Saturday, December 26, 2009

Second Day of Christmas - St. Stephen

We celebrate today a deacon of the early Church who was stoned for believing that Jesus was the Messiah who came into the world to save all people (see Acts of the Apostles chapters 6 and 7). As we read the following excerpt from a sermon of St. Fulgentius of Ruspe that appears in today’s Office of Readings in the Breviary, let us pray that the love of Christ may transform all hearts to respect and love every child in the world.

Yesterday we celebrated the birth of our eternal King. Today we celebrate the triumphant suffering of his soldier. Yesterday our king, clothed in his robe of flesh, left his place in the virgin’s womb and graciously visited the world. Today his soldier leaves the tabernacle of his body and goes triumphantly into heaven. Our king, despite his exalted majesty, came in humility for our sake; yet he did not come empty-handed. He brought his soldiers a great gift that not only enriched them but also made them unconquerable in battle, for it was the gift of love, which was to bring men to share in his divinity. …

And so the love that brought Christ from heaven to earth raised Stephen from earth to heaven; shown first in the king, it later shone forth in his soldier. Love was Stephen’s weapon by which he gained every battle, and so won the crown…. His love of God kept him from yielding to the ferocious mob; his love for his neighbor made him pray for those who were stoning him. Love inspired him to reprove those who erred, to make them amend; love led him to pray for those who stoned him, to save them from punishment. …

My brothers, Christ made love the stairway that would enable all Christians to climb to heaven. Hold fast to it, therefore, in all sincerity, give one another practical proof of it, and by your progress in it, make your ascent together.

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