December 26, 2012
It is not peculiar should there be feelings of confusion in your mind and heart on this day after Christmas and the birth of a Savior. Yesterday it was joy, noel, rejoice because the Son of God comes to the world to be the Father's messenger. Today we mark the unjust sentencing and death by stoning for a follower of the Child Jesus. And, notice if you will, that one of the men who would become a most unusual follower of Jesus, Saul of Tarsus, later to be known as Paul, stands nearby as Stephen is pummelled by stones.
Stephen stands immediately behind the day of great celebration to serve as a reminder that there is a cost for those who have been and will be willing to be like Stephen, men and women who are willing to preach the same message that this martyr brought to his contemporaries.
Stephen is a model for us of loyalty and fidelity. He is a man who was inspired by the Holy Spirit to live the gospel that he has accepted into his lifestyle. This is especially challenging for Stephen who was condemned as a threat to the temple. Indeed he stands before the people as a model of Jesus Christ himself. Stephen's final words stand as a testimony of his conviction to the life of Jesus and what he and the apostles had taught: "Lord, do not hold this sin against them."
The words of the gospel today are a reminder to us in the challenges that confront our daily lives that the same Holy Spirit that gave strength to Stephen give power and commitment to us to live out that gospel message given to us by the Child Jesus.