Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee
On December 26, the day after Christmas, the Church celebrates the feast of St. Stephen, deacon and martyr. We have just celebrated the birth of the Son of God, and the very next day, the cost of the profession of the faith in the Lord Jesus is established. The price is one’s life. It is simple – God demands all from us.
The day of my diaconal ordination, my classmates processed into the main chapel behind a banner (banners were big in the 70s) of St. Stephen, the first martyr. The banner was created by our classmate, Anthony Brankin, who, during our post-ordination years, has contributed several works of religious art to various shrines and churches.
Stephen was one of the original seven deacons selected in the Acts of the Apostles to assist the disciples in the works of charity, especially ministering to the widows in their daily distributions. He was a model for the life we were accepting through our ordination as deacons. We were called to serve and minister to the poor through works of charity, all in the name of the Lord. It’s always interesting to me that, to this very day, the world becomes angry at those who attempt to do good in the name of the Lord (He was in the world, and the world came to be through him, but the world did not know him. - John 1:10).
St. Stephen’s reward for the good works he performed in the name of Jesus was to be stoned to death by the mob. As he was dying, he raised his eyes to heaven and asked God to forgive his persecutors for what they were doing (Lord, do not hold this sin against them - Acts 7:60). There is little doubt that Jesus himself is seen in St. Stephen’s action.
To what extent do our lives reflect the person of Jesus? How far would we go to profess our faith if it meant being ostracized or injured? For St. Stephen, there was but one road to salvation, and that road is through the person of Jesus – the Way, the Truth and the Life. This road is open to us, so let us journey together as we LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Note: This blog originally appeared as the December 26, 2017 "Love One Another" email sent to Catholics throughout the Archdiocese of Milwaukee by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki. If you are interested in signing up for these email messages, please click here.