Sunset - Larnaca

Sunset - Larnaca

Monday, 28 December 2015

Apostle Stephen the Protomartyr

Saint Stephen, related to the Apostle Paul, was an early Christian convert from among the Hellenistic Jews. He was one of the first seven deacons to be ordained by the Apostles, serving the Church in Jerusalem. Known as 'the starting point of the martyrs,' Stephen was taken outside Jerusalem's walls and stoned to death. Saint Paul was in fact present, and the Virgin Mary and Saint John the Theologian witnessed his martyrdom from a nearby hill. The Holy Spirit worked through the Archdeacon Stephen in powerful ways, enabling him to perform miracles, and boldly confess the true faith in Christ.

Initially, Stephen's body was left at the location of his death, however Gamaliel, a teacher of the Apostles Barnabas and Paul, took the body to be properly buried. His burial place was soon forgotten, until 415 when Gamaliel appeared to a priest (fr Lucian) revealing to him the place of his burial. Father Lucian found the Apostles relics, which produced a sweet fragrance and were then taken to Jerusalem, where many were healed through their sanctity.

The Saint, as well as being commemorated on December the 27th, is also remembered on January the 4th, the Synaxis of the seventy Apostles. This holy servant of God, reminds us of the importance of boldness of faith, obediently sharing the Gospel with authority and humility. His speech, leading to his martyrdom, is centred on the teaching that God is not only present within one temple, but is everywhere. It also emphasises Jesus Christ's fulfilment of the law given to Moses. His love for God and neighbour was apparent, in his forgiveness towards those who persecuted him, as well as his voluntary death in the name of Christ; 'the way, the truth and the life.' (John 14:6) May the Apostle and Archdeacon Stephen confidently guide us, along with the ever-shining star of Bethlehem, towards the 'Sun of righteousness,' our eternal God.

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