Octave of Christmas--Feast of St. Stephen
The day after Christmas we celebrate the feast of the first Christian Martyr. The gospel for today places before us the message of the adult Jesus to his followers "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."
If we think these are just nice words and we needn't worry we have St. Stephen placed before us. Stephen a deacon is stoned to death for being a follower of Christ. His death in many ways mirrors the death of Jesus, in his final words he hands over his spirit.
The word martyr literally means witness. Jesus tells us that our persecution is an opportunity to witness. Stephen's witness is before a man Saul who will become the greatest Christian missionary to ever live--St. Paul. Our opportunities to witness happen daily with how we react to the every moment. Do we rely upon the Lord for what we will say?