Disciples, Apostles, and Saints!
This time of year, I really appreciate Saint Stephen. He’s a top shelf saint.
Even though he doesn’t get a ton of space in Scripture, only a few chapters in the Acts of the Apostles, Stephen plays big, getting a chapter-length sermon whne others have to write their own letters to the church to get that kind of real estate!
There’s a lot to the veneration of Stephen, making him a significant “First”. He is regarded as the first deacon and the first martyr. So when we celebrate him on December 26, we can go in either direction.
Throughout history, however, Stephen’s feast day has most often been marked by profound acts of sharing, particularly to the poor. While it is culturally regarded as the day after Christmas rather than the second day of Christmas, I am moved by how most of us just know that it is a day for generosity. Even sacrifice.
Given this history of service associated with Stephen’s day, I’d like us to consider the profound place Stephen’s preaching has in the story. He isn’t all talk or action. The Spirit elevates Stephen because he is both.
One of our favorite sayings, attributed to Saint Francis, is “Proclaim the gospel always. If necessary, use words.” Many of us love it as a corrective to a vision of preaching that is “all talk/no action.” Stephen reminds us we are all to be talking and acting our faith.