But filled with the Holy Spirit, he gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!’ But they covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against him. Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him; and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ When he had said this, he died.
When my adult child, in a rare moment of sharing (he is still a teenager) describes to me some of the exploits that are a part of his performing in a punk band, involving mosh pits and crowd surfing, I sometimes have to put my hands over my ears and sing loudly in order to block out the worrying pictures that he describes so vividly. While I appreciate his confidences, sometimes there are things I would rather not know! A clear case of too much information.
Stephen, one of seven men recruited to "wait on tables" so that the disciples would not be deflected from preaching the word, was guilty of sharing too much information.
Finding his preaching voice, he speaks too clearly to the religious institutions of the day, indicting their practice, inflaming their anger, to the point where they want him dead.
In order to stone Stephen, these good, religious people had to cover their ears to his preaching. They had to immunise themselves from his sharing of the vision he was receiving in the grip of the Holy Spirit. It would not have satisfied their appetite to quell his prophetic preaching if they took on board the justification he experienced in martyrdom. They needed to taste blood.
As people of faith today, living in the light of the Resurrection, we too can find ourselves covering our ears - blocking out those things we simply don't want to hear about, those things that indict our way of life. We, too, by closing our ears to the things we do not want to hear can find ourselves surrounded by the ugliness of rocks poised to attack, especially when those things we want to blot out call into question our dearly held traditions of faith.
Surely, as resurrection people, our mission is to seek new ways to listen and to respond and to discern the prompting of the Spirit of the risen Christ in all of life.