St. Stephen year B (Feast, Dec. 26)

Acts 6:8-10; 7:54-59        Mathew 10: 17-22

Theme: Great faith

Today the church celebrates the feast of St. Stephen, the first Martyr and an upright man with great faith. He was a great man, whose life was accompanied with signs and wonders. He was a man of great wisdom, and he was guided by the holy spirit. As a result of his way of life, he encountered a lot of persecutions and oppositions just like Jesus did in his own time. But he did not allow the situation to stop him from preaching and telling the people with they need to know as children of God.

Unfortunately, they could not stand the truth that St. Stephen presented to them, and this eventually led to the stoning to death of the first Martyr. Amidst all he went through before his death, he was positively disposed towards what awaits him in the hands of his persecutors; he took everything with faith. Remember, St. Stephen did not commit any crime that warrant his stoning to death. It was just that the people could not accept his message, that he presented to them, and they decided to do away with him.

Interestingly, even in our own time, some of us are not positively disposed to accept the truth about themselves. Instead of reflecting about what has been said and make amend, if need be, they rather prefer to resist it and fight the source of the message, just like in the case of St. Stephen. The earlier we accept the fact that we are not perfect, the better for all of us. Fighting against people who tell us the truth about ourselves will not do us any good, it will rather make us a bitter person. This is because whatever God has decreed must surely come to pass, whether you want to accept it or not. The earlier we accept the fact that we are all work in progress, the better for all of us. This is because it will give us a better disposition to always accept the truth about ourselves and do the needful.

The admonition of Jesus in the gospel reading of today from St. Mathew, should be a source of great strength for all of us as children of God. He said we should be mindful of people because they would come as obstacles and challenges in our lives. However, he gave us a blessed assurance, he will always be with us at such moments in our lives. May the Lord bless his words in our hearts, in the name of the father and of the son and of the holy spirit, Amen. Peace be with you.

St. Stephen Martyr (Feast, Dec. 26), by Fr. Jude Ifeanyi Ifezime, C.S.Sp