difference. Whether realized or not, their deeds of goodness are the “work of God,” Just noting that our humanity becoming god-like is a slow process.