The first Christian martyr spoke up for Jesus at the cost of his life
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 “Mission In Scripture” to nurture a missionary heart, providing reflections on the missionary themes in the readings of Sundays, Feast Days and Holy Days.
St. Stephen was one of Jerusalem’s early Christians chosen for a leadership position as one of seven deacons.
He was known for speaking boldly and articulately, and for taking on those who wanted to question and debate him. Stephen accused many of his Jewish listeners of continuing a tradition of rejecting those whom God had sent in His name. This so enraged some of them that he was seized and stoned to death, becoming the first of the Church’s martyrs. The description of Stephen’s martyrdom shows some similarities to the death of Christ Himself including the forgiveness of his murderers. He also entrusted his soul to Jesus, just as our Redeemer had offered His spirit to His Father. “You are my rock and my fortress; for your name’s sake you will lead and guide me.… Into Your hands I commend my spirit; you will redeem me, O Lord, O faithful God. I will rejoice and be glad because of your mercy” (Psalm 31:4, 6, 8).
We, too, need to entrust ourselves to the Lord’s will and grace at every moment of our lives. We need to listen to those who proclaim the word of God, even if it is hard to hear. We must always be ready to welcome the joy of Christ’s Nativity as well as the suffering of His Passion and glory of His Resurrection.
Suggested missionary action: Let us ask St. Stephen to protect all who are persecuted for their faith in Christ in countries around the world. Let us also prayer for the work and welfare of all deacons.