THEME OF THE
READINGS Recognizing Christ as united to the Father gives us
the hope and strength to persevere in the faith. This
recognition founds the unity of his followers (Gospel) and strengthens
the persecuted (First Reading). All lives eventually encounter Christ, the
Alpha and Omega (Second Reading).
DOCTRINAL MESSAGE Following
Christ doesn´t shield a disciple from troubles, as the protomartyr
Stephen discovered (First Reading). Yet the realization that Christ is
truly the Son of God, seated next to the Father
(First Reading), gives us the assurance and the courage that
our sacrifices are not in vain.
is the start and finish of every life (Second Reading).
It is through him that we, like all creation, came
into being. And it is Christ whom we will face
at Judgment Day to give an account of our lives.
Christ, who underwent his passion and death in obedience to
the Father´s will, hence has more than earned the right
to stand in judgment of us. But through the shedding
of his precious blood, he has equipped us to undergo
any temptation, any persecution, and remain faithful to him, just
as Stephen did.
"Behold, I am coming soon."
More than hyperbole, this passage from the Book of Revelation
drives home the realization that life is short, barely the
blink of an eye compared to eternity (Second Reading). Whether
we live 20, 60 or 100 years, that span will
pass quickly; soon we go to Our Lord. The model
that Christ gives us on the eve of his own
death, as reflected in his priestly prayer at the Last
Supper (Gospel), shows us a man serene, charitable and intimately
united to his Father. Union with the divine gives Stephen
that same kind of serenity. Those of the world "covered
their ears" at the mention of the Gospel message, but
those of us who listen to Christ will find solace.
The glory that Christ showed to his Father
is reflected in a special way by the unity that
his followers live among themselves (Gospel). Integration into the Mystical
Body of Christ, the Church, robs us of nothing. Rather,
it brings us to perfection, purifying our motives, channeling our
talents and energy, and bracing us to deal with the
antagonism of the world. Persecution for the sake of Christ
enables us to wash our robes (Second Reading) in the
blood of his sacrifice and makes us eligible to enter
a heavenly reward. Persecution for Christ´s sake should be a
source of joy, not sorrow. The scandal of the cross
has its detractions in every age, beginning with Good Friday
_ "Let him come down from the cross now, and
we will believe in him" (Matthew 27:42).
From the flight into Egypt, to the cross on Calvary,
Christ´s life was lived under the sign of persecution. His
own share it with him (CCC 530). Before his second
coming, the Church must pass through a final trial that
will shake the faith of many (CCC 675). Great trials
perfect the Church, and through her the world (CCC 769).
PASTORAL APPLICATIONS Witnessing to the faith. The Christian
vocation demands personal testimony. Christ without the cross is a
myth. Christians without persecution is a myth. Do we stand
up at work for our faith? Do we stand up
among our neighbors? Or do we give in to human
The pain principle. Avoiding pain and persecution
should not be the goal of the Christian´s life. When
accepted for Christ´s sake, they are indispensable means for growth
in the faith and in holiness. To live is to
suffer. Do we offer up the pains and slights of
daily life for Christ? Do we accept our crosses with
love and offer them back to God for the salvation
of souls, especially those of our loved ones?
Suffering with joy. Everyone suffers. What is different for a
Christian is that he sees it as a way to
share in Christ´s suffering. Hence, suffering can, paradoxically, be a
source of joy for one who believes. Do we embrace
the crosses of daily life with joy? Do we see
them as tools for sanctity _ ours and the souls
we pray for?