With great and festive solemnity yesterday, Holy Mother Church entered into the joy of the Christmas season as she welcomed the Birth of the Savior and Lord, Jesus, the Son of God and the Son of Mary. Today, as she continues her celebration of Christmas, the Church turns her gaze to Saint Stephen, the Protomartyr, who was killed by stoning because of his testimony on behalf of the Risen Lord.
The juxtaposition of these two feasts is a clear reminder that the Advent of the Son of God is not, as Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis have frequently reminded us, is not a fairy tale but a true and historical event that has changed the world because the presence Child of Bethlehem requires that each person makes a choice, either to love him or to reject him.
Throughout the centuries those who have chosen to love invited others to love him, too, and met their death because of this invitation. The same continues in our own day. One need only to the present situation is Syria, in Iraq, in Nigeria, and in South Sudan, to name just a few places where Christians continue to be called because of their faith in Jesus Christ.
This morning Pope Francis, through his Twitter feed, has invited us to pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters:
Before the Nativity scene, may we pray in a particular way for those suffering persecution for the faith.As we continue our joyful - and peaceful - celebrations of Christmas, let us not forget to remember those who cannot celebrate as we do. Saint Stephen, pray for them!
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) December 26, 2013