26 December 2008

Saint Stephen, First Martyr

Princes sat and spoke against me; and the wicked persecuted me. Help me, O Lord my God, for your servant was employed in Your justifications. Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord. ~ Psalm 118 (119):23,86,1.

The birthday of the Lord which we celebrated was the one on which He was pleased to be born; the birthday we are celebrating of His servant is the one on which he was crowned. The Lord’s birthday we celebrated was the one on which He received the garment of our esh; His servant’s birthday which we are celebrating is the one on which he threw aside the garment of his esh. What we celebrated on the Lord's birthday was His becoming like us; what we are celebrating on His servant’s birthday is his becoming as close as possible to Christ. Just as Christ, you see, by being born was joined to Stephen, so Stephen by dying was joined to Christ. ~ Saint Augustine, Sermon 314.