St. Stephen

Lest we forget that the Incarnation of Christ is intimately linked to His death and resurrection, on this day after Christmas we celebrate the feast of St. Stephen, the first martyr of the Church.

We are told in the Acts of the Apostles that Stephen was “filled with grace and power” as he preached. His words angered some and they “threw him out of the city, and began to stone him.” Twice, Stephen echoes Christ’s words on the cross, first crying out to the Lord to receive his spirit and then asking God to forgive those who are killing him.

The Incarnation begins the incredible act of God’s love that finds its completion in the death and resurrection of Jesus. Christ gives himself to us completely, and so Stephen before his death can triumphantly announce “Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” There stands the Son of God, though whom Stephen, and all of us, will live forever.