"Stephen, Full of Grace and Power"
Victory over the darkside can only come through conversion, never compromise!
Did Stephen die in vain? One might think so if one were to judge today's standards that have veered so far from Christ's teachings. The Church needs more heroic and holy examples like St. Stephen today to reinforce why he willingly died for his Faith.
"Jesus Christ pronounced a judgment against those who would refuse to believe in Him: 'He who believes in him is not judged; but he who does not believe is already judged, because he does not believe in the name of the only-begotten Son of God. Now this is the judgment: The light has come into the world, yet men have loved the darkness rather than the light, for their works were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, that his deeds may not be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light that his deeds may be made manifest, for they have been performed in God' (John 3: 18-21)."
Editor's Note: In Father Louis Campbell's sermon for the Sunday immediately following Christmas, assigned to the Double of the Second Class Feast of Saint Stephen, the First Martyr of the Church, he points out the vast chasm not only between those who rightly believe Christ is the Son of God and those who falsely accept Him only as a mere prophet, but also the modern chief priest of Rome who contradicts Christ and His Apostles in Sacred Scripture: none other than John Paul II who openly courts those who reject Christ, with no hint of conversion. Had this been the case in the time of St. Stephen, it is unlikely we would be celebrating the First Martyr of the Church's glorious feast. Why? Because he would have compromised like the modern traitors and who knows where Christianity would be today? But because he believed, because he would not sell out his faith in Jesus Christ and what the God-man stood for, and lived what Christ taught, Stephen willingly gave his life. Would that we had courageous heroes today to stand for Christ and the true teachings He imparted. Would that John Paul II turn from being Saul and become a true Paul. Father explains in his sermon for the Feast of St. Stephen. [bold and italics below are editor's emphasis.]
"The Martyrs are given to the world that they may continue the ministry of Christ on the earth by bearing testimony to his word, and by confirming this testimony by their blood. The world has despised them; like their divine Master, they have shone in the darkness, and darkness has not understood their light" (Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., The Liturgical Year, v.2, p. 231).
Father Louis J. Campbell
So Dom Gueranger comments on the Feast of St. Stephen, the Protomartyr, whom certain factions among the Jews stoned to death because he gave witness to the power of Jesus Christ in his life, challenging them to believe also. "But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed upon him all together. And they cast him out of the city and stoned him" (Acts 7:57,58).
Jesus Christ pronounced a judgment against those who would refuse to believe in Him: "He who believes in him is not judged; but he who does not believe is already judged, because he does not believe in the name of the only-begotten Son of God. Now this is the judgment: The light has come into the world, yet men have loved the darkness rather than the light, for their works were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, that his deeds may not be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light that his deeds may be made manifest, for they have been performed in God" (John 3: 18-21).
The words of Jesus are still true today, for many choose to remain in darkness rather than believe in Him. "He who does not believe is already judged."
A report from the Vatican (Dec. 17, 2004, Zenit.org) says that John Paul II "encouraged bonds of friendships between Catholics and Jews" as he welcomed eighteen delegates of the ADL (Anti-Defamation League) and their president Abe Foxman, famous for their relentless campaign against Mel Gibson and his movie, The Passion of The Christ.
"Today's meeting," says the report, "was characterized by the moving testimony of ADL president Abraham Foxman, who told the Pope that he owed his life to a Polish Catholic woman who risked her life by forging documents to impede his being sent to Nazi concentration camps." Foxman said that a "new era" has opened in relations between Catholics and Jews after centuries of mistrust. "The Holy Father," says the report, "concluded his brief address in English with his (sic) traditional wish for peace: 'Shalom!'"
Is friendship between Catholics and Jews possible? On the natural level, perhaps. But a great spiritual chasm separates the true Catholic and the Jew: their attitude towards Jesus Christ. St. John explains in his first Letter:
"No one who disowns the Son has the Father. He who confesses the Son has the Father also… By this is the spirit of God known: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, is of God. And every spirit that severs Jesus, is not of God, but is of Antichrist, of whom you have heard that he is coming, and is now already in the world" (1 John 2: 23; 4:2-4).
Catholics are being led like lambs to the slaughter by their own leaders. Why encourage friendships which can never be on the spiritual level, but must remain purely of this world, friendships which certainly endanger the faith of Catholics? Considering the present "ecumenical" climate within the Conciliar Church, these are some of the compromises that Catholics would be expected to make in forming friendships with Jews:
Catholics would be expected to acknowledge the heretical stance of the Vatican establishment, whereby the Jewish Covenant is recognized as still valid, and that the Jews have no need to believe in Jesus Christ as the Messiah. To suggest that the Jews should believe in Jesus Christ and seek Baptism would be out of the question. The "religious freedom" of each party would have to be "respected." The Jews would be acknowledged as "our elder brother in faith" and Abraham our "common father in faith" (John Paul II at Yad Vashem, March 23, 2000).
Faith in Jesus Christ, however, must not be confounded with the so-called "faith" of unbelievers. Those who do not believe in Jesus Christ are in the darkness of unbelief. St. Paul gives this sage advice: "Do not bear the yoke with unbelievers. For what has justice in common with iniquity? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what part has the believer with the unbeliever?" (2 Corinthians 6: 14,15).
The true way of being a friend to the Jews is by praying for their conversion. St. Paul says in Romans: "For I would not, brethren, have you ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own conceits, that a partial blindness only has befallen Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles should enter, and thus all Israel should be saved, as it is written, 'There will come out of Sion the deliverer and he will turn away impiety from Jacob; and this is my covenant with them, when I shall take away their sins'" (Romans 11:25-27).
"And they were not able to withstand the wisdom and the Spirit Who spoke," we read in Acts about those to whom St. Stephen preached "full of grace and power" (Acts 6:10,8). "But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed upon him all together. And they cast him out of the city and stoned him" (Acts 7:57,58).
"Unhappy they who cannot appreciate the Martyrs!," says Dom Gueranger. "Let us who are Christians take in the sublime lessons taught us by their generous sacrifice; and let our respect and love for them testify that we are grateful for the noble ministry they have fulfilled, and are still fulfilling in the Church. The Church is never without Martyrs, just as she is never without Miracles: it is the twofold testimony that she will give to the end of time, by which she evidences the divine life she has received from her almighty Founder" (The Liturgical Year, v.2, p. 231-232).
St. Stephen, the First Martyr, pray for us!