Thursday, December 25, 2014
Feast, St. Stephen pro martyr
December 26, 2014
[Feast, St. Stephen pro martyr]
Acts 6: 8-10; 7: 54-59 / Ps 31: 3cd-4, 6 and 8ab, 16bc and 17 / Mt 10: 17-22
Reading: Acts 6: 8-10; 7: 54-59
Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people. Some persons then came forward, who belonged to the so-called Synagogue of Freedmen from Cyrene, Alexandria, Cilicia and Asia. They argued with Stephen but they could not match the wisdom and the spirit with which he spoke. 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."
Gospel: Matthew 10: 17-22
Be on your guard with respect to people, for they will hand you over to their courts and they will flog you in their synagogues. You will be brought to trial before rulers and kings because of me, and so you may witness to them and the pagans. But when you are arrested, do not worry about what you are to say and how you are to say it; when the hour comes, you will be given what you are to say. For it is not you who will speak; but it will be the Spirit of your Father in you. Brother will hand over brother to death, and a father his child; children will turn against parents and have them put to death. Everyone will hate you because of me, but whoever stands firm to the end will be saved.
St. Stephen was a deacon of the early Church who was full of faith and the Holy Spirit. He would debate with the Jews who came to attack the Church and would always get the better of them. So they fabricated false accusations against him and had him put on trial. In the 7th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, Stephen makes a speech in front of his accusers. He enumerates the stories of Abraham and Joseph up to the story of Moses. But then he starts to admonish the faithlessness and disobedience of the people of Israel against Moses and the prophets. He, in fact, was saying that his accusers were not good Jews but pagans who have persecuted the prophets and crucified the Just One, which is Jesus. So the Jews become very angry, drag him out of the city and stone him. Stephen asks God to forgive his persecutors and killers, and then he "falls asleep."
St. Stephen was not afraid of death because he knew who was the Author of Life. He boldly spoke against the evil before him and for this he died in the Lord. His love and zeal for Jesus gave him the courage to shed his blood for him. How precious the blood of martyrs! How noble their sacrifice! Yet Jesus has showed us the way by his passion and death and now we look forward to our resurrection. Christians do not believe only in a crucified Christ but also in the Risen Lord. The Lord is risen, and so St. Stephen has been risen with him. How precious the blood of the Christian martyrs, how noble their sacrifice! Jesus has gone ahead of them, and they eagerly follow in his footsteps.
We pray …
… for a deep and profound respect for life, especially for the unborn
… for all the prayer intentions in the MTQ Dailyprayer Diary
… for families who are in need of healing
… for world peace and reconciliation
Have a good day!
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