Steven prays, the Saints pray and Jesus prays—each for different things, and yet all for the same—that we will be one in God and all wind up together, in heaven.
by Jen Schlameuss-Perry
Today’s first reading tells the story of the first Christian martyr—Steven. While he was being killed for his faith, his words, like the actions of the early Christian Community echoed closely Jesus’ words. He asked Jesus to “receive my spirit” and to “not hold this sin against” those who stoned him. Paul, who started out as Saul, was there holding Steven’s cloak as the others killed him. The second reading continues the glimpse of heaven that we have been getting since Easter began. Interestingly enough, Steven was gifted with a glimpse of it, too, as he passed away. The prayer of the Saints in heaven is the same prayer being made by us on earth—that Jesus will come soon and make everything perfect. Because we are all one family, and children of God, we want the same things.
What Jesus wants is no different—he prays that we will all understand that he and the Father are One, and that we are meant to share in their life together. God wants us in heaven, and wants us to have a taste of heaven here. While things can be hard sometimes, God wants us to remember that they won’t always be and God wants us to be able to enjoy ourselves while we are on earth. The best way for us to do that is to be close to God and to one another by loving and allowing ourselves to be loved.
You can read this Sunday’s readings here:
Break Open the Word with Your Family
What are the things your family wants most? Do you all want the same things the most?
What do you think your response to persecution would be? Do you think you would respond the way that Steven did? What if you saw someone else being persecuted?
Have you ever stood by while someone did something wrong like Saul did (not necessarily a murder, of course)? How did you feel after, and were you able to do anything about it later?
A little lectio
The ancient practice of prayerfully reflecting on bits of Scripture is known as lectio divina. Want to try it out with your family? Head over to Lectio Divina for Kids to find out how to adapt this prayer practice for your kids.
A little Bible study
Want to do a little Bible study with your kids? Here are some tips:
- During Ordinary Time, the Church pairs the Old Testament and New Testament readings in a way that each sheds light on the other. Ask your kids to look for the common theme connecting the two readings. (Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it is subtle.) How does the “dialogue” between the readings help you understand them better?
- Get a New American Bible, Revised Edition, and take a look at the footnotes for these readings. How do they change your understanding of what is going on?
- Take a look at the context for the readings—what happens before, or after?
- Read the NABRE’s introduction to the book of the Bible that the readings are taken from. How does that help you understand the readings?
- If you don’t have a copy of the NABRE at home, you can view it online at the USCCB website at the Daily Readings web page. (The link will take you to today’s reading; click forward or backward on the dates to get to Sunday’s readings.)
For even more resources for breaking open this Sunday’s readings, head over to The Sunday Website.
The image for Breaking Open the Word at Home is taken from a 17th century illuminated manuscript by an anonymous (but very talented) artist. The text is from the beginning of the Book of Sirach, chapter 1, verses 1-12, which begins: “All wisdom is from the Lord and remains with him forever.”