The 2nd Day of Christmas and the Reminder of St. Stephen’s Martyrdom

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The 2nd Day of Christmas and the Reminder of St. Stephen's Martyrdom

Mar­tyr­dom of Saint Stephen by Gio­vanni Andrea De Fer­rari (15981669)

“I expect to die in bed, my suc­ces­sor will die in prison and his suc­ces­sor will die a mar­tyr in the pub­lic square. His suc­ces­sor will pick up the shards of a ruined soci­ety and slowly help rebuild civ­i­liza­tion, as the church has done so often in human his­tory.”

Car­di­nal Fran­cis George

Today is the 2nd day of Christ­mas and it’s no coin­ci­dence that it’s also the feast of the 1st Mar­tyr of the Church. St. Stephen.

The speech he gives before his is stoned to death is rather sig­nif­i­cant and takes up most of the sev­enth chap­ter of the book of Acts. where he reviews the entire his­tory of the Jew­ish peo­ple from Abra­ham to Jacob, to Joseph Joshua to Moses and notes a pattern:

It was this Moses who said to the Israelites, ‘God will raise up for you, from among your own kins­folk, a prophet like me.’ It was he who, in the assem­bly in the desert, was with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai and with our ances­tors, and he received liv­ing utter­ances to hand on to us

“Our ances­tors were unwill­ing to obey him; instead, they pushed him aside and in their hearts turned back to Egypt, say­ing to Aaron, ‘Make us gods who will be our lead­ers. As for that Moses who led us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has hap­pened to him. So they made a calf in those days, offered sac­ri­fice to the idol, and rev­eled in the works of their hand­s­Then God turned and handed them over to wor­ship the host of heaven, as it is writ­ten in the book of the prophets: ‘Did you bring me sac­ri­fices and offer­ings for forty years in the desert, O house of Israel. No, you took up the tent of Moloch and the star of (your) god Rephan, the images that you made to wor­ship. So I shall take you into exile beyond Babylon.’

Acts 7:3743

And ends his his­tory les­son with the following

“You stiff-​necked peo­ple, uncir­cum­cised in heart and ears, you always oppose the holy Spirit; you are just like your ances­tors. Which of the prophets did your ances­tors not per­se­cute? They put to death those who fore­told the com­ing of the right­eous one, whose betray­ers and mur­der­ers you have now become. You received the law as trans­mit­ted by angels, but you did not observe it.”

Acts 7:5153

This could be a descrip­tion of the United States today. We have been exceed­ingly blessed by God and yet have run away from him to the point where Chris­t­ian men who pro­claim the Gospel, feed the hun­gry, get gifts for kids,raise money for the poor are now con­sid­ered unfit to serve as judges unless they aban­don their God. Our procla­ma­tion of faith angers them just like Stephen’s vision of the Lord that they killed him for

When they heard this, they were infu­ri­ated, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, filled with the holy Spirit, looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus stand­ing at the right hand of God, and he said, “Behold, I see the heav­ens opened and the Son of Man stand­ing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out in a loud voice, cov­ered their ears, 4and rushed upon him together. They threw him out of the city, and began to stone him

Acts 7:54-58a

That’s why it’s so impor­tant that the feast of St. Stephen is after Christ­mas day, because it reminds us as we cel­e­brate the birth of the new­born king the price that he paid for the sal­va­tion he brought us and the price we may be called to pay for our faith.

We haven’t reached the point where they start jail­ing us or killing us here in Amer­ica for believ­ing, but I regret to say I will likely live to see the day it begins.

May we have the courage of Stephen when it does. We’ll need it.


Martyrdom of Saint Stephen by Giovanni Andrea De Ferrari (1598-1669)


“I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.”

Cardinal Francis George

Today is the 2nd day of Christmas and it’s no coincidence that it’s also the feast of the 1st Martyr of the Church. St. Stephen.

The speech he gives before his is stoned to death is rather significant and takes up most of the seventh chapter of the book of Acts. where he reviews the entire history of the Jewish people from Abraham to Jacob, to Joseph Joshua to Moses and notes a pattern:

It was this Moses who said to the Israelites, ‘God will raise up for you, from among your own kinsfolk, a prophet like me.’ It was he who, in the assembly in the desert, was with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai and with our ancestors, and he received living utterances to hand on to us

“Our ancestors were unwilling to obey him; instead, they pushed him aside and in their hearts turned back to Egypt, saying to Aaron, ‘Make us gods who will be our leaders. As for that Moses who led us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has happened to him. So they made a calf in those days, offered sacrifice to the idol, and reveled in the works of their handsThen God turned and handed them over to worship the host of heaven, as it is written in the book of the prophets: ‘Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings for forty years in the desert, O house of Israel. No, you took up the tent of Moloch and the star of (your) god Rephan, the images that you made to worship. So I shall take you into exile beyond Babylon.’

Acts 7:37-43

And ends his history lesson with the following

“You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always oppose the holy Spirit; you are just like your ancestors. Which of the prophets did your ancestors not persecute? They put to death those who foretold the coming of the righteous one, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become. You received the law as transmitted by angels, but you did not observe it.”

Acts 7:51-53

This could be a description of the United States today. We have been exceedingly blessed by God and yet have run away from him to the point where Christian men who proclaim the Gospel, feed the hungry, get gifts for kids,raise money for the poor are now considered unfit to serve as judges unless they abandon their God. Our proclamation of faith angers them just like Stephen’s vision of the Lord that they killed him for

When they heard this, they were infuriated, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, filled with the holy Spirit, looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God,  and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out in a loud voice, covered their ears, 4and rushed upon him together. They threw him out of the city, and began to stone him

Acts 7:54-58a

That’s why it’s so important that the feast of St. Stephen is after Christmas day, because it reminds us as we celebrate the birth of the newborn king the price that he paid for the salvation he brought us and the price we may be called to pay for our faith.

We haven’t reached the point where they start jailing us or killing us here in America for believing, but I regret to say I will likely live to see the day it begins.

May we have the courage of Stephen when it does. We’ll need it.