One Minute Reflection – 26 December – Feast of St Stephen the ProtoMartyr and The Second Day in the Christmas Octave, Readings: Acts 6:8-10; 7:54-59, Psalm31:3-4, 6, 8, 16-17, Matthew 10:17-22
“… You will be hated by all for my name’s sake.” … Matthew 10:22
REFLECTION – “When the blood of Stephen was shed, Saul, then a young man, was standing by “consenting unto his death” and “kept the raiment of them that slew him” (Acts 22:20). Two speeches are recorded of the Martyr in his last moments one, in which he prayed that God would pardon his murderers – the other, his witness, that he saw the heavens opened and Jesus on God’s right hand. His prayer was wonderfully answered. Stephen saw his Saviour, the next vision of that Saviour to mortal man was vouchsafed to that very young man, even Saul, who share in his murder and his intercession.
Strange indeed it was and what would have been St Stephen’s thoughts could he have known it! The prayers of righteous men avail much. The first Martyr had power with God to raise up the greatest Apostle. Such was the honour put upon the first-fruits of those sufferings, upon which the Church was entering. Thus, from the beginning, the blood of the Martyrs was the seed of the Church.” … St John Henry Newman (1801-1890) Cardinal, Theologian, Apologist – Parochial and Plain Sermons II #9
C. By the merits and prayers of blessed Stephen
R. Be merciful, O God, to Your people
Almighty and everlasting God, who consecrated the first-fruits of Your martyrs in the blood of blessed Stephen the deacon, grant, we beg You, that he may pray for us, even as he prayed for his persecutors, to our Lord Jesus Christ Your Son, who lives and reigns, world without end. Amen