One Monk of the Order of Saint Benedict

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The Word of God and the Body of God reveal each other -- the homily worships both.

December 26, 2007

For the Feast of St. Stephen, First Martyr, 26 December

Matthew 10:17-22
Acts 6:8-10; 7:54-59

Yesterday we marked a birth.
Today we mark a death.
Yesterday with shepherds we looked on God the Son born a flesh-and-blood man, a newborn bedded down in the fodder of ox and ass.
Today with St. Stephen we witness the Fullness of Manhood, the SON OF MAN standing at the right hand of God in glory.
The shepherds did not know the baby in the fodder was God Eternal.
St. Stephen knew the SON OF MAN he saw in the heavenly glory of God was that baby in the fodder— God born humble in the flesh and blood of man, and man glorified in the flesh and blood of God.
Some who worshipped the One True God killed St. Stephen for speaking the truth he knew and saw.
Stephen’s words were blasphemy to them.
The blasphemy was not only about God, but also about man and his hereafter.
The earliest faith of the People of God was that after death there was nothing for man, no afterlife, no rising from the dead, nothing, forever, “The End.”
God alone was in highest heaven, and it was for him alone.
That was the faith for a score of centuries.
In the days of Jesus, some still had the old faith.
Many, however, had already begun to believe that righteous men would one day receive from God the reward of rising from the dead— but only back to this world.
The faith had never included the possibility that any man could live in heaven and see God face to face.
The possibility of man’s life with God in the joyous glory of heaven was a gift that Jesus brought.
The SON OF MAN whose first bed was fodder went on to suffer execution for daring to avow his personal authority and mission to offer men the possibilities and choices for winning heaven.
Christ himself, the SON OF MAN, is the possibility, the choice, and the fulfillment of man’s glorification in heaven.
That is the Gospel and the vision for which St. Stephen was a witness and the first martyr.
The Word of the Lord keeps the Holy Gospel according to Stephen, and makes it the Holy Gospel according to the Church.
Stephen and the Church,
filled with the Holy Spirit,
look intently into heaven
and see the glory of God
and Jesus standing at the right hand of God,
and Stephen and the Church say,
we see the heavens opened
and the SON OF MAN standing at the right hand of God.”

In the person of Jesus, the SON OF MAN, mankind already has the gift of standing at the right hand of God in glory.
He offers us the possibilities and the choices for claiming the everlasting gift that triumphs over the deathbed.
His first earthly bed was fodder for ox and ass.
Now his Eucharistic Flesh and Blood are fodder for sinners.
The possibilities and powers he hands to us in his Body and Blood will take us to glory at the right hand of God, if only the sum of our living choices echoes the dying words of St. Stephen.
Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!

That God Be Glorified in All


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