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Friday, December 26, 2003

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St. Stephen

Acts 6:8-10; 7:54-59
Psalm 31
Matthew 10:17-22

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the way love is

"As Stephen was being stoned, he could be heard praying, 'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.' He fell to his knees and cried out in a loud voice, 'Lord, do not hold this sin against them.' And with that he died." —Acts 7:59-60

Love by its very nature wants to express itself, and love by its very nature feels its expressions are inadequate. Therefore, love seeks to express itself in greater ways. That is why Christians throughout history have often sought martyrdom, the ultimate expression of love.

At the conception of a child, the Lord gives the mother love for her child. This love will grow during pregnancy, unless love and the child are aborted. Then at the birth of the child, love takes a quantum leap. As we celebrate the birth of Jesus on this second day of Christmas, the feast of the first martyr, St. Stephen, let us ask the Holy Spirit to inflame us with divine love. May the love of Christ impel us (see 2 Cor 5:14) to enter ever more deeply into the mystery of the Father's love. Then we will be compelled to seek to express our love through sacrifices, service, evangelization, and finally martyrdom.

As we grow deeper in love this Christmas, we willingly and even joyously take up our crosses each day (Lk 9:23). Have a more than merry Christmas. Abide in crucified love and abide in God (see 1 Jn 4:8, 16).

Prayer:  Father, give me a burning, zealous, driving love for You.

Promise:  "When they hand you over, do not worry about what you will say or how you will say it. When the hour comes, you will be given what you are to say. You yourselves will not be the speakers; the Spirit of your Father will be speaking in you." —Mt 10:19-20

Praise:  St. Stephen so loved his Savior that he loved and forgave his enemies. The gates of heaven opened to him and he was crowned first of martyrs.

Nihil Obstat:  Reverend Robert A. Stricker, June 23, 2003

Imprimatur:  †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 26, 2003