Merry Christmas! I hope you had a truly blessed day yesterday and that you're continuing the celebration of the Christmas octave with crazy amounts of joy in your heart.
Do you have a cup of coffee in hand? Are you surrounded by torn wrapping paper and leftover candies? Good. Now let's chat about these readings.
Have you ever found it strange that we remember the Church's first martyr the day after Christmas? It's like, we're on a high from the arrival of the Godman and joy to the world and then BAM! Stephen's dead. At first glance, it seems like a buzz kill. But in actuality, Stephen's death is the supreme fruit of Christ's birth, so it is logical to remember his life and death the day after Christmas.
Because God gave His life to man in a radical way in the Incarnation, man is now able to give his life in a radical way to God. Stephen does not lay down his life for a god he does not know, but for the God who has a face, a voice, and a human heart. Stephen is familiar with the Lord in an intimate way, and that's why he embraces his death with such joy and confidence. We celebrate Stephen's martyrdom today because it illustrates the glory that we now possess through the coming of Our Savior. We celebrate Stephen's death because it is his entrance into eternal life, an eternal life with the Jesus that we can see and touch and hear.
How can we imitate Stephen today? By reveling in the Lord. Let's just soak up His goodness, His humanity, His humble love. Let's celebrate the fact that Jesus' life gives meaning to our life; that His death gives meaning to our death; that His coming into the world enables are coming into Heaven. Today and always, may we be like young Stephen, full of grace and power, so enamored by the Lord that we are eager to give our lives to the One who gave His own for us.
Olivia Spears is a middle school religion teacher turned SAHM who is married to her high school best friend. You can find out more about her here.