Jesus said to
his disciples: “Beware of men, for they will hand
you over to courts and scourge you in their synagogues,
and you will be led before governors and kings
for my sake as a witness before them and the
pagans. 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. For it will not
be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father
speaking through you. Brother will hand over brother to
death, and the father his child; children will rise
up against parents and have them put to death. You
will be hated by all because of my name,
but whoever endures to the end will be saved.”
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I open my heart
to you on this new day. Because of your
unfailing love for me, you deserve my deep gratitude and
complete confidence in you, so I set my entire
being at your disposal. Do with me what you
wish. I know that you love me and that nothing
that can truly harm me will happen as long
as I keep striving to live in your love.
Petition: Lord, help me to experience your
forgiveness and learn to forgive in return.
1. “Do Not Hold This Sin Against
Them!” - These words of St. Stephen (Acts 7:60)
repeat Christ’s last words on earth. He has entered
into Christ’s heart. He is on fire for his Lord.
This fire is making him pass through the same
crucible of rejection and death that Christ passed through.
And he is walking in the fire without being scorched.
His heart burns so much for Christ that it
cannot fester with hatred and despair. Like his Lord, he
wants only the salvation of his persecutors. Am I
letting my heart to be ignited with the flame
of love that burns in that Child in the manger?
Am I showing the zeal of love that is
2. The Case of
Saul:The Acts of the Apostles records the approval of Stephen’s
martyrdom by Saul. Saul was a man who thought
he understood everything. He thought he knew how evil
Stephen was and what a threat his teaching brought.
His intentions seemed correct, but he was dead wrong. Saul
will later speak of himself as someone born dead.
He was dead –– dead in his soul – because
he had missed the point. Yet God is merciful.
Saul soon becomes St. Paul. Jesus accepts the prayer
of Stephen just as the Father accepts the prayer of
Jesus. We do not need to be afraid. God
accepts our prayers, too. He will do marvels if
we persevere in prayer and service.
3. Hard of Heart:We’re often pushed out of our
comfort zone by Christ’s message. We are ready to
be forgiven by Christ and by others, but it
is not so easy to take the logical next step
of quickly and easily forgiving others. To become a
forgiving St. Stephen we need to keep in mind that
we, too, are Saul. The Christmas Season is a
perfect time for a change of heart. By contemplating
today the loving face of God in that child in
the manger we can experience his tender, infinite love
for us. Anchored in his friendship we can gain
the magnanimity of heart to set aside any ill will
from past injuries and desire for everyone to find
the peace and joy that only comes from knowing the
Conversation with Christ:
Lord, thank you for the example of St. Stephen,
the first martyr of your young Church. On this
day after your birth, you also show me the birth
of total courage in love. I believe that I
am safe in your arms no matter how hard the
difficulties. I believe that you entrust me with your
mission. Today I renew the commitment to be faithful
to my mission as a Christian and an apostle “till
death on the battlefield.” Jesus, you are my Lord.
I will follow you.
I will look for the positive side in everyone
I meet. I will look beyond their limitations. I will
forgive anyone who might offend me.