Posted by: fvbcdm | December 26, 2013

Feast of Saint Stephen (26 December 2013)

At this time of the year, one great religious feast follows upon another so that we are presented with many, many topics for our meditation and our prayer. On Thursday, of course, was Christmas Day—the birthday into our world of Our Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior. That is followed immediately by the feast of Saint Stephen, the first Christian martyr.  Then, by Saint John, the fisherman who became the beloved disciple of Jesus, one of the twelve apostles, an evangelist, one of the first bishops of the Church, and probably also a martyr.

And then, on the Sunday after Christmas, we celebrate the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. We human beings do not spring up spontaneously. We are born of father and mother.  And if we are born according to God’s intent, we are born of a loving father and mother, legally and sacramentally united in the bonds of matrimony and using their procreative love to welcome children into their homes and families and into our world.  The family is intended by God to be the matrix in which human life begins and rearing takes place. Thus it follows that after celebrating the fact that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,” we look at the ambient in which Our Divine Lord’s conception, birth, and up-bringing took place.  And that ambient was the loving trio of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph whom we call “the Holy Family” and whom we celebrate on the Sunday after Christmas.

Let us go back for a moment to the first Christian martyr, Saint Stephen, whom we celebrate the day after Christmas.  Because he preached that Jesus of Nazareth, whose death the Jewish High Priest had brought about, was the Savior of the world, the Jewish religious leaders wanted to get rid of him. They stood him against the walls of Jerusalem and there hurled stones at him until he died of his injuries.  As he died, he prayed “Lord, do not hold this sin against them,” just as Jesus had prayed on the cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing.”  They piled their cloaks at the feet of a young Jewish firebrand named Saul as they killed Saint Stephen.
However, the blood and prayer of Stephen had a profound effect upon the persecutor Saul.  Shortly after that, they purchased for him the gift of conversion, faith in Jesus, a life of tremendous apostolic activity among the Gentiles, a martyr’s death, and a position as one of the greatest of the apostles of Christ.  And now the man who died among the stones and the one who stood guard over the cloaks are together in heaven, giving glory to Our Divine Lord who, like them, gave his life for the love and salvation of the world.   Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you, my friends.

Note:  This is a CDM composed by Father Brown in the past.

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