The day after Christmas, the presents just unwrapped, the glow of the lights fills rooms and hearts. And what do we celebrate on this day after Christmas ? The feast of St. Stephen who is the first martyr of the church. The account of his being stoned to death is found in the Acts of the Apostles. The joy of Christ’s birth is immediately followed by a remembrance of Stephen who gave his life for believing in Jesus. The gospel proclaimed this morning at Mass had jesus warning the disciples that they will experience resistance and persecution for their faith , even within families: “brother will hand over brother to death, a father his child, and children will rise up against their parents and have them put to death .”
So much for a Merry Christmas!!! But the Christmas mystery isn’t about an idyllic world devoid of suffering and challenge. It is the Word made Flesh entering our history giving us the power to transform and recreate the world in which we live. As we give birth to Christ in our hearts, our lives will change. And some of our closest loved ones and friends may not understand or appreciate the changes that may take place when Christ becomes more central to our lives. Deepening our love of Christ will not necessarily bring us peace and tranquility. Whatever the price, and there will be a price, there is no turning back, once we are committed to following Christ.
Peace and Joy. Fr. Frank