December 26, 2022
by Carol Zuegner
Creighton University's Journalism Department
click here for photo and information about the writer

Feast of Saint Stephen, first martyr
Lectionary: 696

Acts 6:8-10; 7:54-59
Psalm 31:3-4, 6, 7, 8, 17, 21
Matthew 10:17-22

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Pope Francis on this day - 2015

Pope Francis on this day - 2020

Praying with the Aftermath of Christmas

Today is the feast of St. Stephen, known as the first martyr of Christianity. I’d heard of St. Stephen, most notably in a Christmas carol called “Good King Wenceslas,” which mentions the feast of St. Stephen. Stephen was one of the first deacons of the church and was known for speaking out, as the first reading states, with “with grace and power” because he was filled with the Holy Spirit. Stephen ended up being stoned to death for speaking out, but he forgave those who committed the act before he died. In the gospel, Jesus reminds us that preaching the gospel and spreading the word of God can and likely will be difficult. The world then and now often is not receptive to a message of loving your neighbor, standing up for those who are oppressed and seek justice, treating all with dignity and respect.

Today’s gospel is also a reminder that our faith requires that relationship with God, and a relationship with our community – family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, the world. How am I advancing the good news today? The bad news is that this work of advancing the gospel message in my own corner of the world can be difficult. How do I speak up for those who have less, those who struggle? My actions, even small ones, can make a difference. If I am afraid to speak up, I can remember the words of today’s gospel: “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.”

Today, my prayer is from the psalm. Guide me to do the right thing even when it is difficult. “Let your face shine upon your servant; save me in your kindness.” Let me spread that kindness to others.

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