Our first reading today honors St. Stephen, the first person to be put to death for his belief in Jesus. Let us look briefly at the men who stoned him to death. They are called members of the Synagogue of the Roman Freedmen.
Through the centuries the Roman senate had a way of keeping the scattered Jews in line. Every year Rome would take Jewish hostages from every Mediterranean port keeping them in Rome for five years.
While those young men may not have been very religious as boys, their detention for their faith would begin them longing to live the full religious life of the temple. So, when their five years as hostages were complete, they would settle in Jerusalem, leading ultra conservative Jewish lives.
They turned against Stephen when they saw him eating with Gentiles.
We must avoid imitating those men who turned against good men like Stephen.