During the Easter Season, the Church sets a higher priority on celebrating the feasts of the martyrs. The Roman Missal includes different prayers for those martyrs whose feasts fall within the Easter Season. These men and women are honored as they were willing to sacrifice their own lives for the sake of the faith. By coincidence, the martyr we celebrate today, St. Stanislaus, following the lead of the apostles in today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles, was murdered because he refused to stop publicly preaching the Gospel.
The Gospel for today tells us that many people prefer to remain in the darkness and refuse to allow the light and the love of Jesus to penetrate their hearts and transform their lives. This was true of the leaders of the Jewish Sanhedrin. It was also true of King Boleslaus II who killed St. Stanislaus with his own hands while the saint was celebrating Mass. Even his soldiers refused to obey his order to murder the bishop forcing the king to do the deed himself. One doesn’t have to go far to find contemporary examples of the same kind deed as in the case of the recently canonized St. Oscar Romero.
The apostles were able to brave the wrath of the Jewish elders because they themselves had experienced the saving and transformative love of Jesus and had known the power that became theirs when Jesus imparted the Holy Spirit to them. They were changed, transformed into new people by their experience of Jesus.
That transformation can also be part of our lives if we accept the Holy Spirit. Change is difficult; consequently, our natural inclination is to remain as we are. However, if we wish to receive the Eucharist worthily, we must be open to the possibility of change. It is, of course, a lifelong process. The apostles and St. Stanislaus stand as our examples for this day. With the psalmist, let us pray throughout this day: “I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall be ever in my mouth.”
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator