Stephen, filled with grace and power . . .

As we continue to celebrate the great feast of Christmas, we aren’t just focusing on the actual circumstances that led to Jesus’ birth. The meaning of his Incarnation goes much deeper. This is especially evident in today’s feast of St. Stephen, the first martyr.

When Jesus came to earth, he became the model for his followers. Jesus shows us how to live so that we can be pleasing to his heavenly Father. But he didn’t only show us. Through his Incarnation, death, and resurrection, he dwells in us. Now the Holy Spirit offers us the same “grace and power” that was so apparent in Stephen (Acts 6:8). Now we can be “other Christs” to the world.

In the account of Stephen’s life found in the Book of Acts, we clearly see “another Christ.” For example, Stephen was selected to serve the Christian community as a deacon because, like Jesus, he was “filled with faith and the holy Spirit” (Acts 6:5). Like Jesus, he worked “great wonders and signs among the people” (6:8). He also preached the good news like Jesus (6:9-10), and was unafraid to face the Sanhedrin when they sought to kill him (6:12; 7:1-53). Finally, like Jesus, he was put to death—but not before forgiving his persecutors (7:60).

As a Christian, you, too, are called to “incarnate” Jesus as Stephen did. Most likely you won’t be called to be a martyr. But you will be called in a myriad of ways to die to self and your own selfish desires. You may not be ordained as a deacon, but you will be called to serve your brothers and sisters in need. You may not work great signs and wonders, but you can be a sign of Jesus’ love and mercy to a hurting world. And finally, though you may never have to forgive persecutors trying to destroy you, you will be called to forgive—in both big and small ways.

The Incarnation reverberated through time and space, changing the world—and our hearts—forever. Like Stephen, may we, too, become Christ to the world in all the ways God is calling us.

“St. Stephen, pray that I may have the courage to be another Christ in the world today.”

Acts 6:8-10; 7:54-59
Psalm 31:3-4, 6, 8, 16-17
Matthew 10:17-22


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