Legend has it that 415 AD was the discovery of the body/relics of our first martyr, Stephen. Since the liturgical calendar of Christmas had not been set until some centuries later, these early historical days of memory bring treasures of the Paschal Mystery to our present calendar. We know that at each celebration of the Eucharist, we remember this entire mystery: Christ’s conception, birth, life, passion, death, resurrection, and ascension. Each day, we, too, remember our own Paschal Mystery from our baptismal covenant.
Our feast day readings call us to remember a life offered to God in grace and the Holy Spirit. This holy deacon wished for his whole life and death to be offered up, in the Spirit, back to the God who gave the first breath to Stephen. Jesus tells the disciples – and each of us – that our lives need to be sacrificed and offered up in honor of the faith. Going against authorities brings conflict and even death like Christ’s and Stephen’s.
Like the psalmist, our prayer echoed by Jesus on the cross and Stephen at his persecution is that each day, we live our lives offered up in the Holy Spirit to do God’s will. The saints were heroes following in Christ’s footsteps and remembered on special days to echo their witness and life. Our challenges may not be like Stephen’s, but each day of the year, especially in Christmastide, we echo boldly the words of our faithful witness and know that we, too, may suffer and die for it. Let us follow and keep up on Christ’s path, placing our lives in God’s spirit.
O God, your angels announced the glory of Christ’s birth, and Stephen saw the glory of Christ in heaven. We pray that we, too, may point to Emmanuel in our world to transform the world in the workings of your Spirit. Support our effort to share the faith, especially the Paschal Mystery’s message that we may always die to give glory to your name and goodness through Christ our Lord.