Feast of Stephen: the Cross in Christmas – Br. Mark Brown

Br. Mark Brown

Feast of St. Stephen (transferred)

Jeremiah 26:1-9, 12-15
Psalm 31:1-5
Acts 6:8- 7:2a, 51c-60
Matthew 23:34-39

Today we celebrate the feast of Stephen, the day upon which “Good king Wenceslas went out… when the snow lay round about, deep and crisp and even”.  St. Stephen’s Day is actually the day after Christmas, but we’ve transferred it to today.  It’s a feast that sits awkwardly in a festive time of year that is otherwise so sugar plummed and Santa-fied, jingled and jangled, tinseled and tangled. The martyrdom of Stephen is our reality check–we go from glory to gory in this “snap out of it” shift. We are reminded that we live “in the meantime”—and the times can be mean.

Christmas is, of course, a celebration of the Incarnation, the birth of God’s own being into this world.  It is a festival of life and light: “What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.” [John 1:3-4]  We are the continuing presence of this Incarnation in the world, we are the “Body of Christ”, as Paul puts it.  We are in him, he is in us, as John puts it.  We are the bearers of his light, we are the God bearers, the Christ bearers in this world.  We are now his hands, his feet, his eyes in the world, as St. Teresa put it. “Christ has no hands now but yours…,” she reminds us. Read More