St. Stephen expressed his loyalty to Christ with grace and power
Reflections on the readings for the Feast of St. Stephen (December 26, 2018): ACTS 6:8-10;7:54-59; PS 31:3-4,6,8,16-17; MT 10:17-22
MISSIO offers “Preaching Mission,” as a homily help, providing connections to mission from the readings of Sundays, Feast Days and Holy Days.
On this day after Christmas, the reading from the Acts of the Apostles introduces us to St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr.
As the early Church was growing in Jerusalem, he was one of those chosen to be a deacon. He was a man of great speaking ability and able to debate successfully with many who feared and hated the message of Jesus and His followers. Finally, certain members of the Jewish community denounced Stephen’s words on behalf of our Lord as blasphemy. He was taken from the city and stoned to death, but not before he looked up to heaven and he saw Jesus standing at God’s right hand. Stephen also asked Christ to forgive those who were killing him. He died about 35 A.D.
The Gospel for today reminds us that Jesus warned His disciples that those who walked in His footsteps must be ready to suffer for their belief in Him. But He also tried to instill confidence that they would be able to meet the challenge. Christ said, “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” (Matthew 10:19-20). St. Stephen clearly embodied this message. He willingly died rather than turn away from the Son of God and Redeemer of the world. Even as we continue to relish the joyful spirit of Christmas, we must be ready to live out our faith in word and deed, whenever it is demanded of us.