Commentary on the Gospel of

Paulson Veliyannoor, CMF - Claretian Publications Philippines

A Copernican Revolution

In the narrative of Stephen’s death – the protomartyr of the Church – there is an extraordinary moment (which, incidentally, is left out in today’s first reading, but which we must consider). Verse 60 tells us that Stephen died asking God on his knees to forgive his murderers! This was extraordinary, because until then, no figure in the Old Testament had done so. Even the last prophet murdered in the OT, Zechariah, died cursing his enemies (cf. 2 Chr 24:22; Lk 11: 50-51). What caused such a Copernican 1800 shift in Stephen, and thereafter in every martyr of the Church who would do the same? Nothing but the grace of the Crucified who modelled for the entire world how to confront human evil with the powers of love. “Martyr” means “witness”: witness to this revolution of love Christ brought about. As Jesus promised, at such moments, it is the Holy Spirit himself witnessing to Christ, through them.


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