Easter 5 – Year A
It isn't long after Jesus has promised good things, compassionate things, that his followers seem to have difficulty in remembering their own transformation and have as their operating principle, browbeating others into goodness.
Jesus and Stephen both die looking for better to come. However, their parting words, though similar, are miles apart.
I trust that Stephen's looking beyond those present to see glory was fulfilled. I can't help but wonder whether Jesus was able to see that glory while looking at those present in his final moments. Does this account for a difference in their forgiveness language? Stephen needing to already limit its use to a deliberate sin category and Jesus to recognize a universal such as ignorance?
I wonder what would happen if we didn't leave, "Lord, forgive . . ." until it is a final word. If we were to move it up in the conversation, would it change the dynamic? It is almost as though it is an afterthought that pales in comparison with what has gone before – like hating the sin, but loving the sinner.
At any rate, Saul is not convinced by Stephen's recounting of Saul's heritage or Stephen's spin on it. Sometime later a direct question from the sky becomes a bestowal of blessing, "How does what you are doing accord with an understanding of steadfast love (G*D), a.k.a., compassion?" Some can hear a straightforward statement of blessedness and others wait for a question before engaging it.
Stephen isn't ready to move to the deeper question of accountability, just blame, and I wonder where the church is today, or myself, or you? Is today's church more Stephen than Jesus?