A Brutal Reminder

A Brutal Reminder

The Stoning Of Saint Stephen - Domenico Fiasella


It’s a bit of a jolt. Holy Mother Church leads us from the glorious Hallelujah’s of the Christmas miracle and the birth of the newborn King of the Jews

-God Incarnate-

to today’s feast of St Stephan, the first martyr.

We go from reading of the multitude of Heavenly hosts proclaiming:


Glory to God in the Highest and on earth,

peace among men with whom He is pleased.

—Luke 2:13


to today’s readings where we hear of a good man, Stephan,


 filled with grace and power,
working great wonders and signs among the people.


Who could possibly have a problem with this remarkable preacher?


A group of Jews in Jerusalem debated with him,

but could not get the better of him, so they arranged to

falsely accuse him of blasphemy. He was brought before the

Sanhedrin where he delivered his profound speech in Acts 7:2-53.

—Catholic Bible Dictionary, Hahn p 875

And so enraged were his enemies they carted him outside the walls of Jerusalem and stoned him to death.

How did we go from the babe in swaddling clothes to a crowd of brutal men thrusting their vile hatred upon such an innocent man?

Wasn’t it just yesterday we heard the cries of the Lord Jesus Christ from His manger?

In today’s Office of Readings Holy Mother Church explains the seeming contradiction,


Yesterday, the Lord was born on earth that Stephan might be born in Heaven ~

The Lord entered in to our world that Stephan might enter into Heaven.

—Responsory OOR Volume 1, Litugy of the Hours

Take a moment and substitute your name for St Stephan’s.

Our Saviors faithfulness is mirrored in the fidelity of His witnesses who shed their blood for the Word of God.

—Morning Prayer Intercessions LOH


So, there it is; the reminder that while the joy of the season is in Christ, so is the challenge of living for Him. The question, at least for me,

is, how committed am I to the truth of living out this one single word, Emmanuel- God with us ?

I’m not a prophet, but I can tell you, that in this and future New Year’s…I think we will be tested to stand for Christ in ways we never imagined.

I think we will find out just what we’re really made of and whether or not we are willing to hold onto the truths of the faith –

at any cost.


Beware of men; for they will deliver you up to councils, and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear testimony before them and the Gentiles.


When they deliver you up, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.


Brother will deliver up brother to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake.


But he who endures to the end will be saved.

—Matthew 10:17-22 RSV



  •  title h/t Living With Christ, Today’s Good News
  • The Stoning Of St Stephan, Domenico Fiasella,


  1. Nancy
    Dec 27, 2013

    I am so struck by the suggestion to substitute my name for Stephen’s. I, too, think we will be tested to stand for Christ in ways we never imagined. It’s already happening, more and more. May St. Stephen pray for us all.

    Thank you for writing such an inspiring, thought-provoking post.

    • Caroline
      Dec 27, 2013

      Nancy, Yes, I’ve been asking St Stephan to intervene for all of us …because in the end, he loved his enemies in death as Jesus loved His on the cross.. And as for me, I have a long way to go in this regard. Blessings always +

  2. Karin
    Dec 27, 2013

    Substituting our own name for Stephen’s is very powerful. It reminds us precisely why Stephen’s feast day is celebrated right after Christmas; it reminds us why Christ came.
    I think many stop at the manger seeing it as a quaint and comfortable scene. It really isn’t either of those things. I agree with you and Nancy, we will be called to witness for Christ in ways not imagined~May He give us the grace to do so.
    Thanks for this beautiful and powerful post, Caroline.

    • Caroline
      Dec 27, 2013

      Karin, I think for many years I was one of those who saw the manger as a quaint, comfortable scene. It wasn’t until I came home to the fullness of Holy Mother Church, that the Lord began to unfold it’s depth for me in bite size pieces.

      In these coming days, I believe we will have to cling to others who understand what faith is going to require..God will give us friends in very unlikely places..as He already has. I’m praying for the grace, too.

      Blessings always +

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