Monday, December 26, 2005

Saint Stephen: one triumph after another!

I'm not sure why the Church fathers placed the martyrdom of Saint Stephen on the day after Christmas, but I've been thinking about it.

A friend reminded me that the manger where the Infant Jesus rested wasn't the cozy looking affair that I, for example, display in my parlor. No, it was rather a disgusting thing, filled, no doubt, with animal slops and filth. Hardly a fitting bed for a newborn King!

Yet, for His life here on earth, God-made-Man chose humility
from an abomidable "crib" at his birth to an ignominiously shameful death.

When Saint Stephen knew himself to be dying, he looked up and saw the glory of Jesus, sitting at the right hand of the Father. Like Jesus, he prayed not for vengence upon his murderers, but for forgiveness.

Saul cooperated in this martrydom by watching the executioners' clothing. Even today, it's hard for me not to be shocked at this scandal.

But Saint Augustine sees it far more wisely than I:

"If Stephen had not prayed to God, the Church would not have had Paul."

Yesterday, we recalled the triumphant birth of Our Savior. Today we recall the triumph of His first martyr.

It's good to be a Christian.