Meditation for the Day

Feast of Saint Stephen, Protomartyr, December 26

May God’s Grace Help Us to Patiently and Joyfully Accept the Hardships, Adversities and Persecutions Which May Come Our Way in Serving His Will Here on This Side of Heaven.

“Into your hands I commend my spirit; you will redeem me, O LORD, O faithful God.”

Our Responsorial Psalm and today’s Readings may seem strange on this first day after Christmas – readings of stoning, persecution, death and mercy. Yet, as we well know, birth and death go hand-in-hand in the story of the life of our Savior.

This is true not only in the events surrounding the life of Christ, but is also reinforced by the celebration, on the day after The Nativity, of the martyrdom of Saint Stephen, the protomartyr or the first Christian martyr of the New Covenant whose Feastday we celebrate today.

In our Readings, we see the connection between Bethlehem and Calvary. The very reason the Son of God took flesh upon Himself and became Man was to redeem us from slavery to sin and death, and to give us new life as adopted children of God.

Jesus never hesitated to tell His disciples what they might expect if they followed Him, as we hear in today’s Gospel. And He also taught us by example – in the life He lived and the death He experienced – that the way to glory in the Kingdom of God is through the cross.

If we want to share in our Lord’s Glory, then we, too, must take up our cross each day and follow in His footsteps!

Both our Readings for today speak to us of service and sacrifice. Stephen was one of the original seven deacons of the early Christian community. They were, as Scripture tells us, “seven reputable men, filled with the Spirit and wisdom” – men chosen by the people and upon whom the Apostles “prayed and laid hands.”

Being chosen to accomplish God’s work among His people oftentimes requires sacrifice. And in Stephen’s case – as it was with the Apostles, the presbyters and the early deacons of the growing Christian communities – it oftentimes required the ultimate sacrifice of one’s life for the good of Christ’s Church, imitating the Holy Sacrifice which Christ Himself made on Calvary.

Stephen died as Jesus did – falsely accused and brought to an unjust condemnation because he spoke God’s Truth fearlessly. He died with his eyes trustingly fixed on God, and with a prayer of forgiveness in his heart and upon his lips.

A “happy” death is one that finds us in the same spirit of faith and trust as we find in many of the saints, whether our dying is as quiet and peaceful as tradition tells us of Saint Joseph, or as violent as Saint Stephen’s. A happy death is dying with conviction of faith, total trust and forgiving love.

It is no coincidence that we celebrate Stephen’s martyrdom today. Christmas is the story of God’s Love for man. Stephen’s death is the story of man’s love for God.

Christmas gives us the cause to rejoice in the fact that the Son of God, having taken our flesh upon Himself, was born into this world, so that He would ransom us from slavery to sin, even in the midst of our human frailties, even in the midst of our weaknesses and the many trials we may have to face in this life.

May God’s grace help us to patiently and joyfully accept the hardships, adversities and persecutions which may come our way in serving His will here on this side of Heaven, as it did Stephen so long ago.

For when our hearts are filled with such faith in Jesus Christ, we, too, shall one day enjoy a holy and happy death, echoing the words which we read from today’s psalmist –

“I will rejoice and be glad because of your mercy.”

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Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.

Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.

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Scripture for the Day

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Prayer for the Day

“O Most Merciful God,

Great and Omnipotent Judge of the living and the dead,

we are to appear before You after this short life

to render an account of our works.

“Give us the grace to prepare for our final hour

by a devout and holy life,

and protect us against a sudden and unprovided death.

Let us remember our frailty and mortality,

that we may always live in the ways of Your Commandments.

“Teach us to ‘watch and pray,’

that when You summon our departure from this world,

we may go forth to meet You, experience a Merciful Judgment,

and rejoice in everlasting happiness.

We humbly ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.”

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