Full of Grace
Yesterday we celebrated the light that came into the world. Today we remember Stephen, the first martyr.
Did some gloomy cleric slip this saint into the liturgical calendar right after the Nativity?
As if Christmas cheer were a bubble that must pop. Back to work. Back to this dreary world. The Gloria already is fading.
Stephen was among the first deacons commissioned to serve the fractious community in Jerusalem. The patron of bricklayers and headache sufferers, Stephen was known for his eloquence, healing powers, and his challenge to the Mosaic tradition. He forgave his indignant brethren even as they stoned him for impiety.
Stephen lived in the light. In the midst of factions and mistrust, he didn’t give up on this world. The spirit that moved through him was not disdainful. Stephen didn’t seek suffering as a sign of holiness. He shared his glimpse of God’s glory as a farewell gift. Stephen is remembered for joy.
The stable in which Jesus was born seems nearer this year. Many face the loss of their home or jobs. In frustration, we may be tempted to pick up a stone, but where do we throw it? We remember a savior who was homeless and at the mercy of strangers. Like Stephen, we are accompanied through the time of troubles. Again and again we realize how we are not alone. We are surprised by a joy that does not make us forget.
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