Limitless Poetry Holy Eucharist is the sacrament that renews the earth. Asking what you can do for your country? Make a good Communion. Make a visit
Holy Eucharist is the sacrament that renews the earth. Asking what you can do for your country? Make a good Communion. Make a visit to the tabernacle. Much more will follow. God will make limitless poetry out of the prose of your life, and he will renew the face of the earth, beginning with your little corner.
-from A Eucharistic Christmas
†"In a world gone astray from God there is no peace, but it also lacks charity, which is true and perfect love... Nothing is more beautiful than love. Indeed, faith and hope will end when we die, whereas love, that is, charity, will last for eternity." — Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati
✞MEDITATION OF THE DAY✞ "We might say the whole mystery of our redemption in Christ, by his incarnation, his death and his resurrection, consists of this marvelous exchange: in the heart of Christ, God has loved us humanly, so as to render our human hearts capable of loving divinely. God became man so that man might become God—might love as only God is capable of loving, with the purity, intensity, power, tenderness, and inexhaustible patience that belong to the divine love. It is an extraordinary source of hope and a great consolation to know that, by virtue of God's grace working in us (if we remain open to it by persevering in faith, prayer, and the sacraments), the Holy Spirit will transform and expand our hearts to the point of one day making them capable of loving as God loves." — Fr. Jacques Philippe, p. 67-8 AN EXCERPT FROM Interior Freedom
Saint of the Day for December 26 (d. c. 36 )
Saint Stephen's Story
As the number of disciples continued to grow, the Greek-speaking Christians complained about the Hebrew-speaking Christians, saying that their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. So the Twelve called together the community of the disciples and said, "It is not right for us to neglect the word of God to serve at table. Brothers, select from among you seven reputable men, filled with the Spirit and wisdom, whom we shall appoint to this task, whereas we shall devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word." The proposal was acceptable to the whole community, so they chose Stephen, a man filled with faith and the Holy Spirit… (Acts 6:1-5).
Acts says that Stephen was a man filled with grace and power, who worked great wonders among the people. Certain Jews, members of the Synagogue of Roman Freedmen, debated with Stephen but proved no match for the wisdom and spirit with which he spoke. They persuaded others to make the charge of blasphemy against him. He was seized and carried before the Sanhedrin.
In his speech, Stephen recalled God's guidance through Israel's history, as well as Israel's idolatry and disobedience. He then claimed that his persecutors were showing this same spirit. "[Y]ou always oppose the holy Spirit; you are just like your ancestors" (Acts 7:51b).
His speech brought anger from the crowd. "But [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, and he said, 'Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God….' They threw him out of the city, and began to stone him…. As they were stoning Stephen, he called out, 'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit…. Lord, do not hold this sin against them'" (Acts 7:55-56, 58a, 59, 60b). Reflection
Stephen died as Jesus did: falsely accused, brought to unjust condemnation because he spoke the truth fearlessly. He died with his eyes trustfully fixed on God, and with a prayer of forgiveness on his lips. A "happy" death is one that finds us in the same spirit, whether our dying is as quiet as Joseph's or as violent as Stephen's: dying with courage, total trust and forgiving love. Saint Stephen is the Patron Saint of:
Lord, help me to be fully alive to your Holy presence. Enfold me in your love. Let my heart become one with yours.
It is so easy to get caught up with the trappings of wealth in this life. Grant, O Lord, that I may be free from greed and selfishness. Remind me that the best things in life are free. Love, laughter, caring and sharing.
In the presence of my loving Creator, I look honestly at my feelings over the last day, the highs, the lows and the level ground. Can I see where the Lord has been present?
Stephen, filled with grace and power, was working great wonders and signs among the people. Certain members of the so-called Synagogue of Freedmen, Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and people from Cilicia and Asia, came forward and debated with Stephen, but they could not withstand the wisdom and the spirit with which he spoke.
When they heard this, they were infuriated, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, 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, and he said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." But they cried out in a loud voice, covered their ears, and rushed upon him together. They threw him out of the city, and began to stone him. The witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul. As they were stoning Stephen, he called out "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."
Responsorial Psalm Ps 31:3cd-4, 6 and 8ab, 16bc and 17 R. (6) Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit. Be my rock of refuge, a stronghold to give me safety. You are my rock and my fortress; for your name's sake you will lead and guide me.
R. Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit. Into your hands I commend my spirit; you will redeem me, O LORD, O faithful God. I will rejoice and be glad because of your mercy.
R. Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit. Rescue me from the clutches of my enemies and my persecutors. Let your face shine upon your servant; save me in your kindness.
R. Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.
Alleluia Ps 118:26a, 27a R. Alleluia, alleluia. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD: the LORD is God and has given us light. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mt 10:17-22
Jesus said to his disciples: "Beware of men, for they will hand you over to courts and scourge you in their synagogues, and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake as a witness before them and the pagans. 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. Brother will hand over brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved."
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ At the first Christmas, we are told, heaven descended to earth and earth ascended to heaven - Jesus joined our life on earth, and through his life, death and eventual rising, the way was opened for his followers among earth's people to join the life of heaven.
▪ On 25 December we commemorate the arrival of Jesus on earth – and on the very next day, 26 December, we commemorate that follower of Jesus – Stephen – to first arrive in heaven through martyrdom.
▪ Jesus despoiled himself of heaven's glory in order to join our life on earth. And the Christian, in turn, often has to despoil himself or herself of earth's privileges, even (in martyrdom) of the freedom to live – in order to be worthy of joining the life of heaven. Martyrdom happened to Stephen, and we cannot rule out its happening to any of us.
▪ In such a predicament, we will need courage – not just to know how to react in words, but to actually go through the ordeal. However, Jesus assures us that his Spirit – the Spirit who now takes his place on earth – will be with us to give us strength.
Sometimes I wonder what I might say if I were to meet you in person Lord. I think I might say "Thank You Lord" for always being there for me. I know with certainty there were times when you carried me, Lord. When it was through your strength I got through the dark times in my life.
I thank God for these few moments we have spent alone together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.
Seraphim of Sarov, an eighteenth-century Russian Orthodox saint, often said that the goal of the Christian life is to "acquire the Holy Spirit." Of course, the Spirit is a free gift from God, not some commodity we can go out and get on our own, like a new cell phone. Through baptism, we have already received that Spirit. But just like the Christmas presents that people are returning to the stores today, this gift does us no good if we don't use it!
Stephen is clearly someone who acquired the Spirit. As any Christian does, he grew by being faithful to the day-to-day basics of life in Christ: the apostles' teaching, fellowship with other Christians, the Eucharist, and prayer (Acts 2:42). Over time, these practices helped him to radiate the love of Christ more and more.
Not once but twice, Luke emphasized this by stating that Stephen was "filled with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 7:55; 6:5). The first time is in connection with Stephen's humble service as one of the Church's first deacons. The second time refers to the way the Spirit led Stephen to a dramatic public role of healing and preaching and then empowered him to face death courageously as the Church's first martyr.
What an encouragement Stephen is! If you're in an "ordinary" season of life, he reminds you that the Spirit fills and forms us through humble tasks and everyday faithfulness. If you're in an "extraordinary" season of challenge or crisis, Stephen urges you to know that God is with you to strengthen you—even with a dramatic jolt of the Spirit if necessary!
Before the Christmas season slips away, set aside some time to reflect on this gift of the Spirit. One thing is sure: he wants to give you more! Ask what you can do to take hold of it all, to "acquire" it more deeply. Even a small change in your ordinary life—like a short but regular prayer time—can make all the difference.
May we never settle for less than our full share of God's gift!
"Holy Spirit, I want more of you! Fill me anew today. Teach and form me; lead and equip me. I surrender myself to you."
St. Stephen cries out ""Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." And they proceed to stone him to death. He is beat down, bludgeoned to death, perhaps even disfigured. At this figure of speech is the exact occurrence, of what is happening in life today. The world wants you disfigured, so that you are not the figure of Christ. In the world, there have never been so many martyrs as in the last 100 years, Christians are the most persecuted people in the world. We don't see it as apparent as in other countries in our own country, but I see it in the spiritual realm. If we don't see red martyrs, those witnessing with their lives for Christ, it is because there are white martyrs, where faith is struggling to breathe. I am among the walking dead, where half of all couples are not married through the Church, and if they are, half of them will not be involved in Church, that is...being ONE in the body of Christ. St. Stephen sees God, and nobody believes him, except one or two. And his death brings about Glory to Christ. Keep this in mind to be able to see.
We pray " Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit" and continue to pray "Rescue me from the clutches of my enemies and my persecutors. Let your face shine upon your servant; save me in your kindness." Someone has to die. Someone has to pay. Someone eventually pays for your miserable and selfish sins. Someone eventually die because of it. And if you do not care, it will happen before your very eyes. If you do not care then, then you have not the heart of Christ. The heart that knows to pay for someone else's sins, a stranger, a hater, someone that hates you without even knowing you. The heart of Christ beats, and the noise of the heartbeat is the tempo of His Song "for your name's sake you will lead and guide me." I will rejoice because of your Mercy.
The Holy Gospel we hear God say as He walked on earth "You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved." You ask many triumphant people in their careers, sports, or business, or medical, any field, you ask them how they got there, and they will have a common denominator: perseverance. For all those moments you did not want to go on, and you did, for all those times you thought it was impossible, but you kept on because of hope. I was talking to someone about my whitewater rafting experiences in Colorado, in those class 5 rapids, and I explained that some of those waves can engulf the large rafts with about 10 people if you don't watch it. The guide knows how to go through the rapids and we have to listen for his commands and do as he says...or else. I remember falling one time, and I remembered the instructions while I was caught under the raft in the freezing water, I remember the sounds of tumbling rocks under my feet and I could not get out from under the boat, thinking "I better watch it or I'll get stuck down here" and suddenly I was pulled out by the guide. It is a story of listening to the tempo. Endurance, the beating of God's heart. His great suffering brought about great good for the entire world. This is why we celebrate Christmas for the next several days. He is the guide. He is the Savior. He says "you will be hated because of my Name". The name the Angels gave Him, the name God chose for Himself "He Saves". He saves all the damned by the world. He saves those persecuted. In our world, persecutions come by our very loved ones. An aunt against you, an uncle, a cousin, a brother, a sister, a mother, a father, hated, a spouse and why? Because you are shining the light of God. Now, this serves as a test. Either you will configure them (to love Christ), or they will disfigure you (lose Christ). "BUT, whoever endures!" Jesus says, our God says, whoever endures "will be saved". Christ's coming is all about this, coming in to save those who are being threatened, caught in the tidal waves and submersed, but you have no fear...only a PURE love of GOD!!!