A Brief Homily for the Feast of Stephen the Martyr
Dec. 26, 2022
On our way to the eucharist this morning, I was pointing out to my wife the interesting implication of the church long standing choice to have the Feast of St. Stephen follow Christmas Day, and in a couple more days, the Feast of the Holy Innocents. The implication is that the little child, who is the prince of peace, is born surrounded by violence. To this she replied that is not any different from today. That thought leads to the necessity of asking the question of what difference that birth made. One way of answering that emerges from a contrast between the murder of the Prophet Zechariah and stone of Stephen. Zechariah, with which Jesus links his own death, died between the altar and the sanctuary of the Temple centuries before his own death. The stoning of Stephen followed a few years after his death. Dying Zechariah cries out: “May the Lord see and revenge!” But Stephen dying, cries out: “Lord do not hold this sin against them.” Stephan cry echoes that of Jesus on the cross: “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” Now that is a really big difference. A difference which, in fact, can change the world.