St. Stephen, pray for us.
Two items have been coursing through my mind. One being sporadic thoughts of the diaconate, which, in short I take to be a normal and healthy wondering about where my life in Christ will take me. The other being fairly persistent contemplation of Luke, Ch. 3/4, where Jesus is baptized, then goes into the desert (and is tempted by the devil), then returns to Nazareth, and in a quiet, unassuming manner, announces his ministry. I will discuss point number 2 first.
I have thought and thought and thought and thought about this sequence, which is very rich and suggestive, even while I drew no closer to a fresh understanding. Until today, that is, when it struck me that it is the absence of certain facts that has drawn my attention. In brief, it is incredible that Jesus did not voyage to Jerusalem to announce his ministry. He did not pick a particularly significant holy day. He took the scroll handed to him (with a passage from Isiah) and rolling it up he said, simply, The prophecy is fulfilled.
Well, of course everyone went ape-shit. I mean, who now would have acted differently? The people of Nazareth would have stoned him to death if he hadn’t simply passed through them and left. But here is the point (bringing in issue No. 1 – my own ministry). As a Christian, I am called to follow my Lord and my brother in the love for God, the Father. I, too, baptized, will be tempted – especially by all sorts of worldly riches – but what I should do is follow Christ. To say quietly, unpretentiously, This is me. This is what I believe, and This is what I will do. The prophecies are revealed in Christ, and Christ is revealed in me, as far as I am capable to reveal him, by the grace of God.
I certainly do not need the diaconate to be the Christian God wants me to be. What could be more obvious. What did St. Stephen have, except the trust of the disciples? First and foremost I must be true to the word. To Jesus Christ, my lord and saviour. I need to listen. I need to pray and listen and follow Christ’s example. What more could I ask for than to be equal to his word?
How simple. How impossible, without God’s help.