Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Enduring to the End

“Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power...” Acts 6:8

Today is the Feast of Saint Stephen, the first martyr of the Church. After Jesus left the earth, the believers rapidly multiplied but all did not go smoothly. There was some complaining and discontentment. The Twelve apostles called a meeting and decided to to select seven men to take care of the distribution of food so they would be free to preach and teach God’s Word. One of the chosen was Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit. He performed many amazing miracles, signs and wonders. But some men accused him of blasphemy and Stephen was stoned to death. 

Today, there are many many martyrs of the faith. There are secret churches, and many Christian leaders have been tortured, regularly beaten and even incapacitated at the hands of government authorities. Open Doors, an organization that keeps a watch list says persecution is most extreme in North Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Iran. But even here in the Philippines, Christian brothers and sisters suffer persecution in Sultan Kudarat, where a church elder was gunned down, and Christians are being forced to sell their properties located near a mosque. Our Christian values are being attacked by our leaders, and we need to be vigilant. 

The readings for today are about the martyrdom of Saint Stephen, and Jesus’ warning to the disciples in Matthew 10:17-22, “...whoever endures to the end will be saved.” 

Lord, You reminded the disciples that we should not expect following You to be easy. Help us to endure to the end. 

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:^) Patsy