St. Stephen the 1st Martyr
Today we celebrate the feast day of St. Stephen, the first martyr in our faith. Can you imagine, giving your life up for your faith, for something you believe in with all your heart, mind, soul? I bet there are things in your life you would guard, maybe people you would protect. Can you go as far as to say that you would protect them with your life, to sacrifice yourself for them? Things, no. People, possibly. Causes, less likely. But a life of faith, we are each called to bear a cross, just as Jesus did, taking a stand so that the world can be redeemed, can have a chance at finding true life in God's grace.
Today's First Reading states:'And Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), and of the Cyre'nians, and of the Alexandrians, and of those from Cili'cia and Asia, arose and disputed with Stephen. But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke. Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth against him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into 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 with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together upon him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him; and the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit"'(Acts 6:8-10; 7:54-59).
Every martyr that comes after Jesus tries to take a stand, to announce their belief and spread it to the world, no matter what. In this world of change, and constant improvements and new things, that can be hard. Faith has become like shopping, you pick and choose which parts you accept and which you don't. Obviously, this isn't really being faithful, but it's the world we live in. Take some time to ask God to help you work towards being a better person in faith, willing to give your life for what you believe.
Today's prayer comes from 'Catholic Online' a prayer of St. Stephen:
Lord Jesus, you chose Stephen as the first deacon and martyr of your One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. The heroic witness of his holy life and death reveals your continued presence among us. Through following the example of his living faith, and by his intercession, empower us by your Holy Spirit to live as witnesses to the faith in this New Missionary Age. No matter what our state in life, career or vocation, help us to proclaim, in both word and in deed, the fullness of the Gospel to a world which is waiting to be born anew in Jesus Christ. Pour out upon your whole Church, the same Holy Spirit which animated St Stephen, Martyr, to be faithful to the end, which is a beginning of life eternal in the communion of the Trinity. Amen.