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Thursday, December 26, 2002

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St. Stephen

Acts 6:8-10; 7:54-59
Psalm 31
Matthew 10:17-22

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holy days and holy deaths

Stephen, "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." —Acts 7:55

On the second day of Christmas, our true Love, Jesus, gives us for our inspiration and imitation St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr. This suggests to us that the meaning of Christmas is to deepen our love for Jesus so much that we will both live and die for Him.

Stephen loved Jesus so much that He imitated Jesus in life and in death. Jesus was anointed "with the Holy Spirit and power. He went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil" (Acts 10:38). Stephen was "filled with faith and the Holy Spirit" (Acts 6:5),  and "was working great wonders and signs among the people" (Acts 6:8). As Jesus was crucified, He prayed: "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do" (Lk 23:34). As Stephen was executed, he prayed: "Lord, do not hold this sin against them" (Acts 7:60). As He died, Jesus prayed: "Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit" (Lk 23:46). As he died, Stephen prayed: "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit" (Acts 7:59).

This Christmas season, let us plunge more deeply into the depths of Christ's love than ever before. Then we will be more like Jesus than ever before, that is, we will be holier. Therefore, have not only a merry Christmas but also a holy one. Have not only a silent night but also a holy night, life, and death.

Prayer:  Father, may I want to be holy more than I want anything else.

Promise:  "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." —Mt 10:19-20

Praise:  "Certain members of the so-called Synagogue of Freedmen...came forward and debated with Stephen, but they could not withstand the wisdom and the spirit with which he spoke" (Acts 6:9-10).

Nihil Obstat:  Reverend David L. Zink, June 12, 2002

Imprimatur:  †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 13, 2002