Today is Tuesday the 6th of May, in the Third Week of Easter.

The University of Johannesburg choir conducted by Renette Bouwer sing the Kyrie from Missa De Meridiana Terra: Lord, have mercy; Christ, have mercy. These imploring words, which have been sung for centuries, are a reminder of the inexhaustible mercy of God, of God’s unfailing compassion and forgiveness.  As I listen, I might think for a moment about my need for that forgiveness, and the need, too, for me to show that same forgiveness to others.

Today’s reading is from the Acts of the Apostles.

It is said that ‘those who do not remember the past, are condemned to repeat it.’  This is what is happening in this scene.  How many prophets since Jeremiah have stood in the same place as Stephen is standing?  How many have tried to speak out, to explain things?   How many have suffered the same violent fate?   How many times have young people like Saul seen it happening, approved of it and imitated it?  Where do I see these things being repeated in the world around me today?

We have a classic example here of what nowadays we call the cycle of violence, something with which we are too familiar. We see it clearly in far off places brought close by radio and television. But what about in the sacred space of my own self, the violence in my own heart?  Can I face with honesty and integrity the truth about myself?

As you hear the reading for the second time, listen for the voice of Stephen saying, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’

Stephen’s plea for his killers echoes the words of Jesus on the cross.  Forgiveness and reconciliation is often the first step to break the cycle of violence, but it is always a difficult step, a step that costs us something.  Is there something in myself, some situation in my life, that needs forgiveness or reconciliation?  Can I ask the Lord to help me along this path.