Daily Gospel Reflection: Feast of Saint Stephen, first martyr
Bishop Robert Barron
December 26, 2023
Feast of Saint Stephen, first martyr
Gospel: Mt 10:17-22
The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin's name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, "Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you." But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
"Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." But Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?" And the angel said to her in reply, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God." Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her .
*United States Conference of Catholic
Bishop Robert Barron
Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus predicts the coming persecution of his disciples. And we can see his prophetic word realized through the ages.
Think of St. Peter himself, crucified upside down in the circus of Nero; of Felicity and Perpetua, thrown to wild animals because they wouldn’t deny their faith; of Thomas More, who resisted King Henry VIII and paid for it with his head; of Paul Miki, the Japanese Jesuit, who was crucified for announcing the Christian faith; of Padre Pro, who was shot to death for defying a repressive Mexican government, shouting as he was shot, “Viva, el Cristo Rey!”; of Franz Jägerstätter and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, whom the Nazi regime put to death; of Maximilian Kolbe, who died at Auschwitz, willingly taking the place of another man. And the list goes on and on.
Indeed, the martyrs have come from all corners of the world, and they have spoken Greek, Latin, French, German, English, Japanese, Polish, and many other languages besides. Friends, this, strangely, is the army that undermines the foundations of the fallen world through the centuries. This is the great fighting force that Jesus has unleashed and continues to unleash.