Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Santo Stefano

Today is the Feast of Saint Stephen, first martyr of the Church. In case you are wondering what connection this feast has to Christmas, let me try to break it down. Advent and Christmas, though preparing us to celebrate the mystery of the incarnation, really have the second coming of Christ as their main focus. So, it is not surprising that the day after the celebration of the Birth of Christ (I don't say birthday because it is not), we celebrate the feast of the first martyr of the Church, an event that not only happened soon after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus and the descent of the Holy Spirit, but which in it's very nature testifies to the truth of Jesus' entering heaven, the beatific vision and the life with God in heaven.

In fact, we do not celebrate Christmas as if it were the first time we ave ever heard of it, as if we were the shepherds hearing the good news for the first time. Rather, being a people whose focus is on the paschal mystery, we see Christmas in view of the cross, the resurrection, the ascension, and the future glory that will come and of which we already have a foretaste here on earth in the eucharist.

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