Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas ought to disturb us

A day after Christ descended to earth via the mystery of incarnation (aka his earthly birth), the Catholic Church commemorates the ascent of St. Stephen to heaven through his martyrdom (aka his heavenly birth).

Hence, if you happen to go for Mass today, you should not be surprised if you see the priest-celebrant donning a red vestment, a deep contrast from the ubiquitous yellow/gold motif which has become staple gearing up for the Christmas season.

Red of course signifies bravery inasmuch as it reminds us of the color of blood.

These two things bring us to see the life of Stephen in the greater scheme of things, in the plan of the Greatest Author.

Some would think that commemorating a martyr’s death (he died by stoning, by the way) right after the birth of Jesus seems unthinkable, if not altogether morbid. It’s like sending out a caveat which goes something like this: For those who wish to follow Christ, look at how Stephen lived… and died. You have been warned!

But come to think of it, Christmas isn’t supposed to be seen just as a captivating fairytale featuring a cuddly little baby. It’s supposed to send us a strong message and a daring challenge to let go of the old, as we embrace the New!

The cute little baby who stars in this event challenges us to go out of our way to reach out to others and make our home a veritable place for others to experience the love of God inasmuch as He took the bold move to live with us and experience inconvenience up to the ultimate event of offering His life so that we may live our lives to the full.

The real essence of Christmas ought to disturb us.

St. Stephen, a wise and a daring man took note of the message of Christmas. He was bold enough to live out the faith He received by returning the life he was just lent. This has been one of the greatest expressions on how to live as a follower of Christ.

In this day and age, we are not asked to offer our lives to live our faith. We are just asked to do one thing: to love especially when difficult events come our way and it is just impossible to do as such.

Let this be a beautiful homage to the fullness of life lived out by Stephen, and a fitting gift to the Reason of the season.