Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Martyr after Baby Jesus?: Daily Mass Homily--Thursday, December 26th, 2013 (Feast of St. Stephen)

            It might seem odd that the day after we celebrate the birth of Jesus, we have a feast for a martyr.  But the Church deliberately gives us a day to reflect on St. Stephen immediately after the baby Jesus.
            First, we recognize that Christ came into our world that is full of sin, death and destruction.  There is a war going both for the world and for our soul.  Luke vividly describes the response of Stephen’s enemies, and in so doing sets forth what we face as well: “When they heard this, they were infuriated, and they ground their teeth at him.”  No one has ever claimed our Christian walk is easy.
            At the same time, God’s love is great.  It is through this love that He sent His son as a baby in Bethlehem.  Christ’s love—coming down to us from heaven—allows someone like Stephen to enter into heaven.  Christ’s love was so great that he prayed even for those who crucified him—“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”  Stephen—living in God’s love—prayed for his enemies too—“Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”
            In the battle for our faith and souls, we have an exemplary model in St. Stephen.  And we have nothing to fear, because God always wins.

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