Daily Archives: December 25, 2007

Wednesday, December 26 – Martyrdom Today

26 Dec – Feast of St. Stephen, First Martyr

St. Stephen was the first Christian martyr. A deacon and a preacher, all we know of him is related in the Acts of the Apostles. While preaching the gospel in the streets, angry Jews who believed his message to be blasphemy dragged him outside the city, and stoned him to death. In the crowd, on the side of the mob, was a man who would later be known as St. Paul.

– Patron Saint Index
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Acts 6:8-10

Stephen was filled with grace and power and began to work miracles and great signs among the people. Then certain people came forward to debate with Stephen, some from Cyrene and Alexandria who were members of the synagogue called the Synagogue of Freedmen, and others from Cilicia and Asia. They found they could not stand up against him because of his wisdom, and the Spirit that prompted what he said.
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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.’
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The martyrs of our faith, including St. Stephen, remind us what Jesus was sent for. Jesus was sent to redeem us by making the sacrifice that would require Him to die by hanging on the cross.

It was a real sacrifice for a real purpose, testified in our faith. The birth and death of Jesus is made visible through each and every one of us. We may not have to die, but only follow the instructions of Jesus in the Gospel reading. Be prepared for strange looks and criticism. Know that you will be asked questions. Do not be afraid. Let the Spirit speak through you.

St. Stephen followed the instructions and became a martyr – today an example we can look to when we need the courage to live for Jesus. It was not Stephen’s own idea. Jesus first died for us! Can we live for Him?

(Today’s OXYGEN by Regina Xie)
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Prayer:
Father, we are not fighting against people, but one who opposes You. Speak through us to make You known. Amen.

Give thanks to the Lord For: giving us courage.

Upcoming Readings:
Thu, 27 Dec – 1 John 1:1-4; John 20:2-8; Feast of St. John, apostle, evangelist
Fri, 28 Dec – 1 John 1:5 – 2:2; Matthew 2:13-18; Feast of the Holy Innocents, martyrs
Sat, 29 Dec – 1 John 2:3-11; Luke 2:22-35; Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas
Sun, 30 Dec – Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14; Colossians 3:12-21; Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23

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Tuesday, December 25 – We Wish You A Merry Christmas… And A Happy New Year!

25 Dec – Mass During The Day

The Word Made Flesh

For us the Word of God is no longer the message spoken by prophets, but the messenger of God in person, the eternal Word begotten of the Father before time began.

– the Sunday Missal
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Offering One’s Hand

The homilist at a Mass celebrating the profession of a group of women religious told the story of some pilgrims who travelled to a distant castle. As they approached it they could see it was surrounded by a high stone wall.

The first pilgrim, inching his way up the wall, finally got to the top. Drawn by the view of a lush garden on the other side of the wall, he jumped to the ground below, forgetting all about his fellow pilgrims waiting on the outside. The second and third pilgrims did exactly the same.

The next pilgrim struggled as hard to reach the top of the wall. He, too, was drawn by the beauty below. but he didn’t jump down into the garden because he realised that if he did, the rest of the pilgrims wouldn’t have anyone to help them scale the wall. So he gave the others a helping hand. Only after all the pilgrims had gone over the wall did he jump down into the garden.

That, the homilist said to the group of nuns, was their vocation – to stay on the top of the wall, to help others get over the wall, into the garden.

– What thoughts, feelings, occurred to you while you went through the story?
– What do you think is the ‘moral’ of the story?

– taken from “Persons Are Gifts”, by Hedwig Lewis, SJ
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Isaiah 52:7-10

How beautiful on the mountains,
are the feet of one who brings good news,
who heralds peace, brings happiness,
proclaims salvation,
and tells Zion,
“Your God is king!”
Listen! Your watchmen raise their voices,
they shout for joy together,
for they see the Lord face to face,
as he returns to Zion.
Break into shouts of joy together,
you ruins of Jerusalem;
for the Lord is consoling his people,
redeeming Jerusalem.
The Lord bares his holy arm
in the sight of all the nations,
and all the ends of the earth shall see
the salvation of our God.

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Hebrew 1:1-6

At various times in the past and in various different ways, God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets; but in our own time, the last days, he has spoken to us through his Son, the Son that he has appointed to inherit everything and through whom he made everything there is. He is the radiant light of God’s glory and the perfect copy of his nature, sustaining the universe by his powerful command; and now that he has destroyed the defilement of sin, he has gone to take his place in heaven at the right hand of divine Majesty. So he is not as far above the angels as the title which he has inherited is higher than their own name.

God has never said to any angel: You are my Son, today I have become your father, or: I will be a father to him and he a son to me. Again, when he brings the First-born into the world, he says: Let all the angels of God worship him.
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John 1:1-18

In the beginning was the Word:
the Word was with God
and the Word was God.
He was with God in the beginning.
Through him all things came to be,
not one thing had its being but through him.
All that came to be had life in him
and that life was the light of men,
a light that shines in the dark,
a light that darkness could not overpower.

A man came, sent by God.
His name was John.
He came as a witness,
as a witness to speak for the light,
so that everyone might believe through him.
He was not the light,
only a witness to speak for the light.

The Word was the true light
that enlightens all men;
and he was coming into the world.
He was in the world
that had its being through him,
and the world did not know him.
He came to his own domain
and his own people did not accept him.
But to all who did accept him
he gave power to become children of God,
to all who believe in the name of him
who was born not out of human stock
or urge of the flesh
or will of man
but of God himself.
The Word was made flesh,
he lived among us,
and we saw his glory,
the glory that is his as the only Son of the Father,
full of grace and truth.

John appears as his witness. He proclaims:
“This is the one of whom I said:
He who comes after me
ranks before me
because he existed before me.”

Indeed, from his fullness we have, all of us, received
yes, grace in return for grace.
since, though the Law was given through Moses,
grace and truth have come through Jesus Christ.
No one has ever seen God;
it is the one Son, who is nearest to the Father’s heart,
who has made him known.

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On behalf of all the OXYGEN contributors: We wish you a merry Christmas, and a happy New Year!

We always wish people a merry Christmas and a happy New Year because of the famous 16th century secular song “We Wish You A Merry Christmas”, and it is one of the few Christmas songs that mentions the new year celebration. Soon, we will be celebrating the arrival of the year 2008.

2008 years of what? The more accurate title for the year would be 2008 years since the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, as Dionysius Exiguus would say. Dionysius Exiguus is the name of the monk who devised the Anno Domini calendar system back in 525, and it was the Venerable Bede who began the process of bringing this AD system into general use in Western Europe. Bede was also the one who started using the term “Before Christ”, that is, “the time before the Lord’s true incarnation”.

In the past 100 years or so, some people have been trying to use the term “Common Era” and “Before Common Era” (C.E. and B.C.E.) to replace the AD/BC terminology, as it is more secular. But we must ask: what is the difference between the AD/BC system and the CE/BCE system? Absolutely nothing, save for the name. The CE/BCE has exactly the same calendar system as AD/BC system; it’s just supposed to sound less Christian. But if we ask ourselves: what world event is so significant that the Common Era starts from, and the Before Common Era ends at, we find that we have the answer has to come back to the same event that the AD/BC system is based on – the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

So you see, my friend, no matter how much we try to secularize our holidays, the secular world is not going to be able to wipe out the reason for the season… unless we change the calendar system to something totally original. Then we won’t be celebrating New Year anymore, not at this time anyway. Think of all the businesses that stand to lose money!

So, my friends, do not worry about singing secular songs about the New Year or even the holidays this season, because remember that the reason we have these holidays and the reason we celebrate the New Year is because God became Man. The next time you write the year, be it 2007 or 2008, pause a second to remember why we have this year in the first place, and what event it marks.

Once more, we wish you a merry Christmas, and a happy New Year!
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Prayer:
Dear Lord, we offer to You the remainder of this year, and the next year, to you, and ask You to help us to devote more of our time and energy making known to the world the world-changing event that took place that allows us to celebrate the new year. Amen.

Give Thanks to the Lord for: Changing the world.

Upcoming Readings:
Wed, 26 Dec – Acts 6:8-10, 7:54-59; Matthew 10:17-22; Feast of St. Stephen, first martyr
Thu, 27 Dec – 1 John 1:1-4; John 20:2-8; Feast of St. John, apostle, evangelist
Fri, 28 Dec – 1 John 1:5 – 2:2; Matthew 2:13-18; Feast of the Holy Innocents, martyrs
Sat, 29 Dec – 1 John 2:3-11; Luke 2:22-35; Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas
Sun, 30 Dec – Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14; Colossians 3:12-21; Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23

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