Tuesday, December 25, 2018
ST. STEPHEN, The First Martyr
December 26, 2018 – WEDNESDAY
ST. STEPHEN, The First Martyr
Acts 6: 8 -10: 7: 54- 59 / Mt 10:17-22
St. Stephen (d. 34), one of the first seven deacons appointed by the Apostles (Acts 6: 1- 6), was the first Christian to be martyred. St. Paul, then known as Saul and a jealous Jew and persecutor of the early Church, witnessed the martyrdom of St. Stephen.
FROM THE 1ST READING: Acts 6: 8; 7: 57- 59
Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people ....
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."
FROM THE GOSPEL READING: Mt 10: 17- 22
Jesus said, "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."
In the first reading we hear of the martyrdom of the deacon St. Stephen, the Church's first martyr. Like the Lord Jesus, Stephen died outside the city, stoned to death for what his tormentors considered blasphemy. Like Christ, at his death, he commends his spirit to God and forgives his tormentors, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." Saul, the future St. Paul and Apostle to the Gentiles, was a witness to Stephen's martyrdom.
In the Gospel reading Jesus warns his followers that they would be persecuted because of their fidelity to Jesus. Throughout its long history countless men and women have given their lives in witness to their love for Christ and his Church.
We are fortunate that we are free to practice our faith openly. Do we realize how many fellow Christians have died for their faith and that, even today, so many practice their Christian faith despite danger and persecution?
We may not be called to such martyrdom and persecution for our faith: but all of us are called to be one with Christ and his Church in suffering whatever may be required in the practice of our faith.
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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