Monday of the Third Week of Easter
May 6, 2019
Today, in Mercy, Acts tells us more about Stephen, who was introduced in Saturday’s reading as “a man filled with faith and the Holy Spirit”.
Stephen is among the first group of Christians designated as deacons “to serve at table” – in other words, to do the administrative tasks that kept the community whole.
However, Stephen’s gifts went well beyond these services. Acts describes him like this:
Stephen, filled with grace and power,
was working great wonders and signs among the people.
This man was radiant with Holy Spirit! He had so opened his soul to God’s grace and power that he was transformed even to the point that, when indicted:
All those who sat in the Sanhedrin looked intently at him
and saw that his face was like the face of an angel.
That same grace and power that fired Stephen’s spirit are available to us. In this holy Eastertide, as we await the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, let us give sincere time and intention to praying for these gifts – for ourselves, for our faith communities, our communities of love, for our leaders, for our world.
This poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins might help us picture how the Holy Spirit waits to be welcomed into our hearts and lives:
The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
(Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844–89). Poems. 1918.)
Music: J.S.Bach – Gedenk an uns mit deiner Liebe (Think of us with your Love)
– from Cantata BWV 29 – Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir (Tranlations below)
Gedenk an uns mit deiner Liebe,
Schleuß uns in dein Erbarmen ein!
Segne die, so uns regieren,
Die uns leiten, schützen, führen,
Segne, die gehorsam sein!
Think of us with your love,
enclose us in your pity!
Bless those who govern us,
those who guide, protect and lead us,
bless those who are obedient!