Tuesday 26 december

by | Sep 8, 2023 | Evangelium

Saint Stephen, the First Martyr


Stephen is the first martyr. He was one of the deacons appointed by the Apostles to organize the distribution of food to the poor. Angry Jews fabricated false charges against him and was stoned to death. He prayed for his persecutors as he was dying. One of them, Saul of Tarsus, was later converted and became the great missionary, St Paul.

Entrance Antiphon          

The gates of heaven were opened for blessed Stephen, who was found to be first among the number of the Martyrs and therefore is crowned triumphant in heaven.


Grant, Lord, we pray, that we may imitate what we worship, and so learn to love even our enemies, for we celebrate the heavenly birthday of a man who knew how to pray even for his persecutors. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

First reading: Acts 6: 8-10, 7: 54-59

Stephen was filled with grace and power and began to work miracles and great signs among the people. But then certain people came forward to debate with Stephen, some from Cyrene and Alexandria who were members of the synagogue called the Synagogue of Freedmen, and others from Cilicia and Asia. They found they could not get the better of him because of his wisdom, and because it was the Spirit that prompted what he said. They were infuriated when they heard this, and ground their teeth at him. But Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at God’s right hand. “I can see heaven thrown open”, he said, “and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” At this all the members of the council shouted out and stopped their ears with their hands; then they all rushed at him, sent him out of the city and stoned him. The witnesses put down their clothes at the feet of a young man called Saul. As they were stoning him, Stephen said in invocation, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”

Psalm 30(31): 3-4, 6, 8, 16-17

R/ Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.

Be a rock of refuge for me, a mighty stronghold to save me, for you are my rock, my stronghold. For your name’s sake, lead me and guide me.

Into your hands I commend my spirit. It is you who will redeem me, Lord. As for me, I trust in the Lord:  let me be glad and rejoice in your love.

My life is in your hands, deliver me from the hands of those who hate me. Let your face shine on your servant. Save me in your love.

Gospel Acclamation: Ps 117: 27 

Alleluia, alleluia! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord: the Lord God is our light.


Gospel: Matthew 10:17-22

Jesus said to his disciples: “Beware of men: they will hand you over to sanhedrins and scourge you in their synagogues. You will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the pagans. But when they hand you over, do not worry about how to speak or what to say; what you are to say will be given to you when the time comes; because it is not you who will be speaking; the Spirit of your Father will be speaking in you. Brother will betray brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise against their parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by all men on account of my name; but the man who stands firm to the end will be saved.”

Prayer over the Offerings               

May these offerings of our devotion today, be acceptable to you, we pray, O Lord, for they are prompted by the glorious commemoration of Saint Stephen the Martyr. Through Christ our Lord.

Communion Antiphon: Acts 7: 58              

As they were stoning Stephen, he called out, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.

Prayer after Communion               

For the many mercies which surround us we give thanks to you, O Lord, who save us through the Nativity of your Son and gladden us with the celebration of the blessed Martyr Stephen. Through Christ our Lord.


Today’s Gospel speaks of the tribulations and sufferings of the disciple owing to the name of Jesus. The convocation before tribunals, flogging, betrayals by close ones and the death – as is the case of Saint Stephen – are part of the fate of the disciples of Jesus. Just like Saint Stephen the first martyr, many Christians suffer persecution and death in different parts of the world today because of the name of Jesus. In this situation, Jesus recommends that we be calm and let the Spirit fight for us. But he also asks us to be perseverant, “for he who perseveres till the end will be saved”. What prevents me today from persevering on path of faith amidst tribulation today? Remember what Saint Augustine says, “God who created you without you cannot save you without you”.