Today’s Thoughts: Here we are on the day after Christmas, the day after the wonderful scene of Mary holding her newborn infant in a cave just outside of Bethlehem. In today’s readings, the scene has shifted to a place outside the walls of the city of Jerusalem. It is not a tranquil scene but one of mob violence as they drag a young man out of the city to his death all because he believes. Stephen becomes the first martyr of the new church.
On Friday we will celebrate the Feast of the Holy Innocents, the baby boys martyred by Herod because he was so afraid of the infant Jesus. My point here is that in these early days after Christmas two of the feasts we celebrate, St. Stephen and Holy Innocents, stand in stark contrast to Christmas and they do so as a reminder that being a person of faith, that believing, comes with a challenge, comes with resistance from the world.
Christmas is not a happily ever after story. It is the beginning of a journey of faith that will take us from a cave outside of Bethlehem to a hill outside of the Jerusalem and beyond. Christmas is the beginning of a challenge to wake up every day and find Emmanuel, God with us, in our lives.
As we celebrate the feast of St. Stephen today, we are reminded that the world will not always see things as we do. Sometimes the world’s reaction to what we believe will be harsh and at times even deadly. But like Stephen we are asked to believe, to trust and to know that God is with us.
In our prayers today we ask St. Stephen to help and protect all who are persecuted because of what they believe. We pray for peace among religions, peace in our world!
“Peace demands the most heroic labor and the most difficult sacrifice. It demands greater heroism than war. It demands greater fidelity to the truth and a much more perfect purity of conscience.” (Thomas Merton)
Have a wonderful Thursday everyone.
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Fr. Paul R. Fagan, C.P. "Preacher on the Run"
Just a few thoughts to help you on your journey through life...let me know from time to time what you think...