Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In our catechesis on Christian prayer, we now consider the speech which Saint Stephen, the first martyr, delivered before his death. Stephen’s words are clearly grounded in a prayerful re-reading of the Christ event in the light of God’s word. Accused of saying that Jesus would destroy the Temple and the customs handed down by Moses, Stephen responds by presenting Jesus as the Righteous One proclaimed by the prophets, in whom God has become present to humanity in a unique and definitive way.
As the Son of God made man, Jesus is himself the true temple of God in the world; by his death for our sins and his rising to new life, he has now become the definitive "place” where true worship is offered to God. Stephen’s witness to Christ, nourished by prayer, culminates in his martyrdom. By his intercession and example may we learn daily to unite prayer, contemplation of Christ and reflection on God’s word. In this way we will appreciate more deeply God’s saving plan, and make Christ truly the Lord of our lives.
I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Audience, including those from England, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Nigeria, Australia, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Canada and the United States. I offer a cordial welcome to the delegation from the Christian Council of Norway and to the ecumenical groups from Sweden. I also thank the traditional choir from Indonesia for their song. Upon you and your families I cordially invoke God’s abundant blessings. Thank you!