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FEAST OF SAINT STEPHEN, THE FIRST MARTYR, DECEMBER 26, 2022




A reading of the holy Gospel according to MT 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.”


REFLECTION

For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.


Just a few hours ago we were celebrating the birth of Jesus, singing about peace, joy and love. I can still hear the bells ringing. The Christmas season has just begun and now we are being told of the perils that await us and what we will face when following Jesus.


St Stephen is the first martyr. He was a Hellenist ( Palestinian Jew who spoke Greek). He was one of 7 deacons chosen to work for the poor as the Church grew. He was filled with the Holy Spirit and His wisdom. Filled with grace and power, he worked wonders and signs among the people. (Acts of Apostles, 6:8) Some members of the synagogue debated with him but their efforts did not match the wisdom of the Holy Spirit.


These self righteous men contrived their same old accusations of blasphemy against Moses and God and even brought forth, again, false witnesses to bolster their claims. St Stephen accused them of being stiff necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears.... He accused them of being just like their ancestors of rejecting God's chosen leaders. (Acts 7: 51-53)


They were so angry at him that they stoned him when he spoke of seeing the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.


Do we have such courage? It is easy to speak up when people are nodding in agreement. But what about those who glare at us with pursed lips when we speak about Jesus or about Catholicism? How many people at the dinner table were not in total agreement with what we believe? Would we be willing to discuss our beliefs? Can we with conviction?


In Matthew's Gospel, we are told not to be anxious about how to speak or what to say; "for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you." Are we willing to allow the Holy Spirit to work in us and through us? Would it be we or the Holy Spirit praying for our persecutors and forgiving them?


Complete surrender to the Holy Spirit is needed. He will do the work.


God never abandons us. Are we open to God's graces?


St Stephen, pray for us to forgive our enemies and persecutors.


" Do not fear, Abram!

I am your shield;

I will make your reward very great!

(Genesis 15:1)


Merry Christmas

God Bless You


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