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Browsing Reflections Archive

April 20, 2021

Peace and Blessings, Friends and Parishioners,

We encourage you to reflect on Tuesday’s readings at this link:

If you prefer to use your own Bible, the readings are:
First Reading: Acts 7:51-8:1a
Responsorial: Psalm 31: 3cd-4, 6 and 7b and 8a, 17 and 21ab
Gospel: John 6:30-35

Our reflection on Tuesday’s readings:
But Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.     Acts 7:55

Nobody likes their cherished beliefs threatened.

In the 1950s, researchers began to study what they called “cognitive dissonance,” the uncomfortable experience of trying to hold two contradictory ideas in mind at the same time. For most people, the tension is too great. The research demonstrates that when confronted with evidence that contradicts one’s strongly held belief, the common reaction is to double-down on the intensity of that belief and to reject the contradictory evidence no matter how strong. Truth, reality, and new perspectives are easily sacrificed in the process.

Something like that appears to be happening in today’s first reading. Luke tells the story of Stephen’s appearance before the Sanhedrin. Stephen denounces the Sanhedrin and their ancestors for their failures of faith, most notably their failure to accept Jesus as Messiah. One can feel the passions rising as Stephen’s listeners become enraged. They cover their ears to block out his unwelcome words. The final straw comes when Stephen describes his heavenly vision of Jesus at the right hand of God, affirming to the Sanhedrin that the prophecy Jesus made before them has been fulfilled (Mark 14:62).  This challenges their beliefs to the breaking point. They drag Stephen outside the city and stone him to death.

The Sanhedrin was focused on the values of the past and preserving the status quo. Stephen, like the rest of the disciples, is bursting with a new, infinite vision of the saving future made possible through Jesus’ death and resurrection.

It’s so human to become angry and defensive, to close our ears to what we’d rather not hear, especially if it would require us to change. Yet God’s Spirit continually beckons us to newer, fuller life.

Today’s readings challenge me to pray for God’s guidance as I re-visit old assumptions and ideas and to be open to change. The Easter miracle promises new life. How might we open ourselves to the newness that  God longs to give us?
Wishing you Easter blessings,
Jean Galanti


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