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Doctrines & Morals

Feast of St. Stephen (Happy Boxing Day)
By Rev. Fr. Francis Babatunde

Today, we reflect on the life of St. Stephen who was a Deacon at the early Church. Stephen died not only with the spirit of Jesus in his heart but with the words of Jesus on his tongue. Stephen was the first Christian martyr who molded his spiritual life into a fine imitation of our Lord Jesus Christ. One may ask why the Church brings the figure of Stephen to scene when we are still very fresh with Christmas celebration. The simple answer is that the feast of the martyrdom of St. Stephen helps us to put the meaning of Christmas into perspective. Stephen’s martyrdom is a true witness of what God has called us to do. To be witnesses to the truth and persevere in professing our faith. Even as we contemplate the birth of Jesus Christ, we should bear in mind that Jesus himself was born to be a martyr, to be a witness to God the Father’s immense love for us. The sign of that love is the sacrifice which was a reality only because he had first become human like us in all things except sin. Stephen’s death reveals to us what Christ speaks about his followers in Mt. 10:17 “Beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and flog you in their synagogues”. In the martyrdom of St. Stephen, we see a play of violence overcome by love, death by life. The Church sees the death of every martyr as their birth into heaven. Therefore, today, we are not just celebrating the martyrdom of St. Stephen but his birth, which springs, as it were from the birth of Christ who is the King of all martyrs. St Stephen is a perfect example of being Christ-like, let us emulate his life and live out the gospel truth in complete obedience to him who calls and not to the dictate of world leaders.


Prayer: Lord, energize us to preach and live the Gospel daily with the same zeal of St. Stephen whom we celebrate today. Amen

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