This is a post I actually wrote years back on an earlier personal website:
First off, Merry Christmas! Don’t forget it lasts until the feast of the Epiphany!
Also, happy feast of Saint Stephen. Today we celebrate the Church’s first martyr who shows us how to love by his life. He was martyred for witnessing to Christ, and Saul (later Saint Paul who wrote so many letters of the New Testament) eventually also became a saint – which is amazing. Read this quote from today’s office of readings (from Saint Fulgentius of Ruspe, Bishop) and be in awe:
“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 neighbor 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. In his holy and tireless love he longed to gain by prayer those whom he could not convert by admonition.”
Name a person who has hurt or bothered you recently. Can you wish them well?
Perhaps today and in the spirit of Christmas, we can consider who have persecuted us and pray for them, wishing them the best, and even hope that one day we will be companions with them in Heaven. Yet we can also pray that even now they will receive the good things they need and that God wants to give them.
“As Stephen was being stoned he could be heard praying, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ He fell to his knees and cried out in a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ And with that he died. Saul, for his part, concurred in the act of killing.” (Acts 7:59-60)