Feast of Saint Stephen, First Martyr.
Today on the Church Calender, we celebrate the first christian martyr, only one day after we celebrate the birth of the Lord. A powerful reminder that we are indeed a mission church and the challenge that goes with following Christ! Let today's celebration serve as a reminder to us that we are called by our baptismal promise to be missioners and some of us to be martyrs.
Stephen and the other martyrs who have gone before us serve as an example of true sacrifice of their lives for the building up the Kingdom of God. Are we willing to accept part of our baptismal promise? Even in this day and age, offering our life may be required. A few examples of those who offered their lives in 2014 would be Father John Ssenyondo who was killed in Mexico. Fathers Anselme Wasukundi, Jean-Pierre Ndulani and Edmond Kisughu, killed in Democratic Republic of Congo. Father Frans van der Lugt S.J. who was murdered in Syria. Sisters Bernadette Boggian, Lucia Pulici and Olga Raschietti, who were killed in while serving in Burundi. Fathers Miguel Pajares and Manuel García Viejo succumbed to Ebola while they were attending to victims in Sierra Leone and Liberia.
I am sure that there are others who I have failed to mention, please feel free to add them in the comments section below.
Let us pray:
For peace in all those areas where violence still prevails, St. Stephen, pray for us.
For all those who are being persecuted because of their faith, St. Stephen, pray for us.
For a greater understanding of how we are called to build up the kingdom of God, St. Stephen, pray for us.
For all of those who have been martyred this year, St. Stephen, pray for us.
For an increase of missionary vocations especially to Glenmary, St. Stephen, pray for us.
For ourselves, that we may never be put to the test and that if we are, that we are able to remain faithful to the Lord, St. Stephen, pray for us.