Monday, April 27, 2009


First Reading: Acts 7:51 - 8:1a
Psalm: Ps 31:3cd-4, 6 and 7b and 8a, 17 and 21ab
Gospel: Jn 6:30-35


Today, we hear of the martyring of St. Stephen, first among the deacons and the first to die in defense of Christianity, after Jesus Himself.

There is a question that I like to ask people who are lukewarm in their commitments or who struggle with apathy: Is there anything in your life that you feel is worth dying for? The question usually knocks people back on their heels. Try it for yourself; is there something that you feel so strongly about that you would be willing to give your life to defend it? Your family? Your country? Your faith?

Jesus mentioned in the gospel yesterday that the work of God is to believe in the one that He sent. That belief is not without hardships. He tells us himself:
If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you. - John 15:18-19
This is the wake-up call for Christians who are looking for a way to make Christianity an easy road to walk. It is as true today as it was for the early Christians. We are mocked and ostracized when we dare to stand up for our beliefs. We are called names, turned away from work, threatened and in some places in the world, even killed. On top of everything, those who stumble in their belief are held up by the world and heralded as the ones we should emulate.

As Christians, we can recognize that our beliefs are difficult, but that they are a small price to pay for God's mercy. We are called to love those who hate us and bless those that curse us (Luke 6:27-28). This is the commandment of Jesus and a testimony for our own faith:
This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. - John 13:35

Heavenly Father, we thank You for the gift of this day. We pray that You bless us with the grace needed to love as You love. Grant us the faith of the early church and guard us against compromising on that which has true value. We ask all of these things in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

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