This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

December 26 -- Feast of St. Stephen

Stephen is listed as both the first deacon and the first martyr. In fact, he was stoned to death while St. Paul was still Saul, the judge of Christians.

Stephen's message (as recorded in the Book of Acts) holds some appeal for me. Not the part where he railed against his fellow Jews for always rejecting God's messengers (though in truth the Bible tells that they were always throwing rocks at Moses). That part can get tricky with all the Christ-Killer bullscat. But the part about not putting your faith in worldly institutions seems really important and valuable. He was right about the Temple. It would not, could not, last, but the power of God in the lives would. And a God that cares about a temple, even that temple, forever seems like a small-minded God.

The difference between Moses and Stephen is that the crowd finished the job with the latter. I imagine that Moses probably had a couple small rocks thrown his way as a protest, but Stephen had the full, angry barrage of five-pounders. Then the stoners (hah!) laid their coats before Saul as a way of submitting their actions to his judgment; Saul dug it.

As a proto-martyr, they didn't bust up the body to make relics all over the world; not yet anyway. In AD 415, Lucian found his tomb at Kafr Gamala. Parts, and even stones from the execution, were sent on to Constantinople and then to Rome as holy relics.

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