FIRST READING
“I see the Son of man standing at the right hand of God. ”
A reading from the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 17:55-60)

In those days: Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together upon him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him; and the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And he knelt down and cried with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

The word of the Lord.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM Ps 97:1 and 2b.6 and 7c.9 (R. cf. la.9a)
R/. The Lord is king, the most high above all the earth.
Or: Alleluia.

The Lord is king, let earth rejoice;
let the many islands be glad.
Justice and right are the foundation of his throne. R/.

The skies proclaim his justice;
all peoples see his glory.
All you angels, worship him. R/.

R/. The Lord is king, the most high above all the earth.
Or: Alleluia.

For you indeed are the Lord
most high above all the earth,
exalted far above all gods. R/.

SECOND READING
“Come, Lord Jesus! ”
A reading from the Book of Revelation (Revelation 22: 12- 14.16 – 17, 20)

I, John, heard a voice saying to me, “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense, to repay every one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. “I Jesus have sent my angel to you with this testimony for the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright morning star.” The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let him who hears say, “Come.” And let him who is thirsty come, let him who desires take the water of life without price. He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

The word of the Lord

ALLELUIA John 14:18
Alleluia. I will not leave you orphans, says the Lord; I will come back to you, and your hearts will rejoice. Alleluia.

GOSPEL
“May they become perfectly one! ”
A reading from the holy Gospel according to John (John 17:20-26)

At that time: [Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed, saying, Holy Father,] “I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory which you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to behold my glory which you have given me in your love for me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world has not known you, but I have known you; and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

The Gospel of the Lord.

TODAY’S REFLECTION
Stephen, during his execution, sees “the heavens opened, and the son of man standing at the right hand of God.” He was so closely untied to his master and Lord that one cannot fail to notice the striking parallel between his death and that of Jesus Christ. Both prayed that their executioners be pardoned for their ignorance. Both of them surrendered their spirits to the heavenly father as acts of supreme sacrifice and in obedience to the father’s will. In Stephen, the first martyr, the revelation of john finds its fulfillment: “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates.” And the prayer of Jesus for the ultimate unity is being fulfilled too: “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to behold my glory which you have given me in your love for me before the foundation of the world.” Like Stephen, we are also called to live for Christ, bear witness to our faith in him, and if needed, lay down our life for him in imitation of his own supreme sacrifice so that we too may be counted among those who have the right to the tree of life and enter the city by the gates, that we too may be where Jesus is to behold his glory. Heaven is our ultimate goal. The sufferings and struggles of his present life, even torture and death to our bodies, are nothing compared to the glory that awaits us. Are we willing to live for Christ and if necessary even lay down our life for him in supreme sacrifice?

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