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Living in society today, it is often far too easy to become sidetracked in our relationship with God, focusing on daily necessities and desires while neglecting our spiritual needs.  Advertisers are constantly urging us to accumulate wealth and things to find satisfaction as if this will guarantee the happiness of eternal life. Scientists tell us that humans can solve any problem if given enough time as if we, like God, have infinite knowledge. Secular religions tell us that by getting touch with our innermost self, we will find serenity as if Jesus is not essential to knowing peace.  As Christians, our focus should never deviate from daily giving praise to God the Father for everything we have and are comes from him. God should be our greatest desire. While we readily admit this obligation, often we move through the day failing to recognize the influence of the Father and his Son in our every act.
       God gave us the ability to decide from the many choices available in our lives.  Therefore, we are the ones who identify what the priorities of our lives are. Do we have the capacity willingly to give up everything if we have the assurance that we will enter heaven?  St. Stephen made his choice of refusing to deny Jesus even when meant his death.  In his faith, Stephen saw the glory of the Father and the Son as he was stoned to death. Would we trade our lives for such an experience?
      Each day we are called to make choices of faith, usually not to the extreme of St. Stephen’s example, but like him, we must be continual witnesses for Jesus.  How many people converted to Christianity from watching the martyrdom of watching Stephen? Scriptures do not tell us, but in witnessing Stephen dying in his love for Jesus, it raised the question in many people’s minds, ‘Who is this Jesus that Stephen would die for him?’  We do not know the impact of a simple act of kindness or refusing to turn our back to those in need has on those seeking to understand Jesus’ message of love and unity. 
 Jesus’ love for us continues as he wants us to be with him in heaven to share in God’s glory. This is the bond of unity Jesus wants with us, where we as the Church make up his body, and he is the Head who leads us to the Father. Neither the body without the head, nor the head without the body, nor the head and the body without God makes the “whole Christ.”
      In seeking the Father, we must first seek union with Jesus. Jesus, being both human and divine, is the bridge between the Father and us. No one can come to the Father except through Jesus. St. Stephen was only able to see the glory of the Father because he was in a spiritual union with Jesus.  Do we express that same union with Jesus by our words and actions?
      Deacon Dan