April 16.   Obed said, “Stephen and the disciples in those very early days of the Church had great courage, verbally attacking the leaders because of their lack of acceptance of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. What can we do? I don’t want to risk being arrested for speaking out or being killed for my faith.  I have heard that in our day and age there have been as many or more martyrs than ever before, some at the hands of radical groups of Muslims, but we read regularly of priests and religious being attacked right in our country where the incidence of crime is one of the highest in the world. On the whole religious extremism and bigotry has not ended has it? Why don’t we pray for an increase in our own faith and a growth in universal solidarity and fraternity.”   

Reflect, share, pray. Scripture:  Stephen full of grace and power did great wonders and signs among the people.  Speaking to the elders and the scribes he said, “you stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit.” They were enraged,  but he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and he said, “Behold I see the heavens opened and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God.”   They cried out and stopped their ears and cast him out of the city and stoned him. Acts 7:51- 8:1. Pope Francis. The Church has been present for centuries throughout the world. She can understand from her own experience of grace and sin, the beauty of universal love. All human things are our concern, wherever the councils of nations come together to establish the rights and duties of man we are honoured to be permitted to take our place among them. In the power of the risen Lord the Church wants to give birth to a new world, where all of us are brothers and sisters, where there is room for all those whom societies discard, where justice and peace are resplendent.  FT 278.