Closeness to God gives strength to withstand everything, pope says
Published: May 2, 2012
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The church's first martyr found the strength to face his accusers because of his close relationship with God, Pope Benedict XVI said. St. Stephen, who was accused of blasphemy and stoned to death, upheld the faith and gave witness to Christ as the righteous one proclaimed by the prophets, the pope said during the general audience in St. Peter's Square May 2. Continuing his catechesis on Christian prayer, the pope focused on St. Stephen, who was "accused of saying that Jesus would destroy the temple and the customs handed down by Moses." The saint told his accusers the body of Jesus is the new temple of God; it is in Jesus that God and humanity are in true contact, which makes real communion with God and transformation possible, the pope said. The saint explained how God does not dwell in places made by human hands; the "new true temple where God dwells is in his son," who gathers and unites all people in the sacrament of his body and blood, the pope said. Today's Christians can draw inspiration from St. Stephen, who found strength during his martyrdom in his relationship with God and by meditating on the history of salvation. "Our prayer, too, must be nourished by listening to the word of God in communion with Jesus and his church," he said.
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