St. Athanasius, Bishop & Doctor of the Church
Acts 7:51—8:1 + John 6:30-35
May 2, 2017
“Now Saul was consenting to his execution.”
Each of us needs to ask: “Has my passive consent to another’s sin ever ‘dis-abled’ God’s Will in the world?” In artistic portraits of the martyrdom of Saint Stephen, it’s interesting to look for Saint Paul. Though his passivity stands in stark contrast to the violence with which others are stoning Stephen, his figure in the portrait is still arresting. Our eyes are drawn to him, perhaps because we can identify with him more than with the cruel murderers.
Often in these portraits, the Most Blessed Trinity appears above in the heavens. Below on earth is a very different trio of persons, players in an evil act: the victim, the aggressor, and the enabler. The evil act involves all three. Surely as Saint Paul later reflected on his life, he pondered his role in the death of the Church’s proto-martyr (the first member of the Church to win the crown of martyrdom).
During this third week of Easter, as the weekday Gospel narratives compel us to reflect on Jesus, who is the Bread of Life, we see our need to allow the Eucharist to enable us to stand against the commission of sin.