We follow the Feast of Christmas with the feasts of St. Stephen and St. John, two saints who help us understand the meaning of this mystery. Stephen faithfully follows the Child to his death and resurrection. St. Luke links the two in the 6th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles; he is the 1st martyr of many to come.
St. Fulgentius explains the place of Stephen in the continuing Christmas mystery.
“Yesterday we celebrated the birth in time 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 to 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. He gave of his bounty, yet without any loss to himself. In a marvellous way he changed into wealth the poverty of his faithful followers while remaining in full possession of his own inexhaustible riches.
“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 signified by his name. His love of God kept him from yielding to the ferocious mob; his love for his neighbour 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. Strengthened by the power of his love, he overcame the raging cruelty of Saul and won his persecutor on earth as his companion in heaven.
( St. Fulgentius of Ruspe, on the Feast of St. Stephen)
We celebrate the feast of St. John, the apostle, on December 27th because he sees the Risen Christ from his birth till his death on Calvary. John writes that we might rejoice. ” We write this to you to make your joy complete – complete in that fellowship, in that love and in that unity.” John’s letters and gospel are read at Mass on the days that follow the Feast of Christmas.
Like the song–“Do you hear what I hear?” I am listening and pondering and wondering. Your words are Spirit and Life. I am grateful.
We prayed the Divine Office on Christmas night with a family whose children I have taught and watched grow. My yesterday and today have been blessed with the Office of Readings and Morning Prayer. I love my Magnificat, but this is more and good. Much joy these Christmas days. And to all the readers and responders on this blog–much JOY, HOPE and PEACE.
Reblogged this on Nelson MCBS.