"As they were stoning Stephen, he called out, 'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit,'" the reading states.
The Pope commented on the reaction of those who stoned Stephen, which upon hearing the martyr "confess his vision of Jesus", covered their ears and promptly killed him.
"The Word of God always pains certain hearts. The Word of God bothers, when you have a hard heart, when you have a pagan heart, because the Word of God challenges you to move forward, to look for and nourish you with that bread of which Jesus spoke about. In the Book of Revelations, many martyrs were killed for their faithfulness to the Word of God, to the Truth of God."
The 78 year old Pontiff also took the occasion to remember today's martyrs who are killed today "by those who believe they have the 'truth.'"
"In these days, how many Stephens are there in the world!" he exclaimed.
"Let us think about our brothers who were slaughtered on the shores of Libya; let us think about that young boy burned alive by his companions because he was Christian; let us think about those migrants on the high seas who are thrown into the sea by others, because they are Christians; let us think about […] those Ethiopians, murdered because they were Christians…and so many others," the Pope lamented.
"And many others that we do not know about, who suffer in prisons, because they are Christians. Today, the Church is a Church of Martyrs: they suffer, they give their lives and we receive a blessing from God for their witness."
Concluding his homily, the Pope also prayed for the many "hidden martyrs" who suffer daily for the faith.
"Let us unite ourselves to Jesus in the Eucharist, and unite ourselves to so many brothers and sisters who suffer the martyrdom of persecution, of calumny and of murder for being faithful to the only bread that satisfies, that is, Jesus," he concluded.