Tuesday 21 June 2016

Dec 26 - Saint Stephen, the first Martyr - Feast

Today we celebrate the Feast of Saint Stephen, the first Martyr who died for Christ. Some of us might be wondering why we celebrate his feast on the day after Christmas where we are still filled with the joy of Christmas. The reason is because this Feast of Saint Stephen is to remind us of why Jesus came. Christmas is not just about the baby Jesus, but a life that would go through much persecution and rejection, which would end up on the Cross. Even as an infant, persecution had already started when Herod tried to kill the baby Jesus, resulting in His escape to Egypt and resulting in the death of the Holy Innocents, whose feast we celebrate on December 28. So the coming of Jesus is a call to commitment and a call to martyrdom, and Saint Stephen sets us an example on how to follow and die for Jesus.

Following the example of Jesus, Saint Stephen offered his spirit to God, saying: "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." He even prayed for forgiveness for those who were stoning him to death, where he said: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” This tells us that a Christian martyr does not die consumed by hatred and crying for vengeance, but his love for Christ enables him to love and forgive his enemies. If we were to be martyred for our faith, would we be able to follow Saint Stephen's example, as well as the examples of the many martyrs who had died for Christ?

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