Reflection materials excerpted from the Chinese edition of the New Testament with Lectio Divina (by Claretian Publications), translated by Fountain of Love and Life
Reflection: Throughout history, why did most of those who act for the sake of God's name got killed? If you happen to come across something like this, how would you respond? Would you attempt to engage in a dialogue, or would you use violence? Between these two means, which do you find to be more reliable and effective?
Prayer: Recall your past experiences, through the inspirations of the Holy Spirit, may you get a better understanding of how you may apply what you have learned in your daily life.
Action: When a conflict arises between you and another person, strive to engage in a dialogue with that person in order to increase mutual understanding. Ask him/her to forgive you if needed. Throughout the dialogue, pray for God's presence in your heart.
Acts of the Apostles
The Need for Assistants.
At that time, as the number of disciples continued to grow, the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. 2 So the Twelve called together the community of the disciples and said, “It is not right for us to neglect the word of God to serve at table. 3 Brothers, select from among you seven reputable men, filled with the Spirit and wisdom, whom we shall appoint to this task, 4 whereas we shall devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” 5 The proposal was acceptable to the whole community, so they chose Stephen, a man filled with faith and the holy Spirit, also Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicholas of Antioch, a convert to Judaism. 6 They presented these men to the apostles who prayed and laid hands on them. 7 The word of God continued to spread, and the number of the disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly; even a large group of priests were becoming obedient to the faith.
Accusation against Stephen.
Now Stephen, filled with grace and power, was working great wonders and signs among the people. 9 Certain members of the so-called Synagogue of Freedmen, Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and people from Cilicia and Asia, came forward and debated with Stephen, 10 but they could not withstand the wisdom and the spirit with which he spoke.d 11Then they instigated some men to say, “We have heard him speaking blasphemous words against Moses and God.” 12 They stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes, accosted him, seized him, and brought him before the Sanhedrin. 13 They presented false witnesses* who testified, “This man never stops saying things against [this] holy place and the law. 14 For we have heard him claim that this Jesus the Nazorean will destroy this place and change the customs that Moses handed down to us.” 15 All those who sat in the Sanhedrin looked intently at him and saw that his face was like the face of an angel.
Teaching from Fr. Francis Ching (Traditional and Simplified Chinese subtitles are available):
Source: Chinese Martyrs Catholic Church (Toronto) – Bible Study Program – 2006-2007 – Edmond Lo
Teaching: (Chapter 4-7)
Seven Chosen to Serve
- The responsibilities and order of the Deaconate originated from the Apostles.
- Through work of charity, such as caring for the orphans, widows, and criminals, the seven deacons serve the Church. The Church views the importance of their work as equal to the ministering of sacraments and evangelization; one cannot be successful without the other.
The Martyrdom of Stephen
- Stephen's speech reprimands the Jews of their rebellion and hardness of heart; from Joseph to Moses, the law, and the prophets, to Jesus, they have sinned by turning their backs and rejecting God. “You are forever opposing the Holy Spirit, just as your ancestors used to do. They killed those who foretold the coming of the Righteous One and now you have become his betrayers and murderers.” They have received the law but have disobeyed it. He also points out their erroneous view regarding the Temple and the holy land of Israel.
- The worshipping of the golden calf and the rituals versus the laws of the Israelites. These laws should not be the most important aspect in their lives.
- The 8th Commandment: Thou shalt not bear false witness. Martyrdom is the highest form of witnessing to the truth. This is the martyrdom of St. Ignatius.
In this session, you have learned:
- The life of the early Church is filled with love and harmony; it is not communist.
- Peter used “Holy Spirit” and “God” interchangeably because the Holy Spirit is God.
- The “wonders and signs” in this book witness to the beginning of the Apostolic times is the beginning of the NT Church. Both the OT and NT Churches begin in “wonders and signs”.
- The Apostles recognize God in the fruits of their labour and give glory to God. They also suffer willingly and joyfully for God's name sake. They are perfect model for all catechists and Christians.
- The responsibilities of the deaconate originate in the Apostles. Deacons are appointed to serve the Church through work of charity.
- Why Stephen's speech causes the Jews to persecute him.
- Martyrdom fulfills the 8th Commandment; it is also the highest form of witnessing.
Acts of the Apostles
The Need for Assistants. / Accusation against Stephen.
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