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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Day after Christmas and St. Stephen

Our Christmas stockings are empty now and we are full of memories of the Christmas Liturgy, dinner, carols, and just good conversation with those we love. It seems strange to be celebrating the feast of the first martyr today.
We know about Stephen from St. Luke in the Acts of the Apostles. He was one of the seven deacons chosen by the Apostles to help them serve the Greek-speaking Christians in Jerusalem. We know from the first reading in today's liturgy that Stephen "filled with grace and power was working great wonders and signs among the people."
Some tried to debate with him but his wisdom was too much for them; they became infuriated. Stephen, "filled with the Holy Spirit, looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God." Because he told them of this vision, he was stoned to death, but called out: "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." He is the first martyr and is also the patron saint of deacons.

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