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Monday, December 26, 2005

Stephen Got Stoned

Everybody Must Get Stoned. That's the chorus of a good ol' Bob Dylan song. You probably heard that song and thought it was about marijuana. Not quite.

Well, they'll stone ya when you're trying to be so good,
They'll stone ya just a-like they said they would.
They'll stone ya when you're tryin' to go home.
Then they'll stone ya when you're there all alone.
But I would not feel so all alone,
Everybody must get stoned.
On December 26th, we commemorate the martyrdom of St. Stephen, deacon. Stephen spoke the truth and was killed by stoning, which next to crucifixion, has to be one of the more unpleasant ways to die. The first persecutors of the Church were not the Romans, but the Jews. Stephen was killed by Jews with Saul of Tarsus (later to become St. Paul) overseeing the whole thing.

If you need something to keep your Christmas observances from becoming too flighty, recall the witness and death of St. Stephen. A reminder that with the Messiah comes much suffering and bloodshed. And as Bob Dylan and Jesus both tell us, "Everybody must get stoned." Of course, that's not an exact quote on the part of Jesus. He actually said, "Anyone who wants to be my disciple must take up his cross and follow me." Same diff.

Being a Christian is not about whether we can convince Macy's employees to say "Merry Christmas." It's about self-denial. It's about killing your old sinful nature by daily repentance. It's about rising to new life with Christ. Martyrdom is an ESSENTIAL part of life for every Christian.

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