Today’s Gospel: Matthew 10:17-22 – Saint Stephen
Yesterday we celebrated the birth of Jesus. Today, we commemorate the feast of St. Stephen, the first martyr. The mood of the Gospel is vastly different. Instead of celebrating the birth of the Savior, we are warned of the cost of discipleship. Jesus tells the disciples, “You will be hated by all because of my name.” (Matthew 10:22) The Church, even in this liturgical season of rejoicing, does not want us to forget that the manger is intimately connected to the cross.
Make no mistake, we will suffer for our faith. This suffering may not take the form of physical martyrdom that Stephen and so many of the early disciples faced with courage, although even in our modern world, many Christians are put to death for their faith each year.
Would you be ready to die for your faith? It’s hard to think about, but we can trust that if that moment ever came, the Holy Spirit would give us the courage to bear the ultimate witness to our faith. In the meantime, we are called to give up our lives in smaller ways. We are called to sacrifice. We are called to stand up for what is right even when it is unpopular. We are called to live in a countercultural manner, bearing witness to Christ in all we say and do, even if we are persecuted for it.
Living authentic Christian lives will not win us any popularity contests. Nor will it guarantee us a life of earthly happiness and prosperity. Anyone who tells you different is not preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. What we are promised is that “whoever endures to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 10:22)
When have you been persecuted for your faith? When have you hidden your faith to avoid persecution?
Dear Jesus, grant me the courage to proudly live my faith in You, even in the face of persecution.
Copyright 2019 Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur
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