Pope Benedict's Angelus Today (Feast of St. Stephen)
From AsiaNews.it :
To speak about St Stephen's martyrdom in the joyful atmosphere of Christmas is not out of place. Indeed, the cross already cast its shadow on the manger in Bethlehem. This was foretold by the poor stable where the Child wailed, by the prophecy of Simeon on the sign of contradiction and the sword that would pierce the Virgin?s soul, and by Herod?s persecution which made the flight to Egypt necessary.
It is not surprising that upon reaching adult age the Child should call on his disciples to follow him on the path of the Cross with total trust and faithfulness.
Drawn by His example and sustained by His love, many Christians from the dawn of the Church bore witness to their faith with their blood. Others have followed the first martyrs across the centuries until now.
How not to see that, even in our times and in various parts of the world, being Christian requires a martyr's heroism? How not to recognise that everywhere, even where there is no persecution, living the Gospel coherently carries a high price.?
Contemplating the divine Child in Mary?s arms and looking at the example of St Stephen, let us ask God to grant us the grace of living our faith coherently, always ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks us for a reason for our hope (cf 1 Pt, 3: 15).