Pope Francis said that Christ’s coming into the world means we must “convert” and change our way of thinking.
The Holy Father was speaking ahead of the Angelus on Tuesday. In Italy, and in many countries throughout the world, the day after Christmas, which commemorates St Stephen, the first martyr, is kept as an important holiday.
In his reflection, Pope Francis said the connection between the birth of Jesus on Christmas, and the martyrdom of St Stephen the following day, might not seem clear – but in fact, there is a strong link between them. Stephen was martyred, he said, because of his firm faith, and proclamation, of the “new presence of God among men.” He knew that Jesus, “the eternal Word come to dwell among us” was the true temple of God.
The message of Jesus, the Pope said, “is uncomfortable, and discomforts us.” After His coming, it becomes necessary for us to convert, to change our way of thinking.” St Stephen was always “anchored” to this message of Jesus, even to the point of martyrdom; his death, in fact, was an “echo” of Jesus’ own.
Dying, St Stephen asked Jesus to receive his spirit, the Pope recalled. Jesus is our mediator, he continued, not only in death, but at every moment in our life; and so, “in the presence of the Baby Jesus in the manger, we are able to pray” with Stephen, “Lord, Jesus, we entrust our spirit to You; receive it.”
But, the Pope continued, Jesus is not only mediator between God and men; He also reconciles human beings with one another. “He is the fount of love, who opens us to communion with our brothers… removing every conflict and resentment.”
Pope Francis said, “Let us ask Jesus, born for us, to help us to take up this double attitude of confidence in the Father and of love for our neighbour; it is this attitude that transforms life and makes it more beautiful and fruitful.
“To Mary, the Mother of the Redeemer and Queen of Martyrs, let us lift up our prayer with confidence, that she might help us to welcome Jesus as Lord of our life, and to become His courageous witnesses, ready to pay in person the price of fidelity to the Gospel.”