We don’t stop wondering at the Christmas crib. The next few days the church wonders at other things that are part of this mystery. On December 26, we celebrate the feast of St. Stephen, one of the first disciples of Jesus to die giving witness to him. (Acts 6,8 ff) We remember that we too “are born for to die.” Yet, Christ who is born to us,came to destroy death.
“The love that brought Christ from heaven to earth raised Stephen from earth to heaven,” St. Fulgentius says of the martyr. We have this same belief in the mystery of Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection.
Tomorrow, December27th, we celebrate the feast of St. John, the apostle, who stood by the cross when Jesus died and then came to the tomb and found it empty. Later, he would write:
“What was from the beginning,
what we have heard,
what we have seen with our eyes,
what we looked upon
and touched with our hands
concerns the Word of life —
for the life was made visible;
we have seen it and testify to it
and proclaim to you the eternal life
that was with the Father and was made visible to us?
what we have seen and heard
we proclaim now to you…” 1 John, 1-4
John’s letters and gospel are read at Mass on the days that follow the Feast of Christmas.
December 28th, we celebrate the feast of the Holy Innocents, those little children killed by Herod the Great in Bethlehem in his evil hope that no rivals would challenge his power and throne. (Matthew 2, 13-18)
We wonder about the mystery of evil and injustice. How powerful and lasting it seems to be, a darkness still challenging the Light that comes into the world. On Christmas the question of evil still causes us to wonder.