Sunday, December 25, 2005



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Dec 25, 2005

DECEMBER 26, 2005

ACTS 6:8-10; 7:54-59
Stephen, filled with grace and power, was working great wonders and
signs among the people. Certain members of the so-called Synagogue
of Freedmen, Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and people from Cilicia
and Asia, came forward and debated with Stephen, but they could not
withstand the wisdom and the spirit with which he spoke. When they
heard this, they were infuriated, and they ground their teeth at
him. But he, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked up intently to
heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand
of God, and he said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son
of Man standing at the right hand of God." But they cried out in a
loud voice, covered their ears, and rushed upon him together. They
threw him out of the city, and began to stone him. The witnesses
laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul.  As
they were stoning Stephen, he called out "Lord Jesus, receive my

MATTHEW 10:17-22
Jesus said to his disciples: "Beware of men, for they will hand you
over to courts and scourge you in their synagogues, and you will be
led before governors and kings for my sake as a witness before them
and the pagans. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you
are to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at that
moment what you are to say. For it will not be you who speak but the
Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will hand over
brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise up
against parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by all
because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved."

Just one day after Christmas, we celebrate the Feast of St. Stephen,
the first Christian martyr.  Greek-speaking Jews who were enraged by
his preaching about Jesus Christ stoned Stephen to death outside
Jerusalem.  Like Jesus and the prophets before him who threatened
the religious establishment, Stephen was persecuted and martyred.

Stephen was one of seven deacons assigned by Peter and James to take
care of the foreign converts who were joining the Jerusalem Church
in large numbers.  The apostles could not preach and at the same
time attend to the care of widows and orphans, especially those who
did not speak Hebrew.  Deacons were instituted to assist the
apostles in the ministry of service.  Stephen performed this service
well, but was also a good preacher.  He was "filled with grace and
power," as Acts tells us. 

Stephen's martyrdom, celebrated so close to Christmas, reminds us
about something that is easy to miss amidst all the Christmas
festivities—that the birth of Jesus cannot be separated from his
eventual death on the cross.  Following Jesus by serving others and
witnessing to him can have a heavy price. 

As he was being stoned, Stephen said in invocation, "Lord Jesus,
receive my spirit; Lord, do not hold this sin against them." 
Stephen died like his Master, and like him we are invited to the
perfect imitation of Christ.

"Lord Jesus, your coming in the flesh to ransom us from slavery to
sin gives us cause for great rejoicing even in the midst of trials
and pain. Help me to patiently and joyfully accept the hardships,
adversities, and persecution, which come my way in serving you.
Strengthen my faith and give me courage that I may not shrink back
from doing your will".

We pray -
- for a deep and profound respect for life, especially for the
- in thanksgiving: all those who passed the recent nursing board
exams in Manila.
- for the eternal repose of the soul of Bert Pascual.  Eternal rest
grant unto him and may perpetual light shine upon him. May he and
all the souls of the dearly departed rest in peace.
- for the continued & speedy recovery of Mike Torres.
- for the enlightenment and conversion of Armando.
- for the continued good health of Elsa & Paolo.
- for the personal intentions of Cha.
- Birthday: Hansel G. Marasigan
- Birthday: Miring L. Gonzales
- for the eternal repose of the soul of those who perished in the
Asian tsunami.  Eternal rest grant unto them and may perpetual light
shine upon them. May they and all the souls of the dearly departed
rest in peace.
- for all the prayer intentions in the MTQ Dailyprayer Diary.
- Birthday: Lilia B. Yang
- Wedding Anniversary: Mark & Michelle Sison
- for world peace and reconciliation.

Finally, we pray for one another, for those who have asked our
prayers and for those who need our prayers the most.

Have a good day!

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