Gospel: Matthew 10:17-22
Be on your guard with people, for they will hand you over to their courts, and they will flog you in their synagogues. You will be brought to trial before rulers and kings because of me, so that you may witness to them and the pagans.
But when you are arrested, do not worry about what you are to say, or how you are to say it; when the hour comes, you will be given what you are to say. For it will not be you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father, speaking through you.
Brother will hand over his brother to death, and a father his child; children will turn against their parents and have them put to death. Everyone will hate you because of me, but whoever stands firm to the end will be saved.
“Persecuted But Not Crushed.”
The disciple of the Apostles (which we technically call Church Father) by the name of Tertullian wonderfully describes “the blood of martyrs is the seed of Christianity”. Nowadays, we hear of persecuted Christians everywhere. Some are killed, some are judged, some are displaced and some are maligned.
This is the same story we hear from the first reading today. St. Stephen, our first martyr, was stoned to death after preaching to the Jews the good news of Jesus. They “cried out in a loud voice, covered their ears and rushed upon him together”. Je sus, in the gospel, inspires his disciples, that even in sufferings, the Spirit would come to their aid.
The Spirit of Christmas re minds us that “God is on the side of the suffering” (JPII, Crossing the Threshold of Hope) and that“God who became flesh and dwelt among us would know understand the pangs of human suffering.
Indeed, the blood of St. Stephen encourages us to look at Jesus. With Jesus, we may be persecuted, but we are not crushed (cf 1 Corinthians)
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