Thursday, December 26, 2013

In imitation of the Lord, St. Stephen shows us how love wins

Each year on 26 December, a sermon by the bishop, St. Fulgentius, is the second reading for the Office of Readings. It is a magnificent reflection on the deacon, Stephen's, martyrdom. It is one of those patristic sermons that remains impossible to surpass. Each year I am struck by this passage:

And so the love that brought Christ from heaven to earth raised Stephen from earth to heaven... Love was Stephen's weapon by which he gained every battle, and so won the crown signified by his [Christ's] name... Strengthened by the power of his love, he overcame the raging cruelty of Saul and won his persecutor on earth as his companion in heaven... Now, at last, Paul rejoices with Stephen, with Stephen he delights in the glory of Christ, with Stephen he exults, with Stephen he reigns. Stephen went first, slain by the stones thrown by Paul, but Paul followed after, helped by the prayer of Stephen. This, surely, is the true life, my brothers, a life in which Paul feels no shame because of Stephen's death, and Stephen delights in Paul's companionship, for love fills them both with joy. It was Stephen's love that prevailed over the cruelty of the mob, and it was Paul's love that covered a multitude of his sins; it was love that won for both of them the kingdom of heaven

No comments:

Post a Comment