Watch: Bishop Boyea & The Seven Feast Days after Christmas: December 26: Saint Stephen, the First Martyr


Watch: Bishop Boyea & The Seven Feast Days after Christmas: December 26: Saint Stephen, the First Martyr

The seven days of after Christmas are filled with special celebrations. Each adds to the beauty and wonder of the great Incarnation of Jesus Christ which we celebrated on Christmas Day. Please join Bishop Earl Boyea of Lansing as he reflects upon today’s Feast of Saint Stephen, the First Martyr. Here is what he has to say:

“The story of Stephen is found in Acts, chapters 6 and 7. He was one of the first deacons chosen by the early community and ordained by the apostles. We are told that he was “filled with faith and the holy Spirit” (Acts 6:5). He also worked “wonders and signs” and apparently was a great debater.”

“Brought up on false charges before the Jewish Sanhedrin, Stephen gave a great summary of Jewish history which he concluded led up to “the righteous one,” that is Jesus, whose death Stephen then blamed on his audience (Acts 7:2-53).”

“This, of course, rather infuriated his listeners. When Stephen then described a vision he was having, “Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God,” they believed he had committed blasphemy and so led him out of the city and there they stoned him to death. He was the first martyr of the Church, a true witness to Jesus (Acts 7:54-60).”

“What is most interesting about Stephen are the two things he is reported to say as he was dying, because they imitated Jesus’ own death on the cross. First of all, Stephen cried out, “Jesus, receive my spirit” (Acts 7:59) which recalls Jesus’ words, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46). Then he said, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” (Acts 7:60) which remind us of these words of Jesus on the cross, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Stephen, in these two phrases, thus showed that his openness to heaven was also closely tied to his love and care for those who were killing him. He was a true witness to Jesus both by his words and his life.”

“Sisters and brothers, on this first day after Christmas, we are being reminded of where this Son of God, whom we celebrate as a baby in Bethlehem, is headed—to the cross all for our salvation. This child, who will witness to the incredible love of the Father for us, also calls us to be witnesses to his truth and love, even if it means imitating Stephen who followed his Lord to the end.”

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