Thursday, December 25, 2014

Feast of St. Stephen

St. Stephen was a deacon of the early Church who was full of faith and the Holy Spirit.  He would debate with the Jews who came to attack the Church and would always get the better of them. 

So they fabricated false accusations against him and had him put on trial.  In the 7th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, Stephen makes a speech in front of his accusers.  He enumerates the stories of Abraham and Joseph up to the story of Moses. 

But then he starts to admonish the faithlessness and disobedience of the people of Israel against Moses and the prophets. He, in fact, was saying that his accusers were not good Jews but pagans who have persecuted the prophets and crucified the Just One, which is Jesus. 

So the Jews become very angry, drag him out of the city and stone him. Stephen asks God to forgive his persecutors and killers, and then he “falls asleep.”
 St. Stephen was not afraid of death because he knew who was the Author of Life. He boldly spoke against the evil before him and for this he died in the Lord. 

His love and zeal for Jesus gave him the courage to shed his blood for him. How precious the blood of martyrs!  How noble their sacrifice! Yet Jesus has showed us the way by his passion and death and now we look forward to our resurrection. Christians do not believe only in a crucified Christ but also in the Risen Lord. 

The Lord is risen, and so St. Stephen has been risen with him.  How precious the blood of the Christian martyrs, how noble their sacrifice!  Jesus has gone ahead of them, and they eagerly follow in his footsteps.

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