Saint Stephen, Saint John, and the Holy Innocents


If it was Saint Stephen that was martyred in order to bring Christ to the world through his service, Saint John was one who was given charge over protecting the word of Jesus in this world. It was to this gospel writer that Jesus said to Mary “behold your son.” It was Jesus that said to John “behold your mother.” In that Mary becomes mother of the disciple and of all disciples and the disciples take on the role of Mary’s son: Mary, mother of Christ and Mother of the Church. From the Catechism:

“The Virgin Mary . . . is acknowledged and honored as being truly the Mother of God and of the redeemer. . . . She is ‘clearly the mother of the members of Christ’ . . . since she has by her charity joined in bringing about the birth of believers in the Church, who are members of its head. “Mary, Mother of Christ, Mother of the Church.”
In looking at Christmas, the Nativity of Christ, can one look on only the birth of an infant without acknowledging the “the birth of believers in the Church?” The Church that is Jesus Christ, and Saint John is that Church’s guardian.
In also looking at the birth of the infant that is the Nativity of the birth of the Church, how can someone look at that birth without taking in its surroundings.The nativity takes place in a manger, in a grotto.It is a birth that begins with rejection, the closing of doors, and is cast aside from society. Persistence against that rejection is exemplified by Saint Stephen. He who was martyred for freely bringing Christ into a many-times hostile world. The massacre of the Holy Innocents,  those children slaughtered by Herod in his quest to destroy Christ, are martyrs too. Though not by their choice they too played a role in this Nativity story. Their martyrdom proclaims a Christ born for all, not a small clique of followers.They are the world that Jesus was born into.The ugliness of Herod.Their sacrifice is the injustice that brings strength to the body of Christ. As Jesus extends his love and grace to these Holy Innocents, he extends that grace to all Children and commands that not a hair on their heads be harmed and “bring them (the children) to me.”Their martyrdom is the fiery passion that feeds this infant Christ.

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