Feast of Saint John, Apostle and evangelist
We read this text on the day after Christmas. God, in God’s infinite mercy, has just entered our broken world. And He did so in a manner utterly consistent with our brokenness—humbly, by way of a woman unknown. And in a manger.
We cannot help but see in our Lord’s birth also his death. We know that he will leave this world as he entered it—humbly, with no presumption, though He is the Son of God.
And as the Son, He came into the world to preach a powerful word. It’s not one that many people, including a lot of Christians in the US, want to hear these days. It is a word all about peace, nonviolence, and mercy. It is a word that calls us, especially, to compassion and care for the poor and the outcast. It is a word of excessive generosity and grace.
The texts before us today pose a profound challenge to us. It is a challenge to our faith. Do we really believe? Do we believe in Emmanuel—God with us? If we do, will we be faithful . . . to the end?
Stephen didn’t know in advance that he would be a martyr. He didn’t know that he would be called to follow Jesus all the way to the cross. But he did it. Will we?
On this day after Christmas as the newspaper arrives at our door (or on our smart phone) to remind us ever so concretely and powerfully that we live amidst sin and brokenness—that we are sinful and broken—we are also called by Jesus to pledge our allegiance to Him who broke bread with and blessed sinners. We are called to be people of grace and mercy, no matter what. May we follow our Lord in His mercy and grace all the way to the cross, if need be.