December 26, 2015
The good news for today
Stephen, the first “Martyr” has this Gospel of Good News: “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.” (Matthew 10, 19-20)
Here is the instant response to your New Life—challenge. You are challenged by “this generation.” People will not understand nor like the change as you begin to live independently of their values, apart from their cultural expectations. This situation leads to your “martyrdom”—on the “feast of Stephen,” called the first “martyr” or witness to Jesus.
To be a “martyr” is to witness. It does not mean “death and torture”—an extremely rare event, one justifying at times reckless, even blasphemous, understandings of religion. No, the more common understanding—the one you wear—is that you simply stand up for what you believe. Kindness is better than prejudice. Compassion is a mark of character. People are equal. Forgiveness is necessary—to be forgiven as you admit your failures and mistakes, and to forgive others for theirs.
Sometimes, you may feel that you are just in a different universe. The ego thing does not interest you. You cannot understand meanness. You feel puzzled at the hostility, sensitivity to disagreement and lingering rancor someone else exhibits. You yourself accept correction, and cannot understand why others don’t simply disagree, and let it go at that.
The Good News is that from within you, from your humility and the truth you foster all along—there comes the “right thing to say,” the best way to respond with courage and frankness. The gift of the Spirit of Jesus and His Father responds to attack with humor, and finds forgiving easy.