Pope: Learning from St. Stephen to entrust our lives to God and to forgive our persecutors
At the Angelus on the feast of the first martyr, Francis invites us "to welcome with faith from the hands of the Lord the good and the bad that life has in store for us". Forgiveness is "the way forward in interpersonal relationships in the family, at school and work, in the parish and in the different communities". Thanks for the "many greetings from Rome and other parts of the world" and prayers for the Pope.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The feast of St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, celebrated the day after Christmas, is "an invitation addressed to each of us" to imitate him: "he died like Jesus entrusting his life to God and forgiving his persecutors," Pope Francis underlined today at the Angelus with the pilgrims in St. Peter's Square.
Today's feast, he said, "the contrast between the joy of Bethlehem and the drama of Stephen, stoned in Jerusalem in the first persecution against the nascent Church, emerges". In reality, Jesus "will save humanity by dying on the cross. Now we contemplate him wrapped in swaddling clothes in the crib; after his crucifixion he will be wrapped again with bandages and placed in a sepulcher ".
"The attitude of Stephen who faithfully imitates the gesture of Jesus - the Pope explained - is an invitation addressed to each of us to welcome with faith from the hands of the Lord the good and the bad that life has in store for us. Our existence is marked not only by happy circumstances, but also by moments of difficulty and loss. But trust in God helps us to accept the difficult moments and to live them as an opportunity for growth in faith and building new relationships with our brothers ".
"The second attitude with which Stephen imitated Jesus at the extreme moment of the cross, is forgiveness ... We are called to learn from him to forgive, always: forgiveness enlarges the heart, generates sharing, gives serenity and peace. The proto-martyr Stephen shows us the way forward in interpersonal relationships in the family, at school and work, in the parish and in the different communities. The logic of forgiveness and mercy is always victorious and opens horizons of hope. But forgiveness is cultivated with prayer, which allows us to keep our gaze fixed on Jesus ".
"We must pray insistently to the Holy Spirit - he concluded - so that it may kindle in us the gift of fortitude that heals our fears, our weaknesses, our trials".
After the Marian prayer, Francis again renewed to all the best wishes that "the contemplation of the Child Jesus, heart and center of the Christmas festivity, may arouse attitudes of fraternity and sharing in families and communities", and expressed thanks for the "many greetings from Rome and other parts of the world ", and above all for" the gift of prayer "that many have promised.