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Friday, December 26, 2008

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St. Stephen

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

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"You will be hated by all on account of Me. But whoever holds out till the end will escape death." —Matthew 10:22

On this second day of Christmas, the Church presents to us St. Stephen, the first martyr. The festive red color of Christmas is mixed with the blood-red of the martyr. The Church proclaims that Christmas is not just a custom, diversion, or triviality. Christmas is glorious — and serious. Christmas is the proclamation of Jesus' lordship. It is the Word confronting the world (see Wis 18:15).

The Church's Christmas characters are not Santa, Rudolph, or Frosty. Our Christmas saints are the fearless martyr Stephen, the massacred babies of Bethlehem, the bloodied Thomas Becket, joyful and sorrowful mother Mary, and Joseph the impoverished refugee. The Church proclaims that Christmas is not primarily for the consumers and shoppers but for the witnesses, the persecuted, and the poor.

You may have had the world's Christmas for years. Why don't you try something different and celebrate the Word's Christmas? Repent, obey, witness, and begin Christ's Christmas.

Prayer:  Father, give me a good, old-fashioned, Bethlehem-Calvary Christmas.

Promise:  "As Stephen was being stoned he could be heard praying, 'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.' " —Acts 7:59

Praise:  St. Stephen was so focused on his beloved Jesus that he saw the heavens open as he was killed (Acts 7:56).

Reference:  (Grow in Christ's Christmas by reading the Bible every day. We have several tape series to help you. Overview of the Bible is six audio tapes starting with AV 10A-1 or three video tapes starting with V-10A. 15-minute Bible Teaching - New Testament is forty audio tapes starting with #700. An Introduction to each Book of the Bible is 32 audio tapes starting with AV 21-1 or 17 video tapes starting with V-21.)

Rescript:  †Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 17, 2008

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