“You desire that which exceeds my humble powers, but I trust in the compassion and mercy of the All-powerful God.” ~ St. Stephen
It’s the day after Christmas. You would think that the celebration at Mass would be about the birth of Jesus, about love, and about hope. Instead, we enter the Octave of Christmas with a sad feast: St. Stephen. Stephen was the first martyr of the Church, dying at the direction of a zealous Pharisee named Saul.
Saul truly believed that Christianity was an aberration and he did everything he could to rid the world of that aberration, even if it meant arresting, torturing, and killing the followers of “The Way”, as Christians were first called. He had letters from Rome giving him authority to arrest anyone suspected of being a Christian.
Stephen truly believed in Jesus Christ and would not allow himself to be silenced. Not only did he believe in Jesus Christ, he lived the virtues and values of Jesus Christ completely. As he was being stoned to death at the orders of Saul, he could be heard echoing the prayer of Jesus: Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.
We live in a crazy world. We live in a violent world. We live in a brutal world. We, like Stephen, are given the choice to embrace the “values” of the world or to embrace the values of the Lord. As we continue our celebration of Christmas, let us do our best to embrace the peace, love, and joy that comes to us from the Lord and live those values every moment of our lives.
FAITH ACTION: Ask for Christmas peace to reign in your heart so that you can live it in your life.