Mass today at 10:00am in our church, on the feast day of Saint Stephen, the first Christian martyr.
As they were stoning Stephen, he called out “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” (Acts 7:59).
Just yesterday, we began our observance of Christmastide by celebrating the Nativity of Our Lord. And now today, we observe the feast of the Church’s first martyr, St. Stephen, one of the Church’s first deacons whose ordination by the Apostles we read about in Book of Acts.
His stoning and death, observed by the future Apostle Paul, was certainly a time of sadness; as it always is when we lose a loved one. But the lessons for us as we observe this Feast on the Church’s liturgical calendar—only one day after Christmas Day—are important to living our Christian faith.
First, there is good and evil. So let’s make no mistake: God is good in all things. Jesus came to a people who had been living in a great darkness. He came as the Light of the World that would overcome the dark. His life, death and resurrection brings us new life.
Second, Christ has defeated death, so although the death of a loved one remains for us who are left behind a sad experience, it is also a time of great joy in anticipation of salvation. Stephen was filled with the Holy Spirit and proclaimed the goodness of the Lord and love and forgiveness for his executioners.
Third, following the examples or Christ and St. Stephen, we can learn how to live the Christian faith that will bring us to new life and salvation. We have opportunities to lay down our lives. Not all of us will be physical martyrs, but we can daily deny ourselves for the good of others around us.
As we enter more deeply into the Christmas season, let’s try to imitate St. Stephen in his faith, courage, love and sacrifice; always choosing Christ and turning from evil.
Let us continually lay down our lives for Jesus.
Courtesy of “The Integrated Catholiclife” http://www.integratedcatholiclife.org/
Is Stephen particularly relevant for the times we live in? David Quinn presents his opinions here.
And, Douglas Murray presents his opinions, on the same theme, here.