Homily (Reflection) for the Memorial of Saint Stephen, First Martyr (Octave of Christmas) (26th December, 2019) on the Gospel and the Memorial
Ps 30:3-126.96.36.199-17. (R. v.6);
The primary source of information about Saint Stephen is the Acts of the Apostles. Stephen or Stephan, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, is the first Christian martyr. He was a deacon, cf. Acts 7:54-59. Stephen is mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles as one of the Greek-speaking Hellenistic Jews selected to participate in a fairer distribution of welfare to the Greek-speaking widows, cf. Acts 6:5. He was accused of blasphemy and his martyrdom was witnessed by Saul of Tarsus (Saint Paul), a Pharisee who would later himself become a follower of Jesus, cf. Acts 8:1.
Just yesterday we popped champagnes among other things that the long-awaited saviour was born. And today, we celebrate the first person who died for this saviour. He warns us in today’s gospel: “Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles” (Matt 10:17-18).
This warning tells us among other things that to be a Christian is not all rosy. A call to be a Christian is a call to be a martyr no matter the circumstance one finds him/herself. At the face of every persecution that might come one’s way, one must bear witness to the new born king, cf. Lk 21:13. Again, for anybody to be saved, he or she must endure to the end, cf. Matt 10:22. Saint Stephen is a very good example.
So my dear one, as we celebrate our saviour’s birthday we must also contemplate what it means to be Christ’s follower. Each of us must be ready for anything that pleases our newborn King to befall us. Beware, anyone who wants to live an authentic Christian life must be ready for persecution even from those one least expects, cf. Matt 10:21; Mk 13:12.
Bible Readings: 1Pt 4:12-19.
Thought for today: Tighten your belt and lace your shoes for the race.
Let us pray: May the newborn King help us live out our call as Christians no matter what it may cost – Amen.
Saint Stephen – pray for us.
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