Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt
When I returned to Jerusalem and was praying at the temple, I fell into a trance and saw the Lord speaking to me. “Quick!” he said. “Leave Jerusalem immediately, because the people here will not accept your testimony about me.”
“Lord,” I replied, “these people know that I went from one synagogue to another to imprison and beat those who believe in you. And when the blood of your martyr Stephen was shed, I stood there giving my approval and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.”
Then the Lord said to me, “Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles.”
More thoughts for meditation
The future that dawns with the birth of Jesus does not come without cost.
For Stephen, the future meant trading his life for telling the truth to the powers that be. We remember his martyrdom on the second day of Christmas each year. This is the “feast of Stephen” we sing about in the Christmas carol: “Good King Wenceslas.” BTW—Vaclav (“vatslaf” in Czech) Havel who died a few years back , is a namesake of King Wenceslas and also something of a martyr for speaking back to the powers when the Czech Republic was born in spite of Soviet occupation. Stephen was the first martyr of many to come in the church.
For Paul, moving into the dawn of the future meant leaving Jerusalem in a hurry, at one point. As in today’s reading. It meant an adventurous, but totally unpredictable and often troubling life on the road.
On the 2nd day of Christmas my true love sent to me…Two Turtle Doves
Receiving doves, a sign of truth and peace, would be lovely enough. If you want to go with the possibly-catechetical secret meaning of the carol, the two doves represent the Old and New Testaments, which together bear witness to God’s self-revelation in history and the creation of a people to tell the story of God to the world.
Suggestions for action
Pray: Help me look around without fear and see my opportunities to share your truth and love.
St. Stephen’s Day was a big day in England. It was known as Boxing Day, the day church alms boxes were opened and the contents distributed to the needy. Nowadays is it a big day for hospitality; many people look for people who might be left out to fill their table. In Ireland some places held Wren Day , if you’d like to know another place Mummers came from.
It costs us to tell the story of our faith, or so we fear. What is your story? Spend a minute with Jesus and let him help you remember who you are in Christ.
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