Today we commemorate St. Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux, who died 1153. Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux, died 1153. Bernard, a Cistercian monk, was a man of great spirituality who wrote mystical works and criticized those whom he thought took an overly intellectual approach to the faith. He became an abbot and wrote several hymns that are still beloved today, including:
O Sacred Head, Now Wounded
Jesus, Thou Joy of Loving Hearts
Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee
Read Acts 7:44-53
44 “Our ancestors had the tabernacle of the covenant law with them in the wilderness. It had been made as God directed Moses, according to the pattern he had seen. 45 After receiving the tabernacle, our ancestors under Joshua brought it with them when they took the land from the nations God drove out before them. It remained in the land until the time of David, 46 who enjoyed God’s favor and asked that he might provide a dwelling place for the God of Jacob. 47 But it was Solomon who built a house for him.
48 “However, the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands. As the prophet says:
49 “ ‘Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool.
What kind of house will you build for me?
says the Lord.
Or where will my resting place be?
50 Has not my hand made all these things?’
51 “You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit! 52 Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him—53 you who have received the law that was given through angels but have not obeyed it.”
“We notice how Stephen boldly called the Sanhedrin stiff-necked, meaning stubborn, an epithet which both Moses and the prophets had applied to Israel.29 And though they insisted on bodily circumcision, he described them as having uncircumcised hearts and ears, another expression which was common to Moses and the prophets30 and which implied that they were ‘heathen still at heart and deaf to the truth’ (NEB). Indeed, in their wilful rejection of God’s word, he said to them: you are just like your fathers (51).
Pressing home his indictment in greater detail, Stephen declared them guilty of sinning against the Holy Spirit, the Messiah and the law. First, you always resist the Holy Spirit (51) by rejecting his appeals. Secondly, whereas their fathers had persecuted every prophet,31 and even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One, they had been still worse, for they had betrayed and murdered him whom the prophets had predicted (52). Thirdly, although they had been specially privileged to receive the law through the mediation of angels, they had not obeyed it (53).
Stephen’s speech was not so much a self-defense as a testimony to Christ. His main theme was positive, that Jesus the Messiah had come to replace the temple and fulfil the law, which both bore witness to him. As Calvin put it, ‘No harm can be done to the temple and the law, when Christ is openly established as the end and truth of both.'” Stott, John R. W. The Message of Acts: The Spirit, the Church & the World. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1994.
Wise and patient God, your faithful word of life too often finds us unwilling to listen. Soften our stubborn hearts to hear the holy wisdom of your word in the Scriptures, that we may discern your will and follow Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen