A reading from the Holy Gospel according to 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.”
“… 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.”
Yesterday we celebrated the birth of Jesus and today… we are celebrating the first Martyr of the Church, St. Stephen. Interesting how the Church has placed this feast right after we celebrate the birth of Christ. It is like a reminder of why Jesus came into the world. I remember a priest teaching about how we cannot celebrate Christmas without embracing the Cross.
On Christmas Eve we were celebrating Christmas with family. Have you ever had someone in the family come up to you and start asking you questions about why the Church does some of the things she does? I do not mind defending my faith, however, I get a little nervous in what I am suppose to say. (A side note: I was in the process of writing this reflection before this actually took place, so you can imagine my surprise at the timeliness of what was happening and I was praying for the Holy Spirit to please come into this conversation.) So, John asked me what my view of the scandal of the priests and bishops was and how the Church has been handling this issue. I did not want to get into a debate with John, because he already had a few drinks, and I knew that anything I said was going to be turned around on me, so I simply asked him if he believed in prayer. He said of course he did and he prays everyday. So I asked him if he would pray with me and all of our PAPA missionaries for all of our priests, bishops, and the Pope. He said that he would, but he still wanted to know what my thoughts were. I told him that it does not matter what my thoughts are, what matters is what I am doing about the situation. I am praying and asking everyone I can to pray for our priests. They are human just like we are, and are in need of prayer, especially in this time of crisis in the Church. He asked me if I thought prayer was the answer to everything. I said that it’s definitely a starting place. Right? I could tell he was very disappointed that he was not able to strike up a debate with me, but would that have done any good?
Now, I do not know if what I said was the right thing to say, but it came from my heart and it was said with love. How do we know if what we’ve said has done any good? I wonder how St. Stephen defended the Christian faith? How was his martyrdom a seed for us to spread the good news of the Gospel? What a blessing it is to have the honor to defend our Catholic faith. I pray that St. Stephen will intercede for us to have the courage and the endurance we need to be disciples of Christ.
As we celebrate this joyous season of Christmas, let us remember that Jesus Christ is born to be our Savior.
Merry Christmas and may God bless us all!