the real christmas spirit
"Stephen, meanwhile, filled with the Holy Spirit..." —Acts 7:55
The spirit of the world is at odds with the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:17). Because of this, it is crucial for us to be absolutely certain we are following the Holy Spirit in our celebrations of the Christmas season. Otherwise, we are "opposing the Holy Spirit" (Acts 7:51), just like the Jewish leaders who put St. Stephen to death. These leaders sincerely thought they were serving God by killing Stephen, but were unwittingly fulfilling Jesus' prophecy instead (see Jn 16:2).
Martyrs like Stephen empty themselves of their blood, just as Jesus emptied Himself (Phil 2:7). Likewise, we must empty ourselves of the world's spirit so that we don't blindly oppose the Holy Spirit. When we are completely empty of self and the spirit of the world (2 Cor 4:4), we can be full of the Holy Spirit (Acts 6:5). If we aren't empty of the things of the world, we will have no room for the Father's gift of the Spirit (see 1 Jn 2:15).
Get the real Christmas spirit. For your Christmas present, "receive the Holy Spirit" (Jn 20:22). May you be found guilty of always opposing the world's spirit and always receiving the Holy Spirit.
Prayer: Father, pour out Your love in our hearts through the Holy Spirit (Rm 5:5). Come, Holy Spirit!
Promise: "Do not worry about what you will say or how you will say it. When the hour comes, you will be given what you are to say. You yourselves will not be the speakers; the Spirit of your Father will be speaking in you." —Mt 10:19-20
Praise: St. Stephen "worked great signs and wonders among the people" (Acts 6:8) and was so "filled with faith and the Holy Spirit" (Acts 6:5) that he was martyred even before the apostles were.
Reference: (This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)
Rescript: †Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 27, 2012
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