Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Acts 7:55-60.

Act 7:55 But he (i.e., Stephen), being full of the Holy Ghost, looking up steadfastly to heaven, saw the glory of God and Jesus standing on the right hand of God.

Full of the Holy Ghost. Imbued with the spirit of fortitude,, which made him despise their sanguinary threatenings. Turning to prayer, he raised up his eyes, gazing intently on heaven. Elevated beyond himself, he saw, in a fit of ecstacy, the glory of God, the Majesty and Almighty Power of the Father, surrounded with heavenly glory, circumfused with fiery splendor. And Jesus standing, & c. He is generally represented as sitting. But while the word sitting indicates His posture as Judge, standing indicates the posture of one prepared to come to the relief of his struggling valiant soldier, and receive him on entering Heaven. This is conveyed by St Gregory (Hom. in Evang. xxix. 7). Sedere, judicantis est. Stare, vero pugnantis vel adjuvantis. Stephanus in labore certaminis, stantem, vidit quem adjutorem habuit.

Act 7:56  And he said: Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.

Behold I see the Heavens opened. The Empyreal Heavens, the dwelling-place of the blessed. Stephen saw this Heaven flung open; his eye elevated by God’s supernatural concursus or power penetrated these patent Heavens as far as the Empyreal Heaven to behold God’s glory and Jesus standing at His right hand.

And the Son of Man. A designation often applied by our Lord to Himself, first used in Daniel 7:13-14 and but rarely applied by others to Him in the New Testament as here, and Apocalypse 1:13, 14:14). A similar phrase used by our Lord (Matthew 26:64) was considered, as here, to be blasphemous. St. Stephen, full of the Holy Ghost, with the spirit of intrepidity, fearlessly tells the Jews that He whom they persecuted and put to death was now in power and majesty, enjoying Heavenly glory.

Act 7:57  And they, crying out with a loud voice, stopped their ears and with one accord ran violently upon him.

They affecting to be shocked at the blasphemy uttered by Stephen stopped their ears  so as not to hear further blasphemies and thus show their horror of what they heard. This is, probably, said of the people.

With one accord rushing tumultuously in a body.

Act 7:58  And casting him forth without the city. they stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man, whose name was Saul.

Casting him out, &c. In Leviticus (24:14-23) it was prescribed that the blasphemer should be stoned outside the camp, and afterwards it was enacted he should be stoned outside the cities (Deut 22:16).

They stoned him, the punishment allotted for blasphemy (Lev 22:16).

At the feetSaul, the future Apostle of the Gentiles. He abetted and assented to the cruel act of murder (Acts 22:20).

A young man, about thirty years at the time. When in prison in Rome, addressing Philemon, he calls himself an old man (philemon 9).

Act 7:59 And they stoned Stephen, invoking and saying: Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.

Receive my spirit. Admit my soul into Thy Kingdom of eternal bliss.

Act 7:60 And kneeling down, he cried out with a loud voice, saying: Lord, lay not this to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep in the Lord.

Kneeling down, which he did voluntarily in the attitude of prayer, wishing also to die in the same posture.

Lay not this sin, &c. so like the dying prayer of his Heavenly Master (Luke 23:34).

The Greek word would convey the idea of not weighing their sins in the scales of Divine retribution.

He fell asleep, which gives an idea of the calm composure of the death of the just so peaceful and so happy. It also conveys that their death is only a short slumber from which they were soon to be awakened in the glory of the Resurrection.

From this came the usage of calling the burying places of the faithful cemeteries (sleeping places) where their bodies repose for a time awaiting the General Resurrection, when they shall be aroused from their long slumbers.

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One Response to Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Acts 7:55-60.

  1. Pingback: Commentaries for the Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year C | stjoeofoblog

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