Feast of Saint Stephen, Protomartyr

[Second Day in the Octave of Christmas]

Have you ever reflected and thought to yourself – – right after you said something or perhaps not long after – – “I have no idea where that came from!  I wasn’t thinking that before, but all the right words just came out of my mouth.”

In Saint Matthew’s Gospel, we read:

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.

So often in life, we can brush aside the gift of prophecy that we enjoy by virtue of our baptism.  The Holy Spirit can and does speak in and through us, and we can believe it!

We read in the Acts of the Apostles:

Stephen, filled with grace and power,

was working great wonders and signs among the people.

Stephen offered testimony, bearing witness to the Lord’s Resurrection, and some people found it very hard to take.  Grinding their teeth, they were infuriated with his spirit and wisdom and violently stoned him to death.

When we openly criticize folks, or nag at people, or are quick to judge their mistakes, either behind their back or in their presence, we might ask ourselves, “Is this the prophetic voice of the Holy Spirit speaking wisdom through me?  Or am I perhaps expressing, and even very understandably, my own frustrations, my own (selfish) desires for that person to change according to my ideals?

That graced experience of uttering, without explanation, the “right words” is the gift with which Saint Stephen was filled and which ultimately brought him death.

Let us ask God for the grace today to discern carefully our words, and ask the Holy Spirit to give us wisdom and prudence, having a sense of when to speak and when to bite our tongues.

The Lord has visited his people, and so we continue to say to one another: Merry Christmas!

December 26th, 2013