The Church of Saint Agnes

1680 Dixie Highway, Fort Wright, KY 41011

The Church of Saint Agnes
1680 Dixie Highway, Fort Wright, KY 41011

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Feast of Saint Stephen

Date: 
Mon, 12/26/2016
Author: 
Rev. Msgr. Donald Enzweiler

Last night I took a moment to browse through the posts
on a popular internet social media sight.
Many of them included pictures.
The predominant theme of these Christmas posts:
“Look at my Christmas stash” and “I did well this Christmas”.
One picture showed a Christmas tree surrounded by at least 50-60 packages
with a note saying that all of the gifts were for the 1st grandson born into a large family.
 
I mention this in order to emphasize how different this response is
from the immediate response to the Christmas event by the Catholic Church.
Where many in the world continue to revel in and delight in the material gifts they received
the Catholic Church selects the day after Christmas
to recall to the minds and hearts of Catholics
the memory of the death of St. Stephen, the first martyr.
We step from Christmas day right into the persecution of someone who was stoned to death
because he had the courage to proclaim and give witness to his faith in Jesus Christ.
We have no time to catch our breath.
We look at the child Jesus laying in the manger, his innocence and humility,
and no sooner than we take our eyes off of him
we are looking at a young man who has been killed because he believed in and accepted
Jesus as Savior and Redeemer.
 
In a way the Church is saying to us “before you become too attached to this adorable little child,
you may want to consider the consequences of binding your selves to him.”
On Christmas day we say “I give my life to you, O Lord, as a gift.”
This feast of St. Stephen brings to our awareness that for believers this is better said
“O Lord, I give my life for you.”
 
There are profound theological ramifications for anyone who claims that
“Jesus is the reason for the season.”
The Church wastes no time cutting to the chase.
Jesus Christ came into this world to fulfill a purpose, to complete a mission.
It was through suffering and death that this mission was accomplished.
To embrace this new born child is to embrace the Savior hanging on a cross.
To live in Christ is to die in Christ. 
To live for Christ is to die for Christ.
To love this child King, this Son of God born of a virgin,
is to freely and completely place one’s life at the disposal of God’s plan for salvation.
 
We often hear Scripture quoted “the truth will set you free”.
This is not so much freedom “from” as it is “freedom for”.
The truth sets us free to live for Christ and to die in Christ.
 
This day after Christmas the Church says to us:  “Be strong.  Have courage.  Remain dedicated.”
 
Our prayer for today:  “O Lord, grant us the grace we need to stand in the light of Jesus Your Son and to accept in freedom and with forbearance the sacrifices necessary for salvation.  Amen!”