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The Everyday Prayer

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Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Memory of Saint Stephen, deacon and first martyr

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Glory to God in the highest
and peace on earth to the people he loves.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Matthew 10, 17-22

'Be prepared for people to hand you over to sanhedrins and scourge you in their synagogues.

You will be brought before governors and kings for my sake, as evidence to them and to the gentiles.

But when you are handed over, do not worry about how to speak or what to say; what you are to say will be given to you when the time comes,

because it is not you who will be speaking; the Spirit of your Father will be speaking in you.

'Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will come forward against their parents and have them put to death.

You will be universally hated on account of my name; but anyone who stands firm to the end will be saved.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The liturgical season of Christmas begins today. We have just celebrated the holy mystery of the birth of Jesus, when the Lord God became a child to save us. The liturgy today invites us to contemplate the heavenly birth of the first Christian martyr: it is the ripe fruit of the preaching of evangelical love, the love that brought the Son to leave heaven to come to earth. Starting today, through the memory of several witnesses, the Church shows us the purpose of the incarnation of the Son of God. He came down to earth to bring people into the heaven of never-ending love. The Gospel passage that the liturgy presents to us in this memory of Stephen is part of the missionary discourse of Jesus to the Twelve. The disciples immediately understand the Master's words: “I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves.” They did not have to worry though. He would be with them, and his Spirit would sustain them. Stephen is the first of the martyrs, the first lamb that is sacrificed, in imitation of the Master. Stephen, Paul’s fellow disciple from the school of Gamaliel, followed the preaching of the Apostles and was then chosen as one the seven deacons for the service of charity. “Full of grace and power, he performed many miracles among the people,” narrates the Acts of the Apostles. He could not silence the Gospel that he had received and that had changed his life. Nor could he back down when opposition and violence arose against him as a result of his new life. Oppositions did not intimidate him. Strong in faith, he continued to preach the Gospel until he shed his blood. While he was being stoned to death, he followed Jesus’ example by asking God to welcome his spirit and forgive his persecutors. Stephen, the first martyr of Christian history, leads the procession of all those who in every place and time have proclaimed, and continue to proclaim, the Gospel until they have given the ultimate sacrifice of their lives. All those who “gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God” are in heaven today and see God “face to face.” The martyrs leave us with a precious example of how to listen to the Gospel in order to follow Jesus. They confirm for us the fact that without at least some “heroism” we cannot follow the Gospel.

Prayer of the Christmas season

Calendar of the week
Sunday, 19 November
Liturgy of the Sunday
Monday, 20 November
Prayer for peace
Tuesday, 21 November
Memory of the Mother of the Lord
Wednesday, 22 November
Memory of the Saints and the Prophets
Thursday, 23 November
Memory of the Church
Friday, 24 November
Memory of Jesus crucified
Saturday, 25 November
Sunday Vigil
Sunday, 26 November
Liturgy of the Sunday