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Seed of the Church
Feast of Saint Stephen, first martyr
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Beware of men, for they will hand you over to courts
and scourge you in their synagogues,
and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake
as a witness before them and the pagans.
When they hand you over,
do not worry about how you are to speak
or what you are to say.
You will be given at that moment 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 brother to death,
and the father his child;
children will rise up against parents and have them put to death.
You will be hated by all because of my name,
but whoever endures to the end will be saved.”
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, I humbly come before you today, you who came to earth so meekly, born to die, to show us how to live. Today we celebrate one who had great trust in you, who took your words to heart. May we, too, be like Saint Stephen: “angel-faced” and heavenly minded in all we do. Lord, I humbly ask for this grace: to be filled with your Spirit to enable me to think like you and speak boldly of you and persevere to the end.
- Beware: Today we read “Beware of men.” What a warning! We ourselves are mere “men” when we are not filled with your Spirit and relying on the Lord. How easy it is for us to fall into prideful thinking.“I got this,” “I can do this,” and “I am in control” are just some of the thoughts of “men.” How contrary to that thinking are the Lord’s ways. Only with God are “all things possible.” Only with God do we have the grace to combat thinking like “men.” Let us heed the warning of Saint Paul, “See to it that no one captivate you with an empty, seductive philosophy according to the tradition of men, according to the elemental powers of the world and not according to Christ” (Colossians 2:8). May we have the “mind of Christ” to discern when we are falling into the world’s ways versus the Lord’s ways.
- No Worries: How impossible it is for those of us thinking like “men” to avoid anxiety and worry. It is so easy to act like a Christian and so difficult to react like one. When our hearts are filled with God’s grace, however, we will hear him telling us what to say “in the moment.” If we rely on grace, the Lord promises that the Father will speak through us. Today, the day after we celebrate the Lord’s birth, let us ask for the grace to be born ever anew so that the Lord may always and everywhere “speak through us” in word, thought, and deed.
- Hated by All?: We must ask ourselves which banner we will march under. God’s? Or the world’s? Sometimes the choice is very obvious, and at other times there is only a subtle dividing line between a good or evil action. Let’s pray for the clarity to know what to do in any given moment and the desire to speak well always. Perhaps, by our example, we will inspire others to do the same.
Conversing with Christ: Dear Lord, only by your grace can we think, speak, and live according to your will in this fallen world. Only by trusting and fully relying on you can we persevere to the end and be saved–but oh, happy day when we do! Lord, bless us so that one day we will be “angel-faced” like Stephen, and by our life’s witness help to plant and water the seeds for the future of the Church.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will say a little prayer before I open my mouth to give my opinion.
For Further Reflection: Check out: Blood of the Martyrs Is Still Seed for the Church.
Melissa Overmyer is a convert to Catholicism; founder of the Georgetown Women’s Bible Study and Something Greater Ministries; and author of Born to Soar, Unleashing God’s Word in Your Life, a weekly blog at www.somethinggreater.net, and daily posts on IGTV (melissaovermyer). She is working on her master’s degree in Theology at Augustine Institute.