14 January 2007

On Saint Stephen

The life of Saint Stephen "teaches us that we must never disassociate the social commitment of charity from the courageous proclamation of the faith," Pope Benedict XVI said on 10 January 2007. "Charity and proclamation always go together."

Moreover, in the martyr's death "we can understand that the Cross occupies always a central place in the life of the Church and also in our personal lives." As Stephen offered a "Christological rereading" of the Old Testament he certainly new that the Jews would "interpret his words as blasphemous."

As Stephen proclaimed the Gospel he saw a vision of Jesus at the right hand of the Father. This "was followed by his martyrdom, which in fact was confromed with the Passion of Jesus himself, as he [gave] his own spirit to the Lord Jesus and [prayed] so that the sin of his killers not be held against them."

Following after the Proto-Martyr, "accepting the cross, knowing that it becomes and is a blessing, we learn the joy of the Christian, even in moments of difficulty."

Summarizing, the Holy Father noted that "St. Stephen teaches us to learn these lessons, he teaches us to love the cross, as it is the way through which Jesus always makes himself present again among us.

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