READINGS for 2007-12-26
BEING AMAZING DAILY
“And he fell to his knees, shouting, ‘Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!’ And with that, he
died.” – Acts 7:60
I will not explain how I ended up reading the local edition of Cosmopolitan magazine one lazy afternoon. I will, however, tell you one nugget of advice I picked up.
How to Know If the Man You’re Dating Spells Trouble: “Check how he treats the service crew at a restaurant. Girl, just think about this: three months from now you’re gonna be treated how he treats that waitress if you hook up with him.”
I don’t know how scientific the bases are for the tips in the article. But my point is this: in the small stuff, big things become possible.
I can never imagine myself asking God to forgive those who are in the process of stoningme. But Stephen did. Of course, the gifts of the Holy Spirit of peace and self-control largely enabled him to do this. Yet I can imagine him exercising these gifts in his day-to-day life.
Most of us may not have the chance to face a hardship as Stephen did. But in our everyday dealings with this indifferent family member or that difficult relative, this frustrating coworker or that clueless barista– it would be wise to call on the Holy Spirit’s gifts and recall Stephen. Roy M.
Are you practicing the practice of the Holy Spirit?
Father, let me, like Stephen, be ready to forgive those who cast stones my way.
Acts 6:8-10; 7:54-60
Stephen died for his faith. This is what martyrdom is all about. Having the name Steven myself, I sometimes like to try and reflect upon the question of the state of mind of Stephen that led him to be able to give his life for the Gospel. It really is a rather remarkable thing to be willing to die for something. I suppose we have had cause to reflect upon this from the point of view of suicide bombers over recent years but I do not believe that they are anywhere close to reflecting the holiness or even commitment of someone who allows his or her life to be taken from them in order to defend his or her beliefs. To actively take another person’s life for any cause whatsoever is anathema to me.
8 Stephen, filled with grace and power, was working great wonders and signs among the people. 9 Certain members of the so — called Synagogue of Freedmen, Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and people from Cilicia and Asia, came forward and debated with Stephen, 10 but they could not withstand the wisdom and the spirit with which he spoke. 7: 54 When they heard this, they were infuriated, and they ground their teeth at him. 55 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, 56 and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 But they cried out in a loud voice, covered their ears, and rushed upon him together. 58 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. 59 As they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell to his knees and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them”; and when he said this, he fell asleep.
P S A L M
Psalm 31:3-4, 6, 8, 16, 17
R: Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.
2  Be my rock of refuge, a stronghold to give me safety. 3  You are my rock and my fortress; for your name’s sake you will lead and guide me. (R) 5  Into your hands I commend my spirit; you will redeem me, O LORD, O faithful God. 7  I will rejoice and be glad of your mercy. (R) 15  Rescue me from the clutches of my enemies and my persecutors. 16  Let your face shine upon your servant; save me in your kindness. (R)
G O S P E L
There is an old saying that says, “sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never harm me.” I sometimes wonder whether this is really true, the second part at least. It seems to me that the words of truth and the witness of the lives of others as it comes down to us in written form are at least as powerful as the reality of their lived experience. Also, too often I have been left to sort out the mess of a person’s life who has been subject to verbal abuse from others over a sustained period of time. Therefore, I think we should have a renewed respect for the power of the written and spoken word and seek to use it well in order that we build people up and do not destroy their lives through the use of words.
17 “Beware of people, for they will hand you over to courts and scourge you in their synagogues, 18 and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake as a witness before them and the pagans. 19 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. 20 For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21 Brother will hand over brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. 22 You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved.”
think: The words of truth and the witness of the lives of others as it comes down to us in written form is at least as powerful as the reality of their lived experience.
Thank You Lord for: ____________________________________
READ THE BIBLE IN ONE YEAR 2 John/3 John/Jude
A long, long time ago, before any of us were born, the Church had only one liturgical color: red. When persecution broke out, the early Christian communities would gather to “Break Bread” in remembrance of the Lord, they would gather inside catacombs and celebrate Mass on top of a martyr’s tomb. The presider would wear red garment in memory of the Christian martyrs. There were no other liturgical colors as we have them today. Every Mass was in remembrance of the Lord in honor of His followers who shed their blood for the Faith.
Immediately after Christmas, we honor the first Christian martyr: Stephen.
Thus, from gold or white, the liturgical color turns into crimson or red – the color of martyrdom. This reminds us that Christmas does not encourage us to remain in Bethlehem but to step out of the stable where Jesus was born and to journey with Him to Calvary where we are all called to bear witness.
The Child born on Christmas day was born to give us life in its fullness. That giving of life, due to our sins, led to the shedding of His blood. We cannot live that fullness of life without our selves dying. But we die more than once. We die everyday. Dying does not only mean we stop breathing but stopping the reign of self-centeredness that is the root of all evil.
Stephen, the First Christian martyr, died forgiving his persecutors. Saul was his main persecutors. Saul later on became Paul. The shining example of Stephen and the other Christians whom he persecuted must have had such an impact on Saul that he eventually became the tireless and brave defender of the Faith he used to harass.
Thanks to Stephen and the early Christian martyrs! Their witness to the Faith gave us St. Paul.
It is now a day after Christmas. If we find our selves still lingering by the nativity scene at the expense of the urgent call of charity towards others, we are at the wrong place. If we find our selves still mesmerized by the statue of the infant Jesus at the expense of recognizing Him in others, most especially the poor, we are looking at the wrong Jesus. Christmas is a mandate for us to bring Jesus from Bethlehem to every corner of our neighbors’ lives. By doing so, we are martyrs, too, for martyrdom is not only dying for Jesus but living for Him as well. Fr. Bobby T.
REFLECTION QUESTION: If we find our selves still lingering by the nativity scene at the expense of the urgent call of charity towards others, we are at the wrong place. If we find our selves still mesmerized by the statue of the infant Jesus at the expense of recognizing Him in others, most especially the poor, we are looking at the wrong Jesus.
Dear Jesus, help me live for You before I die for You. Let me bear witness to You in every way. May I be able to bring You to the lives of every person I meet. May I give birth to You each day. Amen.
St. Dionysius, Pope, pray for us.
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