Monday, December 25, 2006



DECEMBER 26, 2006

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 spirit."

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."

Today is the Feast of St. Stephen the first martyr. What a radical
shift in thought. Why would the church recall the tragic stoning of
St. Stephen, the first martyr, the very day after recalling the
peaceful and joy-filled birth of Christ the Lord? This graphic story
of a mock trial and gruesome execution seems to detract from the
beauty of Christmas.

The answer has to do with perspective. If we read today's passage
only as the account of the death of a brave man, we are missing
something vital. The focal point of Luke's story in today's gospel
reading is Jesus standing in glory at the right hand of God. As
Stephen died, he was not having a vision of a detached Jesus occupied
only with things of heaven. We can imagine that he saw Jesus watching
the proceedings on earth with eager interest, and that Jesus was
engaged in the action by pouring his Spirit into Stephen.

Remember, too, that the religious leaders who called for Stephen's
execution were the very ones to whom Jesus had predicted his own
glorification. Now, as the Spirit inspired Stephen to echo Jesus'
words, they learned that Jesus' prophecy had been accomplished. This
may have intensified their fury, but for us it amplifies and
completes our Christmas joy. Yesterday we saw Jesus, the fulfillment
of all God's promises, just starting out on his mission as a little
baby. Today we see Jesus as the glorified Lord who has completed his
mission and now sits enthroned over creation. The helpless baby
really is the Lord of heaven and earth. He will return in glory to
bring all of history to its dramatic conclusion.

Because Stephen had this big picture of Jesus, he was able to stand
firm during his trial and surrender his life joyfully. We also need
this expanded vision of Jesus. Though we may not be called to
martyrdom, as Stephen was, we all face a thousand little martyrdoms
each day. How encouraging to know that we have Jesus, in all his
glory, to empower us and give us good reason for fighting the good

Jesus' birth brought him near to us. Let us ask Jesus today to open
our eyes to his glorious presence in our lives and to help us to see
that he is still by our side, even as he reigns enthroned in glory.

We pray ...
- for a deep and profound respect for life, especially for the unborn.
- for the speedy recovery of an 11-year-old boy sick with leukemia.
- 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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© 2006 Daily-Homily

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