St Stephen

Today is Thursday the 26 December, the Feast of St Stephen.

The monks of the Abbey of Keur Moussa sing, “Le Dieu de verité”. - “The God of truth, begotten of the Father, came down from heaven.”

As I listen, I can perhaps consider for a moment who it is whose birth we are celebrating – not just a sweet little baby, but God himself, the God of truth, taking on our human condition – taking on weakness and vulnerability, taking on danger and the risk of rejection.

Today’s reading is from the Acts of the Apostles.

Hearing this gruesome story on the second day of Christmas, it might seem a very short honeymoon period after yesterday’s wonder and joy at the Nativity.  How does it seem to you?  - to hear now this story of persecution, of martyrdom, of death?

Stephen was the first Christian martyr.  He and many after him believed so completely in this God-become-man that they gave their lives for him.  Does this make any difference to how I think and feel about Christmas, the Nativity, the child in the manger?

As I listen to the reading again, can I hold in my mind at the same time the picture of the Nativity? – and hear this episode as a further unfolding of that same story, as Jesus is recognised and accepted by some, but resisted and rejected by others?

Today’s feast of St Stephen reminds us that the Incarnation – God becoming human – is not just about a sweet little baby in a crib, but has far-reaching consequences for the whole of humanity.  I might want to ask God now, in my own words, to help me understand and take onboard those consequences, or perhaps, in the face of the difficulties and obstacles I face in life, to have the kind of faithfulness, serenity and courage that Stephen had.