Dec 26 is the Feast of St Stephen, the first Christian recorded as martyred for the faith. How amazing that this violent death is so closely tied to the miracle of the sweet little baby Jesus. The parallels are striking: in both accounts, not everyone recognizes Jesus for who he truly is and what his coming means for the world. Some people (shepherds & Stephen) are given glimpses of the glory of God which sound bizarre to those who hear the tale, and others (King Herod & the Sanhedrin) react with violence for fear of losing the power they wield over the people. The question before me as I meditate on this is: How will I respond to the truth Jesus sets before me? Will I embrace it despite the cost & ridicule it may garner, or will I shut him out and live life on my own terms?
Each day is filled with countless moments where this question is asked of me.
Therein lies the secret of a life of faith - baby steps, small choices, incremental progress. I am far from perfect; my flaws are legion, yet Jesus loves me and meets me where I am at in life without reservation, asking only that I give him permission to do what he wants. Sometimes I give this permission with profound zeal, but mostly my permission is half-hearted. Occasionally I refuse outright. Yet he never grows frustrated, and always patiently waits for me to come around.
St Stephen was a much holier man than I, yet I now humbly ask for his intercession, that I would be given the grace to surrender my life more completely to the Lord Jesus.