Daily Reflection – Dec 26, 2016
Monday 26 December 2016
Acts 6:8-10; 7:54-59
Into your hands, O Lord, I entrust my spirit
Psalm 30(31):3-4, 6, 8, 16-17
Gospel Reading: Matthew 10:17-22
Today’s Saint: St Stephen, First Martyr
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Beware of men, 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.”
I see the heavens opened. (Acts 7:56)
Seraphim of Sarov, an eighteenth-century Russian Orthodox saint, often said that the goal of the Christian life is to “acquire the Holy Spirit.” Of course, the Spirit is a free gift from God, not some commodity we can go out and get on our own, like a new cell phone. Through baptism, we have already received that Spirit. But just like the Christmas presents that people are returning to the stores today, this gift does us no good if we don’t use it!
Stephen is clearly someone who acquired the Spirit. As any Christian does, he grew by being faithful to the day-to-day basics of life in Christ: the apostles’ teaching, fellowship with other Christians, the Eucharist, and prayer (Acts 2:42). Over time, these practices helped him to radiate the love of Christ more and more.
Not once but twice, Luke emphasized this by stating that Stephen was “filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 7:55; 6:5). The first time is in connection with Stephen’s humble service as one of the Church’s first deacons. The second time refers to the way the Spirit led Stephen to a dramatic public role of healing and preaching and then empowered him to face death courageously as the Church’s first martyr.
What an encouragement Stephen is! If you’re in an “ordinary” season of life, he reminds you that the Spirit fills and forms us through humble tasks and everyday faithfulness. If you’re in an “extraordinary” season of challenge or crisis, Stephen urges you to know that God is with you to strengthen you—even with a dramatic jolt of the Spirit if necessary!
Before the Christmas season slips away, set aside some time to reflect on this gift of the Spirit. One thing is sure: he wants to give you more! Ask what you can do to take hold of it all, to “acquire” it more deeply. Even a small change in your ordinary life—like a short but regular prayer time—can make all the difference.
May we never settle for less than our full share of God’s gift!
“Holy Spirit, I want more of you! Fill me anew today. Teach and form me; lead and equip me. I surrender myself to you.”