December 26, Saint Stephen, First Martyr

The martyrdom of St. Stephen

But beware of people, 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. Mt 10,17-22

Yesterday we had a really good Christmas. Returning from the first morning mass, we have raised the home heating  and we have shut ourselves up in the house to prepare the lunch with our friend Mary, always present in this festivity as an institution for us. At noon Gianmario, Giannandrea, and Mariafrancesca with their families and some friends joined us. At the table we were eighteen people. At the Sunday lunch we are usually more, but yesterday some of our sons celebrated the Christmas with their parents in law. The communion among us, a good lunch, the prayer together, the exchange of the gifts, the running around of the children and phone wishes filled the day by true, genuine things and, in their simplicity, even holy ones. Today the Church celebrates the first persecution of the christians and the martyrdom of Stephen, to remind us that the everyday life is not only a feast: it  is also work, fatigue, mission and persecution. These are realities which embrace all the fields and the several aspects of the life: profession, family, politics, sports, social commitments and leisure. In every moment of the day, the good and the evil, the victories and the defeats, the joys and the persecutions, are woven as different threads of the same tapestry. Mind you, the persecution is not only a privilege of the christians, because it is perhaps the most common and obvious manifestation of the evil which exists in the world; but it is its reason. While the other persecutions are moved by what you have or you do not have, by what is done or it is not done, the persecution against the christians is driven by what a christian is. Jesus tells us today that the very fact of being a christian is a reason for persecution. “If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (Jn 15,20). To live in a simple, linear way and in peace, the habit to the prayer and to have imprinted on the face a joy and a hope which the world has not, is sometimes cause for admiration, but, more often, of envy and persecution . “And often – now says the Lord – you will be called also to defend you in some court, being it in a family or a social one. But do not worry about what you will say and how you will say it, the Holy Spirit will enlighten you and will make you bearing witness to the Lord”. As it happened to st. Stephen.

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