It is 26th December 2018. We celebrate the Feast of St Stephen, the First Martyr and one of the seven deacons who rendered help to the Apostles. The readings are from Acts 6:8-10, 7:54-59; and the Gospel from Matthew 10:17-22. To be a Christian is to live up to the one in whom we put our trust. We have an exemplar in the person of St. Stephen to show us how far one could be faithful in standing and living for Jesus. At times we wonder, what is going on in our Christian living. Instead of being a martyr for Christ, we begin murdering people, assassinate characters of the others and destroy the images of the family members, church members and neighbours. Let us move forward being a witness for the New Born Jesus like that of St. Stephen. The first reading presents us with the episode of the martyrdom of Stephen. He was a man of faith and words filled with the Holy Spirit to penetrate the hearts of those listened to him. We all need to imitate his faith and loving those who have destroyed us in anyway. It is the heavenly birthday for Stephen by his unwavering love for the Lord and the courage to pray for those who persecuted him and killed him. The entrance antiphon for the eucharistic celebration acclaims: “The gates of heaven were opened for blessed Stephen, who was found to be the first among the number of the Martyrs and therefore is crowned triumphant in Heaven.” It is indeed very challenging to be a good and faithful Christian in deed in this contemporary world. Our Christian life must influence and affect the other. Let us live a life that is not condemned by our own consciences. We cannot stop anyone condemning us for what we are and what we stand up for. Like blessed Stephen, we must know the truth and we must not hesitate to stand for the truth. The responsorial Psalm intercedes, “Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.” (Ps.31:6). The Gospel teaches us that we need not be preoccupied and worried to prepare speeches when our lives glorify the Lord. Yes, when our lives become the message of love, forgiveness, compassion and peace, we do not need a preparatory speeches. It is all about the perseverance in truth and prayer. Challenges and hardship are bound to come from governments, our own families and friends, even within the Church. We must not be afraid of being persecuted for Christ and His message of love, hope and peace. We believe in Jesus who has overcome the challenges and pain of this world. Our salvation depends on the way we stand for the Lord until the end. God’s Spirit will supply us with all necessary graces, resources and words to speak for the truth and the truth we proclaim will set us free. We need to prepare ourselves and protect ourselves with the shield of charity and prayer without worrying and being scared of the present and future. May the Lord Jesus help us to be the witnesses for Him always. May you have a good day.

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