Feast of Saint Stephen, the First Martyr
Malvern Minute

 

Feast of Saint Stephen, the First Martyr

December 26, 2019

Deacon Anthony J. Cincotta

Assistant Director for Retreat Ministry

Acts of the Apostles 6:8-10, 7:54-59

Psalm 31

Matthew 10:17-22

Today the Church commemorates the Memorial Feast of Saint Stephen, deacon, and the first Christian martyr of the Church that died for Christ.  We might ask why we celebrate his feast on the day after Christmas when we are still filled with joy and have beautiful thoughts of what the birth of our Lord means to us.  Actually, it is to remind us of why Jesus came.  We see that the Christmas scene is not just something about the baby Jesus but the beginning of a life that would end up on the Cross.  The coming of Jesus is a call to commitment or if not, a call to martyrdom. 

Saint Stephen is a martyr because he sets an example on how to truly follow and die for Jesus.  That is to be truly a martyr, it is not enough to be killed because of Jesus but we must die as Jesus died.  Saint Pope John Paul II said, “Today, in the evocative framework of Christmas, we remember Saint Stephen, the first martyr.  His history provides an opportunity to reflect on the deep meaning of Christmas, already illuminated by the paschal mystery of Christs’ death and Resurrection.  The Proto-martyrs example of faithful adherence to Him encourages us to witness without compromise to the Gospel values, in the certainty that only in unreserved adherence to God’s Word and in the generous gift of self to our brothers and sisters, do we reach life’s fullness and authenticity.”    (Angelus, December 26, 1995.) 

Few of us will have the opportunity to be martyred for the Catholic faith.  But, if we are faithful to Christ, we will have a different form of martyrdom; such as the daily demands of an ever busy and changing world, for the forgiveness of our enemies, for the absolute love for God and our neighbors, for the acts of charity we perform, for our devotion to the Holy Eucharist – the source and summit of our faith, and for living the Good News of Jesus our Savior.

We cannot do  these things if we stay in our own little world, our own comfort zone, and have nothing to do with making our world a better place in which to live.  Everything I have mentioned must be practiced every day!

We bless and thank Saint Stephen for his example of courage and love for Jesus.  May we too model his words from the Acts of the Apostles, 7:59-60, that should echo in our ears as he said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit,” and then prayed for forgiveness for those who killed him, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” 

Saint Stephen, patron saint for deacons, cancer patients and masons, pray for us.

Question of the Day:  Will you offer your life for Christ?

Prayer:  Saint, Stephen, whom I have chosen as my special patron, pray for me that I too, may one day glorify the Blessed Trinity in heaven.  Obtain for me your lively faith, that I may consider all persons, things, and events in the light of Almighty God.  Pray, that I may be generous in making sacrifices of temporal things to promote my eternal interests, as you so wisely did.  Set me on fire with a love for Jesus that I may thirst for His sacraments and burn with zeal for the spread of His kingdom.  By your powerful intercession, help me in the performance of my duties to God, myself and the world.  Win for me the virtue of purity and a great confidence in the Blessed Virgin.  Protect me this day, and every day of my life.  Keep me from mortal sin.  Obtain for me the grace of a happy death.  Amen.  (40 Days of Support.org.) 

Prosit

 


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