Today’s Gospel: Matthew 10:17-22
Feast of Saint Stephen, The First Martyr
Yesterday, we basked in the glow of our Nativity scenes, unwrapped lovely presents, and spent time with family and friends in celebration of the birth of Jesus.
But today’s gospel and the Feast of Saint Stephen, the First Martyr, are in many respects a “reality check” about what it truly means to be a Christian. In Matthew’s tenth chapter, we find Jesus warning his disciples of the persecution that they will face. He doesn’t hold back. And he ensures them that they will all be hated and will suffer physically because of their love for him.
But the last nine words of this gospel passage hold great hope. The hope Jesus offered to his brave followers rings true for us today:
“…but whoever endures to the end will be saved.”
Most of us will not suffer a martyr’s death. The persecutions we encounter are far less onerous than those faced by the early Christians. And yet we struggle with them all the same. Celebrating the Christ Child means also embracing the truth of the cross. Believing comes with a price, but also with the most amazing of rewards, if we can persevere as Saint Stephen did.
Today, let us recapture a tiny glimmer of the joy we felt yesterday as we knelt near the manger. Let us fully celebrate all of this Christmas – not just that one day, but the full range of the liturgical season.
And let us pray for the grace to endure, so that we too may be saved.
Are you ever hated for what you believe? How does your faith sustain you in these moments of persecution?
Beloved Jesus, help me today and always to emulate the courage and perseverance of the apostles and of your servant, Saint Stephen. Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit. In you and through you and with you, I am saved.
We thank our friends at The Word Among Us for providing our gospel reflection team with copies of Abide In My Word 2015: Mass Readings at Your Fingertips. To pray the daily gospels with this wonderful resource, visit The Word Among Us.
Copyright 2015 Lisa Hendey