Francis: Religious freedom is often not realized in countries as they are guaranteed on paper. Persecution and discrimination: for a testimony. On the civilian level they need to be identified and eliminated.
By Armin Schwibach
Rome (kath.net / as) Angelus on the Feast of St. Stephen, Protomartyr. The Bible presents him as "a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit" (cf. Acts 6:5), said Pope Francis in his address before praying the Angelus, who was commissioned and worked with others for the service of the widows and poor of the first community of Jerusalem. Stephen died as Jesus and asked for forgiveness for his murderers (cf. 7.55 to 60).
In the atmosphere of Christmas full of joy, it might seem that this commemoration is somehow out of place, the Pope said. In the optics of faith, however, the feast of St. Stephen is in harmony with the deep meaning of Christmas. In martyrdom, "violence is defeated by love, death by life." The Church sees in the sacrifice of the martyrs their "birth to heaven." So we are celebrating today the "Baby Shower" of Stephen, of the Nativity of Christ which springs from the depths. "Jesus turned the death of those who love him as the dawn of new life."
In the martyrdom of Stephen, the same struggle between good and evil , between hatred and forgiveness, between gentleness and violence, which had its climax on the cross of Christ is represented. Thus the memory of the first martyr dispels the false picture of Christmas: "The fabulous and sweet image that does not exist in the Gospel." Liturgy brings out the real meaning of the Incarnation by connecting Bethlehem with Golgotha and thus it recalls that the divine healing is encompassed in the fight against sin and goes through the narrow door of the Cross: "This is the way Jesus has clearly shown his disciples, how the gospel is testified today, ' And you shall be hated by all men for my name's sake: but he that shall persevere unto the end, he shall be saved."(Matt. 10:22).
Therefore Francis called for prayers especially for the persecuted Christians: "Let us be close to these brothers and sisters who have been, like Saint Stephen, unjustly accused and are the object of violence of various kinds. "The Pope was convinced that today there are more martyrs than in the first centuries of Christianity.
This takes place especially where freedom of religion is not yet guaranteed or fully realized, however, this also in countries and areas, which protects the freedom and human rights on paper, but in which the faithful and particularly the Christians encounter de facto restrictions and discrimination. Francis called the faithful in St. Peter's Square to to pray in silence for the persecuted Christians, and closed this prayer with a "Hail Mary". For the Christian, "it is no wonder, since Jesus had announced this as an opportunity to give testimony. Nevertheless, injustices must be exposed and eliminated eliminated on a civil level."
"Mary, Queen of Martyrs," the Pope concluded, "help to live Christmas with that fervor of faith, which shines in St. Stephen and all the martyrs of the Church".
Link to kath.net...