On the Feast of Stephen

Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator

In her book, The Hidden Life, Edith Stein (St. Teresa Benedicta) writes:

Closest to the newborn Savior we see St. Stephen. What secured the first martyr of the Crucified this place of honor? In youthful enthusiasm he accomplished what the Lord said upon his entrance into the world, "A body you have prepared for me. Behold, I come to fulfill your will.". . . He followed the Lord in what may be by nature the most difficult for the human heart, and even seems impossible: He fulfilled the command to love one's enemies as did the Savior himself. The Child in the manger . . . sees before him in spirit all who will follow God's will, follow him on this way. His heartbeat goes out to the youth whom he will one day await with a palm as the first to reach God's throne. His little hand points him out to us as an example, as if to say, "See the gold that I expect from you."

These words take on a special meaning when one considers that St. Teresa followed in the martyr's footsteps herself. As I wrote yesterday, it is our choices that define who and what we are; our abilities count but little when compared to the choices we make. As we read in St. Paul's Letter to Titus yesterday: The grace of God has appeared, saving all and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age (Titus 2:11-12).

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