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St. Stephen

First Martyr

December 26

Epistle  •  Acts 6:8-10; 7:54-59

Lesson from the Acts of the Apostles.

[St. Stephen, stoned by the Jews, asked pardon for his persecutors.]

In those days Stephen, full of grace and fortitude, did great wonders and signs among the people. Now there arose some, of that which is called the synagogue of the Libertines and of the Cyrenians and of the Alexandrians and of them that were of Cilicia and Asia, disputing with Stephen; and they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit that spoke.

Now, hearing these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed with their teeth at him. But Stephen being full of the Holy Ghost, looking up steadfastly to Heaven, saw the glory of God and Jesus standing on the right hand of God. And he said: Behold I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God.

And they crying out with a loud voice stopped their ears, and with one accord ran violently upon him. And casting him forth without the city, they stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, invoking and saying: Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And falling on his knees he cried with a loud voice, saying: Lord lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep in the Lord.

Gospel  •  Matthew 23:34-39

Continuation of the holy Gospel according to St. Matthew.  

[Jesus had upbraided the Jews for having killed and stoned the prophets. Our Lord foretold to the Apostles their martyrdom for His Name’s sake. The Jews fulfilled the words of the Savior, and Stephen is the first of the witnesses of Christ.]

At that time Jesus said to the Scribes and Pharisees: Behold I send to you prophets and wise men and scribes, and some of them you will put to death and crucify, and some you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city: that upon you may come all the just blood that hath been shed upon the earth, from the blood of Able the just even unto the blood of Zacharias the son of Zacharias, whom you killed between the temple and the altar. Amen I say to you, all these things shall come upon this generation.

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered together thy children, as the hen doth gather her chickens under her wings, and thou wouldst not? Behold your house shall be left to you desolate. For I say to you, you shall not see Me henceforth, till you say: Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.