The Gospel according to Matthew 10:17-22
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.”
Reflection: Today is the Feast Day of St. Stephen, who was one of the seven Deacons mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles and the first to be martyred.
This Gospel for today radically differs from the Gospel we heard yesterday. This Gospel opens with Jesus telling his disciples: Beware. What a contrast to the readings we heard on Christmas Day. Today Jesus is warning His disciples that if they continue to follow Him, they will be handed over to governors and kings. However, if they remain faithful to Jesus to the end, they will be saved!
Imagine Jesus saying this to you! How do you think you would react? I suspect that I might quietly slip away from Jesus. The price for being His disciple is much higher than I expected it to be. It all can seem so glorious when we first decide to follow Jesus. He is so charismatic and inspiring. When Jesus speaks, His message comes straight from His heart!
Today however, Jesus is warning us that there will be a price to pay if we follow Him. Perhaps we need to ask ourselves: What price am I willing to pay? Do I believe in Jesus and His message so completely that I will risk losing everything I have worked for? Or perhaps even risk losing my life?
The path of following Jesus is both gift and cross. There are abundant gifts and blessings we receive when we walk with Jesus. However, there also will be challenges or difficulties that we will encounter—simply because we do follow Jesus. What am I willing to risk? What are you willing to endure for Jesus’ sake?
May we be like Saint Stephen, ready to give witness and testimony to Jesus who has saved us. May we live in a spiritual disposition of humility by learning that all is gift given to us by the father. And then in turn offer to the Lord all that he has given us, the blessings, and the struggles throughout daily life so that we can bear witness to God and his great love and sending us his son at Christmas and learn to embrace the father’s will, so that one day we may see the heavens opening to receive us in paradise.
Action of the Day: Jesus will give us the grace and strength we need! The question is: Will you follow Him? May we pray for each other that we will have the love, courage, and strength we need to follow Jesus, especially when life is challenging!