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Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord! — Psalm 119:1
Mass readings: Acts 6:8-15 / John 6:22-29
Martyrdom is sickening. Imagine crouching before a barrage of rocks, dying for your beliefs. This barbarism was committed during Jesus’ time, and continues in parts of the world today. In the first reading, we meet Stephen, the first martyr. A group of those who were jealous of his devotion to Christ slandered him before the Sanhedrin until, finally, he was stoned to death for his convictions.
In Vienna, there’s a magnificent Gothic Cathedral of St. Stephen and a gigantic painting of his martyrdom hangs above the main altar. It’s a gloriously romantic view of a brutal death. In the 17th century, the poet John Dryden noted, “All have not the gift of martyrdom.” I wonder how many of us would accept that gift, how many of us would die for our faith.
Prayer: St. Stephen, give us strength when our faith is tested.
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