STEPHEN, DEACON AND FIRST MARTYR
Just before the martyrdom of Stephen, he had a vision of heaven. He saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God (Acts 7:55). The belief is that Jesus sits at the right hand of his Father. But Stephen saw Jesus standing as if Jesus was welcoming him to his presence in heaven. That gave the first martyr of the church the strength to face stoning to death. While the Jews stoned him, Stephen called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (Acts 7:59).
Stephen’s vision of heaven with Jesus welcoming him gave him confidence to become a martyr for Christ. Like Jesus, Stephen prayed for his enemies and submitted his soul to Jesus. As disciples of Jesus, let us also follow these virtues of Stephen.