It may seem particularly jarring to move from the rather peaceful Christmas crib scene of yesterday to the vivid stoning-to-death of Stephen described in today’s passage from Acts of the Apostles. Yet this is why Jesus was bornto hand over his very life to the Father that we might be saved. The Christian deacon Stephen similarly gave his life as somehow part of God’s plannot that God triggered the event, but rather that God was using whatever happened to bring about something good.

Our world has abundant examples of good coming from situations of great suffering and tragedy. Maybe when I’m giving my very best and still meet challenges and difficulties, God will find a way to bring some positive result out of the very struggles that I face and endure. The lives of so many Saints and holy ones remind us of this reality.

Today, in the spirit of Christmas giving, how can I hand over my time and talentseven my very lifeto the Lord, as I walk in the footsteps of Stephen and of Jesus, my Lord and Savior?

—The Jesuit Prayer Team