Gospel: Mt 10:17-22
Be on your guard with people, for they will hand you over to their courts, and they will flog you in their synagogues. You will be brought to trial before rulers and kings because of me, so that you may witness to them and the pagans.
But when you are arrested, do not worry about what you are to say, or how you are to say it; when the hour comes, you will be given what you are to say. For it will not be you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father, speaking through you.
Brother will hand over his brother to death, and a father his child; children will turn against their parents and have them put to death. Everyone will hate you because of me, but whoever stands firm to the end will be saved.
We have just celebrated yesterday with joy Christmas. Yesterday‘s celebration commemorated the birth of the Son of God into the world. No doubt the beauty of Christmas still floats peacefully in the air. But now, we suddenly shifted to a dramatic and sad death of St. Stephen. Why this sudden shift? What‘s the purpose of presenting two contrasting events: birth and death; gladness and sadness.
The contrasting events remind us of the two realities of life: birth and death, of dying and rising, of happiness and sadness that we all experience. They remind us that while on earth we experience the cycle of dying and rising. In fact, it is a series of death and birth experiences, of dying and new life. They tell us that in this world not everything is happiness; neither is it pure sadness. It is a mixture of happiness and sadness.
What is important in all these contrasting realities is the presence of Christ. Obviously, Christmas is Christ made man to be present in us while the martyrdom of St. Stephen is his entrance into everlasting presence of God. Whether in moments of joy and sadness, of birth and death, if Jesus is there, any moment becomes a “kairos,“ a salvific event. May every moment of our life, joyful or sad, be filled with Christ‘s presence so that it becomes a moment of grace for us.