>> Stones were flying from different directions…
>> The atmosphere was very tense and highly apprehensive…
>> The people had become enraged and were very badly instigated…
St Stephen…. the man filled with the power and spirit of God, however, looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God. (Acts 7: 54-56)
And then a surprising thing happened….
>> He saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God!
Usually, we always read or say in our prayers that Jesus is sitting at God’s right hand…
>> But here, Jesus is seen standing!
Jesus is probably giving a standing ovation…. to St. Stephen, the one who became his brave witness.
>> The mighty display of faith by St Stephen was worthy of a standing ovation by the Son of God!
>> The Majestic King was tremendously proud of His Faithful and Committed Soldier!
We are on the first day after Christmas…
Yesterday, we celebrated child Jesus in the crib…we sung the “silent night” and “joy to the world”… we remembered the angels singing “Glory to God in the Highest and Peace to people of good will”….we exchanged a lot of smiles and shared much fun…
But suddenly today, there is a shift…
>> The atmosphere of fun and frolic has turned sombre and serious…
>> The carols of mirth and joy are substituted by cries for death and vengeance…
>> The shining gold vestments at Holy Mass are replaced with blood-red vestments…
The peace and joy of Bethlehem is contrasted by the tragedy and heartbreak at Jerusalem…
Yesterday we celebrated the birth of our eternal King.
>> Today we commemorate the triumphant suffering of His faithful soldier.
Yesterday our King left His place in the Virgin’s womb and was born in the world.
>> Today His soldier leaves the tabernacle of his body and goes triumphantly to heaven.
Yesterday a group of enthused and excited people visited and paid homage to our King.
>> Today, a group of proud and ferociously evil mob execute His soldier!
Why does the Church celebrate this tradition of commemorating the gruesome stoning to death of St Stephen, soon after the celebration of the tender Babe?
The Church’s long tradition of celebrating the memorial of St. Stephen soon after the celebration of the Nativity of Christ, does not serve to demote Christmas, but to continue & manifest more clearly an important meaning of the Christmas celebration.
Christmas essentially means becoming a true disciple of Christ…
And a true disciple ought to tread the way of the cross – “If any want to be my disciple, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me” (Lk 9: 23)
Christ the Master, Himself walked this path of trials and difficulties.
>> The signs of suffering and pain were foreshadowed very much already in the Crib of Christ…
>> The manger where the babe was laid, foreshadowed the Cross on which He was to be laid.
>> The swaddling clothes of the babe, foreshadowed the shroud which will cover Him in His tomb.
>> The lack of room in the inn, foreshadowed the lack of room for Him to be buried after His death.
Christmas is the celebration of Life that was pledged to be given up in death, in order to win back life – life in its fullness!
Christmas becomes a true reality when Jesus is born in our hearts…
When Jesus comes to dwell in our hearts, that heart cannot remain without effect.
>> There is a contagious enthusiasm.
>> There is a great transformation.
>> There is a tremendous zeal.
And this birth of Jesus took place in the heart of St Stephen.
>> He underwent a Real Christmas.
He experienced the joy of having Christ born in His life.
And this fact that Christ was born within, led Him to be a dynamic and bold soldier of His King!
>> Nothing could stop Him from being a witness…
>> The experience of Christmas in His life had made St Stephen to be a bold soldier.
>> The experience of Christmas in His life had made St Stephen to stand firm for the truth.
>> The experience of Christmas in His life had made St Stephen to bear the pain of stoning
>> The experience of Christmas in His life had made St Stephen to shed His blood for His Lord
>> Have we also experienced Christmas in a way that transforms and makes us authentic disciples?
>> Have we also celebrated Christmas which makes us to pledge every breath and cell of our life to the Lord?
>> Have we also enjoyed Christmas in order to find immense power and strength in being a true and authentic Christian?
The blood of St Stephen sings the beautiful carols of Jesus who was born in his life!
>> Are we ready to discover still further, the true and genuine meaning of Christmas in our life?
Jesus, the King of kings and the Lord of lords gave a wonderful standing ovation seeing the spectacular display of faith and courage of His Beloved soldier, St Stephen.
Let us also be filled a deep passion and courage that comes from the New Born King and be His Dynamic and Enthusiastic Soldier for His Kingdom!
Happy Feast of St Stephen, the First Martyr of the New Born King of kings!
God Bless! Live Jesus!