Saturday, December 26, 2009

Saturday 12 26 09 ST STEPHEN, MARTYR

What kind of martyrdom do most contemporary followers of Jesus endure? A reasonable question on this feast day! Even more reasonable when you consider the following words from today's gospel: "You will be hated by all because of my name" (Matthew 10:22). These words are a warning from Jesus to his disciples.

Yesterday my grandnephew was the star guest at a family gathering at the proud grandfather's home. Only nine months old, Joey stole everyone's attention. He is the most recent birth our our family following a ten-year hiatus of new arrivals into the family except the newer "in-laws"! Everyone had to take a turn holding Joey. How many times could "Be careful. Watch him!" be heard in the family room where we gathered to celebrate another child's birth some two thousand years ago -- surely the only birthday celebrated around the world since his birth. This is the child whose name, whose later teachings would and continue to demand witness.

It was witnessing to this child that would produce genuine martyrs throughout the centuries. His message to the world would lead men and women, like St. Stephen, to die witnessing death ... and that same belief will continue in our times and even afterward.

How does the birth of Jesus call you to witness his message -- to yourself? to your family? to your friends? and to your community? Does another celebration of the birth of the child, Jesus, have any impact upon your thinking, your prayer? What sacrifices does your commitment to him and his message have in our life?

Stephen, being stoned by unbelievers, called out "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." Am I strong like him to stand for the message this same Jesus brings to me in my world today?