Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Saint Stephen Proto Martyr

My Friends,

Readings: Acts of the Apostles 6,8-10 7 54-59 , Saint Matthew 23 34-39

The Feast of the Navity of our Lord Jesus Christ is just behind us and its message of Peace , Joy and Goodwill  have sterred many of us to continue or to start being a follower of Jesus.

Today we celebrate the feast of Saint Stephen, the first martyr of the Church.

Stephen was one of the first seven deacons, chosen from the most fervent disciples of our Lord to help the Apostles to exercise their Ministry. His zeal made him hateful to the Jews, who stoned him as a blashphemer. The reading from the Acts of the Apostles reflect the life of Stephen and in the Gospel story from Saint Matthew Jesus foretells the sufferings and martyrdom of those who preach the Gospel.

We have seen that over the ages many men and women have been martyred to death because of their commitment to the service of Jesus Christ and their refusal to denounce him. Today's news items and indeed posts to our Facebook pages remind us that martyrdom is still very much going on. I have followed many items on You Tube about the goings on in North Korea where one is put to death for even mentioning the name of Jesus Christ. Many Chinese friends, i.e. on mainland China ask me for prayers because the Government's harassment of Christian Churches .
Situations once again where people ask to deny Jesus Christ, otherwise they dont have a job.

When Stephen realized that his death was near, was full of the Holy Spirit and fastened his eyes of the Heaven and saw there the Glory of God and Jesus standing at His right hand.I often ask myself whether I have the strenght
to confess Christ Crucified under all kind of circumstances. And yes I believe that through the power of the Holy Spirit I can. May Blessed Stephen by his intercession confirm us in the everlasting protection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 O Jesus, I have promised
  To serve Thee to the end;
Be Thou forever near me,
  My Master and my Friend;
I shall not fear the battle
  If Thou art by my side,
Nor wander from the pathway
  If Thou wilt be my Guide.

 Oh, let me feel Thee near me;
  The world is ever near;
I see the sights that dazzle,
  The tempting sounds I hear;
My foes are ever near me,
  Around me and within;
But, Jesus, draw Thou nearer,
  And shield my soul from sin.

 Oh, let me hear Thee speaking,
  In accents clear and still,
Above the storms of passion,
  The murmurs of self-will;
Oh, speak to reassure me,
  To hasten, or control;
Oh, speak, and make me listen,
  Thou Guardian of my soul.

 O Jesus, Thou hast promised
  To all who follow Thee
That where Thou art in glory
  There shall Thy servant be;
And Jesus, I have promised
  To serve Thee to the end;
Oh, give me grace to follow,
  My Master and my Friend.

 Oh, let me see Thy footmarks,
  And in them plant mine own;
My hope to follow duly
  Is in Thy strength alone.
Oh, guide me, call me, draw me,
  Uphold me to the end;
And then to rest receive me,
  My Savior and my Friend.

John Ernest Bode.

Father Ed Bakker,
Priest and Missioner,
Anglican Catholic Mission of Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne
Launceston, Tasmania, Australia.

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