Mass Reading & Meditation for December 26, 2012
Meditation: Acts 6:8-10; 7:54-59
Saint Stephen, The First Martyr
“Stephen, filled with the Spirit, looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God.” (Acts 7:55)
What would you have done if you were in Stephen’s shoes? Run away? Cower in the corner? Change your story altogether to placate your accusers? Stephen didn’t do any of these. Instead, he continued speaking with boldness and courage. He even embraced his death with calm and confidence. What was his secret?
Actually, Stephen’s secret is not such a secret at all. The Holy Spirit showed him what to say and do, just as Jesus promised he would (Matthew 10:19-20). Because he was “filled with grace and power,” Stephen could speak with great clarity and not flinch in the face of death.
Stephen is portrayed as such a heroic man that many of us may be tempted to disqualify ourselves. Honestly, who feels “filled with grace and power” as we go about our daily lives?
That’s the whole point. Stephen didn’t become a courageous martyr overnight. He spent a lot of his time at work waiting on tables! But that didn’t stop him from developing a relationship with the Holy Spirit. By inviting the Spirit to help him tackle the smaller challenges of daily life, Stephen grew stronger and more confident. He became better equipped to handle the major crises when they came.
The same is true for us. Few, if any, of us will face a mob intent on killing us, but we all have our fair share of challenges. And today, the day after Christmas, Jesus wants us to remember that he is Emmanuel, God-with-us. If we can learn to stay close to him through the day’s ups and downs, we’ll be ready to handle unexpected sickness, job loss, or whatever other problems may come our way.
Today, take just a few moments to think about an area of your life that causes you stress. Tell the Lord that you can’t face it on your own, and ask him to give you what you need to move forward. You may feel his peace right away, or it might come later in the day, but it will come. Keep asking the Lord for more of his Spirit, and he will guide you through every challenge.
“Lord, I can’t walk through this challenge by myself. Fill me with your Spirit of wisdom and grace. Let me know your peace.”
Psalm 31:3-4, 6, 8, 16-17; Matthew 10:17-22