ACTS OF THE APOSTLES
So the High Priest asked him:
“Is it true?”
“Brothers and fathers, listen to me.
The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he went to live in Haran.
And he said to him:
‘Leave your land and your relatives and go to the land which I will show you.’
So he left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran.
After the death of his father, God made him move to this land in which you now dwell.
And there he did not give him anything that was his own, not even the smallest portion of land to put his foot on, but promised to give it to him in possession and to his descendants, though he had no child.
So God spoke:
‘Your descendants shall live in a strange land, they shall be enslaved and maltreated for four hundred years.
So I shall call the nation which they serve as slaves to render an account for it.
They will come out and worship me in this place.’
He made with him the covenant of circumcision.
And so, at the birth of his son Isaac, Abraham circumcised him on the eighth day.
Isaac did the same to Jacob, and Jacob to the twelve patriarchs.
The patriarchs envied Joseph so they sold him into Egypt.
But God was with him.
He rescued him from all his afflictions, granted him wisdom and made him please Pharaoh king of Egypt, who appointed him governor of Egypt and of the whole of his household.
Then there was famine in all the land of Egypt and Canaan; it was a great misery and our ancestors did not have anything to eat.
Upon learning that there was wheat in Egypt, Jacob sent our ancestors there on their first visit.
On the second visit, Joseph made himself known to his brothers, and Pharaoh came to know the family of Joseph.
Joseph commanded that his father Jacob be brought to him with the whole of his family of seventy-five persons.
Jacob then went down to Egypt where he and our ancestors died.
They were transferred to Shechem and laid in the tomb that Abraham had bought for a sum of silver from the sons of Hamor at Shechem.
As the time of promise drew near, which God had made to Abraham, the people increased and multiplied in Egypt until came another king who did not know Joseph.
Dealing cunningly with our race, he forced our ancestors to abandon their newborn infants and let them die.
At that time Moses was born, and God looked kindly on him.
For three months he was nursed in the home of his father; and when they abandoned him, Pharaoh’s daughter took him and raised him as her own son.
So Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians.
He was mighty in word and deed.
And when he was forty years old, he wanted to visit his own people, the Israelites.
When he saw one of them being wronged, he defended the oppressed man and killed the Egyptian.
He thought his kinsfolk would understand that God was sending him to them as a liberator, but they did not understand.
On the following day, he came to them as they were fighting and tried to reconcile them, saying:
‘You are brothers, why do you hurt each other?’
At that moment, the one who was injuring his companion rebuffed him saying:
‘Who appointed you as our leader and judge?
Do you want to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?’
When Moses heard this, he fled and went to live as a stranger in the land of Midian where he had two sons.
After forty years an angel appeared to him in the desert of Mount Sinai in the flame of a burning bush.
Moses was astonished at the vision.
And as he approached to look at it, he heard the voice of the Lord:
‘I am the God of your fathers,
the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.’
Moses was filled with fear and did not dare look at it.
But the Lord said to him:
‘Take off your sandals for the place where you stand is holy ground.
I have seen the affliction of my people in Egypt and heard them weeping, and I have come down to free them.
And now, get up!
I am sending you to Egypt.’
This Moses whom they rejected saying:
‘Who appointed you leader and judge?’
God sent as leader and liberator with the assistance of the angel who appeared to him in the bush.
He led them out, performing signs and wonders in Egypt, at the Red Sea and in the desert for forty years.
This Moses is the one who said to the Israelites:
‘God will give you a prophet like me from among your own people.’
This is the one who in the Assembly in the desert became the mediator between the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai and our ancestors; and he received the words of life that he might communicate them to us.
But him our ancestors refused to obey, they rejected him and turned their hearts to Egypt, saying to Aaron:
‘Give us gods to lead us since we do not know what has happened to that Moses who brought us out of Egypt.’
So in those days, they fashioned a calf, offered sacrifices to their idol and rejoiced in the work of their hands.
So God departed from them and let them worship the stars of heaven, as it is written in the Book of the Prophets:
‘People of Israel,
did you offer me burnt offerings and sacrifices for forty years in the desert?
No, you carried instead the tent of Moloch and the star of the god Rehan, images you made to worship, for this I will banish you farther than Babylon.
Our ancestors had the Tent of Meeting in the desert, for God had directed Moses to build it according to the pattern he had seen.
Our ancestors received it and brought it under the command of Joshua into the lands of the pagans that they conquered and whom God expelled before them.
They kept it until the days of David who found favour with God and asked him to let him build a house for the God of Jacob.
However, it was Solomon who built that temple.
In reality, the Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands as the Prophet says:
‘Heaven is my throne and earth is my footstool.
What house will you build for me, says the Lord, how could you give me a dwelling place?
Was it not I who made all these things?’
But you are a stubborn people, you hardened your hearts and closed your ears.
You have always resisted the Holy Spirit as your fathers did.
Was there a prophet whom your ancestors did not persecute?
They killed those who announced the coming of the Just One
whom you have now betrayed and murdered,
you who received the Law through the angels but did not fulfil it.”
when they heard this reproach, they were enraged and they gnashed their teeth against Stephen.
But he, full of the Holy Spirit, fixed his eyes on heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus at God’s right hand, so he declared
“I see the heavens open and the Son of Man at the right hand of God.”
But they shouted and covered their ears with their hands and rushed together upon him.
They brought him out of the city and stoned him, and the witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul.
As they were stoning him, Stephen prayed saying:
“Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”
Then he knelt down and said in a loud voice:
“Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”
And when he had said this, he died.