I’ve often thought that the week after Christmas ought to be named “All Saints” rather than November 1. Certainly this week we commemorate a number of major ones even though, in the post-Christmas Day slump, they often go uncelebrated. Yet, as always, each has something to teach us:
St. Stephen – How different the world would be if our response to personal attacks or wrongs done to us could be “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” (Acts 7:60b) as Stephen prayed before he died rather than, “May the Lord see and avenge” (2 Chronicles 24:22c) which was on the lips of Zechariah son of Jehoida when he faced a similar fate. And how often vengeance rather than forgiveness motivates our behavior.
St. John – How different the world would be if the Johannine ethic of a “new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.” (John 13:34) was followed. Not just “love your neighbor as yourself,” but love as Jesus loved…with a willingness to lay down his life for his friends (and even his enemies!). To die for, rather than kill for, our beliefs.
Holy Innocents – How different the world would be if policy decisions were made with an eye toward how each one would affect our children rather than continue our Herodian policies of slaughter (Matthew 2:16) due to war, poverty, lack of health care, and environmental degradation.
Stephen, John, and all you little ones who “are no more” (Matthew 2:18) pray for us that we may do better in the coming New Year!