Before the Angels of God

Russian icon of St. Stephen

28th Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday (Year II)

Luke 12:8-12 

Jesus said to his disciples: “I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before others the Son of Man will acknowledge before the angels of God. But whoever denies me before others will be denied before the angels of God.”

Luke 12:8-9

With eyes that penetrated beyond our frailty, Jesus saw incredible beauty and dignity in every human person. From the moment of conception, a radiant child of the Father created for communion in the heavenly courts is born in the womb of its mother. 

Yet you have made him little less than a god, 
crowned him with glory and honor.

Psalm 8:6; Hebrew

Persons are stamped with the royal insignia—a divine origin that calls for great humility and responsibility. Our words and actions are not dispatched before humans alone, but before God and his angels. 

Confession of the crucified and risen Christ brought ridicule and persecution since the first Easter, but it clothed the ragged confessors in the shining light of Trinitarian glory. 

No one has the courage and strength to confess the risen Lord without divine inspiration. And no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the holy Spirit (I Corinthians 12:3).

“Everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the holy Spirit will not be forgiven.”

Luke 12:10

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “There are no limits to the mercy of God, but anyone who deliberately refuses to accept his mercy by repenting, rejects the forgiveness of his sins and the salvation offered by the Holy Spirit” (1864). 

God in himself exceeds all of our theological formulas and explanations. If God is God, his mercy and justice must exceed all of our categories. Childlike trust in divine goodness and love, which are immutable, are our anchor in darkness.

“When they take you before synagogues and before rulers and authorities, do not worry about how or what your defense will be or about what you are to say. For the holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you should say.”

Luke 12:11-12

The first martyr, St. Stephen, spoke with shining visage before rulers and authorities. All those who sat in the Sanhedrin looked intently at him and saw that his face was like the face of an angel (Acts 6:15). His words flowed from the Spirit of God rather than from natural intelligence and eloquence. 

But he, filled with the holy Spirit, looked up intently to 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”.

Acts 7:55-56

St. Stephen stood simultaneously before men and angels when he acknowledged Christ as the Son of God and Savior of the world. He was crowned with glory and honor as stones rained upon his head.

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