In our first reading, we hear God make a covenant (a sacred family bond sealed by an oath) with King David. God promises that He will establish a house for David, a dynasty, a Kingdom that would last forever. David's heir would rise up to rule this Kingdom, and the Davidic throne would “stand firm forever.”
Israel held this promise close for generations, looking forward to the day when David's line would once again come to power and free God's people from captivity and oppression. But the Israelites would never have imagined how God would actually fulfill the covenant He made with David.
A Baby born in a stable and laid in a manger... A Child growing up in a small Galilean town... A young Carpenter Whose amazing ministry spread throughout Israel, accompanied by miracles... A Man hanging on a cross... A Risen Savior ascending into Heaven... A King on His heavenly throne... A covenant fulfilled...
Friday – Merry Christmas!
Rejoice for our Savior is born! May you have a Blessed and Joyful Christmas, resting in Jesus' loving arms and basking in His radiant light.
Saturday – St. Stephen
It seems a little strange perhaps that we should celebrate the feast of a martyr on the day after Christmas, but St. Stephen died in such a way that he actually reflected the joyful coming of the Savior we celebrated just yesterday.
Stephen, we hear, was “filled with grace and power,” and he worked “great wonders and signs among the people” through Jesus' Name. Further, Stephen's words perfectly matched his works. He boldly proclaimed Jesus' divinity and His fulfillment of all the covenants, events, and prophecies of salvation history, and he brought the Jews up short for opposing the work of the Holy Spirit and crucifying their own Messiah.
The Jews, of course, couldn't stomach Stephen's confident exposition. Enraged, they ground their teeth. Stephen, however, filled with the Spirit, cried out with great joy, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”
The Jews howled with rage and rushed at Stephen, dragging him out of the city and stoning him. Stephen, however, continued to look toward Heaven, praying in ecstasy, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” As he was dying, he even prayed for his murderers: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” Then he turned his spirit over to his Lord and Savior, joyous to the end and ready to enter Heaven.
Jesus was born that He might open the gates of Heaven for us. Today we see the results of His incarnation, Passion, death, and Resurrection. Heaven is indeed open, and Jesus waits to receive us just as He received St. Stephen.