Thursday, December 26, 2013
Why a Martyr after Christmas?
Merry Christmas! Now, go celebrate a martyr. Seriously. Today is the Feast of St. Stephen, proto-martyr of the faith. You can and SHOULD read about Stephen's life and martyrdom in the Acts of the Apostles, chp 6 and chp 7. Great story, but why at Christmas? I don't know the literal reason of the Church's placement of the feast here. But I can reckon my own thoughts. Archbishop Fulton Sheen is quoted: "Christ did not come to make us nice people, He came to make us new men." That is what St. Stephen is- a great and vibrant example of the New Man formed by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Ask any one in the malls making returns today: "What is Freedom?" They will answer: "To do what I want, in the way I want, whenever I want." St. Stephen will tell them: "Freedom is to know and to do the good, no matter the circumstances." Ask our countrymen going back to work today: "What is Love?" They will answer: "Love is the feeling in your heart about your beloved. The thrill, the sight, the smell. All those good things that stir you up." St. Stephen will tell them: "Love is choosing good for your beloved. See how I loved my persecutors? I blessed them as they killed me. I sought their good as they sought my death." St. Stephen won the day. Amongst his persecutors was Saul (Acts 7:58) who consented to the execution of Stephen. Saul is later won over by love and grace and Christ. He is known as St. Paul. Imagine when St. Paul wrote about Love in 1 Corinthians 13, perhaps he was not simply writing about Christ but also about Stephen? Merry Christmas! Merry StephenMass!