Monday, December 26, 2011

The Feast of Stephen

Jesus said, "Therefore I send you prophets, sages, and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town, so that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. Truly I tell you, all this will come upon this generation.

"Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you, desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, `Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.'" Matthew 23:34-39

I never really thought much about St. Stephen, martyr of the faith, and his story somehow never really touched my heart. Then many years ago, on our first trip to Ireland, we visited St. Stephen's Green in Dublin on a fall Sunday afternoon. It was mild and the park was full of families, parents sitting on blankets and children running and playing. The children were more patient than any I had every seen, they were kind to their siblings and other children, took turns and watched out for the little ones - it was if I was watching a movie rather than real life, especially in America. I was carrying our eldest, and worrying a lot about being a mom. After that day in St. Stephen's Green I didn't worry so much anymore. Since that day I was always grateful St. Stephen and his affect on the children, however remote it might be.

This day after Christmas, I hope you had a chance to do what we did. We got down on the floor and played with our grand daughter. We shared precious time with our daughters, teared up a bit as they headed on their way, one to Boston, one to New York, and rejoiced in the love we have been given. May this be a day of tender embrace, of gentle thanksgiving for the love we share. May this be a day of laughter and rest, of playing and laughing and falling asleep with a baby in your arms. For God loves us, just like that, and loves nothing more than falling asleep, cradling us in strong, loving arms.

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