Today, immediately after celebrating the birth of Jesus, the Church celebrates Stephen, the first martyr of the community of followers of Christ. The manger and the cross are not really separated. The one born in the poverty of the manger dies in the poverty of the cross, a God who became poor and emptied himself for us. This means a new way of living and thinking.
Fr. Alfred Delp, the Jesuit killed by the Nazis in 1945, wrote in prison that Stephen was one who recognized that something new had begun with the incarnation
He saw clearly that humankind has been lifted to a new plane through the miracle of the holy night and the encounter with Christ; that human beings now had new strength and the new responsibility of bearing witness. What had been enough before was enough no longer….
This is his message and his judgment. He challenges us to get out of our rut. As we draw near to God the old and familiar become useless. God will transform us into faithful witnesses if we earnestly and with complete surrender turn to him for help.
May we be witnesses (which is the literal translation of martyrs) to God made flesh, God-with-us.