Martyrdom of St. Stephen


Matthew 10: 17-22
Acts 6: 8-10; 7: 54-59/ Ps 31: 3-4. 6, 8, 16- 17

Do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at the moment what you are to say.
(Matthew 10:19)

Like Stephen, who was guided by love,
Do not be fazed by trials, my friend.
The Spirit’s gifts will come from above
To help us persevere till the end.

“Beware of people; for they will hand you over to courts, and scourge you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear testimony before them and the pagans. When they deliver you up, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at the moment what you are to say; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will hand over brother to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But whoever endures to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 10:17-22)

Reflection

It is only the day after Christmas, but today’s Gospel of Matthew seems to shake off the holiday spirit by jolting us with Jesus’ prophecy of the parousia. Every year, except when December 26 falls on a Sunday, our Church commemorates this day as the feast of St. Stephen, who is considered as the first martyr of the early Church. St. Stephen was filled with the Holy Spirit’s power, and as Jesus had predicted, he was hated for his wisdom in proclaiming the Gospel, dragged before the Sanhedrin, falsely accused, and was stoned to death.

Unless one is in Iran, North Korea or Saudi Arabia, we have no reason to fear as the early Christians did in proclaiming the Word of God and being “scourged and dragged into courts” for our Christian belief. But why is it that even in our own Catholic communities, many are still hesitant and even ashamed to give testimony about their faith in front of their peers? If only they would put their complete trust in God, and not on their own capabilities, they would surely witness the Holy Spirit’s power working in them. There is this couple in our brotherhood who came from humble beginnings and were conscious of their limited academic achievements. But they were willing to stand up and be counted for the Lord. And the appreciation showered on them after sharing their life testimony proved what Jesus said, that “it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”

Lord, make me a mouthpiece of Your Word. When the opportunity to evangelize and to share Your Gospel is at hand, grant me the courage of St. Stephen, Your servant, to speak boldly for the sake of Your kingdom. Amen.

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