With people whose ideas are opposed to our ideas we must understand them to be as sincere as we are.

Monday, 5/5/14

There is something I like saying about those men who would stone St. Stephen to death. They were identified as members of the Synagogue of Freedmen. Let me tell you about them.

The reading tells us that they were originally from such places as Alexandria, Cyrene, Asia, and Cypress. With Jewish people scattered around every port on the Mediterranean, the Roman Government found a way for keeping them in line. Every few years the Romans rounded up a few young Jews from every port, and they would take them off to Rome as hostages. AS long as their folks at home kept Roman Law, the hostage boys in Rome were treated well. It was like they were away at school. But if the folks at home misbehaved the Romans executed their sons.

Although those hostages might not have been very religious when they were boys at home, as men imprisoned for their beliefs, they often became more devout while in Rome. Then, at the end of their years as hostages, many of them, instead of going back home, settled in Jerusalem to take active parts in the temple worship.

As proof of their sincerity, we only need to look at the man who held their coats when they were stoning Stephen. That was Saul, who as a Christian would become Saint Paul.

Those young men, along with Saul, felt that for pleasing God there was nothing more important than that they ate only kosher food, and that on the Sabbath they keep their hands from working and their feet from traveling.

With Stephen abandoning the strict Jewish ways, and with him encouraging others to abandon them, they thought him guilty of a crime deserving of death. Saul had thought so too.

What we should get from this story is the realization that those who differ with us are probably as sincere as we are.   

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