“You will be brought to trial before rulers and kings, to give witness before them.” —Matthew 10:18
Christmas is a special opportunity to witness for Jesus. Because St. Stephen was the first witness to give up his life for Jesus the faithful Witness (Rv 1:5), it is appropriate that he is the first of the Christmas saints. Witnessing is not just saying good things about Jesus. Witnessing is communicating a personal experience of Jesus. St. Stephen was a witness not just because he spoke about Jesus, but because he saw Jesus at the Father’s right hand and proclaimed this to the crowd (see Acts 7:56). Witnesses for Jesus share not just what they have received from other human beings in conversation or instruction. Rather, their witness is based on their personal experience of revelation from Christ (Gal 1:12).
Moreover, witnessing is not just communicating a personal experience of Jesus. Witnessing is in the context of a trial. This may not be a legal trial but any situation where people have decided to cross-examine Jesus again and to pronounce judgment on His followers. These courts are set up at work, in politics, social events, entertainment, mass media, and even church. When we proclaim our personal experience of Jesus in a legal court or in a “kangaroo court,” we are witnesses for Jesus in the true sense of the word. Then the Holy Spirit will put words in our mouths (Mt 10:20). We will be persecuted and possibly even martyred. Then Sauls will become Pauls, and Christmas will be truly the celebration of Jesus’ birth.
Prayer: Father, may my simple, persistent witness shake the social fabric in which I’m involved.
Promise: “As Stephen was being stoned, he could be heard praying, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ ” —Acts 7:59
Praise: “Stephen’s face seemed like that of an angel” (Acts 6:15). St. Stephen, please pray the Holy Spirit will give us peaceful and courageous hearts.
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