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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

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St. Stephen

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

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bloody merry christmas

"They rushed at him as one man, dragged him out of the city, and began to stone him." —Acts 7:57-58

On this second day of Christmas, the Church brings to our attention the brutal martyrdom of Stephen. Two days later we see the mass murder of the infants of Bethlehem (Mt 2:16). The next day we recall the murder of Thomas Becket at the entrance to his Cathedral. What's the point of all this blood and guts and gore? Doesn't it contradict the "Christmas spirit"?

Originally Christmas was a confrontation with the world. The Christians planned Christmas to compete with a pagan festival. It was an attempt to put the world out of business and to challenge the lifestyle and social life of the world.

Christ and Christmas have always been a sign of contradiction (Lk 2:34). Christmas successfully displaced the pagan feast, but the world is fighting back to paganize Christmas. The government is threatened by our opposition to its unjust economic structures. The religious system opposes our repentance which undermines its vested interests in maintaining the status quo (Mt 10:17). Even family members will resist our evangelization (Mt 10:21), hold "their hands over their ears" (Acts 7:57), and turn us over to the authorities (Mt 10:17-19). Christmas is war against the world — a war Jesus has already won.

Prayer:  Jesus, may my Christmas, life, and evangelization be a threat to the world.

Promise:  "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 witnessed to a young unbeliever about the lordship of Jesus, the resurrection, and forgiveness of enemies (see Acts 7:56, 59, 60). This unbeliever, Saul, was eventually converted and personally led thousands of people to Jesus.

Rescript:  †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 13, 2006

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