December 26, 2015

Stephen

December 26, 2015:  St. Stephen, First Martyr



  • 'Owl' tie pin:  Debaters couldn't withstand Stephen's wisdom (1st reading)
  • Red shirt:  Stephen's martyrdom 
  • 'Holy Spirit' chain:  Stephen was filled with the Spirit (1st reading); when you're handed over, the Spirit will speak through you (gospel)
  • 'Stone/rock' tie pin:  they stoned Stephen (1st reading); be my rock of refuge (psalm)
  • 'Hand' tie pin:  Into Your hands I commend my spirit (psalm); beware of people who will hand you over... (gospel)
  • Tie with singing Santa:  Christmas time, plus tonight's sing-along Messiah at home with 14-piece orchestra when we did 51 of the 53 sections!
  • Christmas pin:  see yesterday for better view, here for legend
Listen

  • Love has come/ Maher
  • Love has come/ Grant
  • Look it up/ Presley, Orrall:  country song with verse about how hard it is for us to forgive ("forgiveness... It's what Jesus has in store for you, but I don't...")  This Bailey/Lowe cover avoids the original's bad language.  lyrics+ (Pope homily-inspired) 
Pope Francis Angelus
Stephen is a faithful witness, because he did as Jesus did.  He knew how to love, give, and forgive.  Forgiveness isn't just a good deed; it leads to results.  Among those for whom Stephen begged forgiveness was St. Paul.  Paul was born by God's grace and Stephen’s forgiveness.
We too are born from God's forgiveness.  Every time we're forgiven, our heart is reborn.  Never tire of asking God's forgiveness; only when we're forgiven can we learn to forgive.  But forgiving is always difficult.  Every day we have the opportunity to train ourselves to forgive, to live this gesture that brings us closer to God.  Like our Father, we become merciful, through forgiveness we overcome evil with good, transform hate to love, and make the world cleaner.
Read

  • Acts 6:8-10; 7:54-59  Many couldn't withstand Stephen's wisdom; they stoned him.  “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”
  • Mt 10:17-22  When they hand you over, don't worry; the Spirit will speak through you.   Endure and be saved.

Reflect
    • Creighton:  Stephen was one of the original deacons.  It's ironic we celebrate the first martyr the day after we celebrate Jesus' birth; believing in that baby can get us killed.  More Christians are martyred every day than ever before, and we've become anesthetized to it.  Stephen endured to the end. May we strive to endure like them; God's power makes it possible.
    • One Bread, One Body:  "Stephen's three 'last words'":  On Good Friday, we hear about the "last words" of Jesus.  Today, we hear the "last words" of Stephen, uttered as he was being stoned to death  "Look!...  I see an opening in the sky, and the Son of Man standing at God's right hand."  With St. Stephen, "let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus" so we'll be able to rejoice when persecuted.  "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit" (prayed while being stoned).  Just before he died, Jesus prayed, "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit."  May we respond as Jesus and his disciple Stephen did.  "Lord, do not hold this sin against them."  Jesus likewise prayed, "Father, forgive them; they don't know what they're doing."  If we forgive always, we can even when persecuted.  Saul, glad to witness Stephen's death, heard these last words and eventually became a great apostle.  May we imitate Jesus as Stephen did.
    • DailyScripture.net:  "The one who endures to the end will be saved":  The Son of God took flesh to redeem us and give us new life.  The way to glory is through the cross.  To share in Jesus' glory, we must take up our cross and follow him.  Our privilege is to follow in the footsteps of Him who laid down his life for us.  The Lord gives us grace to follow him and to bear our cross with courage and hope....
    • Universalis:  St. Stephen, first martyr, apostles-appointed deacon, organized food distribution to the poor, performed miracles, confounded Jews in debate, preached Christ to and prayed for persecutors; see Catholic Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.