Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Feast of St. Stephen

The day after Christmas we're already celebrating the feast of a martyr. There are several martyrs feasts this week, one after the other: Stephen, John the Apostle, the Holy Innocents, Thomas a Becket.

It might seem like a downer coming so soon after the joy of Christmas day. But Jesus came to save us and he did that by giving his life for us on the cross. From the cradle to the cross. It's interesting that some of the Christmas carols actually note this. What Child Is This, for example, has these lyrics in one of the lesser-sung verses:

Sword, spear, will pierce him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you.
Hail, hail, the Word made flesh,
The babe, the child of Mary.

Or consider We Three Kings:

Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
Breathes a life of gathering gloom;
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,
Sealed in the stone cold tomb.

Or The Holly and the Ivy:

The holly bears a bark
As bitter as any gall;
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
For to redeem us all.

But this is good news, because through his death, Jesus conquered death so that we might live forever.


Lisa said...

The connection between the crib and the cross has been more clear to me recently. For instance, a priest chaplain to the police department in my hometown made a similar point when sharing some words of encouragement on the first anniversary of the tragic death of two police officers who died in the line of duty on Christmas night last year when their police vehicle in fog as thick as pea soup drove off an open draw bridge that they believed was closed.

Jesus came that we might have life, but also so that he might fulfill His mission to save each of us through the Paschal mystery.

Really powerful thoughts, but also very challenging to live up to. In any case, let us give thanks to God for his unimaginable love for us!

causa nostra laetitiae said...

In this life, all joy is tinged with sorrow, as the crib was in the shadow of the cross. Thus Jesus truly entered into our human condition, and sactified suffering by joining it with His passion.
This helps me in my darkest times.