The Protomartyr in his own person and passion illustrates the gap between proclamation of the saving kerygma and the response of faith in its hearers. Those of the Sanhedrin of old stopped their ears and rushed upon St Stephen, stoning him to death rather than allowing their stony hearts to be converted by the word of salvation so irrefutably preached to them by him; but by an illumination (vouchsafed, we may understand, at the First Martyr's prayers), nay, by the voice of the Word Himself, Saul was later converted on the road to Damascus, closing the gap in his life, faith at last being enkindled where murderous hate had reigned.
All down through history, the response of men has ever been the same: lest they hear, and repent, and be converted, and saved, so perverse is fallen nature, instead outrages have been inflicted by sinners upon God's saints. But every Diocletian has been defeated; and as the Apostate unwillingly confessed, "Thou hast conquered, O Galilean". Fr Paul remarked on all this at Mass this morning – I blend what I remember of his words with ideas of mine own engendered thereby.
He further observed that, when Christ shall come as Judge, to him every knee must bend – either in worship, or in servitude (for even the devils fear and tremble, yet for them there is no salvation). God's Kingdom will come, whether we will or nill; let the Holy Spirit descend and purify us, that we may be worthy of that Kingdom, and not cast out into the infernal darkness, where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth.
God grant that Holy Church never cease to proclaim His Gospel, and may her members pray for the fruitful reception of that Good News by all, that (by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) more and more may know and believe, love and obey Jesus Christ, that willingly with the saints they may adore the Lord – lest they instead hate and resist, chafing against the bit and in danger of condemnation.