HOMILY FOR THE MEMORIAL OF ST. STEPHEN.
THEME: BEAR WITNESS TO CHRIST.
BY: Fr Francis Onwunali
HOMILY FOR DECEMBER 26TH.
On this second day of of the octave of Christmas, we continue to celebrate the birth of our Saviour, Jesus Christ; the awesome gift of God to humanity, the privilege of sharing in God’s divine life. Today, in our liturgy, we celebrate the feast of St. Stephen, the first Martyr of Christianity. Stephen was the first to bear witness to Christ with his life. One of the reasons for placing this feast a day after the joyful celebration of Christmas is to remind us that in giving our life to Christ, it requires everything from us, holding nothing back, even if it means persecution and death.
St. Stephen according to the first reading (Acts 6: 8-10; 7: 54-59), was one of the seven deacons in the early Church who aroused the enmity of members of various Synagogues by his teaching which led to his making the ultimate sacrifice of his faith.
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True to what Jesus says in today’s gospel (Matt 10: 17-22), Stephen is hauled into court and is brought to trial before the religious leaders. True to the gospel message, when the hour of trial came, he was given what to say because he realized that the Spirit of God spoke in and through him.
Dear friends, as we rejoice at the birth of Jesus Christ, a call is being made of us to bear witness to Him in the world. It must not necessarily be losing our life like Stephen, but we can daily die to our sinfulness and seek to live our life in love of Him who first loved us and willingly gave His life that we may have life to the full.
I pray that as we continue our journey this octave of Christmas, we may keep reflecting on how best to bear witness to Christ in the service of our fellow human beings. May we conmmend our spirit into God’s hands for He will surely deliver us (Ps. 31: 6). Have a faith-full day!
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