1st Reading: Acts 6:8-10; 7:54-59
Stephen, filled with grace and power, was working great wonders and signs among the people. Certain members of the so-called Synagogue of Freedmen, Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and people from Cilicia and Asia, came forward and debated with Stephen, but they could not withstand the wisdom and the spirit with which he spoke. When they heard this, they were infuriated, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out in a loud voice, covered their ears, and rushed upon him together. They threw him out of the city, and began to stone him. The witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul. As they were stoning Stephen, he called out “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”
Gospel: 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.”
CHRIST IS THE BETTER OPTION: Today we celebrate the feast of a person who would not let anything separate him from Christ. St. Stephen’s life teaches us what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. He boldly bears witness that Jesus is the divine Son of God. He endures the same trial as Jesus, being falsely accused like Jesus, and he kept praying for his persecutors, just like Jesus did. At his death, he surrenders his spirit into Jesus hands, just like Jesus surrendered his spirit into his Father’s hand. That is true discipleship, to totally identify oneself with Christ, to imitate Christ until one is transformed into his image. The death of Stephen shows what it means to celebrate the birth of the Saviour. It means to be totally ready to be united with Christ, and become his faithful follower. It means that if one is faced with a choice between one’s life and Christ, one will choose Christ.
Prayer: Lord, may I always prefer you to anything else.
STAND UP AND BE COUNTED: The first Martyr is commemorated. The procession of martyrs, have begun whose blood bore witness to the most sacred Lamb whose birthday went a day before. The face of this holy figure shone like the morning sun as if he waited for this day and rejoiced deep within in standing up for the Sinless One. The story boldly proclaims the utmost fulfillment of one’s to be a Christian is when you happily tread the path of suffering laid out by the Messiah. Jesus said: “I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves: so be wise like serpents and innocent as doves” (Mt 10:16). You will do well when you attempt to achieve this combination. The civilized with bundles of learning arduously achieved, often appear snobbish and hardly carry that simplicity and innocence. There are those leading a flawed existence, who berate and belittle themselves and unconsciously work against the divine plan for them. You may not be in the news or in the limelight, but there is great power in self-discovery. Let us contribute by our being, to the harmony of this world. Let us try to tune ourselves to rhythm of the Lord.