Monday, December 26, 2011

What You Are to Say

December 26, 2011

Feast of Saint Stephen, first martyr

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, and he said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." But they cried out in a loud voice, covered their ears, and rushed upon him together. Acts 7:55-57

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. Matthew 10:19-20


In you, LORD, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame. In your righteousness deliver me; incline your ear to me; make haste to rescue me! Be my rock of refuge, a stronghold to save me. For you are my rock and my fortress; for your name’s sake lead me and guide me. Free me from the net they have set for me, for you are my refuge. Into your hands I commend my spirit; you will redeem me, LORD, God of truth. Psalm 31:2-6


Throughout Advent, the readings for Mass have overflowed with models for our Christian behavior. Now that we have celebrated the birth of the Lord, today, we return to the lives of the saints whom we are called to emulate.

Stephen picked up his action right where Jesus left off. But the people did not want to hear. Just like the people did not want to hear what Jesus had to say, they had a similar reaction to the witness of Stephen. And Stephen remained constant in his action, emulating Christ until the very end. “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” echoes the dying words of Christ spoken on the cross.


How ready are we to set aside our plans and pick up the plans that the Lord has for us? St. Stephen may not have known in advance what was in store for him in the same way that Christ knew the fate he was destined to fulfill. Yet, the first martyr stayed the course to its inevitable end nonetheless.