Our readings from the Acts of the Apostles this week tell us one thing about the early church: it didn’t evolve through human planning. It was God’s plan. The disciples gave little thought to the long range or short range planning we do today. They certainly didn’t expect Stephen.
The church was pretty settled in Jerusalem after Jesus rose from the dead, according to Acts. Good Jews, the followers of Jesus continued to worship in the temple, despite occasional squabbles with the Jewish leaders. They remained in Jerusalem, where Jesus worshipped and preached. It was their world. Besides praying in the temple, they met together, probably on Mount Sion where the Last Supper was celebrated. There they broke bread and prayed.
They were probably Galileans at first, then others joined them who came from elsewhere. One of them was Stephen.
Stephen was a new-comer. Some say he may have been a Samaritan, which may explain his polemic against the Judaism of the day. The scriptures see him as one who follows Jesus in his passion. So many of his sufferings are like those Jesus endured. But he was also the cause of the first scattering of believers to other places. He was brash and undiplomatic. I would guess some of the Galileans didn’t like him.
Yes, he was a saint, but a hard-nosed saint.
He brought change, or better, God did.