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Wednesday, December 26, 2018

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St. Stephen

Acts 6:8-10; 7:54-59
Psalm 31:3-4, 6, 8, 16-17
Matthew 10:17-22

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"do you hear what i hear?"

"They ground their teeth in anger at him." —Acts 7:54

On this second day of the Church's Christmas season, the Hallelujahs and Glorias of Christmas Day have already faded away in the secular world. The stores and malls are taking down their decorations. The secular radio stations have returned to playing their normal music. Santa suits are stored in closets, to be pulled out around Halloween 2019. Most particularly, those who persecute Christians have returned to "anger" and fury against those who live for Jesus alone (see Acts 7:54).

Persecution is a consequence of prostrating ourselves at the foot of the manger in worship. All who bow down in homage to the Baby Jesus are also acknowledging Him as Messiah, Savior, Redeemer, and Lord. In so doing, we also acknowledge that this Baby is our "only Ruler...and Lord" (1 Tm 6:15), and that the rulers of this world are as nothing before Him. This places us in direct conflict with the kingdom of the prince of darkness, Satan, and all those led by the world, the flesh, and the devil (1 Jn 2:16) — for bowing before the wood of the manger leads to lying prostrate and exposed before the wood of the cross.

St. Stephen knew this well. When Stephen was persecuted, he kept his eyes fixed on Jesus (Acts 7:55; Heb 3:1; 12:2). Isaiah prophesied that a Child shall lead us (Is 11:6). With St. Stephen, will you follow this Child wherever He leads?

Prayer:  Father, "into Your hands I commend my spirit; You will redeem me, O Lord, O faithful God" (Ps 31:6).

Promise:  "Whoever holds out to the end will escape death." —Mt 10:22

Praise:  St. Stephen was led by and led others to the Lord. "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).

Reference:  (This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)

Rescript:  †Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, July 16, 2018

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