Vatican City, Dec 26, 2018 / 04:45 am America/Denver (CNA).
The feast of the first Christian martyr, St. Stephen, falls the day after Christmas — timing that contains an important spiritual lesson, Pope Francis said Wednesday.
“It might seem strange to approach the memory of St. Stephen at the birth of Jesus because the contrast between the joy of Bethlehem and the drama of Stephen, stoned in Jerusalem in the first persecution against the nascent Church, emerges,” Pope Francis said Dec. 26.
“In reality it is not so, because the Child Jesus is the Son of God made man, who will save humanity by dying on the cross,” he continued.
In a special weekday Angelus address for the feast day, Pope Francis connected the imagery of the child Jesus in the crib to his burial after the crucifixion.
“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 pope said.