Feast of Saint Stephen
December 26, 2016
Daily Reading from the USCCB: Matthew 10:17-22
St. Stephen is the first public martyr of the fledgling Christian Church. He proclaimed Christianity to the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem, and enraged them to the point that they stoned him. Stephen was a deacon, and unbeknown to him, his death would be one of the causes for Saul–the greatest persecutor of Christians–to become a Christian himself. Saul both witnessed and supported this terrible act of violence.
It is a constant theme in the gospels and in our own lives that sometimes the worst events can be the catalysts for some major change for the good in our behavior. Actually that is the most common way for humans to grow in wisdom; that is to know what is good and right to do and what is not. In other words, wisdom comes from the ways in which we humans learn from our mistakes. And we understand that quality as insight.
Watching Stephen die, Saul could never have imagined that one day he, too, would be a martyr or witness for Christ. Trusting in God brought St. Paul to his greatest challenges and greatest glory. It will do the same for us.